Showing posts with label 365 Books a year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 365 Books a year. Show all posts

Thursday, January 2, 2014

End of the Year Part 1: Reading

With 2013 over, I met my goal of over 365 books.  I read a lot of great books in the last year.  I gave a good amount of ratings between 2 and 4 stars but I reserve the 1 or 5 star ratings for special books.  This year, I found 19 books worthy of the 5-Star rating, which averages out to less than 1 out of 20 books or just under 5% of the books I read this year.  It has been an interesting trip through reading this year.  I read over 140 books more than I did in 2012.  And in total, I read about 150 traditional "books" and over 250+ graphic novels.  It was definitely a reading-intensive year.  But as is the case with any endeavor, you hit some great books and some not so great books.  Looking back, I see that I gave 5-star reviews to more books than I previously thought I did and gave a lot less 1 star reviews than I thought I might have.
Word Cloud of Books Read
Word Cloud of Books Read

My Rating System

I follow the 5 star reading of Goodreads since I use that as my tracking system for books read over the years.  
5 Stars:  It was amazing.  This means that it is a must-own and that it is in all likelihood the first book to rise to my head when recommending books on particular subjects.
4 Stars:  Really liked it.  It was a great read but I might have found some fault with it where I took issue with the argument, ideas, plot, evidence, etc.  I'll still likely want to own it and recommend it, but it's not without some flaws.
3 Stars:  Liked it.  Enjoyable for sure but didn't impress or move me.
2 Stars:  It was Ok.  I finished it and it had something redeemable about it, but not quite what I was looking for.  Mildly engaging but my life would be fine without having read it.
1 Star:  Did not like it.  Entirely unimpressive, disappointing, or potential drivel.

The 5 Star list for 2013:

  1. My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture by Susan Blum
  2. A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today by Kate Bornstein
  3. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind by James Boyle
  4. Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis
  5. How to Fake a Moon Landing: Lies, Hoaxes, Scams, and Other Science Tales by Darryl Cunningham
  6. Experience and Education by John Dewey
  7. Modern Scholar: How to Think: The Liberal Arts and Their Enduring Value by Michael Drout
  8. In the Body of the World: A Memoir by Eve Ensler
  9. The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin
  10. Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe 
  11. Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
  12. The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia by Andrew Lih
  13. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  14. You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself by David McRaney
  15. Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville
  16. Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful by Beth Noveck
  17. The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth
  18. Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris
  19. The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial: A Drama In Two Acts by Herman Wouk

The 1 Star List for 2013

  1. Grifter, Vol. 1: Most Wanted by Nathan Edmonson
  2. The Answer! by Mike Norton
  3. Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglass Rushkoff
  4. Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match by Amy Web
  5. Webb, Amy
Apparently, I read a lot more good than bad if we measure by the extremes.  Most of my reads sat somewhere between 2 and 4 stars.

All in all, it was an interesting challenge that I enjoyed.  I don't think I would do it again as intentionally as I did this year (that is, set a goal of doing it), but I am glad I did it.  I do like the idea of having reading goals each year and changing it up to keep it challenging (just like one should change their workouts to keep their body in shape).  For 2014, I am aiming to do a short story a day as that will offer it's own set of challenges.
Word Cloud of Authors Read This Year
Word Cloud of Authors Read This Year

Here's the month by month breakdown.

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

365 Books a Year Challenge: 46 Books in December

I have finished by quest to read a book a day and did a bit better (though more accounting the amount of graphic novels than anything else).  I read 412 books this year. Not too shabby!  With the end of the semester and some down time, I was hoping to read more traditional books but being hit with the flu and then the cold, made reading a bit harder.  However, I still had a good mixture of reads that I enjoyed.  So here are some of the best reads this month.

Newtown: An American Tragedy by Matthew Lysiak

Lysiak offers an investigative look at the Sandy Hook mass shooting in December 2012.  It's a powerful and intriguing book that balances the facts with the emotion.  He introduces the reader to all of the major people involved, sharing their history and they potential.  He does nto sugarcoat things but at the same time, he proves respectful in his descriptions.  It is a fascinating look at what unfolded and more importantly, a good look at the complexity of the challenges around mass shootings.
Book cover:  Reducing Gun Violence.  Source: http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1357930583l/17220135.jpg

Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis by Daniel Webster

Hand in hand with the above book is this book which was also born out of the Sandy Hook massacre.  While Lysiak's book puts a face to the events and challenges around mass shootings, Webster's collection of essays by different authors approach the mass shootings from any analytical vantage point, using research and existing evidence around gun violence to determine ways and opportunities of reducing it.  It offers many different approaches, none of which are monumental or unachievable and many of which do not necessarily challenge most people's thoughts around legality and appropriate level of response.  

