I like to read. That should be obvious if you know me or read this blog. Below is the list of books I read this year. Click the link to go buy it on Amazon (disclaimer: they’re affiliate links, so if you buy, I’ll get a tiny percentage). They are in chronological order of when I finished them in 2012.
1. Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson. Published 2011. 656 pages. Great book. This was a Christmas present from my dear wife last year. Isaacson is a fantastic biographer, so much so that I recently bought Benjamin Franklin and am currently reading it. Also a great book.
2. Silent Sea – Clive Cussler. Published 2010. 403 pages. Love me some Cussler. This is part of the very good Oregon Files series, and this was a very good installment.
3. The Winner – David Baldacci. Published 1997. 656 pages. Baldacci writes a lot of crime/conspiracy-type thrillers. This one breaks that mold a bit with an incredibly unique story. The premise is a group of people who rig the lottery so that a young, poor woman wins it and rides off into the sunset. As you can imagine, things don’t go so smooth.
4. Between a Rock and a Hard Place – Aron Ralston. Published 2004. 354 pages. The movie 127 Hours (guy gets arm stuck, cuts it off with a 2-inch pocket-knife — you know the story) is based on this book. The book is much better. Hard to put this story into movie form. I would definitely classify this as one of the better outdoors books I’ve read. I would’ve given up at least 100 times in the days that Aron survived.
5. Kisses From Katie – Katie Davis. Published 2011. 288 pages. Gotta be honest, I didn’t love this book. It was a bit simplistic, as Katie had the financial means to do what she did — which was move to Africa and adopt a whole bunch of Ugandan girls. Great courage on her part, but her writing is not very good. She should have had someone else write her story. I probably would have enjoyed it more.
6. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls. Published 2005. 288 pages. Loved this memoir. It was a bestseller for a very long time before I picked it up at a thrift shop. Love her honesty, and the way she kinda writes about her life from a detached perspective. Her childhood story was one of the most interesting I’ve read.
7. The Myth of a Christian Religion – Greg Boyd. Published 2009. 224 pages. I love Greg Boyd, and I wish I remembered more about this book. All I can say is that it helped shape my worldview. I can’t tell you specifically how it did so, but it did.
8. Inca Gold – Clive Cussler. Published 1994. 688 pages. Fun book. That’s about it.
9. Lost City – Clive Cussler. Published 2004. 528 pages. This is from his NUMA series, which I don’t love as much as the Dirk Pitt or Oregon Files series. Low on the Cussler list, for me.
10, 11, 12. Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins. Published 2008-2010. 1,155 total pages. I read the entire series in about four days. That should tell you all you need to know. Lives up to the hype.
13. Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern. Published 2011. 387 pages. I bought this for Jane for Christmas 2011. She loved it. I enjoyed it. It’s a combination of Harry Potter and Water for Elephants. Very interesting book, and I’d definitely recommend it. Just not a favorite.
14. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Seth Grahame-Smith. Published 2010. 352 pages. Fun book. Super unique story, obviously. It’s a cheap thrill, but a well-written and well-thought-out one.
15. Night of the Living Dead Christians – Matt Mikalatos. Published 2011. 288 pages. This author’s first book, Imaginary Jesus, changed my life. So I obviously had high expectations for this one. It was good, and made a lot of good, thought-provoking points, but not quite life-changing.
16. Hellhound On His Trail – Hampton Sides. Published 2010. 480 pages. This is about the hunt for MLK’s killer. Fascinating read. If you enjoy history, you’ll love this. I also learned a lot about MLK himself. One of the best reads of the year for me.
17. The God Gene – Jaymie Simmon. Published 2012. 550 pages. I had the pleasure of working with Jaymie a little bit before this was published, and it’s a great read. It’s a science/religion combo that does incredibly well mixing the two. Not common in the genre.
18. The Last Season – Eric Blehm. Published 2007. 384 pages. This is about a National Park Service member who went missing in the Sierra Nevadas after patrolling the area for nearly 30 years. Wonderful outdoors book if you like that genre. Clearly, I do.
19. The Noticer – Andy Andrews. Published 2009. 176 pages. A small fiction book that carries much moral lesson behind it. I appreciated it, but not sure there’s anything in it that has truly stuck with me.
20. Stealing Faces – Michael Prescott. Published 2011. 436 pages. This author has a ton of great thrillers on Kindle for cheap prices. It’s drivel, but entertaining.
21. The Jungle – Clive Cussler. Published 2011. 406 pages. Another Oregon Files adventure. Not as good as Silent Sea (which I read earlier in the year), but a worthy read as an adventure novel.
