Read 20 books in a year

April 12, 2007

1 year after I embarked on the adventure, I have finished reading my 20th book. For the slow reader I am, this was quite the undertaking, but a very enjoyable one! Here's the final list:

Short History of Nearly Everything, Night, A Million Little Pieces, Blood Brothers, Learning PHP 5, Deception Point, Generous Orthodoxy, Poisonwood Bible, Kite Runner, From The Ground Up, Riding Rockets, Lance Armstrong's War, Istanbul, Reaching for the Invisible God, Life is a Journey, Running Room Half Marathon Clinic Manual, The Prophet, Mere Christianity, The Four Loves, and Suprised by Joy

This worked out to be 5,998 pages. Cute :)

As with all worth while endeavours, it's a little sad to see this one go, but it will also be nice to spend that extra time each day (40 minutes) on other interesting things :)

The End.

March 10, 2007

After reading 88 pages today, I finished Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey. (A gift from Sue Shantz for my baptism two years ago at SJMC) It was a very enjoyable, stimulating read. Yancey is very honest writer, and I found that refreshing... you get a sense that he has wrestled honestly with the issues, over many years, yet through it all he remains strong and hopeful.

One image that sticks out in my mind is that while we live in a fallen world which is stricken with tragedy, of questions without easy answers, the heart that rests on a foundation of faith sees forward to the end, the mountain top, where the whole of creation, history, can be seen and appreciated ... that breathtaking vantage point from which it all makes sense, even the suffering, as a thing of purpose, a part of a larger orchestrated whole, beautiful and magestic, redeemed, complete.

Next up is the Running Room Half Marathon Clinic Manual, which I'm really looking forward to reading.

March 5, 2007

The year is drawing to a close fast... wow! Only 37 days left and 1200 pages to read. It's going to be a challenge. Here's what's left:

1.Reaching for the Invisible God
2.Running Room Half Marthon Clinic Manual
3.The Prophet
4.The Four Loves
5.Mere Christianity
6.Suprised by Joy

I've changed the book list one more time since September. Off the list are blink and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and onto the list are Life is a Journey by my great aunt Vera and the Running Room Half Marathon Clinic Manual.

September 22, 2006

Finished Deception Point (book 6)
Finished Generous Orthodoxy (book 7)
Finished Poisonwood Bible (book 8)
Finished The Kite Runner (book 9)

It's hard to believe that it's already been half of a year! My progress over the last three months has been quite slow, so I'm hoping I'll regain my enthusiasm and finish strong.

I need to be realistic at this point and revise my reading plan. I've always wanted to "read the Bible in a year", but trying to do that along side reading 19 other books isn't turning out to be very realistic! Likewise, I'll need to take "The Century" and "Exercise Physiology" off of the list. Here's my revised reading plan, which includes some other books that I've purchased recently:

1.Short History of Nearly Everything
3.A Million Little Pieces
4.Blood Brothers
5.Learning PHP 5
6.Deception Point
7.Generous Orthodoxy
8.Poisonwood Bible
9.Kite Runner
10.From The Ground Up
The textbook we're using in the ground school course I'm taking 
11.Riding Rockets
While I was down in Florida this August, I met astronaut Mike Mullane, who was doing a book signing at the gift shop at Kennedy Space Center for his book Riding Rockets
12.The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
14.Lance Armstrong's War
15.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
16.The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
17.Suprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
18.Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
20.Reaching for the Invisible God

Book Review: The Kite Runner

I started reading The Kite Runner not knowing what I was getting myself into. All I knew from the outset was that it involved two childhood friends growing up in Afghanistan -- and kite flying. (This is becoming a bit of a theme for me: Picking up books that look cute and being startled by the actual subject matter)

This novel was very well worth the read. The story is moving; desperately sad, but rich. The main character, Amir, is strangely easy to relate to. He leads the reader on a powerful journey, quickly winning our friendship and ultimately deepening our understanding of the turbulent and upsetting history of Afghanistan.

I am struck by how novels like this open up a persons eyes to the tragedies of our world. Many of us live a well structured North American existence. A secure existence with many freedoms, rights, etc. But on the other side of the wall, not so far away, there has been much suffering.

I looked up the author after I finished the book and couldn't believe that this has been his first novel -- not only that, but he's a physician by practice. Well done!

May 31, 2006

Day 49

Finished A Million Little Pieces (book 3)
Finished Blood Brothers (book 4)
Finished Learning PHP 5 (book 5)

Book review: A Million Little Pieces

A Million Little Pieces was harder to get into then I thought it would be. The language used is very coarse and some of the imagery is downright brutal. But around half way through I started to relate more to James and eventually you can't help but cheer his victory. His triumph over his addiction is a monumental achievement.

I think what I've taken away from this book, primarily, is a sense of what it is like to be so utterly addicted to something. James does a good job of getting you into his head, and by the last page, when you read how many of his friends relapsed, you are once again convinced of the power of addiction.

Another noteworthy theme is his stubborn I'll do it my way approach. It addmitedly feels good to read as James shrugs off the wisdom of the ages (AA) and wills his way forward. You feel his tremendous will power, and it's inspiring.