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

Mayer-Schönberger offers an interesting look at what the world can look like with the increasing use of big-data t reveal correlations and connections of access.  There is certainly much to be concerned about as he points out in using big data to identify correlations over causations, but there is much to gained and it will be a tightly-walked line (if done right).  The book helps to better explain what is meant by "big data" and the myriad ways it can be used (or has been used) to improve the world.

Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human by Robert Minor

Minor's book is rather complex for the lay reader but extremely profound and useful for everyone as it identifies the elements of "straight culture" that reinforce a variety of expectations, demands, and problems in our culture.  He teases out a variety of perceptions about how our culture pushes people towards being "straight."  He's careful to distinguish between being heterosexual and being straight, seeing them as quite different.  That is, heterosexuality is understood as the desire and attraction to members of the (perceived) opposite sex whereas "straight" is the ways that attraction is expected to be displayed.  It's a powerful book that many could glean much from as it comes to how we understand our own and others sexuality.
Book cover:  The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth.  Image Source:  http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1365465556l/17265276.jpg

The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth

Ruth's The Lost Boy threw me for a loop.  I anticipated it to be just another graphic novel to enjoy but he craftily assembles a story that fits into the tradition of The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, or the Bridge to Terabithia.  It is a typical fantasy coming-of-age story of a boy who moves into a house where he discovers that another boy has gone missing and gets entangled in finding out what happened to the "lost boy."  I found the art and the story just well developed and engaging.  I may have to go back and read some of his other stuff.  

Reading Tallies for Each Month

So for a recap of the previous months and what I've read, you can check out the link listing below or check out my Goodreads profile for a listing of all books read this year (and previously).
So that my reading challenge for 2013.  I've honed in on my challenge for 2014 and will be updated everyone on that shortly.  For those that have actually read and kept up to date with my ramblings on my monthly readings-thanks!

BOOKS

  • Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices by Tanya Joosten
  • Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe by Tim Leong

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold
  • Increasing Our Longing to Help Others by Pema Chödrön
  • The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World by Howard Gardner
  • The Motherfucker With the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis
  • Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman
  • Newtown: An American Tragedy by Matthew Lysiak
  • Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger
  • Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human by Robert Minor
  • Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis by Daniel Webster
  • Pretty Fire by Charlayne Woodward
  • The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial: A Drama In Two Acts by Herman Wouk

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Wolverine: Season One by Ben Acker
  • All-New X-Men, Vol. 3: Out of Their Depth by Brian Michael Bendis
  • Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown
  • Vader's Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown
  • Sex: Book One: The Summer of Hard by Joe Casey
  • Iron Man: Season One by Howard Chaykin
  • Avengers Assemble: Science Bros by Kelly Sue DeConnick
  • Monkey King, Volume 1: Birth of the Stone Monkey by Wei Dong Chen
  • Harbinger Volume 2: Renegades TP by Joshua Dysart 
  • Harbinger Vol. 3: Harbinger Wars by Joshua Dysart
  • Fantastic Four Volume 2: Road Trip by Matt Fraction
  • Fantastic Four, Vol. 1: New Departure, New Arrivals by Matt Fraction
  • Goliath by Tom Gauld
  • Invincible Universe Volume 1 by Phil Hester
  • The Manhattan Projects, Vol. 3: Building! by Jonathan Hickman
  • Cable and X-Force, Vol. 2: Dead or Alive by Dennis Hopeless
  • Uncanny X-Force, Vol. 2: Torn and Frayed by Sam Humphries
  • Uncanny X-Force, Vol. 1: Let It Bleed by Sam Humphries
  • Green Lantern, Vol. 3: The End by Geoff Johns
  • Daredevil: Season One by Antony Johnston
  • The Walking Dead, Vol. 19: March to War by Robert Kirkman
  • Hawk and Dove, Vol. 1: First Strikes by Rob Liefeld
  • The Savage Hawkman, Vol. 2: Wanted by Rob Liefeld
  • Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1: Demon Star by Grant Morrison
  • Lazarus, Vol. 1: Family by Greg Rucka
  • The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth
  • The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 3: No Escape by Dan Slott
  • The Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder
  • Thor: Season One by Matthew Sturges
  • Batman and Robin, Vol. 3: Death of the Family by Peter Tomasi
  • X-O Manowar Volume 3: Planet Death by Robert Venditti
  • X-Men, Vol. 1: Primer by Brian Wood
  • The Massive, Vol. 2: Subcontinental by Brian Wood

So what did you read in the last year that you found enjoyable, useful, or inspiring?


Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

365 Books a Year Challenge: 34 Books in November

The tally of books is in for November and I crossed the finish line of 368 books.  I'm going to obviously keep going for December--mayhaps I'll hit 400 books this year. It's quite possible at this point!  Unfortunately, there were no physical books read this month either--just audiobooks and graphic novels.  But given that I was finishing up my Master's Degree and writing the report on that, it is of no surprise.  I anticipate I will be better in December with traditional books.  However, I'm happy with my 34 audiobooks and graphic novels for this month.

For next year's challenge, I'm definitely leaning towards reading a short-story a day and blogging about each.  I already have my anthologies lined up.  But we've still got one more month to go and I hope to make December a great note to end on.  In the meantime, here are the highlights from this month's readings:
Book Cover: Trust Me I'm Lying by Ryan Holiday.  Image Source: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61WSxFk74oL.jpg

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday

My friend and colleague, Rob Weir has succinctly summarized this book on his own blog before I could.  In many ways, it is a valuable read that provides some insight into the blogosphere and modern news media.  However, it's also at times feels more like bravado than confessional and there is definitely elements of trustworthiness when it comes to Holiday's self-proclaimed feats.  But all that being said, he does emphasize the superficiality of an online media system that relies on page-clicks and ad-views, and not reliable content.  In fact, I think his argument that getting the news wrong is almost as valuable as getting it right because it means a site gets more stories and thus more page-clicks (and therefore more revenue) is probably not far off the mark at times.  

Writing on the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage

Book Cover:  Writing on the Wall by Tom Standage. Image Source: http://img2.imagesbn.com/p/9781620402849_p0_v2_s260x420.JPGI'm a fan of Tom Standage's work.  He captures history in some rather fascinating ways and connects it to the everyday life of people in unexpected ways.  Writing On the Wall is no different and of course, more dear to my heart as he meticulously traces the history of the characteristics of social media far back to ancient times.  He identifies the various ways in which humans use and engage with social media today (along with the how the mainstream culture questions, values, and devalues these exchanges) and finds their historical analogs.  We find Circero telling his informers to write him letters even when there is nothing new to write as well as the graffiti-laden walls of ancient cities, not just filled with irrelevant messages but advertisements, lovers' exchanges, and other content that holds meaning.  It is an argument that I greatly appreciate since I also see that though there is change of format, there has not necessarily a change in the style, approach, and meaning of human exchange.  

Modern Scholar: How to Think: The Liberal Arts and Their Enduring Value by Michael Drout

Book cover: Modern Scholars: The Liberal Arts and Their Enduring Value by Michael C. Drout - Image Source: assets.com/540x540/fit/hostedimages/1380933367/3369853.jpg
I willingly admit that I am a total fanboy of Michael C. Drout's work.  He is the author of several lecture series from Recorded Book's Modern Scholar line.  His lively voice, amusing asides, and excitement over nerdy things add a level of interest to the lectures that other Modern Scholar lecturers seem to miss.  This lecture series is no different as he delves into the history, the values, the importance, and the problems with the Liberal Arts as a major centerpiece of modern education.  It's worth a listen for everyone who works in the liberal arts and more so for those who wish to devalue (and ultimately, defund) the liberal arts as it provides a good strong explanation as to their cultural importance.

So there are my highlights from this past month.  For those keeping track, here's the full list of books thus far (or check it out on GoodReads):

