Ptld2001 100 for 2009
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1. 1/7 Three bags full: A Sheep Detective Story - Leonie Swann
Read this for my knitting book club. It was somewhat cute, but it gets old fairly quickly. I can't imagine a sequel to this book.
2. 1/11 Mirroring people: The new science of how we connect with others - Marco Iacoboni
I enjoyed this book immensely. It was set at just the right level such that I learned, but didn't feel overwhelmed by too many technical details. I'd always known about the phenomenon of mirroring, but never knew the physiological basis.
3. 1/13 Just Murdered - Elaine Viets, mystery
I read this book because I wanted to read all the Agatha award nominees from 2007. Viets was the last author, since the nominated book was the sixth in a series. I enjoy the dead end job murder mysteries because they're light and easy to read. The mysteries are pretty easy, but it's fun to see how they get solved.
4. 1/15 Murder unleashed - Elaine Viets, mystery
Book five in the dead end job murder mysteries. My comments are very similar to book four. I probably shouldn't be reading these so close together -- I think I enjoy them less that way.
5. 1/16 Crime of Reason: And the closing of the scientific mind - Robert B. Laughlin
Very interesting book about how politics and society affect the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
6. 1/20 In an uncertain world: Tough choices from Wall street to Washington - Robert Rubin
It's interesting to read Rubin's description of economic policy and how it got that way, in light of our current economic situation.
7. 1/24 Get out of your own way: The 5 keys of surpassing everyone's expectations - Robert Cooper
I'm not sure I got very much out of this book. It seemed like it was too much aimed at the "pop psychology" crowd to be something I'd much enjoy.
8. 1/26 Murder with reservations - Elaine Viets, mystery
Finally, book six in the series -- the one that was nominated for the Agatha. I'm definitely glad it didn't (I enjoyed Louise Penny MUCH more!), but I think her books are improving. I think it was an interesting twist to finally get to meet the husbandwho started all this mess.
9. 1/29 Friday night Knitting club - Kate Jacobs
My knitting book club read Knit Two, and I wanted to read them in order. I liked this better than the sequel. I can't say I loved the book, but it's a nice diversion from the heavier books. It reminds me of the tearjerker movies, and in fact, I heard that there's a movie being made of this book.
10. 1/31 The Cheating Culture - Why more Americans are doing wrong to get ahead - David Callahan
I enjoyed this book a lot. I've often felt like we're living in a cheating culture, and I liked the analysis of how we got there. The weak part of the book was the solutions to the problem (I'm not surprised -- it's a hard problem). It seems like the majority point was to just stop following suit, even though it's not in your own best interests. However, unless you can get a groundswell of people making the changed, I'm afraid you'll just get trampled.
11. 2/6 Trouble with physics: the rise of string theory, the fall of a science, and what comes next - Lee Smolin
I enjoyed this book. I'd noticed the migration towards string theory, but never realized how exclusive that line of research has become. Whether string theory is correct or not, it shouldn't be the only approach being pursued.
12. 2/8 Rule against murder - Louise Penny, mystery
I'd been waiting for this book since Cruelest Month. Louise Penny is, at least at this time, my favorite mystery author. Once again, she did not disappoint.
13. 2/11 Clubbed to death - Elaine Viets, mystery
I liked the characters well enough to read another book. I like that she made some changes to let the characters evolve. Some of the basic premises of the series were starting to become a little strained.
14. 2/13 Change leader's handbook
15. 2/16 In remembrance of Rose
16. 2/17 Mind wide open
17. 2/18 Crewel world - Monica Ferris
This first book in the needlework series was chosen by my craft book club. I can't say that I enjoyed it a lot though. There was one inconsistency that ruined the whole mystery for me. It seems like the author contrived the point just so that there'd be a mystery to solve! Others agreed with me, but didn't take it as seriously as I did.
18. 2/20 Proust was a neuroscientist
19. 2/22 Spellman files - Lisa Lutz, mystery
We selected this for our March selection for our mystery book club. It's extremely light reading, but a lot of fun. I've read about dysfunctional families in the past, but I think this is an extreme. I like that even though they're dysfunctional, they're still interesting characters. I can't say I'd like to know them, but they're interesting to observe.
