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Books Read, 2008

The following books were read (or are being read) by Doug in 2008. Only Doug is weird enough to keep a list of the books he has read in a given year online.

  1. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead (Max Brooks)Although not as intense as, and in a very different style than, the author’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, this very droll book is still a fun read. As the title implies, the book is meant to educate one in the intricacies of combating zombies, dispelling many of the common myths and misconceptions along the way. When the undead arise, the Wilcox family will be ready!
  2. (Read aloud at mealtimes.) Henry Reed’s Baby-Sitting Service (Keith Robertson)Having read all of them, this is still my favorite book in the Henry Reed series, and the kids really liked it as well, requesting it often.
  3. Death Star (Star Wars) (Michael Reaves and Steve Perry)
    This was a bit better than I expected for Star Wars fare, and was particularly interesting from the standpoint of the engineering and backstory surrounding the construction of the first Death Star.
  4. Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold (C.S. Lewis)This retelling (with a masterful alteration of the character motivation) of the myth of Cupid and Psyche is extremely compelling reading. I was truly captivated by this—despite having read it before—and finished it in only 3 days.
  5. The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing (Beverly Engel)As a reformed former emotional abuser, Beverly Engel clearly contradicts the myth that women do not emotionally abuse. This well-written book, the second of three I am reading on verbal and emotional abuse, was a worthy exploration of the topic. Interesting, unlike sexual or physical abuse, the consensus seems to be that emotional abuse can often be overcome without having to destroy the relationship, as long as the abuser is willing to admit he or she has a problem and is willing to work at understanding the problem’s cause and is willing to work toward changing the behavior. However, this should not diminish our perspective of how serious and damaging emotional abuse can be.
  6. Our Created Moon: Earth’s Fascinating Neighbor (John Whitcomb and Donald B. Deyoung)Interesting, if light, astronomy. To me one of the most interesting things was the discussion of the Roche Limit; Saturn has tiny moons within its Roche Limit—I wonder if they are simply too small in diameter to be affected by the Limit. (Editor’s note: It turns out moons can exist within the Roche Limit if they are held together by forces other than gravity. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roche_limit.)
  7. Cauldron (Jack McDevitt)Quite simply, I couldn’t put this one down. McDevitt is truly worthy of his attribution as “the logical successor to Asimov and Clarke,” as Stephen King put it. This novel got me thinking about how contentedness and relative opulence might lead to a disregard for space travel and exploration.
  8. Deepsix (Jack McDevitt)
    It had been so long since I read this one that I had forgotten most of the details. This is a truly great science fiction-exploration-archeology-adventure story with a thorough immersion in hard science. I have two more McDevitt books lined up for a little later.
  9. The King Must Die: A Novel (Mary Renault)
    After returning Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, co-worker Dave Goldhirsch strongly recommended this book, which retells the legend of Theseus with amazing skill. Although I was familiar with some aspects of this legend, which seems to be at least partly based in historical reality, I really did not know the details (just as I was not particularly familiar with Psyche and Cupid). Mary Renault’s skilled retelling truly transports one to Greece of about 500 B.C. In particular, the protagonist’s religious life and deities worshiped are made real in a way I have never seen equaled.
  10. Chindi (Jack McDevitt)Typical of Jack McDevitt, this novel that I had not read until now is an excellent hard-science-fiction adventure. I had trouble putting this one down.
  11. (Read aloud at mealtime.) Matilda (Roald Dahl)We have all adored the DVD version of Matilda, and thought reading the book might be fun. Although we’re only one chapter in, it has not been disappointing. In fact, Dahl’s writing in this work is far more amusing than the two Charlie books (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator), and the pacing seems to be much more suited to reading aloud, and the story more identifiable to the intended audience. (Particularly in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, the characters like the President did not resonate well with the children, and the story seemed a bit random.)

    The kids nearly begged for reading this book at every meal. I don’t think there’s another children’s book we’ve read together that has kept them so interested and entertained. One of the things that surprised me is the accurate description of the Trunchbull as a purveyor of psychological abuse (as well as Matilda’s parents). Typically such subjects are glossed over completely. I also remain very pleased with the aforementioned movie adaptation of this.

  12. No Visible Wounds: Identifying Non-Physical Abuse of Women by Their Men (Mary Susan Miller, Ph.D.)This seems to be the prototypical book on nonphysical abuse for which I was looking.
  13. A Talent For War (Jack McDevitt)
  14. Distress (Greg Egan)
  15. The Unofficial LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Inventor’s Guide (David J. Perdue)
  16. Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, Third Edition (Maurice Meisner)
  17. Alter Ego: Avatars and their Creators (Robbie Cooper)
  18. Shattered: Reclaiming a Life Torn Apart by Violence (Debra Puglisi Sharp)
  19. Megatokyo, Vol. 1 (Fred Gallagher; Rodney Caston)
  20. Megatokyo, Vol. 2 (Fred Gallagher; Rodney Caston)
  21. Megatokyo, Vol. 3 (Fred Gallagher)
  22. Megatokyo: Volume 4 (Fred Gallagher)
  23. Megatokyo: Volume 5 (Megatokyo (Graphic Novels)) (Fred Gallagher)
  24. Idioms in the Bible Explained and A Key to the Original Gospels (George M. Lamsa)If I understand this correctly, Lamsa has some truly mistaken ideas all founded on the idea that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic, and the elevation of the Syriac Peshitta version of the Bible. However, he does seem to be a useful reference on Aramaic-descended (not the best term, but I trust it is discernible) culture in the Middle East, and many of his notes on idiomatic expressions and the cultural background of certain passages are very valuable.

    The book is divided into two parts, one containing and outline of idioms used in the Old and New Testaments, and offering their meanings; and the second part offering larger (and fascinating) cultural explanations of events from the Gospels.