AUDIOBOOKS
  • Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
  • Writing on the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage
  • Marvel's Civil War by Stuart Moore
  • Modern Scholar: How to Think: The Liberal Arts and Their Enduring Value by Michael Drout
  • Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead by Charlene Li
  • Report from the Interior by Paul Auster
  • The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (Elric, #2) by Michael Moorcock
GRAPHIC NOVELS
  • Batman and Robin, Vol. 2: Pearl by Peter Tomasi
  • Smallville Season 11 Vol. 2: Detective by Bryan Miller
  • Talon, Vol. 1: Scourge of the Owls by Scott Snyder
  • Supergirl, Vol. 2: Girl in the World by Michael Green
  • Ame-Comi Girls Vol. 1 by Jimmy Palmiotti
  • Deadpool, Vol. 2: Soul Hunter by Brian Posehn
  • Daze of Hate, Knights of Suffering (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, #4) by John Jackson Miller
  • The Reason for Dragons by Chris Northrop
  • Days of Fear, Nights of Anger (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, #3) by John Jackson Miller
  • Star Wars: Dark Times Volume 6 - Fire Carrier by Randy Stradley
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis
  • Indestructible Hulk, Vol. 2: Gods and Monster by Mark Waid
  • X-Men Legacy Volume 2: Invasive Exotics by Simon Spurrier
  • Mara by Brian Wood
  • Nova, Vol.1: Origin by Jeph Loeb
  • Batman, Vol. 3: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder
  • Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan by Michael J. Straczynski
  • Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre by Darwyn Cooke
  • Shazam!, Vol. 1 by Geoff Johns
  • Secret Avengers Volume 1 - Reverie by Nick Spencer
  • Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach by Brian Azarello
  • Stephen King's N by Marc Guggenheim
  • Flashpoint (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, #2) by John Jackson Miller
  • Avengers Arena Volume 2: Game On by Dennis Hopeless
  • Resident Alien, Volume 1: Welcome to Earth! by Peter Hogan
  • How to Fake a Moon Landing: Lies, Hoaxes, Scams, and Other Science Tales by Darryl Cunningham


Creative Commons License

By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

365 Books a Year Challenge: 27 Books in October

I'm in the final stretch of reading this year with just two months to go and 332 books read.  It seems safe to say I will make the 365 book mark and in all likelihood pass it.  This will put me at over 100+ books than last year.  Not a bad year in terms of reading I would say.  Clearly, this month I didn't make the 31 count to match the days, but since last month I hit 47 and October was incredibly busy, I'm ok with that. 

What I'm less ok with is that I didn't read any traditional books but graphic novels and audiobooks.  I am into some degree of at least 4 books that will make the list for November in all likelihood but I'm sure some people are snickering at my claims of "reading" 27 books despite they not being traditional "books".  Of course, interestingly, if I read every one of Shakespeare's writings, those also would not constitute "books"--they are plays and poetry collections.  


In terms of works that stuck out this month, there wasn't a lot.  There were a few disappointments (The Design of Future Things by Donald A. Norman and Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff) but only three that stuck out to any degree.  

Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville


To be fair, I've read Bartleby before but it came through as a title to review this month and it had been a while so I figured another listen was worth it, since I do enjoy it.  I'll save talking about the narration as that's part of the professional review I wrote.  But Bartleby is on of my favorite Melville stories and I love to teach it.  The tension and consternation of the narrator with Bartleby is wonderful to watch as he knows not how to deal with such a direct force as Bartleby and his "preferences."

You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself by David McRaney


Books like McRaney's are great as I find them to help center me and keep a wide open perspective about how people come to see the world (including myself) and how even when we may think we are right or see something clearly, we are substantially bogged down by external and internal forces that lead us to believe we know more than we might.   It earned a 5-Star rating (meaning I think it's required reading for everyone!) because I think so much of dialogue on so many different subjects could be enhanced through learning about the different ways in which despite our best efforts, we often fail at communication.

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2) by Stephen King


King returns to the world of one of his most famous and classic books with Doctor Sleep and it's a great trip.  King manages to deliver another story in the world without it being a sequel per se but rather, a continuation of the journey started in The Shining.  He loads it with his typical features (supernatual, characters devoid of morals, cross-country treks, and good folks with power never quite sure of what they are supposed to do).  I continue to enjoy King for his dedication to the story and writing style; he tells great stories that are always worth listening to.

So there are my highlights from this past month.  For those keeping track, here's the full list of books thus far (or check it out on GoodReads):
And for those who want to know what books I enjoyed, here is the list:  

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Social TV: How Marketers Can Reach and Engage Audiences by Connecting Television to the Web, Social Media, and Mobile by Mike Proulx
  • Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2) by Stephen King
  • Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist by Bill McKibben
  • The Design of Future Things by Donald A. Norman
  • Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville
  • Sister Mother Husband Dog: Etc. by Delia Ephron
  • You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself by David McRaney
  • Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, Vol. 1 - Force Storm by John Ostrander 
  • Domovoi by Peter Bergting
  • The Last of Us: American Dreams by Neil Druckmann
  • Bandette Volume 1: Presto! by Paul Tobin
  • Wonder Woman, Vol. 3: Iron by Brian Azzarello
  • The Answer! by Mike Norton
  • Daredevil: End of Days by Brian Michael Bendis
  • X-Treme X-Men, Vol. 2: You Can't Go Home Again by Greg Pak
  • Wolverine Volume 1: Hunting Season by Paul Cornell
  • The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 2: A Troubled Mind by Dan Slott
  • Star Wars, Volume 1: In the Shadow of Yavin by Brian Wood
  • Superman Beyond: Man of Tomorrow by JT Krul
  • Commencement (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, #1) by John Jackson Miller
  • The Defense of Kamino and Other Tales (Star Wars: Clone Wars, #1) by John Ostrander
  • Star Wars: Vaders Quest by Darko Macan
  • The Ahakista Gambit (Star Wars: Rebellion, #2) by Rob Williams
  • Star Wars: Jango Fett by Ron Marz
  • Star Wars: Chewbacca by Darko Macan
  • The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice by Mike Carey