22. Under the Dome – Stephen King. Published 2009. 1092 pages. This book started my slight infatuation with Stephen King. His writing is incredible. That’s all there is to it. Combine that with this super-unique story, and you get a winner. I got sucked in to this one on page one.
23. Brain Rules – John Medina. Published 2009. 301 pages. This is a non-fic science/self-help book with 12 principles on how the brain works, and therefor how to make better use of it. Good stuff, but honestly, not too much I haven’t read elsewhere. Get more sleep, make your environment at work cozy for better productivity, etc.
24. The Stand – Stephen King. Published 1978. 1348 pages. One of his seminal works. This is a post-apocalyptic novel that details the literal and figurative fight of good versus evil in a society needing to be re-made from the ground up. Loved it. It admittedly got a bit long at times, but was well worth it.
25. Tamar – Mal Peet. Published 2010. 434 pages. I had never heard of this author or book until it was a Kindle Daily Deal. It had great reviews, so I grabbed it. It’s a historical novel — one of those that goes back and forth between the WWII and the present, as is the trend these days to do. Having said that, it was done masterfully, and I’d recommend this book to folks who love the genre.
26. The Dark Monk – Oliver Potsche. Published 2011. 516 pages. The sequel to The Hangman’s Daughter, this book was even better than that one. It’s set a really long time ago (1300s? 1400s?). I’m too lazy to look it up right now, so that will have to suffice. Anyways, a town hangman (yes, that was a real occupation) and his daughter are caught up in the midst of a great crime. A thriller, yes, but with it set nearly 1000 years ago, it’s very unique.
27. Mad Boy – David Kirshenbaum. Published 2011. 232 pages. Kirshenbaum is an ad exec, and a very successful one at that. As someone in the marketing world, it was incredibly interesting to read how he started up his business and wooed clients. He is, however, a bit full of himself and name-drops like nobody’s business.
28. Tribal Knowledge – John Moore. Published 2006. 264 pages. This is a book of short business lessons learned by a guy who worked at Starbucks for a long time. This has some really great business advice, especially for small business owners or entrepreneurs. Pick it up if you’re in that category. (Just looked, and unfortunately this one is no longer available on Kindle. Odd.)
29. Desperation – Stephen King. Published 1996. 704 pages. I don’t love the horror genre, but King is such a good writer that I just want to read everything he’s ever written. This is part of that quest. Good story. He has some very religious elements that I think he actually nails on the head.
30. Micro – Michael Crichton. Published 2011. 563. I was very sad when Michael Crichton left this earth far too soon a few years back. He was one of my favorite authors — Jurassic Park, Sphere, Congo. This manuscript was partially finished on his laptop when he passed, and another author came by and finished it. It doesn’t have the scientific accuracy of Crichton, but it’s a fun story nonetheless, and I recommend it for his fans.
31. World War Z – Max Brooks. Published 2007. 342 pages. Confession: I didn’t finish this book. I got into The Walking Dead this year, so I figured I’d try some novelized zombies on for size. This was not the one to start with. It’s set as a series of interviews about a decade after a zombie war. It’s good writing, but the story wasn’t cohesive enough for me to get into it. There are no characters that run through the whole book that you can cling to. I’ve heard that the audiobook makes it easier, so perhaps I’ll try that in 2013.
32. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson. Published 2010. 577 pages. I read the first two books of the Millenium Trilogy (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Played With Fire) a couple years ago, and finally got around to finishing the series. Wish I would have done it sooner, because this is perhaps the best installment. It’s a page turner, and I actually wished for more book, unlike with the first two.
33. Darkly Dreaming Dexter – Jeff Lindsay. Published 2004. 304 pages. I love Dexter the TV show, so I figured I’d try the books. Super easy reading. As most folks agree, however, the show is actually better than the book(s). The characters are better developed, by far. A cheap thrill, and I’m not sure if I’ll bother with the rest of the books. I think it’s up to 7 or 8 at this point.
34. What the Dog Saw – Malcolm Gladwell. Published 2010. 448 pages. This is a series of essays that Gladwell wrote for The New Yorker magazine. There’s no underlying theme, but the articles themselves are fascinating. A few are worth skipping, but overall, super interesting.
35. Life of Pi – Yann Martel. Published 2001. 348 pages. I’ve wanted to read this for a while, and with the movie out this year, it made for a good excuse to finally do so. I’m glad I did. It was a combination of “We Bought a Zoo” and “Siddhartha”. Not sure what to make of a strange ending, but well worth the read.