20. 2/25 Knit one, kill two - Maggie Sefton, mystery
Another craft club book. I liked this better than Monica Ferris, although the other people didn't. I thought the mystery was better constructed.
21. 3/1 World according to Bertie - Alexander McCall Smith
22. 3/4 Accidental Mind
23. 3/6 Curse of the Spellmans - Lisa Lutz, mystery
24. 3/8 Midnight Disease
25. 3/9 Alex and Me
26. 3/13 Jupiter Myth - Lindsay Davis, mystery
27. 3/14 Knit Two - Kate Jacobs
28. 3/21 Outliers
29. 3/28 Remix
30. 3/31 How People Choose
31. 4/4 In Defense of Reason - Al Gore
32. 4/7 CMMI
33. 4/8 Blunder
34. 4/9 Shop on Blossom Street - Debbie Macomber
35. 4/15 The Accusers - Lindsay Davis
36. 4/19 Mr. Monk is Miserable - Lee Goldberg, mystery
37. 4/23 Conversations on Consciousness
38. 4/26 Needled to Death - Maggie Sefton
I enjoyed the book, and think it had some great ideas on new technologies that can help in the future, and how we need to get there. I agree wholeheartedly though, that it will hurt, in the beginning, to get there.
I enjoyed the book, although there were certainly parts I disagreed with. This is another difficult challenge our country is facing, with large numbers of interconnecting issues. It's difficult to figure out how to increase innovation in today's world, without totally shutting it down in tomorrow's, because of all the interrelations.
43. Deadly Yarn - Maggie Sefton, mystery
A book for my crafting book club. This is the second book in the series, and I'd say it's a marked improvement. It's fun because it references many common crafting terms. The critical clue was fairly obvious, but it still was interesting to see how everything fit together.
I read this book for a mystery book club, and I don't think I would have otherwise. This book is definitely a page turner, and the mystery is only one facet of the book. Readers are given enough clues to be able to solve the mystery, but they don't hit you over the head with the answer. Note that there are multiple accounts describing violent and sadistic behaviours, which can be disturbing to readers.
There was a Da Vinci exhibit at the local science museum lately, and I was curious to read another book on the subject. There were details I hadn't heard before, and others I think I knew, but didn't remember. It always makes me wonder what would have become of Da Vinci in today's society of extreme specialization.
Very light book, although formulaic. It seems to follow the same basic formula as in Shop on Blossom Street, following the lives of three women, plus the shop owner. The ending seemed contrived. The characters are engaging, and it's not a bad summer read, if you're not expecting much.
I'm liking this series less and less. I've always thought the characters are interesting, but there were two inconsistencies that really bothered me in this book. First, was that a major character was thinking on May 1, that June 2 is four weeks and a day way. That's just totally wrong. Then there was another case where the author changed facts from a previous book to make the pacing of the book work out. Certain aspects of a character's life were covered in depth in a previous book, and then the same circumstances come up again. Rather than go through the same issues and concerns, the author changes the story from the previous book to fit the simplification. That always bothers me in books. These kind of details will keep me from reading future books in this series, at least for awhile.
Another book for the craft reading group. Whereas I can appreciate the concept of the book, I found it rather tedious. Perhaps it's because I've never had anyone that close to me die. Intellectually, I can understand the pain and the suffering, and I can empathize with the characters. However, I just didn't feel like the book was that engaging. I finished reading it mainly because I had a deadline.
It's always enjoyable to revisit characters you've gotten to know through a long series of books. I always enjoy the peeks into African culture, that seem so foreign to our current society. As always, a light and fun read.
Rather than the old "search for life on other planets", this book follows the scientific projects, as well as the state of thought through recent history. I'd seen much of the material in the scientific literature in the past, but it's much more interesting to see it all gathered in one place. You often don't hear about the scientific missteps, or they're downplayed in future literature. Instead, this book talks about the history of planetary research, warts and all.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I was intrigued about the discussion between faith and reason, and at the same time, unsure about the emphasis on anatomy. I found that I learned a lot about Descartes that I didn't know previously. I also found the evolution of thought interesting. It helps me better understand the root cause of some of the issues we're facing in society today.
