Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 Reading Goal

For 2008 one of my goals was to finish an average of a book a month. By saying average, it allowed me to have some lazy, less literary months, and then pick up my slack other months. I didn't complete the goal.

Here's how I did.

1. The Bourne Identity finished in January.
This was an excellent book, and although I started it in December, I still count it because the goal was to "finish" an average of a book a month. I had recieved the whole set of Bourne books for Christmas a couple years ago and have been intending to read them all because I enjoyed the movies so much. The book and movie are very dissimilar, but that is understandable because the book took place in the seventies and needed to be updated to not be behind the times. However, in updating the novel for the screen, they added a whole different plot line, changed some characters, and altered the way that Jason and Marie meet and how their relationship develops as the story goes on. The book was great and I am glad that I took the time to complete it. It was a difficult read though, and took quite a while to complete. It has a lot of pages, heavy language, and small writing.

2. The Four Hour Work Week finished in February.
I had seen this book at stores, and it had sparked my interest, but not enough to actually purchase it. After coming across a few interesting articles on the blog of author Tim Ferriss I got kind of hooked and read almost all, or maybe even all, articles on his blog about lifestyle design. All that reading in which he makes common references to his book may have brain-washed me enough to decide to read the book. All the articles I had read about frugality led me to hunt it down at the library where I waited about 2 weeks before I was able to check it out. The book itself was a super fast read. Mostly filled with anecdotes about how to automate so many things in your life to create time to basically live like you are retired, but while you are still young enough to enjoy it. It constantly makes fun of "too weak" vacations, which as a teacher doesn't apply to me. Many of the time saving techniques do not apply to my career, but it was definitely an interesting read, and has motivated me to consider a future as an entrepreneur. Now all I need is a million dollar idea.

3.It's All Too Much finished in June.
Cleaning and organizing shows are kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. I like Clean House, Clean Sweep, Neat, Mission Organization, and any makeover show where they take a mess and clean it up. This is a book written by Peter Walsh, the organizer from the TLC show Clean Sweep. I actually also borrowed this one from the library when I was trying to see if I could check out a book with just my driver's liscense. I was able to and no longer carry my library card in my wallet. The book is all about letting go of clutter, and keeping only those things that you use and love. It delves into the psychology of why we hold on to things, place value where there really is none, and how our culture of consumerism promotes the continuous aquisition of stuff. While I do not have a clutter problem, this book has motivated me to get rid of some things that I know I don't use and either planned to le go but had not yet, or that I had not yet planned to let go and realize that I should or can get them out of my life. The book is filled with strategies for cutting down on the amount of stuff, anectodes about people he has encountered since becoming a professional organizer, and his ideas that most of the time all the stuff is not about stuff but is physical manifestations of other things. Some of it sounds reasonable, but some sounds a little like hocus-pocus to me.

4. Choke finished in June.
A book by Chuck Palahniuk that I couldn't put down. I finished it in 2 days. I had only ever read one other book by him, Diary, which I hated. However, Fight Club is one of my favorite movies. I got this one from my wife for my birthday. I had added it to my wish list after my friend Wade said how much he loved it, and the description sounded interesting. It didn't dissapoint. The novel was about a sexually compulsive main character and definately reminded me of the movie Fight Club, with all the time that was spent going to sexaholics anonamous, and the way the characters thougth processes worked. I really enjoyed this book.

5. Bluebeard finished in July.
A good and quick Vonnegut novel that I had not yet read. It centers around an artist named Rabo Karabakian and is written from his perspective as a memior. In Vonnegut's usual scattered sort of writing, it is written as a mix of Rabo telling about his past, and present in alternating chunks. Rabo is such a great artist that he abandons painting from life because it is not at all challenging for him. He can paint and draw so realistically that it looks perfect. So he becomes an abstract expressionist and becomes rich later in life because he is friends with a lot of other artists and would always help them out with their money problems in exchange for their art. They all become famous and his art collection is worth a ton of money. In his old age, when he no longer paints, he meets an old woman who is a writer, and she becomes his writing muse. She encourages him to write his memiors and he does. It is a fun story, that seems to have less dullness, but all the cookiness of Vonneguts other novels. I would compare it most closely to Deadeye Dick in that it follows one person's life very closely.

6. On Writing finished in July.
I had never read any Steven King before this book. I also do not read much nonfiction. This book however was a fun read because although I haven't read any Steven King before, I am aware of most of the books/movies that he has written. (I know that most of the adaptations for film are not written by him but you know what I mean) I liked this book because I enjoy writing and hope to write something worth reading some day. The thing that stuck with me most is that he says to try to cut out most of the adverbs, and that his opinion on writing is that you should come up with a concept then develop it through writing instead of outlining the hell out of it and making it very contrived. Quick and interesting read.

7. True Evil finished in August.
Got this book for Father's Day from my mom and dad. It was another page turner by Greg Iles. I enjoy the pace and setting of most of the Iles books that I have read, and this one fit right into his collection in those respects. Basically there is a doctor/serial killer who is using blood pathogens to kill people slowly and inconspicuously with different cancers. It was very interesting and seemed well researched, but came down to most of the characters ending up dead by the end. Kind of like an unrealistic shoot em' up movie.

8. Third Degree finished in August.
Continuing my Greg Iles kick I got this book used from the library for a dollar. It is about a character who is actually dying of inoperable cancer (cancer fixation Mr Iles?) and discovers that his wife is having an affair. He takes his whole family hostage until he can find out who the affair is with. Things get tense and the wife ends up with her husband dying and her getting together with her lover. It was kind of a love story/love triangle/suspense novel. Of course a number of characters were shot or blown up, but that is normal for an Iles novel.

9. Turning Angel finished in September
Another Greg Iles book in which a doctor is having an affair with a 17 year old who ends up dead. His lawyer/friend is working hard to get him off for the crime that he is the primary suspect for. It turns out that the whole town is tied together through infidelity and drugs and that the doctor was not guilty of the crime. 

10. London Bridges finished in October
A James Patterson book featuring detective Cross. It was an okay read but made a lot of allusions to older books that he had written, and that I had not read.

Maybe I will actually complete 12 books this year. Maybe my goal should ba a baker's dozen just to step it up. I haven't decided yet though. Maybe I will not set a reading goal, and just track it to see how I do anyway...yeah, that sounds better.