2011 Book List and Stats

Number Title Author G
1 How to Train Your Dragon Cressida Cowell A
2 How to Be a Pirate Cressida Cowell B-
3 How to Speak Dragonese Cressida Cowell B
4 How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse Cressida Cowell A
5 How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale Cressida Cowell B
6 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen A
7 Emma Jane Austen A+
8 Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen B-
9 Biblical Nonsense: A Review of the Bible for Doubting Christians Jason Long A-
10 I Love You, Phillip Morris Steve McVicker A
11 God Hates You, Hate Him Back CJ Werleman C
12 The Vile Village Lemony Snicket A
13 The Hostile Hospital Lemony Snicket B+
14 The Carnivorous Carnival Lemony Snicket A
15 The Slippery Slope Lemony Snicket A
16 The Grim Grotto Lemony Snicket B
17 The Penultimate Peril Lemony Snicket B
18 The End Lemony Snicket B
19 Moab is My Washpot Stephen Fry A
20 The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins A
21 Catching Fire Suzanne Collins A-
22 Mockingjay Suzanne Collins B
23 Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond A
24 The Blind Side Michael Lewis A-
25 Catch Me If You Can Frank Abignale, Jr. B
26 The Lost Gospel of Judas Bart Ehrman B
27 Forged Bart Ehrman A
28 Monarchy Christopher Hitchens B-
29 Griftopia Matt Taibbi A+
30 The King’s Speech Mark Logue and Peter Conradi A
31 Bossy Pants Tina Fey B
32 Doubt Jennifer Michael Hecht A-
33 The Next Ancient World Jennifer Michael Hecht A
34 Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality Jack Rogers B-
35 Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin Frank Bailey B+
36 The Tudors GJ Meyer B-
37 The Princess of the Midnight Ball Jessica Day George B+
38 The Family Jeff Sharlet B
39 The Invisible Gorilla Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons A
40 Goblin Quest Jim C Hines A-
41 Dragon Slippers Jessica Day George A
42 Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Douglas Adams A
43 Goblin Hero Jim C Hines B
44 Dragon Flight Jessica Day George B
45 The Pluto Files Neal deGrasse Tyson A-
46 Goblin Tales Jim C Hines B+
47 The Men Who Stare at Goats Jon Ronson B
48 Princess of Glass Jessica Day George B+
49 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte A-
50 Goblin War Jim C Hines B
51 The Rise and Fall of the Bible Timothy K Beal C+
52 The Stepsister Scheme Jim C Hines B+
53 Breaking Their Will Janet Heimlich A
54 Them, Adventures with Extremists Jon Ronson A
55 Rabbit-Proof Fence Doris Pilkington A
56 Dragon Spear Jessica Day George B
57 The Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins A
58 The Ancestors Tale Richard Dawkins A
59 Towards a Rhetoric of Insult Thomas Conley A
60 Artemis Fowl Eoin Colfer A+
61 Internet, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys Don A Dillman A
62 Artemis Fowl 2: The Arctic Incident Eoin Colfer A-
63 The God Delusion Richard Dawkins A-
64 Artemis Fowl 3: The Eternity Code Eoin Colfer B
65 Artemis Fowl 4: The Opal Deception Eoin Colfer B+
66 Artemis Fowl 5: The Lost Colony Eoin Colfer A
67 The Rogue Joe McGinniss A+
68 Artemis Fowl 6: The Time Paradox Eoin Colfer B-
69 The Humanist Approach to Happiness Jen Hancock D
70 God, No! Penn Jillette A-
71 Percy Jackson 1: The Lightning Thief Rick Riordan A
72 Percy Jackson 2: Sea of Monsters Rick Riordan B
73 Percy Jackson 3: Titan’s Curse Rick Riordan A
74 Percy Jackson 4: Battle of the Labyrinth Rick Riordan A-
75 Percy Jackson 5: The Last Olympian Rick Riordan B
76 Heroes of Olympus 1: The Lost Hero Rick Riordan A-
77 I Shall Wear Midnight Terry Pratchett A+
78 Snuff Terry Pratchett A
79 Bromeliad 1: Truckers Terry Pratchett B+
80 Bromeliad 2: Diggers Terry Pratchett B+
81 Bromeliad 3: Wings Terry Pratchett B+
82 Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture Susan Murray and Lauren Ouellete A-
83 Heroes of Olympus 2: Son of Neptune Rick Riordan B+
84 Carpet People Terry Pratchett B
85 The Blind Watchmaker Richard Dawkins A-
86 Bad Science Ben Goldacre A
87 Matilda Roald Dahl A+
88 The Witches Roald Dahl A
89 The Twits Roald Dahl B+
90 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl A-
91 Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator Roald Dahl B
92 The Fantastic Mr. Fox Roald Dahl B
93 Freak Show James St. James A+
94 Aunts Are Not Gentlemen PG Wodehouse A
95 Flatland Edwin A Abbott B
96 Charlotte’s Web EB White A
97 Fleetwood Mac: The Definitive History Mike Evans A
98 Happy Accidents Jane Lynch B+
99 Jeeves in the Offing PG Wodehouse A
100 Thank You, Jeeves PG Wodehouse A