Another in the series of books for my craft group. I think they're getting better. The mysteries are more interesting, and at least a little more complex. I was able to get the who, but not the why, which kept the book interesting until the end.
55. 6/14 Braniac - Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs - Ken Jennings
I saw this book on someone else's list, and it looked like fun. I recently had the occasion to do group trivia, and forgot how much I enjoyed it. This book weaves together the history of trivia, Ken's Jeopardy journey, why people like trivia, along with historical trivia questions. I found I could hardly put it down. I'd heartily recommend it to anyone with an interest in trivia.
I thought the book was interesting from the perspective that it shows more of the positive than the negative. It's genuinely more upbeat than some of the other books that are intended to scare people. Having said that, when I reached the end of the book, I reflected back, and realized that the majority of the book was on multimillionaires who were buying up land and donating it for preservation. Although I appreciate that action, it doesn't especially inspire me as far as something the average person can contribute. There's a small section in back, but I'd say that that's one of the book's weaknesses.
I like that this book starts having more aspects that continue between books. There's something to be said to have threads left unsolved to start off the next book. I'm starting to like these more.
A charming book, full of anecdotes from the life of Ted Geisel. We all know his work, but this book describes the person behind the clever cartoons. I was quite surprised to find how many "lucky accidents" led up to a lifetime body of work.
Obviously, in just a few days, I didn't get to do all the exercises. I do intend to do them over time, and I think they'll be useful. I like that this book talks about the psychology behind goal-setting. Too many seem like just a lot of rah-rah. I also like that there are different approaches described, since one size does NOT fit all.
Explains the history of probability theory in an accessible manner. Although I've studied the subject of probability in the past, I hadn't realized the origins.
I'd taken a break from the series for awhile, and the characters seem much fresher after leaving them aside for a few months. I'm getting close to current on this series, so I'll probably plan to finish them fairly soon, then read the new ones as they come out. I'm always amazed about the historical detailing in this series, and feel I learn something from each one, even though they're fiction.
I read this because I'd been in Alaska recently, and wanted to read Muir's descriptions of places I'd seen. Although the writing style is a little repetitive and dated, I enjoyed hearing someone else's descriptions of the country. John Muir does have a flair for writing detailed descriptions of geographic features, and that's what I was in the mood for. In addition, I think it helped me identify some of my photographs!
63. 7/13 Dyer Consequences - Maggie Sefton
Still having fun with these knitting mysteries. I actually figured out whodunnit before anything was done, but they're still fun.
64. 7/14 The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch
I enjoyed this book more than I'd expected. I'd had this book recommended, and it looked like an easy read. It would be cliche to say that this book makes you think about living each day as if it were your last. Obviously, that's a part of the book. Instead, I think of it more as reminders about things everyone knows, but has perhaps forgotten (mislaid?) over time.
This book did a good job of simplifying a complex subject. There are very few equations, and instead, the subject is explained more abstractly. I was amused when the author said that it deeply pained him not to include the algebraic solution of a problem, but that the editor wouldn't allow him to. I can't say I completely understand the subject yet, but it's nice to read different perspectives. Each book adds a little something else to my level of understanding.
This wasn't a very pleasant book, but a book people need to see. It talks about the psychology behind eating, and how the American diet has evolved into a current day monster. Another major discussion area, is how American business has contributed to the problem by supersaturating our food with calories, yet adding very little nutritionally. We've become jaded, and unless food is deep fried (sometimes multiple times), covered in cheese, and dipped in sour cream, then we consider the food bland. Examples cover popular restaurants, and I thought I was okay, until one of my favorite fast food restaurants was included in the analysis. It won't necessarily make me cut them out, but I will definitely be more vigilant when eating there!
