Just as in previous years I’m writing a post about the books I read in 2015. I read 87 books in total, below is the breakdown. This year I’m adding a few metrics which I think will be interesting. Like, how much I saved by borrowing books from the library ($807.40) and what percentage of the authors I read were men (67%).
Fiction was the majority of my reading at 60%. Fantasy (20%) and Science Fiction (21%) being the largest portion of all genres. Read a few series this year, meaning I read 8 books by Holly Black (Spiderwick Chronicles), 3 from C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia), 2 from Timothy Zahn (The Thrawn Trilogy) and 2 Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson). Paperback was the least popular binding at on 17% of my reads.
Most of my books came from the library (37%). Longest audio book I listened to was Capital at 1,503 minutes (25 hours), shortest was The Hamburger: A History at 180 minutes (3 hours). Total audio listening was 11,751 minutes (196 hours, 8.2 days).
The longest it took me to get through a book was Capital (195 days), Michelle and I listened to it in the car. Shorts books included a lot of the Spiderwick Chronicles, in all I finished 12 books the same day I started them.
So how does this year compare to previous years? Well, I read the most I have in the past 3 years, but still not as much as 2011, when I read 96 books. That big 100 is still just out of reach. Maybe this year…
So I read Shade Me by Jennifer Brown. Before we get to the spoilers let me just say quickly that this is a very strong 4 on a 1-5 scale. The only reason I held back on 5 is because of a bit too much teenage angst for my liking. Although, not nearly as much as the Twilight books. Also, there were a hand full of times, that I caught myself thinking, come on Nikki really, that’s dumb, don’t do that. But this actually might be a reason to give it more stars not less because if you are talking to yourself while reading the book, its got you. Full disclosure, I entered a contest on EpicReads and was sent this book for free. It doesn’t get officially published until 1/19/16.
Overall, I enjoyed this book however, I thought it was slow and overly technical at times. If you are into the why and how extinction occurs you will enjoy this book. For me the last chapter was the best chapter. The chapter on Wolly Mammoths was also very entertaining.
My goal in 2013 was to read 50 books. I didn’t even get half way. I read only 22. In my defense I did have a new baby girl in September to look after and took a business class for work. My goal for 2014 will be 25, a much more realistic goal, however, I hope to exceed it.
I read 4,925 pages from 17 books. That’s less than last year too.
I started out the year by listening to the Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I wanted to read this because I had recently seen the movie again on television and realized that it was a okay story, “I bet the book is better though”, as it is in most cases.
This children’s book is listed on some of the ‘must read’ list I have come across on the Internet. So I added it to my to-read list here on goodreads. I liked listening to this book. The reader was great. As those of you who listen to books know a reader can make or break a book. The story was very good and I enjoyed it. Nothing very difficult as plot goes, after all this is a children’s book. I watched the 2007 movie
while reading this book and I think it helped me put things in perspective. This book like some other science fiction/fantasy novels I have read quickly jumps into the story of an alternate universe with little to no explanation of the terms used. I think the movie helped pull things together for me a little. If I have time I will read the next book in the series, especially if I can find it as an audiobook.
The next book I read was A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I have seen the movie which is based on this novel and I think the other novels in the Barsoom series. I think the book is out of copyright, so you should be able to read it for free online. I really loved this book and can’t believe I didn’t already read the second one.
Next I listened to At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. I gave the book 4/5 stars. While I enjoyed it, the information is mostly useless, but mildly interesting. Whoever you are the information applies to you, its so wide reaching.
Next I read a book that I won as part of a group read in the history club at goodreads I recommend the group highly for anyone who likes to read historical non-fiction. The book was Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie a bit dry and you really have to be into the subject to read it. It was somewhat a monster at 642 pages.
The book did not keep me coming back and I read many other books while I was reading this one. About 3/4 through the book I pretty much knew what I was going to write for my review. The first part of the book, the part leading up to her marriage, was interesting, and for me the best part of the book. From that point until just before the end of the book, it read like a soap opera. She went from man to man and had so many woes. Towards the end it was the story of a geriatric old woman, and her pains. Her triumphs in war, but more so her art collections, and her passing fancies. It wasn’t that this book was written poorly, that’s not it at all, I just didn’t find the story of Catherine II’s life all that interesting. Maybe for people who are more interested the her social relationships there might be more, but I didn’t find myself identifying with any of the people discussed in the book. I didn’t get to really know anyone but Catherine, which is who the book was about so again no fault of the author. I was a little let down by this one and I think it will be a while before I pick up another historical biography. I need to refresh my mental palate.
Next I listened to The Da Vinici Code by Dan Brown. I was surprised that I had not read this book until now as I remember reading Angels and Demons and enjoying it. I saw the movie. I don’t know why it took me so long to listen to the book! The movie follows the book very closely!
