Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Notable Reads of 2010

2010 is coming to a close, and I'd thought I'd celebrate by wrapping up some of the more notable books I read this year.

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
First off, when I get off my butt and decorate my library with notable book covers, this is going to be the first to go up. But man, what a book. I'm not sure what made it so awesome for me. The decadence? The sin of it all? The setting? When I finished it, I sat for a good half hour just enjoying the aftertaste. On a side note, Baz Luhrmann is directing a movie adaptation of it, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire (may have to see that one).

I may have to save most of my comments for a later FBI related post, but this was a really fun autobiography of the man in charge of recovering lost art, working most notably on the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum heist. I also got to see him speak and meet him, and he was a really cool guy.

She (Penguin Classics) by H. Rider Haggard
SHEI love a good Victorian yarn as much as the next person, and this one tops my list. It was a close call between this and King Solomon's Mines, but Ayesha decided it. She Who Must Be Obeyed...indeed. Also, for your viewing pleasure, I've included one of Penguin's covers for this book (this one will also be added to my library wall).

The Hunger Games: Book 1 by Suzanne Collins
This series was a huge phenomenon this year (obviously). I picked it up rather late, which ended out working in my favor - massive cliff-hangers, anyone? As a whole I enjoyed the entire series, but the first was by far the best.

Changes (Dresden Files, Book 12) by Jim Butcher
Followers of the series know what poor Harry had to go through in this book. If you still haven't read the series, please just go out and buy the first book, Storm Front . You'll thank me later :)

The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
I am now officially hooked on detective fiction. Probably would have never picked it up if it weren't for the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list, but of course I'm glad I did. I also read The Long Goodbye, considered by most Chandler's masterpiece, but I think Marlowe's inner struggles were too much for me. I also felt the pacing of this one was better. Now, any target shooting with crazy heiresses has been crossed off my to-do list.
The Blades of the Rose Bundle: Warrior, Scoundrel, Rebel, & Stranger

Other Notables: I read the entire Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (including the first of the new series The Lost Hero) which were tons of fun, and was introduced to Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries (love love love!).  On the romance front, Zoe Archer's Blades of the Rose series was my favorite of the year, with exotic locales and paranormal elements (a great twist on your usual regency). My two favorite indie books were Radium Halos (A novel about the Radium Dial Painters) by Shelley Stout and Boomerang by Alan Hutcheson.

If you'd like to see my whole list of books read for the year, click here (my official tally on Goodreads).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This is what happens...

Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial SeasonA quick followup to last week's book sale post: I immediately started reading Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season by Nick Heil. Much to my suprise (and glee), it featured the story of the climbers of the TV show "Everest: Beyond the Limit" which my TiVo had been recording for me sporadically the past few months. I remembered someone had died (not from that team) but didn't think much about it. After reading Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by John Krakauer I learned this is pretty commonplace, rescue being incredibly difficult at 8,000 meters. It turns out because several members of the team passed the man while he was still alive, major controversy ensued. The book details the circumstances of the situation as well as another climber that season left for dead but ultimately rescued.

Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & IrvineSo, of course, I had to watch the show in it's entirety (both seasons) over the next few days (gotta love Netflix Instant Watch on my TiVo Premiere). I'm just itching to read something else about Everest. I managed to find Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine, which will be next and I can't wait. Super frustrated because I've blown my book budget for the month and I want this one now! Ack! I'm glad to have found it though - I mentioned in an earlier post about Everest I was searching for a good title on Mallory & Irvine. I've also just revisited the comments, and forgot about Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson. Double Ack!

Side note: Does anyone know how to find the PBS NOVA program on Mallory & Irvine? I can't find it anywhere, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong places.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Sale Finds for the week

First order of business: I'm coming to the sad conclusion that there's probably no way I'll make my reading goal for the year. I just wrapped up book #219 (Murder Most Frothy (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 4) by Cleo Coyle), and with 20 days left to go in the year, I'll need to read 1.55 books a day. I'm hoping to at least get close though.

So of course, instead of reading this morning I went to a book sale at a local library. I found few books of interest in fiction, but snagged quite a bit of non-fiction.
I also picked up two true crime books for my mother, all for the grand total of $6.50. See why I love book sales? If you want to see if there are any in your area, check out It's a great resource, and I check it weekly. If you want the best selection of books to choose from, go on the first day of a sale. If you're not picky and want to save money, go on the last day. They usually do some sort of special to move the books. Bring your own tote bags if you can, it'll make shopping much much easier (I have a nice canvas Ikea bag with huge straps,which eases some of the stress on my shoulders - laugh until you try to carry around 50 pounds of books around for over an hour). The big ones (20,000+ books) usually have a great selection of collectible books as well, but you'll need to go to the preview to get anything valuable. You can also pick up movies, audiobooks and puzzles at these sales. Happy hunting :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bankers Behaving Badly

I heard today that the now-infamous Wikileaks is set to drop a "bombshell" about a large bank in 2011 (story and speculation here). I'm not sure what they have to say that we don't already know (or think we know), but at least it gave me inspiration for today's blog post. I always love to read books on things that interest or impact me, and the "Great Recession" is no exception. 

Dumb Money
Dumb Money by Daniel Gross (Sony, Kobo)
This book came out right when things were really starting to get bad, early in 2009 as an ebook exclusive (since it has come out in paperback as well). It's a short, easy to understand explanation of the borrowing trends that got us into this mess, filled with the author's humor. I found the language easy to follow and it was very informative. As you might expect from the title, the author tosses a lot of blame at people, but I think it's clear today that there is plenty of it to go around.
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

This one is not for the faint of heart. Lewis spends the whole book chronicling those who saw the economic collapse coming and decided to profit on it. On first thought it sounds incredibly distasteful, but after reading I couldn't help but being awed by these people's brilliance (if they were truly gleeful of their possibly ill-gotten riches, it's not shown in the book). I spent a good hour after I finished the book trying to think my own investment strategies.

I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay
I just learned about this book via the 2010 Goodreads Choice Awards (it's a contender in non-fiction) and I'm just itching to buy it. Through the description and the reviews, it looks like it goes over similar information as Dumb Money, but focusing mostly on debt (I'm writing this and thinking, "duh!"). I'm wondering if the presentation of it will be different, as the author is British (UK title is Whoops!). It'll be interesting to get a less US-centric view on the meltdown. If anyone here has read this one, let me know what you thought!

Well back to reading. There are 29 days left in the year, and I still have 34 books to make my goal. Crunchtime!