36. The Passage – Justin Cronin. Published 2010. 785 pages. Finally dug into this mega-bestseller. I’m not normally into the whole vampire thing, but I’ve recently enjoyed the zombie genre, so I figured I’d give it a try. It honestly look quite a long time for me to get into the book and want to keep reading. I couldn’t quite figure out why it was so popular…until about halfway through. Then it became the page turner I expected. You’ll see the second book of the trilogy (The Twelve) on my 2013 list.
37. Absolute Power – David Baldacci. Published 1996. 528 pages. I’m a fan of Baldacci, and especially his older books. This is one of this first, and also one of the best. Great story. Very unique. Definitely a higher quality than what he’s churning out now in terms of character and story development.
38. Gold – Chris Cleaves. Published 2012. 338 pages. This turned out to be one of the best books I read in 2012. I wasn’t expecting this to be the case, as the book is about two friends who are cyclists for the UK’s Olympic team. It just didn’t seem like it would be all that enthralling. It is, however, riveting. Friendship, competition, family, love — it’s got it all. Do yourself a favor and buy this.
39. Midnight Assassin – Thomas Wolf and Patricia Bryan. Published 2005. 297 pages. This was another Kindle book I bought on a deal for about $3. It caught my eye for a couple reasons: 1) It’s a non-fic murder mystery 2) It is set in Iowa, just an hour or so from where I lived for five years 3) It happened in 1990, one my favorite time periods in American history to read about. Fantastic look at not only how detective work operated back then, but also what farm life was like, especially for women.
40. The Furious Longing of God – Brennan Manning. Published 2009. 149 pages. Manning is one of the best Christian writers out there. Period. His writing is so full of grace and love that I can barely handle it. Everything I’ve read from him has been life-changing, and this was no exception.
41. Drift – Rachel Maddow. Published 2012. 290 pages. Maddow is obviously super liberal. I don’t generally enjoy reading things that slant heavily to one side or the other, so I was curious how this would turn out. She does a masterful job of staying within the bounds of actual history, and proves to me that America’s current military might is nowhere near what was intended, or is even realistic/practical. I can guarantee you’ll learn a few things.
42. Atlantis Found – Clive Cussler. Published 1999. 530 pages. Yet another Dirk Pitt adventure. I honestly can’t even tell you much of what it’s about, and I just read it about a month ago. So…yeah.
43. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald. Published 1925. 180 pages. So begins my quest into the annals of literary history. Great story, even better writing. It takes a drastic turn in mood about halfway through, and makes you question the things in life that you go after. Quick read, but one that you won’t soon forget.
44. Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand. Published 2010. 497 pages. Incredible book. One of the best history books I’ve read, and easily one of the most incredible stories I’ve come across. This is about an Olympic runner who ends up in WWII and is held captive by the Japanese for many years. It also details his life after the war, and how he adjusted. I won’t give more away, so just go buy it.
45. To Kill A Mockingbird – Lee Harper. Published 1960. 323 pages. I read this once either in high school or middle school and really enjoyed it. I enjoyed much more this second time around, and I think it’s actually one of the most important books anyone can read. The lessons about how to treat our fellow man (or woman), as well as those in parenting, are not replicated anywhere else.
46. Theodore Rex – Edmund Morris. Published 2001. 792 pages. No joke, this took nearly two years to finish. It was one of those I read off and on, only doing a couple chapters a month. It is the second part of the TR trilogy, and is quite dense. I enjoyed the first installment, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, a little better. I also have the third installment, Colonel Roosevelt, on my bookshelf. Lots of learning, not much page-turning.
47. A History of the World in 6 Glasses – Tom Standage. Published 2006. 311 pages. Fascinating book. Six beverages are highlighted — beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola. It talks about not only their respective histories, but also how they coincided with major world events and revolutions. I consume most of the drinks on a somewhat regular basis, so I really enjoyed it. Fun read, and not too heady.
What a year of reading! Overall, it ended up being over 21,000 pages read. The average publish date was 2003. Expect that average to go much lower next year with my embarking on reading some classics. How many have you read from this list? What were your favorite books you read this year?
Good friend of mine sent me this article (via Twitter) about how sales of e-readers are forecasted to drop dramatically in the next few years. Seeing as how I’m a bit of a bibliophile, he wanted my opinion. There’s no way I could answer in 140 characters, so here’s just a few thoughts:
- There’s no doubt that tablets ARE taking large chunks of the e-reader market, especially with low-price (and smaller) options available like the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire. Certainly, much of that is even pushed by the e-reader retailers themselves.