Fiction: 62
-YA/Kids: 38
-Classics: 5

Non-Fiction: 38
-Religion: 12

GPA: 3.5

Worst Book:
Jen Hancock’s The Humanist Approach to Happiness D

A+ Books:
Emma – Jane Austen
Griftopia – Matt Taibbi
Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer
The Rogue – Joe McGinniss
I Shall Wear Midnight – Terry Pratchett
Matilda – Roald Dahl
Freak Show – James St. James

2011 Book List and Stats

75 Books 36-40: Meyer, George, Sharlet, Chabris and Simons, Hines

I have just finished book 41, which puts me a bit ahead of the game for the year.  Which is good since TAM will be a non-reading sort of a place.  Though the flights will be good reading time.


36. The Tudors – GJ Meyer

This is a history of the entirety of the Tudors, which in reality isn’t that big —  just over 100 years.  Henry 7, 8, Edward 6, Mary, and Elizabeth.  Unfortunately, despite claiming to be a history of all the Tudors, it was probably 3/4ths devoted to Henry VIII.  There was almost nothing about Henry VII, and not nearly enough on Edward, Mary, or Elizabeth.  I appreciate that there’s a lot written about all of them elsewhere, but the comprehensive claim the book makes is absurd.  It should have been called Henry VIII and Family.

One thing I really liked about the book was that between each chapter about the Tudors, there was a chapter giving background on general life in England or Europe at the time.  It was very helpful.  I also liked the fact that, unlike most writers, Meyer had a fairly negative view of the Tudors — a very interesting shift in perspective.


37. Princess of the Midnight Ball – Jessica Day George

I have two favorite fairy tales: Donkey Skin and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  This is based on the latter.  The book is fairly similar to the original telling, just much expanded.  I enjoyed George’s writing style, and I particularly liked how much she weaved knitting into the story.  Seriously, the book has knitting patterns in the back for the knitting that took place within the story.  Goofy?  Yes.  Awesome?  Probably.


38. The Family – Jeff Sharlet

I have been reading this for like 4 months.  It is a slog, and incredibly depressing.  Not bad, mind you, just dense.  The book follows three basic stories: the rise of fundamentalism, the power the family has in American and World Politics, and the importance of political power to Christianity.  I particularly enjoyed the parts about Ted Haggard, who was an even bigger player behind the scenes than I had realized, and Hillary Clinton, who I am horrified to know actually has worked with the Family on numerous occasions.  As Sharlet says, in the US there is only one party, they just are smart enough to pretend like people have choices.  The information is important, but not terribly well-organized, and it can be difficult to read at times.  It seems to flop back and forth between third and first person too much.