I read and really enjoyed By the Book by Dean Wesley Smith next. It is a Star Trek book, if your still reading after that…It is from the Enterprise series of books. The second one. Some of the books in the series are exact novelizations from the television series. I’ve seen all the episodes of this short run show at least twice, their on Netflix. I only gave the book 3 stars our of 5 at the time, but I realized later that it was a nice escape and later in the year read more of these novels.
I then went back to the Sookie Stackhouse series. This time I read book 8 in the series, From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris. It was also a nice escape. I really liked the surprise ending at the end of this one. I plan to read the rest of the Sookie novels.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was very challenging for me. It’s pretty boring. I like some classics, I feel like you are supposed to like some of them. But honestly this one was pretty dry. I listened to this one because I knew it would be hard to get through and while I made it through I won’t be going back to read this again.
A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine. While this book was somewhat interesting it got old quick. What I mean is, the author states his hypothesis and then goes on to support it, however, he didn’t stop. It was too much supporting information that wasn’t all that interesting. I lost interest in this book about 1/3 in. I read it because of an interesting post on lifehacker.
The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days by JJ Virgin Ph.D. CNS. I don’t usually read diet books. I like non-fiction and I like learning about my body and why it does the things it does. But like I said, I don’t really think I need a diet book. Least of all a bunch of healthy recipes I won’t cook. Having said all that this book was different. It was introduced to me in a strange way. My sister liked one of the videos that Dr. Virgin put out on youtube and I sent it to me. When I watched it I was very interested in what else this doctor had to say, because she talks about eliminating foods that are bad for you. We all know that fast food is bad, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about whole food groups. Like bread, eggs and milk. Eliminating these things makes since to me since I’m already lactose intolerant. So that’s why I read this. The first half of the book says why you shouldn’t eat those foods and that was the part I read, the rest, diet stuff and recipes I ignored.
The Wizard of Oz (Oz #1) by L. Frank Baum was much better than I ever thought it would be. I read this to my daughter who was 4 at the time. It was an interesting novel. I didn’t know that it would differ so much from the movie. I also didn’t know that there were other books in a series, I hope to go back and read the next Oz book in 2014.
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach was GREAT! It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for but it was very good! I really enjoyed this book! This is really a 4.5 star book at least. It was nice to read a book where the “ick” factor as Ms. Roach calls it, doesn’t hold the author back. Very enlightening and enjoyable read. Some of my favorite tidbits:
“sticky rice mochi, a traditional Japanese New Years food, kills about a dozen people every year”
She explains how the myth of the dragon started. As well as,
lactose intolerance, a subject near and dear to my posterior.
The average person “toots” 22 times a day!
Where and how inmates in prisons hide items they are not supposed to have. Might want to be careful buying your next “slightly used” cell phone!
“Pharmaceutical companies make money by treating diseases not by curing them.”
“what exactly is in the “probiotic” seen in stores now. “marketing,” he replied”
“scientifically proven fact:j the flatus of women has a significantly greater concentration of hydrogen sulfide and was deemed to have a significantly worse odour[sic]…”
Only in this book will you find sentences like:
“he reverse engineered a fart.” or “He’s an unlikely hero, quietly saving lives and restoring health with the product of his morning toilet.”
And lastly but certainly not least:
“Wow, that Mary Roach has her head up her ass. To which I say: Only briefly, and with the utmost respect.”
Time for another Star Trek book. What Price Honor? (Enterprise) by Dave Stern was very good. This was the best Enterprise book I’ve read yet. It has a couple a plots going on at once. I didn’t figure things out until the middle of the book and even then I didn’t know exactly how it was done. I like reading these books! I don’t learn too much from them. I don’t feel smarter for reading them, but I really enjoy the stories and easy read. Some time you just need a fun read!
And back to Sookie, the second novel for me this year and the 9th in the series. Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse #9) by Charlaine Harris. I liked all the action in this one. Can’t believe I’m already done with the 9th book. On to the next! However, I never got to the next novel in 2013 maybe this year.
Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan was recommended to me by a friend. I have already read most of Pollan’s work, but this one was very good too. Quick read. A short introduction, then 64 rules for eating. All good ones. Something to keep around and re-read every so often.
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie was another book I read to my daughter. She enjoyed this one as did I. About as many surprises as there were in Wizard of Oz. I found it enlightening to finally read this childhood classic.
Daedalus: Part One of Two (Star Trek: Enterprise #7) by Dave Stern is another Star Trek book. See a pattern yet? This one was very good. I gave it 4/5 stars. I liked it the more I got into it. It really started to pick up at the end. It’s book one in a two book series. I want to read the second one badly and hope to get to it early in 2014.
