Friday, January 22, 2010

2009 books list

Here's the list of books I read in 2009, divided into genre categories for your convenience. Looking at this list, I'm most impressed with my efforts to diversify my reading list. Normally, I would probably read almost all YA/Science Fiction/Fantasy books, just because I like them. But since finishing with school, I've made a real effort to read at least the occasional classic or nonfiction book. Nonfiction is 1/6th of my reading list this year! Go me.

I've starred the ones I like the best, for those looking for recommendations.

Nonfiction:

The Art of Conversation: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure - Catherine Blyth
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World - Niall Ferguson
*Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States) - James M. McPherson
*Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs - Ken Jennings
Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius - Vincent Curcio
*Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer - James L. Swanson

Classics:

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
*Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy
*To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (Technically a re-read, but it'd been a long time.)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
The Marvelous Land of Oz - L. Frank Baum
Ozma of Oz - L. Frank Baum
The Road to Oz - L. Frank Baum
Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum

YA (science fiction/fantasy):

*Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn - Alison Goodman
*Eva - Peter Dickinson
Graceling - Kristin Cashore
*The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
*Unwind - Neal Shusterman

Science Fiction:

*Agent to the Stars - John Scalzi
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson
Warrior's Apprentice - Lois McMaster Bujold

Fantasy:

Elantris - Brandon Sanderson
*Mistborn: The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson
The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, Book Two) - Brandon Sanderson
Hero of Ages: Book Three of Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson
*Warbreaker - Brandon Sanderson
The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss

Historical Fiction:

*Agincourt: A Novel - Bernard Cornwell
Genghis: Birth of an Empire - Conn Iggulden
*The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer
*The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley

Other:

Atonement - Ian McEwan
Handle with Care: A Novel - Jodi Picoult
Inferno - Larry Niven
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel - Diane Setterfield


Some things I learned from this list:

*However culturally significant the Oz books are, they're really not that good. Just watch the movie again.
*Chrysler was the dullest personality in HIS OWN BIOGRAPHY. I really should have read about Henry Ford, instead. (Seriously. Do NOT read that Chrysler book. It took a massive amount of willpower to finish it.)
*Brainiac is a fun read and well-written book, but it will make you obnoxious for several weeks after as you try to work trivia you learned from the book into conversation. I read it just before Thanksgiving, and would like to apologize to my entire family. I was pretty obnoxious.
*I really don't like Jodi Picoult books. I'm not sure why I keep reading them. (They always come highly recommended and start out well, but I always want to punch the author at the end.)

Anyway, back to work! And if anybody has any recommendations for me to read this year, I'm all ears!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2010 Update

Well, looking back at this little space, it appears I had 4 blog entries over the entire year, and most of them were re-purposed letters to Ben. Whoops! So much for my goal last year of keeping in touch better.

It looks like I'm at about 50 percent for my goals for last year. I did exercise more -- I ended up dropping about 15 pounds in 2009! There's really nothing like getting married to get you motivated. I ran or walked at least 3 miles a day during the summer. After that, of course, I ran full-on into the honeymoon weight gain and the New England winter. After the new year, though, I've started putting things back in order again, so as of now I'm back at my wedding weight and looking to drop a few more.

I also more than succeeded in my goal of meeting new people -- mostly enforced by the fact that I moved halfway through the year and HAD to make new friends. Of course, what that goal was REALLY about was that I wanted to get married, but getting married includes all kinds of factors that you don't personally control (largely in the form of another person wanting to marry you, too) and so I just made the goal about something I could. And what do you know, I did get married! Sometimes it still surprises me, at almost six months in. I'm MARRIED. It's very odd.

(I am somewhat disappointed to find out that marriage doesn't automatically make me a good homemaker. I apparently thought that sewing skills and the desire to clean and organize would somehow just appear. It doesn't. I have been enjoying cooking for two, though!)

I did not keep in better touch with my friends, unfortunately -- but here's to another year of trying!

I also did not manage to keep up my pace of a book-a-week, though I did at least stay under budget. This was mostly influenced by the fact that I stopped commuting by metro in May, and so no longer had an hour of dedicated reading time each work day. I still did read a lot -- definitely enough to make the kindle still a worthwhile investment. The final count for 2009 is 42 books, and I'll list them in an upcoming post.

Now, though, I've got to run to work. And hopefully the next post here won't be so long in coming.