39. The Invisible Gorilla – Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

Non-fiction usually takes me a long time to get through.  I guess because there’s no plot, or maybe because writers don’t think they have to be entertaining or provide forward motion for a book that’s mostly about facts.  This book was the first non-fiction book I’ve read in a while that was easy to get through.  It’s a fascinating exploration of how terrible our minds are at a lot of different things.  We’re bad at noticing unexpected things we aren’t paying attention to, we’re bad at remembering things accurately, we’re bad at differentiating between confidence and skill — our intuition about our brains is usually wrong.

They talk about film editing and continuity, which I found very interesting because we know we can get away with a lot.  When you’re editing, particularly non-scripted, you use a lot of stuff that has horrible continuity errors.  Have people talking to each other when they’re not even in the same room, cut to a different day and pretend it’s the same one because the shirts look close enough, cut from the exterior of one car to the interior of a different car.  We do some blatant crap in the editing room, and it’s almost always missed.

Another interesting thing about this book is that, during this whole Elevatorgate thing, Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear has come up a few times.  I was required to read the book for a self-defense class I took in college.  It was, I thought, fairly useful — though depressing, since it was basically aimed at women because women need to be vigilant at all times.  It is truly a gripping book, but it talks a lot about relying on intuition, which is sort of funny next to a book that says how wrong our intuitions are.  I suppose when in a situation where you feel threatened, it’s better to get out of it than to try to clinically dissect whether you’re being reasonable or not.

Not that The Invisible Gorilla really addresses anything like that, it’s just fairly anti-intuition.  Anyway, the book was a fantastic read, and I recommend it highly.  Particularly to anyone who thinks they’ve got an accurate memory.


40. Goblin Quest – Jim C Hines

This book is like reading a Dungeons & Dragons game play out, except it doesn’t suck.  I know, that’s very confusing to you, it was confusing for me too.  Basically, in a sort of Pratchett-esque way, it tells a very good adventure quest story while making fun of all of the conventions of adventure quest stories.  Sort of meta like that.  It was very entertaining, easy to read, and my only real disappointment with it was the ending, which I felt was abrupt and unnecessarily got rid of interesting characters.  The interesting characters only matters because there are sequels.  I did like that the end sort of emphasized how miserable it is to return to your small life after living a larger than life adventure.  It’s difficult to grow and change and have everyone you know stay the same.  I’m upset that my library has only the first and last in the series.  I’m going to have to buy the middle one.


75 Books 36-40: Meyer, George, Sharlet, Chabris and Simons, Hines

16-20 75 Book Challenge – Snicket, Fry and Collins

16. The Grim Grotto – Lemony Snicket

At this point, I felt that the series started to lose momentum.  It’s not that the series hasn’t been absurd and over the top throughout, but I felt like there was a big tone shift to a sort of fantasy series rather than a mystery series.  In this book, the orphans end up on a submarine trying to find a missing sugar bowl that Olaf cannot be allowed to get to first.  Perhaps the sea just seems less Victorian than the rest of the series, but I didn’t enjoy it as much.  At the end of the book, the kid’s have once again lost allies and are fending for themselves.  B

“People aren’t either wicked or noble,” the hook-handed man said. “They’re like chef’s salad, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.”

17. The Penultimate Peril – Lemony Snicket

This book introduces a couple characters I wish they’d spent more time with — Daniel Denouement and Kit Snicket.  The kids learn a lot more about VFD and what went wrong and end up spying on any number of familiar faces from throughout the series.  They end up, however, joining forces with Count Olaf to escape being imprisoned or killed and the book ends with them adrift at sea with the count, but of their own choice, not as kidnapees.  B

As I am sure you know, when people say “It’s my pleasure”, they usually mean something along the lines of, “There’s nothing on Earth I would rather do less.