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell was a strange book for me. It was okay, I gave it 3/5 stars. No slouch! I think I read it because I have enjoyed some of his other books. But I didn’t think this one was as good as his others. Interesting topics and good supporting stories. May be disturbing to parents as I found a few passages difficult to read.
I’ve been wanting to write about my “new” walking/running that I have taken to recently and I also wanted to write about the different tools that I am using to keep motivated and track my performance.
I’m not one to make new years resolutions, so I really didn’t this year and thats not what this is. I’m heavier than I want to be and I want to attack that problem. I don’t have time to go to a gym. Even if I could make the time, they generally don’t have what I need and I’m not talking about the machines or classes.
I decided to just head outside and start moving around more than I already do. What is something that most everyone can do, no matter how out of shape you are? Walk. So thats what I did. I just stepped out side and started walking. I do this on my breaks at work. Yes, I know some of us are so busy at work we don’t even have time for breaks. I’m one of those people most days, but when I’m not physically in a meeting I force myself out the door if only for 10 minutes.
Since February of this year I’ve been doing just that. I started out only walking for about 15 minutes. I would go slow and didn’t get very far. The first walk that I tracked via RunKeeper was only .91 miles and my pace was 18 minutes a mile. Yes, that is slow. Most people walk about a 15 minute mile. But day after day, I just kept going. I turn on RunKeeper and just walk. Now I run a little too and my pace is down to 13:30. Not bad.
When I have time, weekend mornings usually my walk/run is 4 miles long and it only takes me about an hour. I do it before the rest of the family wakes up.
Back to Runkeeper. It is a free app that works on smartphones (iphones and Android phones). It uses GPS to track where you are and how fast you are going. You can use if for walking, running or biking. You can keep track of where you are and how well you are doing while you are on your walk. It even gives you audio updates of distance, time and pace. After your walk/run or whatever you can review your performance on your smartphone or on the website. Here is what that looks like:
This walk is from the San Diego MS Walk I participated in at Legoland, California. It was a fun walk. Don’t worry, the MS Walk isn’t usually that long, we did they extra and optional extended walk. I believe its usually only about 1.5 to 2 miles long.
I hope to add more websites, apps and gear that I’m using to help me stay motivated and enjoy my walking.running. Until the next post, get out there and do something!
Dang I hate these guys! Last year when they “upgraded” everyone to the new “improved” libsyn they dropped 3/4 of my podcast episodes and it took them 3 months to get them back. Actually, I uploaded all but one of them myself. They only had to recover one and that took them three months.
This is their main function. To store podcast for our listeners to download. And that simple thing they could not get right. Now we are switching banks and I have to change my credit card information on their antiquated interface. When I tried I was notified that I would have to leave the type of account that I have been on since I signed up 5 years ago, it is no longer available on the new system, so they say.
Strange part is that I’ve been using this account on the new system for the last year with no problems. If you’re screwing over your oldest customers, I started podcasting in November of 2005, then at least be frank about it and tell the truth.
The real reason is, they don’t make as much from me as they possibly could. I would normally leave a company that treats me this way. But this is the worst part, I’m stuck. Libsyn is still the best company out there doing this (such a sad fact!). So my alternative is to stop podcasting. In all honesty, I have not put out a podcast in a very long time. I have held out hope that I would one day be able to podcast again.
Once again I’m considering hanging up the microphone for good. Not because I want to stop, but because I’m being screwed over by the only company that can help a podcaster out.
If you are looking to switch to Libsyn or are considering starting a podcast at all. I urge you to move to another platform and consider all alternatives carefully. Because you may find yourself contemplating giving up podcast just because of Libsyn as I am now. I’m very sad that Libsyn is helping to destroy podcasting by treating their members so very badly.
I know, but Sprouts didn’t have a white pasta sauce. Instead they had this. I should have just walked over to Albertsons. This little packet was awful. I tried to compensate by adding a bunch more cheese, but it didn’t help. Don’t buy this stuff its not what you think. It is not creamy at all. Its like water mashed potatoes, and has the same flavor. You have been warned!
This year as part of my read 100 books initiative, I finally got the time to read Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. The book was nothing like what I have heard about Frankenstein before. For example, the monster as he is called throughout the book is not called Frankenstein. That is the name of the doctor that creates the monster. It was an interesting book, but not really fascinating. I think that has more to do with the year in which it was written and less to do with the quality of the writing.
Wanting to do a full circle on this subject I also watched the movie Frankenstein. The movie is very short, only 1 hour and 10 minutes. Even given the shortness of the movie it still seems long as the story drags on and you keep waiting for something to happen. For those who don’t know this movie has almost nothing to do with the book. The only similarities are there is a monster and he does kill someone. That is where the similarities end. I would recommend the book, but I can’t recommend the movie, it was just terrible, even if it is a classic.