    I found this to be interesting and valuable, even though I had to reject quite a bit of it as being unreliable. I was particularly impressed by the analysis of the interaction between Jesus and Mary at the marriage where Christ turned the water into wine.

  25. (Read aloud at mealtimes.) This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall (Gordon Korman)This amusing story about two troublemakers at a boarding school was written as a seventh grade English project by the author. The kids really enjoyed it. I had read this when I was in fifth or sixth grade (or perhaps Mrs. Pat Metrano-Ellery read it aloud to us), but had forgotten many of the details.
  26. Little Brother (Corey Doctorow)
  27. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Everyman’s Library (Cloth)) (Alexander Solzhenitsyn)
  28. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.)
  29. Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence (Enterprise) (Enterprise) (Tim Parks)
  30. K-19 THE WIDOWMAKER: The Secret Story of The Soviet Nuclear Submarine (Peter Huchthausen, Capt. USN (Ret.))
  31. Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations (Alex and Brett Harris)
  32. This book is inspiring (even to me) and highly recommended. I am forcing Isaac to read this next.

  33. Star Trek: SCE: Creative Couplings (Star Trek: Corps of Engineers) (John S. Drew, Glenn Greenberg, Glenn Hauman & Aaron Rosenberg, David Mack, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, and J. Steven York & Christina F. York)
  34. Not bad, for Star Trek reading, although for a book about the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, only the last 3 of the 6 “episodes” were truly good engineering stories.

  35. Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church (The Leadership Network Innovation) (Mark Driscoll)
    Driscoll is the enigmatic pastor of the Mars Hill megachurch, who combines a refreshing mixture of understanding how to live and minister in a Postmodern culture with a foundational determination to unswervingly follow Jesus Christ and His Word (setting him well apart from many in the loosely defined Emergent Church movement). This book details the lessons learned, errors made, and philosophies and approaches to ministry learned from the first decade of Mars Hill. Driscoll’s writing style is straightforward but not at all superficial. For instance, regarding the realization that he needed to serve and attract believers beyond the college age, he writes: “What they did not need was to hang out with the same immature yahoos they spent all of their time playing ‘pull my finger’ with anyway and going to a free event that was like day care for twenty-one-year-old hormonally enraged porn addicts and video-game aficionados trying to stretch junior high into the retirement years.” The anecdote about a middle-of-the-night porn confession phone call is alone worth the cost of the book! (Note: This book disappeared somewhere months ago, when I was over halfway through; I finally purchased another copy.)
  36. Watchmen (Alan Moore, Author; Dave Gibbons, Illustrator)
  37. Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson)Debi Costine is the one who introduced me to Neal Stephenson, if I remember correctly. Stephenson’s books are huge, and Geeky, and sometimes have more sexual references than I would prefer. However, given that he has written an almost impossible-to-put-down work of fiction stretching 918 pages that actually makes the subject of cryptography understandable, one might be willing to forgive a little.

    I do not believe I know of another writer who writes in Stephenson’s style, and here include a couple of examples:

    “[The software] was so legally encumbered that that point that [selling] it would have been like trying to sell someone a rusty Volkswagen that had been dismantled and its rusty parts hidden in attack dog kennels all over the world” (p. 62). 

    And, one of my favorites:

    “Later, he was to decide that Andrew’s life had been fractally weird. That is, you could take any small piece of it and examine it in detail and it, in and of itself, would turn out to be just as complicated and weird as the whole thing in its entirety” (p. 61). 

  38. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller)
  39. FIRST Lego® League Coaches’ Handbook, Fourth Edition (Manual published by FIRST and The LEGO® Group)
  40. FIRST LEGO League: The Unofficial Guide (James Kelly and Jonathan Daudelin)
  41. Building Robots with LEGO Mindstorms NXT (Mario Ferrari; Guilio Ferrari; David Astolfo)
  42. Nostradamus Ate My Hamster (Robert Rankin)
  43. The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Idea Book: Design, Invent, and Build (Martin Boogaarts, Janathan A. Daudelin, Brian L. Davis, Jim Kelly, David Levy, Lou Morris, Fay Rhodes, Rick Rhodes, Matthias Paul Scholz, Christopher R. Smith, and Rob Torok)
  44. Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) (Eoin Colfer)
  45. The Merchant of Death (Pendragon) (D. J. MacHale)
  46. Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton)
  47. Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem Really Is (Donald C. Gause and Gerald M. Weinberg)
  48. What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You (Ray D. Strand, M.D.)When I was first recommended this book by a co-worker, my immediate thought was, “Hokey! Not another spend-money-on-some-weird-thing book!” However, this turns out not to be the case. Rather than rely on anecdotal evidence (although such evidence is also presented in the book), Dr. Strand cites only double-blind, peer reviewed, published medical research. This is a far cry from the Eat Grass Diet and other such nonsense fads that the English speaking world (and sadly the Christian Community) tends to follow.

    Interestingly, Dr. Strand’s wife endured an increasing debilitation diagnosed as Fibromyalgia, just like what Nichelle experienced, which wasn’t treated successfully with medication, that was cured with nutritional supplements. As I have seen such a transformation firsthand, and now increasingly frequently deal with doctors who acknowledge the importance of proper nutrition and vitamins, I have been more than willing to find out what else Dr. Strand has to say. Much of the part I’ve read deals with the numerous problems that antioxidants can prevent or reverse, including the cellular mechanisms involved. Fascinating.

  49. Currently Reading: Moonwalker
    (Charlie and Dotty Duke)
  50. Also Currently Reading: Civil War Medicine: Care & Comfort of the Wounded (Robert Denney)
  51. Currently Reading aloud at mealtimes: Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (C. S. Lewis)