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

365 Books a Year Challenge: 47 Books in September

This month I cruised passed the 300 mark (306 to be exact) and am well on the path to topping 365 books and maybe hitting the 400 mark.  We shall see.  I was in full gear this month and ready 47 books.  Granted 19 of which were traditional books and the other 28 were graphic novels, but that's still a fair feat for a month I would say.

So what were some of this month's highlights?  Let's check them out!
Image:  Book cover to In the Body of the World

In the Body of the World: A Memoir by Eve Ensler.  

In two words, this book is "brutally beautiful."  I've enjoyed Ensler's work--not just the now-famous Vagina Monologues but her other work (e.g. The Good Body) and her overall activism.  She has her share of critics about how she presents her message but the amount of good work and its impact on the world is palpable.  She has certainly been an inspiration to me on how to be a feminist.  This memoir meshes the world of her childhood violence with the continued violence of women around the world; all of which is superimposed on her battle with cancer.  In the Body of the World jumps from topic to topic at an almost frantic pace, mixing poetry, essays, and reflections.  Each piece conveys various facets of her experience and how the violence experienced by her body is connected to much of the violence throughout the world.

I listened to this as an audiobook and Ensler reads it in her typical dramatic flair.  This adds greatly to the experience and it's clear from her pace, emphasis and tone when she is ready poetry or an essay.  The various emotions from her writing boil over into her voice and it is extremely hard not to be moved by this book.
Image:  Book cover  to Who Owns the Future by Jaron Lanier

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier.  

This book is not as emotionally charging as Ensler's but it is equally important for the world today.  As a well-known technologist of the 1980s and 1990s, Lanier has much to say about the modern interconnected world and his concerns about it.  Continuing on from his last book, You Are Not a Gadget, he explores the world of mega-servers, their powers to influence the world and the impact that can have on human affairs, particularly the world of economics and trade.  His biggest concern is that the information individuals are willing to give companies, as he claims, "for free" is setting up a system that will inevitably come back to bite us in our collective asses.  He offers up a new approach to the exchange of information that takes place every time an individual sits at a computer and accesses the internet.  His idea would be to create a system of micropayments so that everyone is given something for every piece of information that another person, company, entity uses.

Some people might not fully understand but every time they interact with a computer, there are numerous note-takers recording much of what you do in terms of what you click, what you look at, how long you look at it, etc.  Many have argued that Google and the like do much more in terms of surveillance than NSA ever could.  Lanier believes individuals should be paid for such information, even if it is micropayments (with the belief that it will amount to some small streams of revenue given the amount of information that is actually collected on us).  I do like the idea but I find Lanier still fails to prove his point.  His most basic argument is that companies are taking information from us without our consent and without due compensation.  Yet, that's not entirely true.  In many cases, we are exchanging services.  I provide information about me and in return, I get  use and access to tools that I would not have had otherwise.  He never substantially addresses this.  Otherwise, it's a fantastic and thought-provoking book.
Image:  Book cover for Like One

Like One: Poems for Boston edited by Deborah Finkelstein

 I'm not a big fan of poetry, which is why I find it amusing that two of my big picks for this month have a strong poetry component (the other being Ensler's book).  Like One: Poems for Boston is a great anthology filled with contemporary and classic poets (e.g. Walt Whitman and Robert Frost) that celebrates togetherness.  Editor, Deborah Finkelstein was inspired to edit this anthology in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings--not to put the focus on the tragedy, but to capture the unity that emerged in its aftermath.  The collection's proceeds go to help victims of the bombing.