- I have both an iPad 2 and a Kindle Paperwhite. I love them both, and use them both on a daily basis. There is a market for people to own two devices, IF they are such readers that they find benefit in doing so. I read for roughly two hours a day, sometimes even more. With that kind of volume, the iPad gets a little bulky, and a little hard on the eyes. The Kindle mimics a book page so well, you get lost in the experience and barely even realize you’re reading something that isn’t a physical book.
- Do I care if the market for e-readers dies? Not really. I’m fine with it being a tool for those folks who read a lot. I think at the beginning, many people figured it could function as a pseudo-tablet. Once the affordable tablets came on the market, however, they bolted. If you read 10ish books a year (which even then would be higher than average), a dedicated e-reader just isn’t worth it.
- Is the forecast accurate? What a paradox of a question that I just asked myself. Silly me. Ya know, it probably is. Like I said, people don’t read as much as you think. Average Joe doesn’t, anyway. Most people will want something they can read magazines on, and watch movies on, and surf the web on. For most people, one of those mass market tablets will be more desirable, as it simply can do more.
- Simply put, for the book-a-holic, an e-readers is a must. When traveling, it’s nearly literally a lifesaver, as I’m saving my back the hardship of carrying five hardcover books in my bag. E-lending from libraries also just makes it so easy to read just about anything — as I never even have to get off my couch to be loaned a book. Fan-freakin-tastic.
What do you think?
So, I accidentally started the challenge a little early. My plan was to start January 1, 2013, but my lovely wife convinced me to pick up The Great Gatsby at a small local bookshop we were at. So, the 100 book challenge started exactly one month too soon. Oh well. Also, I may end up reading more than one per month, especially with smaller books. I’m sure a few of the 1000+ page works will keep me occupied for more than a month. A few notes before I get into my thoughts on The Great Gatsby:
- I have a little wooden bookmark — you can kind of see it poking up in the picture. It says “Rocky Mountain National Park,” and I bought it on Jane and I’s honeymoon. Totally worth the $5. I thought I would lose it, but seeing as how it carries more value (both monetarily and sentimentally), I’ve mostly always known exactly where it is. If you don’t have a nice bookmark, get one.
- I’m getting more into physical, paper books again. Yikes. Bad news for my bookshelf. I’ve decided I’ll try to find most of the 100 at local used bookshops, and also bring one in to trade at the same time. Therefor, in theory, my bookshelves won’t actually grow much. I have no problem releasing David Baldacci and Clive Cussler for the sake of John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway.
- In blogging about each of the 100, I won’t be doing reviews as we’ve come to know them. I won’t be literarily critiquing, but expressing my thoughts regarding the books. Big difference. You won’t read about fallacies in plot or use of devices. It will be much more simple than that. Hopefully that’s okay with you.
Onto the good stuff!
- Title: The Great Gatsby
- Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
- First published: 1925
- Pages in my edition: 180
- Words: 47,094
- Days to finish: 5
The Great Gatsby was probably assigned to me at some point in school, but with most reading assignments, I neglected to actually read it. This is a bit surprising, as I’ve always been a reader by nature. Perhaps it was the combination of “old” books and teenage rebellion that kept me away from classics throughout my schooling. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author, is even a native Minnesotan for crying out loud. How on earth have I never read this before?
I learned very quickly that Fitzgerald is a master wordsmith. He crafts metaphors and similes as well as anyone I’ve read. Like many books I read, I purposefully went into it without really knowing a whole lot of what it was about. I prefer it that way, so I can be truly surprised by story elements. It is set in 1920s New York, amidst some fabulously wealthy characters, and some not so much. It’s about lavish parties and scandalous affairs, but ultimately, it’s about the American dream. Jay Gatsby is crafted to be one of the most human characters I’ve come across in literature, while being unbelievably rich.
The book is split into two very distinct chunks. In the first, I found myself chuckling and smiling without really realizing it as Fitzgerald describes ritzy life in New York. It was an experience that my reading does not often give me. But then something dramatic happens, and the story shifts from its lightheartedness. Once I got to the middle, it was truly hard to put down, and I found myself thinking about the story when I wasn’t reading it. This was surprising, actually, as the story isn’t necessarily what pulled me in, but the great writing. But as the book progressed, it was the plot that kept me going. Fascinating.
This book has such simplicity and complexity wrapped up in the short span of under 200 pages. It’s incredibly easy to see why this book has received such high acclaim, and I feel sad that I’ve wasted time reading other far less worthy books for most of my life. Such is life, however.
Next book: To Kill A Mockingbird (1. Not “To Kill A Mockingjay” 2. Read this at some point in school, but I already own it, and is definitely worth another read.)
Every year I have some type of reading goal. In the past, it’s just been a number — usually 50. I’ve hit that goal every year. So, I’m looking for something a little different. Reading is such a part of my daily life that it’s not worth just having a numeric goal. I’m going to read a lot of books. That’s just how I am.
