Friday, December 31, 2010

Books of 2010 and Beyond

This hasn't been a great blogging year for me - I like to think it's quality more than quantity that counts, but I'm not sure I can back that up! I don't think I can muster a full 2010 year/blog retrospective tonight, but it will be nice to break 100 posts, so I'll write about the one constant throughout my life: books!

Even in a busy year I still manage to read quite a few books (and buy more than I read). Part of the reason is the Kindle app on the iPod Touch. Thanks to this, I can carry around a library of 50-some books that I can easily read on planes or in small bites during many of life's spare moments (when I'm not landing the space shuttle, of course). People ask me how I can read for long periods on such a small screen, but it really doesn't bother me at all. A favorite of the books I read this year on Kindle was Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (so cool and funny, I'm now reading her Bonk, about guess what? ...also informative and hilarious). I also loved Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die (more of a browse than a read, but great), Einstein by Walter Isaacson, Can't Buy Me Love (Beatles!) by Jonathon Gould, Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (unusual first contact SF set in the Middle Ages), Girls Like Us (bio of Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon) by Sheila Klein, Cold Choices by Larry Bond (a rare return to the once favorite techno-thriller genre), and Edenborn by Nick Sagan (second volume of his Idlewild SF trilogy - read the other two in paper).

I read a few other books on paper too, including a biography of Paul McCartney by Peter Carlin and Whole Earth Discipline (an environmental eye-opener!) by Stewart Brand.  I now usually buy paper books if the Kindle version is unavailable, or if it's a book I want to share with people (like Brand's), or if it's a bargain book. Or a beautiful thing like Imagining Space. Or for some other reason! Currently I'm reading 3 or 4 books on the iPod plus Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf in paper (a fascinating study of how the brain learned to read). My latest Kindle buy was Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. This is an old fave I have read twice, but I love Bryson, and I gave my paper copy to my brother, probably just an excuse to have Bryson's book in my pocket for brief dips into this cool and funny history of science and technology.

Wow, I read more than I thought this year. There are worse habits (and I have a few of those too).

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