18. The End – Lemony Snicket

The final installment is sort of a Robinsoe Crusoe intrigue on an island out at sea.  This is perhaps the simplest of the books, in terms of perils faced and places seen.  It is the culmination of the theme of how people are morally ambiguous and that safety isn’t always to be preferred to freedom.  The conclusion of the story isn’t particularly satisfactory, but it suits Handler’s tone and worldview rather well.  B

Perhaps if we saw what was ahead of us, and glimpsed the crimes, follies, and misfortunes that would befall us later on, we would all stay in our mother’s wombs, and there would be nobody in the world but a great number of very fat, very irritated women.

19. Moab is my Washpot – Stephen Fry

If you haven’t heard me gush over my love for Stephen Fry before now, then you haven’t been paying attention.  He is the smartest, wittiest, funniest, fabulousest, darlingest man in all the world and my favorite celebrity personality perhaps ever.  Stephen Fry is truly a marvel and nothing makes this “how is this possible”ness of it more clear than this account of his first 20 years.  Fry was an upper middle class pampered little bastard — he compulsively stole, hoarded sweeties and was indulgently and unrelentingly self-loathing and loathsome.  No doubt some of this — particularly the crushing depression that led to his suicide attempt and crime spree that got him thrown in jail — was an early manifestation of his bipolar disorder and struggle with being gay and Jewish.  But it is stunning to read so accurate a telling of the embarrassing overflow of emotions that is adolescence, with all the warts and horror of that time so well fleshed out and described.  I cannot over-recommend this book.  A

Have quotes:

As I go clowning my sentimental way into eternity, wrestling with all my problems of estrangement and communion, sincerity and simulation, ambition and acquiescence, I shuttle between worrying whether I matter at all and whether anything else matters but me.

No adolescent ever wants to be understood, which is why they complain about being misunderstood all the time.

I have always disbelieved that Sicilian saying about revenge being a dish best served cold. I feel that–don’t you?–when I see blinking, quivering octogenarian Nazi war criminals being led away in chains. Why not then? It’s too late now. I want to see them taken back in time and punished then…Blame, certainly, is a dish only edible when served fresh and warm. Old blames, grudges and scores congeal and curdle and cause the most terrible indigestion.

20. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

I’ve had this book recommended to me by three separate book websites that I frequent, but no on I know has read it.  When I saw it for $5 on kindle I thought I might as well read it.  I’ve now finished the trilogy, they’re very good books.  They have a similarity in tone and concept to Battle Royale and Running Man but it’s hard to believe the book is only three years old, it reads as much a classic as The Giver.  A group of kids are selected each year to fight to the death for the entertainment of the populace and as a way to keep the underclasses under control.  The main character is a 16 year old girl from the poorest part of the country and she must pretend to be in love with a boy, manipulating his and the viewer’s emotions, to survive the games. A

16-20 75 Book Challenge – Snicket, Fry and Collins

11-15 75 Book Challenge – Lemony Snicket and Werleman

11. God Hates You, Hate Him Back – CJ Werleman

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this book, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed it that mut tch.  I’m a big fan of snark and well-worded contempt — I’m pretty sure that’s generally considered a failing, particularly by the DBAD crowd, but I found myself really turned off by the tone of this book.  I suppose I should have known based on the title, buhe lack of restraint or particular cleverness in some of the commentary just bored me.  Perhaps because I was reading Jason Long’s book at the same time or perhaps because I had read most of the other sources he uses.  It does a very thorough job, chapter by chapter through the Bible, which is its greatest strength, and I certainly learned some interesting things, particularly about the New Testament, which I’ve never managed to absorb very thoroughly.  Werleman leans very heavily on Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris in this book, which I found tedious at times.  There were also some fairly basic grammatical and spelling errors.  It does heartily support my opinion that the judeochristianislamomormon god is a huge asshole.  If hell is the absence of that god’s capricious loathsome presence, sign me up.  C

