Sunday, December 30, 2012

Books I Read in 2012

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
The first book was really good. This one was also a gripping read. Sometimes, imperfect main characters can be really irritating. In this case, I appreciated that these characters were all a bit broken, given that they lived in such a terrible system.

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
I didn't like this one as much as the first two, but I didn't hate it as much as some people I've talked to. I thought it was interesting to find the parallels between the revolution and the games themselves, to try to determine whether they were fighting for their freedom, or whether there was just another game and another games master pulling the strings.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen - Christopher McDougall
While it may have been overly sentimental and less than entirely scientific, this book inspired me to actually consider running as something enjoyable, rather than simply a means of transportation that was grossly less efficient than cycling.

Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists - Gideon Defoe (read twice)
Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab - Gideon Defoe
Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists - Gideon Defoe
Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoloeon - Gideon Defoe
Scott and I watched the Aardman animated film and I wanted to check out the source material. Loved these books so much. If I were to ever write a book, I would want it to be like these books. I especially loved the Adventure with Communists. Beards were truly luxuriant, as advertised.

A Study in Scarlett (Sherlock Holmes #1) - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Having enjoyed the BBC series, I decided to read the original story. I was quite surprised to find Mormons at the center of the intrigue. Who knew?

Roughing It - Mark Twain
Something I read about A Study in Scarlett led me to this book by Mark Twain, since it covers a similar time and place in the American West. The book was fantastic, but O My Goodness was it LONG. His description of meeting Brigham Young was a highlight, for sure.

The National Dream - Pierre Berton
I really enjoyed Berton's 2 books about the War of 1812, so I had been thinking about reading this one about the political and surveying efforts that preceded the construction of the Canandian Transcontinental Railroad. It fits nicely with my recent exploration of 1860s-1870s history.

The Gangs of New York: An Informal History Of the Underworld - Herbert Asbury
I think I stumbled across a reference to this book when I was browsing through info about various movies on Wikipedia or IMDB and was curious about it. I have never seen the film, since it is filled with some pretty gory scenes. Well, the book is also chock-full of violent episodes -- although the author doesn't indulge in overly-gruesome descriptions. It blew me away to read how lawlessly violent things could be in New York just 140 years ago. By comparison, we live in some kind of fairyland today.

The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit - J.J. Lee
I came across a mention of this book while checking some info about ordering a suit online. I devoured the whole thing a matter of days and just loved it. You don't have to love suits to love the book, but it helps.

The Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Technically, this was an audiobook, which we listed to on our road trip to Brad's wedding. Each of these books has followed a 2-part formula of 1) Sherlock nabbing the culprit; and 2) a lengthy explanation of the culprit's back story in some far-off locale (ie: Utah, India, Andaman Islands). In both cases, Part 1 is the best part, but I can understand the appeal of these far-off places to the original audience.

Pirates! In an Adventure with Romantics - Gideon Defoe
Wow. Just when you think that maybe this author is a bit of a one-trick pony and possibly out of gas (do ponies require gasoline?), he writes a book that is better than any of his previous efforts. Lord Byron is absolutely booming.

Killer Koalas from Outer Space and Lots of Other Very Bad Stuff that Will Make Your Brain Explode! - Andy Griffiths (Author), Terry Denton (Illustrator)
Scott picked this one from the library and it was probably one of the funniest things I've read in a while. I questioned whether it was age-appropriate, but I did not question whether it was funny. Our very favourite page is this one:

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