Overall, I surprisingly liked this collection.  That's not because I expected less from it but mostly because I'm not usually as captured by poetry as other forms of writing.  I appreciate it, but am just not driven to read it.  However, Finkelstein not only selected a great and accessible collection of poems, she also did a great job of organizing the poems as they often flow from one to another in a way that's hard to fully explain but feels natural.  As one reads through the poems, it's easy to understand why the order fit; each one seems in part born of the previous poem and preparing to birth the next.  In that, there is a harmony to this collection that beautifully captures the purpose in celebrating the unity of Bostonians.

A Christmas Story: The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film by Jean Shepherd.  

The less serious pick of the month is one that I'm betting most people did not even know was a book first.  Most people know A Christmas Story for the classic 1983 film that many of us relish watching around the holidays.  Some may even know that it's a musical now too.  But most, never knew it was a book first.

I really enjoyed the book.  It's a collection of short stories rather than one singular text like the film and it's easy to see how they turned it into a film so seamlessly.  It's not a case of the book is better, though I wouldn't say the film is better either.  They each do things that the others cannot and compliment one another quite well.  The only significant different between the two ends up being the time of the stories.  In the film, the story is situated in the 1950s, while in the book, the stories are situated in the 1930s.  Otherwise, they capture the epic adventure that is childhood quite well.

So there are my highlights from this past month.  For those keeping track, here's the full list of books thus far (or check it out on GoodReads):
And for those who want to know what books I enjoyed, here is the list:  

BOOKS

  • Like One: Poems for Boston by Deborah Finkelstein
  • The Dream Boss by Carrie Stack
  • African History For Beginners by Herb Boyd
  • The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2) by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Jane Austen For Beginners by Robert Dryden

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Hollywood Said No!: Orphaned Film Scripts, Bastard Scenes, and Abandoned Darlings from the Creators of Mr. Show by David Cross & Bob Odenkirk
  • Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction by David Seed
  • Survival 101: The Essential Guide to Saving Your Own Life in a Disaster by Marcus Duke
  • David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis
  • In the Body of the World: A Memoir by Eve Ensler
  • Myth: A Very Short Introduction by Robert Segal
  • Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
  • The Truth by Michael Palin
  • A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming: Mastering the Art of Oneironautics by Dylan Tuccillo
  • Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper
  • The Butler: A Witness to History by Wil Haygood
  • If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young by Kurt Vonnegut
  • A Christmas Story: The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film by Jean Shepherd

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair by Len Wein
  • Five Ghosts, Vol. 1: The Haunting of Fabian Gray by Frank Barbiere
  • East of West, Vol. 1: The Promise by Jonathan Hickman
  • Transfusion: Vampires Versus Robots by Steve Niles
  • The Black Beetle in No Way Out by Francesco Francavilla
  • Green Hornet: Year One Vol 1: The Sting of Justice by Matt Wagner
  • Colder by Paul Tobin
  • Supercrooks by Mark Millar
  • Lobster Johnson, Vol. 2: The Burning Hand by Mike Mignola
  • Willow: Wonderland by Jeff Parker
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Welcome to the Team (Season 9, #4) by Andrew Chambliss
  • Angel & Faith: Death and Consequences (Angel & Faith, #4) by Christos Gage
  • Swamp Thing, Vol. 2: Family Tree by Scott Snyder
  • Animal Man, Vol. 3: Rotworld: The Red Kingdom by Jeff Lemire
  • Nightwing, Vol. 2: Night of the Owls by Kyle Higgins
  • Infinity Incoming! by Stan Lee
  • Cable and X-Force, Vol. 1: Wanted by Dennis Hopeless
  • Avengers - Volume 2: The Last White Event by Jonathan Hickman
  • Orchid, Volume 3 by Tom Morello
  • Orchid, Volume 2 by Tom Morello
  • Orchid, Volume 1 by Tom Morello
  • Star Wars: Purge by John Ostrander
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Sith Hunters by Henry Gilroy
  • The Dark Side (Star Wars: Jedi, #1) by Scott Allie
  • My Brother, My Enemy (Star Wars: Rebellion, #1) by Rob Williams
  • Betrayal (Star Wars: Empire, #1) by Scott Allie
  • Path to Nowhere (Star Wars: Dark Times, #1) by Mick Harrison
  • Parallels (Star Wars: Dark Times, #2) by Mick Harrison
So hey, what are some of your best reads this year?  What has grabbed your attention fro good or bad reasons?

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, September 9, 2013

365 Books a Year Challenge: 35 Books in August

Another 35 books on the list, bringing me to 260 books for the year!  It's safe to say that I'll hit my mark, I think.  This month had a couple reads that I wanted to talk a little more about than I usually do.