12. The Vile Village – Lemony Snicket

Back in the dark days of thesis pre-pro at film school, a traumatic time I’ve almost succeeded in erasing from my memory, I started listening to the Lemony Snicket books on tape because I’d really enjoyed the film.  I only got through the sixth in the 13 book long series before film school ate my brains.  I never went back to finish them, but I found the kindle copies for free, so I thought I’d pick them back up and hopefully I remembered what I’d listened to three years ago.  Surprisingly, I remembered it like I’d just finished the books yesterday, which makes me worry about my actual ability to scrub the horrors of film school from my brain.  If you’ve been under a rock, the series follows the Baudelaire orphans who stand to inherit a large fortune but are constantly hunted by the evil Count Olaf, who wants to steal it.  They have a lot of dark adventures which inevitably lead to tragedy and loss.  They also slowly uncover evidence of a massive conspiracy that they are somehow at the center of.  In The Vile Village they’ve escaped from Olaf at a horrible boarding school, but he’s kidnamed their only friends, the Quagmire triplets, two welathy orphans who lost their parents and third triplet in a mysterious fire.  The Baudelaire’s are adopted by an entire village which is filled with crows and which proceeds to turn them into chore slaves.  They get messages from the triplets and proceed to rescue them and nearly escape on a balloon — the Quagmire’s make it to freedom, but the Baudelaire’s do not, and are forced to run across a great nothingness to escape Olaf and the village.  These books are hard to review — they’re gothic mystery books for kids, fast-paced, full of adventure, and very dark — if that sounds appealing then you’ll love them.  A

A cloud of dust is not a beautiful thing to look at. Very few painters have done portraits of huge clouds of dust or included them in their landscapes or still lifes. Film directors rarely choose huge clouds of dust to play the lead roles in romantic comedies, and as far as my research has shown, a huge cloud of dust has never placed higher than twenty-fifth in a beauty pageant.

13. The Hostile Hospital – Lemony Snicket

In this episode, the orphans end up at a hospital trying to learn more about VFD, the mysterious organization it seems both Olaf and their parents were a part of.  Olaf finds them and tries to cut off Violet’s head, but the orphans discover that someone survived the fire and end up escaping by getting into the trunk of Olaf’s car.  THis isn’t quite as riveting and the extras not as colorful or lovable as in the other books.  B+

There are many things in this world I do not know. I do not know how butterflies get out of their cocoons without damaging their wings. I do not know why anyone would boil vegetables when roasting them is much tastier. I do not know how to make olive oil, and I do not know why dogs bark before an earthquake, and I do not know why some people voluntarily choose to climb mountains where it is freezing and difficult to breathe, or live in the suburbs, where the coffee is watery and all of the houses look alike.

14. The Carnivorous Carnival – Lemony Snicket

The kids end up at a carnival with freaks and a fortune teller.  They disguise themselves as freaks and find an alley who ends up turning on them and then getting eaten by lions.  They are kidnapped by Olaf and stolen away after being forced to set fire to the carnival and to a room which may have answers to many of their questions.  THis book introduces some moral ambiguity, which becomes a key theme for the rest of the series, and the characters in the books therefore become a lot more interesting, complex and confusing.  A

The sad truth is that the truth is sad.

Miracles are like meatballs because nobody knows what they are made of, where they came from or how often they should appear.

15. The Slippery Slope – Lemony Snicket

This is my favorite of the series.  It introduces Quigley, the previously thought dead Quagmire triplet and survivor of the fire, and the kids learn a lot about the VFD organization.  There’s a little young romance, plenty of adventure and mystery, and more moral questions about the backgrounds and fates of the characters.  The kids escape Olaf, but get separated from Quigley at the end.  A

Having an aura of menace is like having a pet weasel, because you rarely meet someone who has one, and when you do it makes you want to hide under the coffee table.