Entertainment value: 3 / 5
Message: 4 / 5
Effectiveness: 5 / 5

Book review: Blood Brothers

Blood Brothers is a brilliant first-hand account of a Palestinian Christian growing up in Palestine in the 40s and 50s -- being forcibly removed from his village (in which his family history goes back hundreds if not thousands of years), indirectly witnessing the deaths of hundreds of fellow Palestinians at the hands of Zionists, and ultimately growing up in this context.

The book communicates two powerful messages. The first is seeing the formation of the nation of Isreal in a new light -- from the eyes of those that had so much brutally taken away from them. As Westerners, and as Christians, it is natural for us to hear of the Palestinian terrorist attacks and in an instant dismiss this entire group of people as a blood thirsty and evil. While there may be many blood thirsty Palestians, it is important to see this in the context of what Zionists did to their families, their villages, and their history.

The second important message is one of hope. Elias Chacour stands apart: He is an inspiring example of someone who has dedicated his life to helping Palestinians, Jews, and Muslims... as individuals, and as a community, encouraging them by his example to live in peace. His educational approach is savvy and effective.

I had the opportunity of hearing Elias Chacour speak at St. Jacob's Mennonite Church last year... shaking his hand, purchasing his book, and having it signed. I remember him looking sheepishly up at me after signing the book -- was it because I'm so tall, or was it the message that he wrote? While I admire Mr. Chacour for his amazing knowledge, his handwriting leaves something to be desired :) I have yet to figure out what he wrote.

Message: 5 / 5
Effectiveness: 5 / 5
Emotional impact: 4 / 5
Entertainment: 4 / 5

Learning PHP 5

My first technical book of the year -- it had to happen sooner or later :) This dovetailed nicely with one of my other aspirations, which is to learn one programming language each year.

See here for my book review.

May 13, 2006

Day 31: A Million Little Pieces
Currently at page 243 / 430

May 4, 2006

Day 22: Night
Just finished (120 pages)

On Saturday I started Night by Elie Wiesel; his account as a Jewish teenager in the concentration camps of the second world war. One can only wonder, how could people be capable of such things? Stanley Milgram's experiments come to mind. He showed that normal, everyday people were often willing to shock another person to death if calmly instructed by a superior. Nevertheless, Night was a very sad story to read, an eye opening one, a reminder of what people suffered, and a call to never forget.

Message: 5 / 5
Effectiveness: 5 / 5

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Last Friday I finished my first book, A Short History of Nearly Everything. It felt great to have sailed through it. Overall it was a good read -- I'm glad I read it. The length at 478 pages seemed a bit long, with some topics feeling drawn out, but there was a decent variety throughout the book and lots of fascinating things about the earth. Did you know that it is thanks to our liquid core that the earth gets its natural magnetic field? Without it, our planet would be bombarded by cosmic radiation, which would tear our DNA to shreds.

Entertainment: 4 / 5 (if you enjoy science)

April 25, 2006

Day 13: A Short History of Nearly Everything
Currently at page 360 / 478

After a productive Saturday I'm back on track... I should be finished this first book by Friday night. It feels good to be sailing through a book -- something I haven't done in a few years.

For a book that is about the history of Earth, I was pleasantly suprised that the author was respectful of the fact that science, for all of its accomplishments, is left to ponder a bit at how life came about.

Quite an enjoyable read.

April 22, 2006

Day 10: A Short History of Nearly Everything
Currently at page 193 / 478

My progress has slowed quite a bit this last week... lack of sleep / not getting to bed early enough. I'll need to spend some time this afternoon and tomorrow catching up. If I read 30 pages a day, that'll be just over 10,000 pages in a year.

April 17, 2006

Day 5: A Short History of Nearly Everything

I'm doing quite well so far and enjoying the first book. I'm reminded though of how slow a reader I am :) (I average about 15 pages an hour) The key has been going to bed before I'm ready to sleep, and reading in the morning after I wake up but before I'm ready to get out of bed. Sadly though I sat and waited for 45 minutes at the hair dressers today without my book.

The first part of A Short History of Nearly Everything has revealed Bill Bryson's admirable writing style -- his ability to retell highschool science as a quirky and interesting story, full of real people that you can actually relate to. I'm amazed at how recently much of what we know was discovered, and I'm amused with the odd characters that made the discoveries. Reading about other people's life stories is a great lesson for ones own, too.

April 13, 2006

Just for fun I raided our book shelves here at home and stacked the 20 (well, 19 actually) books on our bedroom dresser. I'm starting with A Short History of Nearly Everything.

It's amusing to realize that I've read at least a few pages at the beginning of most of them.

The list:

1.A Short History of Nearly Everything
2.A Prayer for Owen Meany
4.The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
5.Suprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
6.Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
7.Stories From the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean
8.The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
9.Deception Point
10.The Secret Life of Bees
11.Night by Elie Wiesel
12.A Generous Orthodoxy
13.Exercise Physiology (a textbook)
14.The Century by Peter Jennings and Todd Brewset
15.The Bible
16.The Poisonwood Bible
17.The Kite Runner
18.A Million Little Pieces
20.Learning PHP 5