Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'll Tell You a Tale, by J. Frank Dobie

Dobie was a professor at University of Texas for a considerable time. His short stories tell about the Texas and surrounding areas of the late 1800's. As you'd expect given the time frame, they're mostly about dealing with livestock and American Indians.

If your taste runs to that, I imagine you'd consider it a swell book.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Trust, by Francis Fukuyama

Although a touch dated, Trust, sub-titled "the social virtues and the creation of prosperity," seemed pretty insightful in its definition of high and low trust cultures and their accompanying social and business traditions.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Woman in Jerusalem, by A. B. Yehoshua

I strongly recommend this unusual book. It starts with a woman killed in a suicide bombing and left unclaimed in the morgue, then works its way around to understanding who she was. The hero defines who he is as he probes the woman's life.

The Accident Man, by Tom Cain

In the Heathrow airport, between flights, this book was on display in paperback, at half-price. How can you go wrong with a throwaway novel at discount before boarding a nine hour flight?

The good news: it was a fine diversion. The bad news: it was completely appropriate to leave behind on the plane for the next desperate reader - there was no temptation at all to bring it home.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Protect and Defend, by Vince Flynn

Your basic action thriller. Good to read on a flight, and that's when I read it.

Lamb, by Christopher Moore

This terrific book was a gift from mis suegros. The full title is "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal." I suppose I expected something goofy, given the title. Instead, I found a really well written, interesting and - to my surprise - even respectful (in its own way) novel.

Oh, and to be sure, it is a novel. As the author takes pains to remind his readers, "This story is not and never was meant to challenge anyone's faith; however, if one's faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel, one may have a bit more praying to do."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck

The same NPR broadcast on books with dogs that led me to the less than fabulous "Foreign Affairs" also pointed me to "Travels with Charley." My good luck to have stuck with the theme long enough to enjoy this book. Yes, great. Yes, what do you expect, it is after all, Steinbeck.

Six Easy Pieces, by Richard Feynman

This book provides a taste of Fynman's lecture style. It comprises the six easiest chapters of his "Lectures on Physics."

I'm not sure I'd use the word easy to describe them. They are accessible, but for me, also fairly intense. I'd describe the book as one which requires access to unlimited espresso.

But I imagine it might have been really fun to be a physics student at CalTech during Feynman's tenure there (1952 - 1987).

A Complaint Free World, by Will Bowen

Read this book.

This is Norman Vincent Peale's "Power of Positive Thinking" restated in a very pragmatic and operational way.

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Influence, by Robert Cialdini

A must read. Explains why certain sales approaches work.

Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This was an exhausting book to read. I didn't realize this until I was about 7/8th's through it and wondered, but what's the point?

It is one of those novels without the kind of explicit plot direction one finds in a murder mystery or simple thriller.

And in spite of this, it was ... well, interesting, throughout.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hitman, by William Dietz

$1.40 -- that's why I read this book. I had a $5 coupon about to expire, plus a 10% off coupon, similarly about to expire. I was about to leave on a business trip and the nearest bookstore that would take my coupons was a Borders Express with extremely limited selection.

For this price, I thought it would be a good throwaway airplane book.

It ended up being only an okay throwaway airplane book.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Rickles' Book, by Don Rickles

This memoir brought back fond memories of laughing at Don Rickles during one of his TV appearances when I was a child.

The Spectrum, by Dean Ornish

Eat mostly vegetarian (with some fish), exercise regularly, meditate, have fun with folks you like. Seems like simple enough advice; according to Dr. Ornish it is also a cost-effective means to long-term good health.

Dr. Ornish pokes fun at his reputation for severity and extremism and comes across very pleasantly and credible.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Playing for Pizza, by John Grisham

I really don't know where this came from - apparently I had requested it from the local library as a reserve book. It wasn't the legal thriller I'd anticipated from this author. Far from it. But a surprisingly enjoyable light read.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, by Cory Doctorow

It kept my interest right up to the end. But weird, with a capital W.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Snakehead, by Anthony Horowitz

Don't make fun: it is a very quick read, a spy thriller, and so what if it turns out to be a "youth market" book at that. Go figure. I'm in the middle of a few other books and just needed the break.

Besides, it was fast and enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 Best Of Lists

Best fiction of the year:

Best non-fiction of the year:

The year-end numbers are in, and are right in line with prior years: 116 books read, of which 28 were non-fiction and 88 fiction. I expect to pick up the pace a bit in 2008 but that may be because I've just glanced at the queue of 28 books in my "to-be-read" stack.