11-15 75 Book Challenge – Lemony Snicket and Werleman

6-10 75 Book Challenge Austen, the Bible, and Steven Russell

To finish 75 books in a year, I need to be reading a book an a half a week.  It’s currently week six, and I’ve finished 10, so I’m slightly faster than pace, but not much.

6. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

This is actually the first book I read this year.  For free, on my Kindle!  I’d never actually read any Austen before because I find the concept of reading Romance Novels embarrassing.  Unless they are Twilight and I’m reading them to have ammunition to mock the fans.  But I really like Jane Austen movies and the period and the stories, so I’ve decided to try not to be too embarrassed by it.  Anyway, I enjoyed this and am amazed at how contemporary and snarky it is.  Hard to believe it was written by someone so long ago. A

7. Emma – Jane Austen

This is my favorite Austen story because I find it really funny.  Pride and Prejudice is relatively serious and there are some genuine perils and Sense and Sensibility I have issues with, but Emma is just a bunch of idiots being ridiculous and a bored smart girl being snakry and kind of awful.  I really identify with Emma, which is probably weird because she’s really quite unlikeable.  But there it is.  A+ 

8. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

I don’t dislike this story, but I hate all the characters in it.  Marianne is gag-inducingly over-emotional, Elinor is boring, Lucy is irritating, Colonel Brandon is shallow and insipid, Willoughby is a complete douche, and Edward is self-effacing and masochistic to the point that you simply don’t believe he is real.  B-

9. Biblical Nonsense: A Review of the Bible for Doubting Christians – Jason Long

I was surprised by this book, I didn’t have high expectations, and I thought it was very thorough without being dull.  Contradictions, evil actions on the part of the deity and translation errors are all covered.  While far less confrontational than Dawkins or Hitchens, I have a hard time seeing this as actually aimed at Doubting Christians.  My research of glancing at Amazon reviews doesn’t reveal any Christian who have actually read the book before protesting, though, so I can’t say for sure.  The book highlights two questions I’ve never gotten satisfactory answers to: How do people actually believe that the Bible is true and How do they think that the god presented isn’t evil?  A-

10. I Love You, Phillip Morris – Steve McVicker

I saw this movie last weekend and it was BRILLIANT.  I loved it.  I have a fondness for slightly ridiculous dark comedies that other people are indifferent at best to (see Death to Smoochy) and I love conmen and capers, and this story offers both.  It’s definitely competing with The King’s Speech for my favorite movie of the year.  It is delightful.  Sorry, this is the book review.  I got the book from the library on Monday, passed it to my mother on Tuesday because I’d finished it and couldn’t wait to force someone else to read it too.  I liked the movie slightly more than the book, but I cannot recommend either of them highly enough.  It’s essentially a true gay love story between a conman and the boy who he met in prison.  The cons he pulls are unbelievably awesome and he is currently serving 144 years in Texas for white collar crimes, which seems a bit excessive to me.  But he did escape prison something like 14 times, so…  <3 so bad you guys.  A

6-10 75 Book Challenge Austen, the Bible, and Steven Russell

1-5 75 Book Challenge – Cressida Cowell

These aren’t strictly the first five books I read this year but I thought it made more sense to group them all together.  These are the first five books in the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell (who is, interestingly enough, married to a Simon Cowell, but not THE Simon Cowell).  I decided to read these because I saw the movie – I think that about 97% of my new book reading is based on either seeing the movie or seeing the author on TV.

The Books are very different from the movie, but they’re both good in different ways.  The book does things in ways that aren’t cinematic enough because it is focused on language and reading – hard to portray entertainingly in films, especially for the kiddies.  Here’s the rundown of the first five – there are several more that I haven’t gotten copies of.  I read these all on my new Kindle.  It was awesome.