Elric of Melniboné (Elric, #1) by Michael Moorcock

So if you search through my Goodreads books, there is a good amount of fantasy in there but I had never picked up Moorcock's work.  I actually liked this one and am tempted to read a few more.  It's nothing great or inspiring but it had good progression to it--it didn't linger to long (I'm looking at you, late Robert Jordan).  It reminded me a lot (for obvious reasons) of the DragonLance and Forgotten Realms series.

The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind by James Boyle

So everyone should read this book that is ever thinking of making anything in any form that they may or may not want credit for (either in accolades or payment).  It's a great book for understanding the complexities of the public domain and the ways in which ensuring there is indeed a public commons of works after a reasonable time has passed from its creation (that is, current copyright is ridiculous) ensures a rich and vibrant culture.  Additionally, it is a book that practices what it preaches and is indeed available in digital for free on its website.

Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire

I don't often spend much time in these posts talking about graphic novels, but Lemire (who I've talked about before) is just wonderful to read.  The end of this series (Sweet Tooth) was a bittersweet.  It was an enjoyable, quirky, and intriguing story that reminds me why I try to read everything that he contributes to.  It's a post-apocalyptic story with an adoptive father and destine-born strange child, but Lemire still manages to make it engaging and curious.

Screaming with the Cannibals by Lee Maynard

This recommendation comes with a warning.  This book is not for easily offended.  It's a complex book but one with a good amount of swears, sex scenes, and racial epithets.  In earnest, it feels like Huck Finn reinvented for the middle of the 20th century.  However, what's most enjoyable is the audiobook where Ross Ballard II of Mountain Whispers Audiobooks plays the producer, director, and narrator making it a fantastic listening experience.  I actually had the opportunity to interview Ross and that will be published in the near future.  To be forewarned, this is a sequel to the book, Crum, but you can still pick this one up and listen to it without missing much.

Here's the full list thus far (or check it out on GoodReads):
Here are this month's books:

BOOKS

  • Lovers' Yoga: Soothing Stretches for Two by Darrin Zeer
  • Analyzing Performance Problems: Or, You Really Oughta Wanna--How to Figure out Why People Aren't Doing What They Should Be, and What to do About It by Robert F. Mager

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Elric of Melniboné (Elric, #1) by Michael Moorcock
  • Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn't, and What's Next by Cecily Sommers
  • The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind by James Boyle
  • The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1) by Rick Yancey
  • Clockwork Fairy Tales: A Collection of Steampunk Fables by Stephen Antczak
  • Screaming with the Cannibals by Lee Maynard
  • Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts by Emily Anthes
  • Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder, Vol. 2: Lost and Gone Forever by Mike Mignola
  • Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 1 by Paul Dini
  • Aquaman, Vol. 2: The Others by Geoff Johns
  • Justice League Dark, Vol. 2: The Books of Magic by Jeff Lemire
  • Fairest, Vol. 2: Hidden Kingdom by Lauren Beukes
  • Invincible Volume 18: Death of Everyone by Robert Kirman
  • Star Wars: Agent of the Empire: Iron Eclipse by John Ostrander
  • Great Pacific Volume 1: Trashed! by Joe Harris
  • Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire
  • Captain America, Vol. 1: Castaway in Dimension Z by Rick Remender
  • Bedlam vol. 1 by Nick Spencer
  • Deadpool, Vol. 1: Dead Presidents by Brian Posehn
  • Saga, Volume 2 by Brian Vaughan
  • Blackacre Volume 1 by Duffy Boudreau
  • Action Comics, Vol. 2: Bulletproof by Grant Morrison
  • Teen Titans, Vol. 2: The Culling by Scott Lobdell
  • The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After by Robert Kirkman
  • The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
  • Genius by Steven T. Seagle
  • The Occultist Volume 1 by Tim Seeley
  • Uncanny Avengers, Vol. 1: The Red Shadow by Rick Remender
  • Thunderbolts Vol. 1: No Quarter by Daniel Way
  • Voodoo, Vol. 2: The Killer in Me by Josh Williamson
  • The Victories Volume 1: Touched by Michael Avon Oeming
  • Paradox Entertainment Presents: Kult by Jeremy Barlow

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, August 5, 2013

365 Books a Year Challenge: 32 Books in July

The numbers are in and I made 32 books this month, putting me at a total of 224 books in total this year, putting me within 40 books of meeting last year's accomplishment.  So what are my thoughts about this month's reads?

