So three years ago now, Sci made a New Year’s Resolution to read 100 books in a year. That’s a book every three days. I was actually doing very well until I started a blog in the May of that year. That kind of tanked that project, though I still managed to read over 60 books.
The year after that, my resolutions were more modest, 30 books. I didn’t make it. I read 29. But I still felt pretty solid. That list is here.
And this year, I wanted to continue the tradition. I didn’t have many expectations for myself, I DID write a dissertation, after all, but I didn’t do as badly as I thought I would. Here they are, in no particular order:
1) Dune by Frank Herbert. 544 pages. So awesome! I can’t believe I missed this when I was younger.
2) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. 368 pages. I agreed to read it because Skloot (w00t) is a friend of mine. But she is an AMAZING writer. This book is stunningly good. Highly recommend.
3) Vampire Forensics: uncovering the origins of an enduring legend, by Mark Collins Jenkins. 256 pages.
4) The Open Laboratory: The Best Science Writing on Blogs. by various authors including ME!. Edited by…ME! 207 pages. I wish I could count this thing FIVE TIMES because I have read it, looking for errors, organizing, and editing through it, at least that many times. No dice. Please buy one! I’ll sign it. And if you buy enough copies, they might even PAY me!
5) Fortune’s Fool (Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, Book 3) by Mercedes Lackey. 400 pages. Sometimes you need something mindless. This was…really mindless. And BAD. It was BAD.
6) The Wizard of London (Elemental Masters, Book 4) by Mercedes Lackey. 377 pages. Look, Mercedes (can I call you Mercedes?). For the love I used to bear to you as a not-remotely-feisty little 14 year old, STOP IT. You are famous. The Heralds of Valdemar series was great (well the first good chunk of it, Vanyel, Talia, etc). Oathbound was GREAT. Elvenbane series? Freakin’ Sweet. The first Tale of the 500 Kingdoms called “The Fairy Godmother”? Adorable. The Black Swan? Cute. The Fire Rose? LOVE IT. In the horrid way you love things like Corn Pops that you know you shouldn’t. This?! THIS IS CRAP. THAT OTHER ONE UP THERE WAS CRAP. STOP IT. YOU ARE HURTING ME. You do not need to vomit out 6 vapid, nonsensically-plotted pieces of crap per year. HOLD UP. Take a break with you and your hawks and your horses and your cats and whatever you have in your menagerie that you love to think of as sentient. Think of a good, complicated, interesting plot with some interesting, different characters. Then write. I am limiting you to one book every two years from here on out. Further, you are NEVER to listen to ANYTHING Larry Dixon says to you about writing EVER AGAIN. DO WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER?!?! I cannot spend my aging years recommending you to all my friends’ teenaged little girls until you stop making such an ass of yourself. You should be ashamed.
7) The Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook. 368 pages. Also mindless and crappy but enjoyable if you like that sort of thing.
8) Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory MaGuire. 384 pages. Ok, it’s the second (or third) time I’ve read this, but I’m SO BEHIND. Also it’s great.
9) Your Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control your Thoughts and Feelings by Gary Wenk. 200 pages. COMPLETELY AWFUL and I’m very upset that this book is going to be published actually, people might take what’s in it at face value and end up grossly misinformed.
10) Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach. 336 pages. I wrote a review on it, but the short version is that it’s completely AWESOME. SO COOL.
11) The Old Testament (NIV version), about 700 pages, give or take, and depending on who you ask. The whole bible is over 1100 pages, and I figure the Old Testament is probably more than the first half (a lot more books in it). But I am proud, I went through the WHOLE THING. I don’t know how many pages because I was listening to it on podcast. ONWARD to the NEW TESTAMENT.
Things I have learned from the Old Testament:
a. Things that God likes: Blue, purple, and scarlet yarn. No other colors. Just those. LOTS AND LOTS of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn. Other things God likes include gold, silver, and bronze. Also the sweet smoke of sacrifice. And David, who he loved. None of you other Jews, you’ll never measure up to David.
b. Things God doesn’t like: PROSTITUTION AND ADULTERY. Seriously I think all of Nehemiah was on the subject of how the Jews had PROSTITUTED THEMSELVES BEFORE OTHER GODS. He loved the word “prostituted”, did Nehemiah. You can totally see the old, skinny guy dressed in skins, wild dirty hair, and with spittle flying as he tells all about prostitutes and adultery.
There was more, but those were the things that stuck with me. BLUE PURPLE AND SCARLET YARN, and PROSTITUTION. Somehow I doubt these were the things that should have stuck with me, but really if they wanted me to remember something else they shouldn’t have kept going on about the yarn and the prostitutes.
12) Stardust by Neil Gaiman. 288 pages. Yes, I’m reading it again. Yes, I’m probably a loser for putting it in anyway. Foo on you.
13) The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the birth of forensic medicine in jazz age New York by Deborah Blum. 336 pages. OMG this book IS SO GOOD. Seriously it’s GREAT. I learned so much and it’s massively entertaining. Fantastic.
14) The Name of the Wind: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1, by Patrick Rothfuss. 722 pages. Freaking awesome, and I felt really annoyed when I got to about 200 pages from the end and realized it had to be a trilogy, and the MORE annoyed when I realized the second two books AREN’T OUT YET. It’s really good.
15) The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer. 167 pages. Like everything I ever read in the Twilight series, it was free. Or I wouldn’t have bothered. But it was entertaining.
16) The New Testament. Roughly another 400 pages. I was incredibly amused to find that:
a. Jesus really doesn’t like fig trees. This behavior is not explained.
b. That whole bit in Corinthians about “‘faith, hope, and love” which is always done at weddings is preceded by a huge section in which Paul basically says “marriage isn’t a good idea. If you’re about to get married, don’t. But if you HAVE to because otherwise you’ll just give in to your lust…well I GUESS it’s better than sex without marriage. But it’s still not a good idea. Celibacy FTW!”
c. I love how all of Paul’s letters end with with ancient equivilent of “tell Lydia I said hi, and I hope Mary’s doing all right! Props to my homie Tiberius! Whatup John!” I think it actually really adds to the humanity of the letters and makes Paul as a writer more interesting.
d. Anyone who watches “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, and then listens to the Book of Revelations will views the book of Revelations in an ENTIRELY different light.
17) Supernatural Selection: How Religion Evolved, by Matt Rossano. 304 pages. One of the things that science writers should REALLY try to do would be to stop making book titles with colons in them. This isn’t a powerpoint presentation. It’s a book. And everything after the colon always serves to make everything before the colon less punchy. Also, I didn’t like the book very much.
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