1. How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell 

Hiccup is a Viking but sucks at it because he’s skinny, nerdy and kind-hearted.  That’d be difficult enough but he’s also the heir to the Chief.  Being loud and violent doesn’t really suit him or his best friend, the aptly named Fishlegs.  In their universe, the coming-of-age ritual is stealing a sleeping dragon to raise as your hunting partner.  Thanks to some mishaps, Hiccup ends up with a boring, tiny, common dragon who doesn’t have any teeth.  Toothless is also a smart ass.  Hiccup is the only Viking that speaks Dragonese, which makes him an outcast but ends up ultimately saving the day from some giant sea dragons, with Toothless’ help.  Basically the lesson of these books is that intelligence and kindness beat brute force and ignorance every time.  A

2. How to be a Pirate – Cressida Cowell

This book introduces the arch-nemesis Alvin the Treacherous, who I don’t really find interesting.  Hiccup’s grandpa was a crazy awesome Viking with a hidden treasure that only his heir could find.  So Alvin kidnaps Hiccup, finds the treasure and nearly kills Hiccup.  Hiccup discovers that he’s secretly been left-handed his whole life and is a sword-fighting prodigy, in a scene reminiscent of The Princess Bride, and defeats Alvin, leading to his apparent but not actual demise.  B-

3. How to Speak Dragonese – Cressida Cowell

This book introduces Camicazi, the heir of rival Viking tribe of Big Boobied Bertha (I know, right?).  She’s a tiny, tenacious escape artist.  The Romans, under the command of Alvin, who survived the previous demise but lost all of his hair, kidnaps Camicazi, Fishlegs and Hiccup who have to escape and keep their tribes from killing each other.  B

4. How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse – Cressida Cowell

This is my favorite of the series.  Hiccup thinks Fishlegs has been poisoned by a dragon, and the cure is the potato, a mysterious vegetable thought to be only a myth.  A nearby, particularly violent Viking tribe is rumored to have one of these under close guard and so Hiccup, Camicazi and Toothless cleverly steal the frozen vegetable.  It has an arrow stuck in it and it is rumored that whoever removes the arrow will save the tribe from the big sea dragon that stays in their bay.  Well, when it thaws in Hiccups hands, he easily pulls the arrow out, only to have the giant dragon steal the potato, leaving him without a cure for his friend, but a hero to the tribe.  When he returns to his village, it turns out that Fishlegs is fine, it is in fact Hiccup who is dying.  Fortunately, the arrow has enough potato to save him.  In the epilogue, it turns out the Sea Dragon had been dying from the same poison and he becomes Hiccups guardian angel.  A

5. How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale – Cressida Cowell

I thought this was intended to be the last of the series and it has that sort of finality to it’s ending, but it turns out I was wrong and there are at least three more so far.  So, I’ll have to seek them out.  This book is about a super epic stopping of a volcano from erupting, with histories and dastardly past lives revealed.  It seems bigger in scope than the earlier ones, but is just as fun.  I didn’t find it quite as engaging as the one immediately previous. B

1-5 75 Book Challenge – Cressida Cowell

65 Books of 2010; 75 Books 2011

I don’t know if I can actually get to 75 books in one year, but I’m thinking it’s possible — I definitely can do 50 again, but I’ve got some longer books on my list than the discworld books were. Below are two lists — a recap of 2010, and a goal list for 2011. Books from 2010 will get a grade: A for OMG READ, B for Pretty Solid, C for readable, D for barely readable, and F for STAY AWAY