This was somewhat a follow-on of the earlier book I read on Conversations on Consciousness. In a way, I wish I'd read this one first. It's easier to follow, since it has a single author, rather than all the different perspectives from the first book. I think I'd have liked the more detailed nature of Conversations to explain in more detail, some of the discussion points in this book.
68. 7/27 Murder on the Iditarod Trail - Sue Henry
I found this mystery thoroughly enjoyable, and I'll definitely read more in the future. I enjoyed all the details on the Iditarod, and went so far as to check maps, to see the different locations described in the book. I found I could hardly put it down.
This is a nice companion book to Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded. Rather than emphasize the problem, Goleman concentrates on ways to influence people to change their buying habits, to change big business. It's still not easy, but at least it shows the path to educating consumers, and making a difference long-term.
I always enjoy his pieces on NPR, and it's strange that I don't remember them when I'm reading the book. I also enjoy that they're grouped by topic, which gives them more context. Another advantage of these books, is that it reminds me of vocabulary that I don't often see in print.
71. 8/2 Fleece Navidad - Maggie Sefton
The mystery was pretty obvious, but it's still fun to see the story develop. Of course, I also enjoyed the pun in the book title!
This was the last book so far, so I figured I might as well finish them up. It's fun to see the characters develop over time, although once again, I'm not sure I'd recommend it to a mystery buff that isn't into fiber arts.
73. 8/11 See Delphi and Die - Lindsay Davis
Again, really enjoyed the historical details about the Olympic games. I saw the end coming a mile away, but there were enough surprises that it didn't feel totally obvious.
I wasn't too excited about this book. I'd hoped for more psychology and less "feel good".
75. 8/18 Killer Cuts - Elaine Viets
It's been long enough that this book was fun. It's also nice to see how the characters and relationships have evolved throughout the series.
76. 8/22 Saving the World at Work: What Companies and Individuals can do to go beyond making a profit to making a difference - Tim Sanders
In general, I enjoyed this book. It was a little overoptimistic in places, but there were some positive ideas. It reminded me somewhat of Eco Barons, although there were a lot more practical ideas that the average person could potentially implement.
Fun book crossing a multitude of fields, such as linguistics, psychology, sociology. We often don't think about errors in speech, and often try and ignore them, except when the errors themselves are comedic. It's interesting to find out that in fact, our verbal tics, such as "er", "uh", "um" are actually learned speech affectations, and are different for different languages. Geoffrey Nunberg quoted Um in his book, The Years of Talking Dangerously, and I'm glad he did. I don't think I'd have found this book otherwise.
Great mystery novel with lots of plot twists and turns. I also enjoyed that I recognized some of the geographic descriptions. The first book in the series, Murder at the Iditarod, won Sue Henry an award for best first novel. I liked this one much better!
79. 9/1 Royal Flush - Rhys Bowen
Another enjoyable book in the series. I can't say I loved it, but it's amusing, and if you like anglophile novels, it's amusing.
80. 9/5 The World in Six Songs - Daniel Levitin
I enjoyed his first book, This is Your Brain on Music, and I enjoyed this one as well. I like that it encompasses a wide range of disciplines, from music, to psychology, to anthropology, to biology, etc. I always like books that provide a wider scope, and this one does.
81. 9/9 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich your Life - Pam Grout
This is a little different from your typical vacation review book. The book is divided based on what you might like to get out of your vacation (creative outlet, feeling of contributing to the world, adventure, etc), and they focus only on that one aspect for different world vacations. Much of it is a "see how the other side lives", but there are some opportunities that are reasonably affordable. It would be a great resource for someone retired, who's looking for ways to get more out of their vacations, than just traveling.
82. 9/10 Swan for the Money - Donna Andrews
I always look forward to the new Meg Langslow books. I love the characters, and it's fun to read the next installment. Of course, the bird puns contribute to the enjoyment as well.
Another great Alaska mystery! As always, lots of complexities and fake leads. Things could go multiple ways, but which one? Henry leaves you guessing until the end.
84. 9/18 Finger Lickin' Fifteen - Janet Evanovich
I still enjoy these books, but not as much, now that I read more of the more complex mysteries. Still, the characters are fun, and I enjoy seeing what kinds of weird situations they can get themselves into.
