My Most Recent Reads - January, 2014

While I'm not aiming to reading 365+ books this year (just 365 short stories), I am still actively reading and January, my numbers weren't that bad considering the additional reading and writing that I have been doing.  I read in total, 20 books.  And it's clear my graphic-novel reading suffered in part because of my short-story reading which I'm ok with.  You can keep up to date on my completed 2014 reading list by checking out my Goodreads shelf.

I had some great interesting reads this month including one that was rather large (With Amusement for All--see below).  I anticipate this year I am likely to read more physical books as a result of the 365 Short Stories a Year challenge.   So here are my top pics of the month.

The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance 

William McDonough - The Upcycle book coverby William McDonough and Michael Braungart.
McDonough and Braungart's follow up to their previous book, Cradle to Cradle, is a solid book to help think more critically and creatively about developing a more sustainable world through human efforts.  They highlight a variety of work that is already being done with regards to upcycling and where more work can be done.  At its core is the argument is that there isn't a "waste" problem insomuch as there is a design problem that we must think more proactively about design with the full cycle of the products resources and their long-lasting implications.  From furniture to clothing to waste management (or more appropriately renamed, nutrient management), they show pathways to making human practices more sustainable.

With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture since 1830 

Leroy Ashby - With Amusement for All book cover.
by Leroy Ashby
Ashby's mammoth text (700 pages long; 33+ hours of listening on audiobook) was a fascinating and excellent discussing of popular culture that was great in terms of timing as I listening to it just as I was revising my online Popular Culture in the US course (You can see the course preview here or the course playlist here).   Ashby covers a whole lot of content, arenas of popular culture, and events within popular culture.  But equally important, he ties it together well as he drifts in each chapter from sports to reading to radio to television to other arenas.  In reading it, you get a much fuller sense of mesh of intersections within popular culture while also a framework for understanding how it connects to the culture at large and history.  Now, I just need to find a way to integrate the book within my own course.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage 

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
by Ann Patchett
I've not read anything of Ann Patchett, but after reading This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, I'm quite interested in reading more of her work.  The book is an anthology of essays, though she's more well-known for her fiction.  She has some great essays on writing that remind me of Stephen King's On Writing.  However, it's her conversation style and easy-going demeanor that makes the book enjoyable on topics that may not even relate to me.  I'm listening to a great storyteller; particularly since I listened to it on audio and she narrates (quite well).  Many of the essays, I could connect with and that too was rewarding.


  • The World's Greatest Short Stories by James Daley
  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy


  • The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance by William McDonough
  • Winter Sky by Patricia Reilly Giff
  • The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
  • Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman
  • With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture since 1830 by Leroy Ashby
  • A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Excellent Education for All by Wendy Kopp
  • This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
  • The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run-or Ruin-an Economy by Tim Harford

Graphic Novels

  • To Hell You Ride by Lane Henriksen
  • Avengers, Vol. 3: Prelude to Infinity by Jonathan Hickman
  • Superboy, Vol. 3: Lost by Tom DeFalco
  • Archer & Armstrong Volume 2: Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior by Fred Van Lente
  • Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 2 by Derek Fridolfs
  • X-Men Legacy, Vol. 3: Revenants by Simon Spurrier 
  • Teen Titans, Vol. 3: Death of the Family by Scott Lobdell
  • Batman: The Dark Knight, Vol. 2: Cycle of Violence by Gregg Hurwitz
  • Sacrifice by Sam Humphries
  • Great Pacific Volume 2: Nation Building TP by Joe Harris

What about you?  Any good reads that you've enjoyed in January?

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