In the past few months I’ve been doing some work with Art of Manliness. In doing so, I’ve stumbled across some pretty hefty “manly” resources, including 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library. And a light bulb went off.
100 books in 100 months. It just came to me just like that. And I decided, without much thought, that I would embark on this eight-year journey. The list isn’t perfect. It’s obviously a bit man-centric, and certainly not definitive in the canon of literature. However, no list is perfect. So why not start here?
I decided to do just one book a month for the sake of my own sanity. I still want to read other books, and I know many of those listed are either long, dense, or some terrifying combination of both. There are old classics (Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey), “new” classics (Grapes of Wrath, All Quiet on the Western Front), and modern classics (Into Thin Air, Theodore Rex). It’s a mixture of fiction, poetry, how-to, biography, and history. There are some I’m excited about (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) and some I’m not so excited about (Ulysses).
Anyways, I’m digging in for the long haul starting Jan 1, 2013. I’ll update the progress of this journey here on the blog. Not sure where I’ll start, but I’ll be sure to let you know.
Some interesting numbers:
- Age I will be upon completion: 33 (weird)
- Books by John Steinbeck: 4 (the most for any single author)
- Number I’ve already read: 8 (I plan on re-reading most of them, actually)
- Earliest publication date: ~700 BC (Iliad and Odyssey)
- Most recent publication date: 2006 (The Dangerous Book for Boys)
- Authors featured more than once: 10
In the words of my friend Rob, when I told him about the project, “That sounds awesome and terrible at the same time.”
“Coffee, the sober drink, the mighty nourishment of the brain, which unlike other spirits, heightens purity and lucidity; coffee, which clears the clouds of the imagination and their gloomy weight; which illuminates the reality of things suddenly with the flash of truth.”
-Jules Michelet, French Historian (1798-1874)
Daniel 3. Shad, Mesh, and Abed are about to get thrown into the furnace by the King. Most of us know the basics of this story. Before they are thrown in, however, the King gives them one more opportunity to defend themselves — to lay out their case as to why they should not be thrown into the fire. Ultimately, Mr. King wants them to bow down to him.
Their response amazed me this morning:
We do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us.
How often do we feel the need to defend ourselves in conversation? Be it apologetics, politics, science, etc. Christians are always defending ourselves, and our God/religion.
What if we don’t need to? What if we just let God defend him/herself (I don’t want to give God a specific gender, but also don’t want to just say ‘itself’)? Surely, if we believe what we say we believe, God is powerful enough to do so. Does he really need us verbally defending our cause at every opportunity? These three didn’t think so. They simply said, “God is powerful, and will defend our cause for us.”
The implications of this regarding how we interact with others cannot be understated. Stop defending yourself, and try just listening for once, and responding with a nod of your head or perhaps further questions. Your goal should be understanding, not winning. You don’t have to fight everyone who disagrees with you, or who you disagree with. Be freed of that compulsion, brothers and sisters.
Think about it.
The last piece written on this blog occurred roughly 1,235 days ago.
Since then, many things have happened.
- Graduated from Drake University
- Spent time on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Grinnell College in Iowa
- Got married to my BFF
- Got my first “real” full-time job doing social media marketing at an agency in Des Moines
- Was laid off from said job
- Moved to Denver with no income coming into the Anderberg household
- Started a new job with a tech company in downtown Denver
- Launched a small business on the side
Those are just the majors, by the way. Plenty of other stuff happened too. Like having roughly one million other blogs start/die. On a scale of 0-10 my commitment-to-blogging-o-meter would be firmly at 0. Which is fine. If anything, it’s just served as an outlet for all the thoughts that bubble over in my head with no place else to go. The last few years have just been so wildly busy that I haven’t had many things bubbling over inside me on a regular basis. Now, though, I’m starting to figure out what’s truly important in my life. It’s not the job, or the house, or the income… it’s just people. Family, friends, most importantly – my wife. When you hit that realization, life slows down a little. You’re able to take things as they come without just rushing through your day.
My desire to save the world has lessened, and my desire to just love the people around me has exploded.
So I’m resurrecting this outlet. And killing some past ones. There was some good stuff on this blog, and I got good feedback when I kept it regular.
1,235 days ago, I was in a time period of my life where I was trying to figure out what my roots would be. Perhaps now I’ve figured it out, at least a little bit, and want to keep discovering with you. I’m a heck of a lot smarter than I was back then, but also have infinitely more to learn. Maybe you can help me.
Here’s to resurrections. Even if it’s just that of a silly old blog.