I've picked up a couple of Mike Mignola's graphic  novels.  He's most famous for his Hellboy series but he does a variety of other projects and titles.  I tend to like his art and some of his more interesting characters.  Additionally, I like the universe that he's slowly crafted with Hellboy, B.R.P.D., and other characters.  He's worth picking up for a look at the fictional supernatural worlds that he creates and how his characters move through them.

Best Reads of the Month

A quick view of the books thus far by covers.
Hands down, Dan Savage is someone I admire and appreciate even before reading American Savage.  His work with the It Gets Better project is a great contribution to the progress of the human condition in our country.  I've listened to his podcasts and read his previous book, The Commitment.  American Savage was just delightful.  His articulate and cunning prose coupled with a good sense of humor destroys all logical argument for some of the most caustic and negative elements of our culture and its values.

Star-Begotten by H. G. Wells is a book that few have read but many should.  After having read it and considered it's place within the wider culture upon publication, I'm contemplating writing an article about it.  It's not a novel where much happens but given the time and place of the book, it has some curious implications.

As I've passed the half-way mark and am thinking about future challenges when it comes to reading, I've come up with a couple that I thought might be interested (even more so if others want to join in with me and share our experiences--either though conversation, co-blogging, or some other dynamic).  I'd love to hear people's thoughts on these challenges:

1 Short Story a Day

 I have about 20+ anthologies of different sorts.  I'm a bit of a short-story fan and find they're a great way to get a taste of different authors.  I'm thinking that maybe dedicating myself to reading 1 short story a day.  This may seem like a step back from the 365 books a year of this year, but I see it as a slightly different interest and approach.

The entire work of a fairly prolific author:  

After reading Star-Begotten and doing a little research, I can see how prolific he was and that has me wondering, what if I tried to read all of his books in a year.  This could be interest.  Finding the right author would be key.  I couldn't do Isaac Asimov whose works come in around 450+ books, but someone who has a hefty oeuvre to them.  I'd say Stephen King, but I've already read at least 50% or more of his works.

A year of the big books:  

Here, I'm thinking of tackling the "big books."  I'll need to better define that but books that are "classic" maybe and 500+ pages.  I've done The Count of Monte Cristo, which is still one of my favorites, but I'm thinking Moby-Dick, War & Peace, Anna Karenina, Don Quixote any number of Dickens books, etc.  The goal would be to read one a month.

So there are my potential challenges, what do you think?

Here's the full list thus far (or check it out on GoodReads):
Here's a breakdown of the books for this month:

BOOKS

  • Star Begotten: A Biological Fantasia by H.G. Wells

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography by Christine Jorgensen
  • Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking  by Christopher Hadnagy
  • Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty
  • American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics by Dan Savage
  • Artful by Ali Smith
  • A World Out of Time (The State, #1) by Larry Niven

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Darth Vader and the Lost Command by W. Blackman
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison by W. Blackman
  • B.P.R.D., Vol. 2: The Soul of Venice and Other Stories by Mike Mignola
  • Gandhi: A Manga Biography by Kazuki Ebine
  • Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger, Vol. 1: A Stranger Among Us by Dan DiDio
  • Captain Atom, Vol. 1: Evolution by JT Krul\
  • Abe Sapien, Vol. 1: The Drowning by Mike Mignola
  • B.P.R.D., Vol. 1: Hollow Earth and Other Stories by Mike Mignola
  • Cherubs! by Bryan Talbot
  • All-New X-Men, Vol. 2: Here to Stay by Brian Michael Bendis
  • Baltimore: The Plague Ships (Baltimore, #1) by Mike Mignola
  • Alpha Girl, Volume One by JP Bonjour
  • Detective Comics, Vol. 2: Scare Tactics by Tony Daniel
  • X-O Manowar Vol. 2: Enter Ninjak by Robert Venditti
  • X-O Manowar Vol. 1: By The Sword by Robert Venditti
  • Archer & Armstrong Vol. 1: The Michelangelo Code by Fred Van Lente
  • X-Men Legacy, Vol. 1: Prodigal by Simon Spurrier
  • First X-Men by Neal Adams
  • Harbinger Vol. 1: Omega Rising by Joshua Dysart
  • The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy by Dan  Slott
  • Alabaster: Wolves by Caitlín Kiernan
  • The Ravagers, Vol. 1: The Kids from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. by Howard Mackie
  • The Creep by John Arcudi
  • Superboy, Vol. 2: Extraction by Tom DeFalco
  • Indestructible Hulk, Vol. 1: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Mark Waid


Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.