Sunday, January 09, 2011

New Year's Resolution

Things have been pretty normal around here. Not much to blog about, really.

This year I resolved to take on the 50-book challenge again. I've done it a few times before, but never while holding a full-time job. But, it's something I'm trying because the piles of unread books in my house are growing at an exponential rate. Neither Ty or I can resist a bookstore, and if there's a sale at Borders, we wind up adding to the pile and subtracting from our bank accounts. He's trying it too, and at the moment, while I should be working on book #3, he's sitting next to me making an admirable attempt at reading "Walden."

I'm cheating a tiny bit by including books that I started toward the end of 2010 in my total. So, here are my first two:

1. "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward. I love Woodward and have read most of his books since the Bush administration. He tends to just present a ton of information with no real point-of-view, so his style can be a bit tedious. But I liked this book, which is about the differing opinions within the military and administration on the war in Afghanistan. It's as much about the "war" of opinion than the actual war. Worth a read if you like politics but don't want to read obviously biased books.

2. "The Girl Who Played With Fire," by Stieg Larsson. I decided to read this after working for months on "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" last year. The main problem I have with these books is the strange syntax. It's very obvious that they're translations and I'm not sure if the problem is the translator or that Swedish itself is hard to translate to English. But Ty read an article last year about Larson that said his syntax is strange even in the native language. He starts off slow -- I've found that the first 100 pages or so of both his books were pretty boring -- but the pace picks up throughout the book. After reading at most 50 pages or so at a time, I read the last 200 without stopping. There's a nice twist at the end and there's some more mystery added (and explained) to the story of the main character. It's good enough to make me want to read the final book in the triology. Also, Larsson has an obsession with mentioning full brand and model names of products on every reference. It's like he's being paid for product placement. It would be like if instead of just referring to my phone as a phone, I referred to it as my "red Blackberry flip from T-Mobile" but called it that EVERY TIME I mention it.

3. "The Big Burn" by Timothy Eagan. Technically, I haven't finished this yet, but I'm more than halfway done and have two days off work without plans, so I will probably finish today. This one is about devastating forest fires in the Northwest at the start of the 20th Century and how they shaped the people and the land. It's also about the early days of the Forest service. It's just a good story. Eagan has a talent for making non-fiction read like a novel. I'm not liking this one as much as I liked "The Worst Hard Time," but it's definitely a good read.

Next up: "Conversations with Myself" by Nelson Mandela, "Ford County: Stories," by John Grisham (I know, I know. I like the type of pointless airplane books Grisham writes. I like something I can read in one night and not have to think about); "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, and "World War Z" by Max Brooks.