It's interesting to see another perspective on one of the challenges of growing a business beyond a particular size. I'd always known about the challenge, but didn't had never completely thought about the solutions. The book made complete sense, although I'm not sure I would have thought up the solutions myself.
86. 9/29 Saturnalia - Lindsey Davis
I still enjoy the Falco series, although this one seemed to be getting a bit stale. The characters are probably what I enjoyed most. I wouldn't say it was one of the better plotlines in the series.
87. 10/3 Brutal Telling - Louise Penny
I look forward to every new book, and if anything, I think they're getting better. I love the complicated plots, and the way that themes are repeated throughout, and interwoven, much like an Escher print. I read reviews of the book when I was about halfway through. Just based on how people felt about the book, I realized whodunnit. Still, even if you know who, it's still fascinating to see all the plot feints, and there were still a few surprises.
I can't say I agreed with all the conspiracy theories in the book, but I think it does present some interesting ideas. Even though I wouldn't go as far to say that "big business" was intentionally trying to drive people into debt, to become indentured servants, I would agree that it was a side effect of trying to increase the bottom line. I wish there'd been more discussion about solutions, rather than just outlining the problem.
89. 10/8 Sand Sharks - Margaret Maron
I'm amazed at how one-dimensional this series is, compared to Louise Penny. I still enjoyed the book, but it seemed like the characters were flat, and there wasn't nearly the depth of story as in Louise Penny. I wouldn't say it's one of her better books anyway.
90. 10/14 With Purpose - Going from Success to Significance in Work and Life - Ken Dychtwald
There were some interesting ideas, but in general, this book was somewhat disappointing. It seemed like a lot more "inspirational material" than substantive discussion. In theory, I agree that people need to think more about living a significant life, and making some major changes. However, I would have liked more concrete details that don't seem totally obvious.
Enjoyed this book immensely, since we were on a very similar cruise this year. She's moving more into action, rather than mystery, but it was lots of fun.
92. 10/20 The Neuro Revolution - How Brain Science is Changing our World - Zack Lynch
Intriguing book, talking about the potential applications of the neuroscience revolution. Much of the discussion comes right out of science fiction. I like that he talks about some of the ethical questions of the neuro revolution. It seems like people don't necessarily think about the long-term sociological ramifications of technology.
93. 10/22 The Lost Art of Gratitude - Alexander McCall Smith
The Isabel Dalhousie books are always comfortable and relaxing reading. They bring up common life questions, and allow you to see someone else's reaction to the kind of problems that plague us all. It describes a much slower paced life than what most people experience.
I enjoyed this one a little more than some of the others. Lots of cross stitch references. The solution was fairly obvious, but it's still interesting to see how they got there.
95. 10/30 Nature of Technology - What it is and How it Evolves - Brian Arthur
I enjoyed this book, but was a little disappointed that it didn't go farther than it did. I enjoyed seeing someone else who thinks along the same lines that I do, and talks about some of the negatives of our increasingly accelerated rate of technological advances.
96. 11/1 Monk and the Dirty Cop - Lee Goldberg
What can I say? Another fun Monk book! I've been reading them as they come out, and that's about the right rate. This book was more enjoyable since I hadn't read one in many months. I made a point to see an episode of the show afterwards, since I was into it.
97. 11/4 Is God a Mathematician? - Mario Livio
The title is much more controversial than the book. This is more a history of mathematics, linking it to the physical world, as well as to philosophy. There's discussions of such topics as whether mathematics is created or discovered, which, of course, depends on your perspective. Math is such a large subject that even though I've read many books on different aspects of its history, this one was enough different that I found it very enjoyable.
I've recognized the trend, over time, in seeing the upsurge in positive thinking, to the exclusion of all practical thinking. It seems like many people seem to believe that if you wish hard enough for things, then you'll just get them. It doesn't mean that people shouldn't work to accomplish their goals, but they need to realize it won't just happen if they wish hard enough. I found it interesting to see the history of what led up to this dangerous movement in today's culture.