65 books of 2010

1. A Religious Orgy in Tennessee – HL Mencken – B
2. The Scopes Monkey Trial Transcript – C
3. The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
4. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
5. Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett, read by Celia Imrie – A
6. The Porn Trap – Wendy and Larry Maltz – F
7. Mort – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
8. Sourcery – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
9. Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B+
10. Pyramids – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – F
11. Tricks of the Mind – Derren Brown – B+
12. Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – A
13. Faust Eric – Terry Pratchett, read by Tony Robinson – C-
14. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
15. Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C
16. The Ordinary Princess – M.M. Kaye – B
17. Snow White, Blood Red – Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling – C+
18. Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – A-
19. Small Gods – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B-
20. Lords and Ladies – Terry Pratchett read by Nigel Planer – A
21. Godless – Dan Barker – A-
22. Men at Arms – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
23. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – Laurie R. King – B
24. A Monstrous Regiment of Women – Laurie R. King – B
25. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ – Philip Pullman – C
26. Soul Music – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C
27. Interesting Times – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
28. Maskerade – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
29. Asimov’s Guide to the Old Testament – Isaac Asimov – B
30. Feet of Clay – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B+
31. Hogfather – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B+
32. Jingo – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C
33. Last Continent – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – C-
34. Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer – B
35. Dealing with Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede – B+
36. Searching for Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede – B
37. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – A+
38. The Prop 8 Report – David Fleischer – B+
39. Flim Flam! – James The Amazing Randi – B-
40. The Fifth Elephant – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
41. The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament – Mike Davis – B+
42. Lyra’s Oxford – Philip Pullman – C-
43. LSAT Logic Games Bible – David Killoran – B
44. The Truth – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
45. Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
46. Right Ho, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse – B-
47. The Last Hero – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
48. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A+
49. Soccernomics – Simon Kuper and Stefan Syzmanski – A
50. Night Watch – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
51. The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
52. Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
53. A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
54. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
55. Thud! – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – A
56. Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
57. Making Money – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
58. Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs – B
59. Coraline – Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman – B+
60. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, read by Martin Jarvis – A+
61. God is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens, read by Christopher Hitchens – A+
62. QI Second Book of General Ignorance – B
63. Book of General Ignorance – B
64. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot – A
65. The Nuremberg Trial – John and Ann Tusa – B

16 Nonfiction/49 Fiction
15 As/36 Bs/12 Cs/2Fs
37 Discworld/28 Not Discworld
4 Rereads/61 New
40 Audiobooks/25 Hardcopy
10 Children or YA

75 Books of 2011
1. Mark Twain’s Autobiography Part I
2. Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan
3. Asimov’s Guide to the New Testament
4. A Festival of Skeletons – RJ Astruc
5. The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
6. Atheists Guide to Christmas
7. I Shall Wear Midnight – Terry Pratchett
8. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
9. Biblical Nonsense – Jason Long
10. Disproving Christianity – David McAfee
11. God Hates You, Hate Him Back – CJ Werleman
12. Hitch 22 – Christopher Hitchens
13. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Clarke
14. Inkheart – Funke (2 sequels)
15. Artemis Fowl – Coifer (5 sequels)
16. Lightning Thief – Riordan (3 sequels)
17. History of Britain – Schama (2 add’l volumes)
18. The Age of American Unreason – Susan Jacoby
19. The Female Brain
20. Evil in Modern Thought – Neiman
21. Law 101
22. Columbine – Dave Cullen
23. A History of England – Wilson
24. Nixonland – Perlstein
25. Tales of the Black Widowers – Asimov
26. The Story of English
27. Creationist’s Trojan Horse – Forrest
28. Good Natured – De Waal
29. The New Atheism – Stenger
30. The Neverending Story – Ende
31. The Brethren – Woodward
32. The Family – Sharlet
33. Innocent Traitor – Weir
34. Lady Elizabeth – Weir
35. The Professor and the Madman – Winchester
36. Let the Right One In – Lindqvist
37. Emerging Epidemics – Drexler
38. Irreligion – Paulos
39. Heartsick – Cain
40. The Stranger Beside Me – Rule
41. Earth – The Daily Show
42. How the Scots Invented the Modern World – Herman
43. Letter to a Christian Nation – Harris
44. The Moor – King (~7 sequels)
45. Book of Three (4 sequels)
Jane Austen Novels
Sherlock Holmes Novels

65 Books of 2010; 75 Books 2011