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What I've been reading since 1/1/2011

David Richard Koch "An Interested Party"
 
At Home: A Short History of Private Life
At Home: A Short History of Private Life
"As with most of Bryson's books, I really enjoyed this.  So many little bits of trivia and history are laced throughout this book.  Funny that I'd just been wondering where the phrase "limelight" came from -- leave it to Bill Bryson to tell me!"
Twelfth Night or What You Will
Twelfth Night or What You Will
"Okay.  I know that sounds lame when commenting on Shakespeare, but I've read many of his comedies, and this one just didn't do anything for me.  Sorry, but I found this one forgettable."
Life
Life
"I'm a Stones fan, and a big Keith fan, and this book only made me like them both even more.  For all the antics he's famous for, he dispells the myths about so many of the public stories, and really, comes across as a genuine lover of music and using it to connect with people."
The Mother Tongue - English And How It Got That Way
The Mother Tongue - English And How It Got That Way
"Full of fun factoids and trivia about our language.  A few of them I knew already, but most were fun to read about for the first time.  Enjoyable."
The Final Solution: A Story of Detection (P.S.)
The Final Solution: A Story of Detection (P.S.)
"Interesting and quick read of an aged Sherlock Holmes and a parrot.  Not Chabon's best work, but a pleasant distraction."
Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey
Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey
"Lots of fun.  Kept becoming stranger and stranger as the book moved on.  Liked where it went, and how the different possible explanations played out.  Always glad when a book surprises me."
Diary: A Novel
Diary: A Novel
"Okay, but not nearly as much fun as Rant."
The World At Her Fingertips: Story Of Helen Keller, The
The World At Her Fingertips: Story Of Helen Keller, The
"Watched "The Miracle Worker" with my nine year old daughter last week, and this book helped tell what happened after that movie ended.  Good overview of an amazing life."
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
"What a disappointment.  I had looked forward to this book, but wow, what a letdown.  Maybe the most damning thing I can say about the book is that it actually made me wish I had spent my time reading the original – dull, dry, and ploddingly slow as it is.  I’ve never been a Bronte fan, but this was even less entertaining."
The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (P.S.)
The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (P.S.)
"Read "Guns, Germs, and Steel" years ago, and the second half of this book really felt like a prelude to that larger work.  This book had some interesting sections, too -- I especially liked his arguement that our low views of hunter-gatherer life are incorrect.  Quite engrossing read."
The Sportswriter
The Sportswriter
"Liked this.  Not morose or sentimental, but a careful study on mid-life changes and losses.  Makes me want to read more by Ford."
Idi Amin (Wicked History)
Idi Amin (Wicked History)
"Brief with just the basic facts.  Filled in some gaps for me about his rise to and fall from power.  Sad when you realize he wasn't the last time this story will be told."
The White Hotel
The White Hotel
"Easily the best book I've read in years.  Could not put it down, and was not disappointed by any aspect of it.  Simply amazing.  One I will reread several times."
Pop Goes Cleveland! The Impact of Cleveland (and Northeast Ohio) on Pop Culture
Pop Goes Cleveland! The Impact of Cleveland (and Northeast Ohio) on Pop Culture
"Got this as a gift, and it made for a quaint trip down memory lane.  Plus, I now know that Al Roker is a cousin of Lenny Kravitz's mother, Roxie Roker."
A Voyage to Arcturus
A Voyage to Arcturus
"Ummm, right.  Read this because it was listed on a Top 100 Villians in literature list I found.  But after reading it, I can't say which of the characters was the most vile -- everyone in this story seemed to be a mess.  Quite different science fiction, but didn't really do anything for me."
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (Oxford World's Classics)
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (Oxford World's Classics)
"Enjoyed it overall, especially the end of the book.  Liked how the story was told twice, once from outside the events, once from the main character's point of view.  And the way the devil was never really revealed was quite well done."
Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream
Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream
"Had recently seen a documentary on the history of LD, which is where I came across Stevens and his book.  I preferred the first half of the book dealing with the actual history of LSD; the rest felt more like a biography of it's more famous advocates."