This was not one of my favorite of the series. It focus mainly on the story line of a crazed stalker chasing after Jessie. It's the kind of thing nightmares are made of. I'd say it's more suspense than mystery -- the main mystery is who the stalker is, and why the person is stalking Jessie. I like that this book came back to focus on Jessie, and included more about her relationship with her dogs.
I liked the information on old-time cars, and the antique car enthusiast set. However, I thought the answer was totally obvious, and so there wasn't much of a mystery.
101. 11/16 Knots and Crosses - Ian Rankin
Another book for the mystery book club. I'd say this is more of an intrigue or adventure book, rather than a mystery. This is a very different Edinburgh than what people see on vacation. I've heard this isn't the best of the series, but is important because it gives you information on Inspector Rebus' background and history.
I've had the growing concern that society has become more and more socially disconnected. I'd always thought the main cause was the increasing availability of electronic recreation, that occupies time. That's obviously part of it, but this book goes significantly deeper to understand the true start of the decline in social capital. A fascinating analysis.
103. 11/24 The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling - Arlie R. Hochschild
I'm catching up on my nonfiction, and found this book absolutely fascinating. It was referenced in Barbara Ehrenreich's book, as a discussion on how work in the service industry can lead to repression of emotions. Even though this work is over twenty years old, I found it extremely applicable in life today. I wish it were more current, but I just found that there's an anniversary edition available. If I can find it locally, I'd be very curious on if it's been updated to include how nationality affects emotional labor. I'm guessing that with the large number of immigrants in today's service industries, there would be a strong affect.
The theme is very similar to Omnivore's Dilemma, but this book concentrates more on the trade-offs industry has made to provide cheaper and cheaper food. Whereas we all might think we like less expensive food, seeing the long-term consequences of cheap food makes you think. Someone asked me whether this book is more demoralizing than Omnivore's Dilemma, and if anything, I'd say it's even more so. However, I felt even more incentivized to eat more local food, and vegetarian, when possible. It changed my behaviour, at least in the short run, and after all, isn't that the point?
105. 12/7 Writings from the New Yorker 1925-1976 - E B White
I've never read much of E.B. White's work, other than his children's works. A pity -- his essays and short pieces are witty and thoughtful. I can't say I always understood the issues covered, especially with some of the early pieces, but even when I didn't, I still see the feeling behind the work.
I can't say this was my favorite of the series. I liked the frequent allusions to historical events, and to Egyptian lore, rather than Roman.
I very much enjoyed learning more about how small children think. I was amazed at the level of sophistication. Gopnik described how the way children think isn't specifically worse, but just different.
108. 12/18 Murder on the Yukon Quest - Sue Henry
Another fiction book set during a dogsled race. These books are getting more formulaic, but I still found it enjoyable. I've never known anyone who's raced in a dogsled race, and it was interesting to hear about all the details.
109. 12/22 Hanging by a Thread - Monica Ferris
I'm not crazy about the extremely holiday-themed books. I'd say this book was less predictable than others in the series.
110. 12/25 Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future - Chris Mooney
I've read other books outlining the issues with declining interest in science in the US. I like that this book talked more about solutions, along with the problems. I think there are some very good ideas about how scientific education can be improved, including educating scientists on communication skills.
111. 12/29 Peace at Heart - An Oregon Country Life - Barbara Drake
A fun book of short stories describing life on a farm in the Willamette Valley. I enjoyed hearing about a way of life that seems so different from my own, and that shows both the positives and negatives of country life.
112. 12/31 Beneath the Ashes - Sue Henry
I enjoyed this digression into some of Jessie's past life experience. I'd somewhat wondered what she did before getting into dog sled racing. I also enjoyed the descriptions of Talkeetna and local areas. I'd been there earlier this year, and it's fun to hear someone else's description of the local landscape.
I don't think I made my 50% non-fiction percentage, but I did top 50 non-fiction books. For 2010, I'm moving to the 101010 in 2010 group, and try and be even more regimented in my reading.