Everything is Illuminated
Everything is Illuminated
"Someone I knew read this and didn't really like it, despite all the rave reviews it received.  I've got a very good track record now of finding books I really enjoyed based on someone else's negative response to it.  This was an amazing read.  I was caught up in it for so many reasons."
An Imaginary Tale: The Story of [the Square Root of Minus One] (Princeton Science Library)
An Imaginary Tale: The Story of [the Square Root of Minus One] (Princeton Science Library)
"I've read similar histories of pi and phi which I enjoyed immensely, and while this one was interesting, WOW, was the math over my head!  Still, it was amazing to see all the uses of the square root of negative one.  I never knew it could be used to calculate the value of pi."
Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
"Lots of fun.  And the first exercise he walks you through (no pun intended) of a memory palace really worked -- I still can see the wine bottles talking on my couch and the Paul Newman pointing up near my kitchen door."
Time Mastery: How Temporal Intelligence Will Make You a Stronger, More Effective Leader
Time Mastery: How Temporal Intelligence Will Make You a Stronger, More Effective Leader
"Let's see: faun over Jack Welch? Check.  Cite 3M as an innovative company? Check.  Invent meaningless buzz words that the authors can drop repeatedly?  Check.  Offer up obvious suggestions that smack of plain common sense?  Check. Gawd, this was a by-the-numbers business book, and I found absolutely nothing new or interesting about it.  Trite at it’s best, annoying and contradictory at its worst."
Weird Ideas That Work
Weird Ideas That Work
"Better than the last business book I just read.  Some good ideas, although several have become common knowledge in the years since this book was written.  Still, there was enough here that I wish several of my colleagues would read."
Whip Smart: The True Story of a Secret Life
Whip Smart: The True Story of a Secret Life
"Troubling, sad, and brutally honest.  Breezed through this to see what would happen next.  I do wonder if she'll be able to maintain her new found (and hard earned) happiness, or if it will just be another phase she passes through."
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few
"Pretty good.  The second half seemed to drift a bit, but the first chapters were rather compelling.  Like "The Tipping Point" it had an interesting premise, and overall, it did a good job of selling it."
The Curfew (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
The Curfew (Vintage Contemporaries Original)
"Sad, quiet, and like a bad dream.  Not surprising that the author is a poet -- this read more like a long ode to a dying society than a traditional novel.  Troubling."
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
"Enjoyed this recount of one family's inside view of the Nazi party and their rise to power in pre-war Berlin.  Here's one I know my father would greatly enjoy."
Killing Bono Publisher: MTV; Original edition
Killing Bono Publisher: MTV; Original edition
"Always like a book that can make me laugh out loud – this one actually did.  That’s incredibly rare.  Granted, it was over just one comment, but it was worth it.  Overall, the story was entertaining and showed a personal side of a very public figure."
The Magicians: A Novel
The Magicians: A Novel
"Was getting tired of the "anti-Harry Potter" first half, so the second half really saved this one for me.  By the end, I actually enjoyed things.  Not bad."
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
"Lots of fun.  Kept passing along interesting anecdotes from the book to my family.  As someone who hated chemistry in high school, this book was engrossing, entertaining, and quite funny at times.  Highly recommend it."
Ovid:  The Metamorphoses
Ovid: The Metamorphoses
"Was going to make some smart aleck remark about what a surprise someone was left to write this thing after all the killing and people changing into birds, beasts, and trees, but the section in Book 15 about how everything changes tempered my sarcasm.  Enjoyed it more than I thought I would."
Not Dead & Not for Sale: A Memoir
Not Dead & Not for Sale: A Memoir
"Very quick read, but would have liked even more.  Knew Scott from Chagrin Falls while we were in 5th through 8th grade together.  Been interesting watching his rise to fame."
Red Shift (New York Review Books Classics)
Red Shift (New York Review Books Classics)
"Heard a great review of this on NPR.  Not bad, but did nothing for me."
The Widows of Eastwick
The Widows of Eastwick
"I've enjoyed so many of Updike's books.  Unfortunately, this wasn't one of them."