Spring Book Challenge 2012

The last of the 25 point challenges have been posted and I’m giving it a real try this time. I think I have a good chance at getting it finished this time! (+ indicates currently reading)

5 point tasks (done!)
*Peach Fuzz Vol. 2 by Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges for a book with an animal on the cover
*The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for a book with 15,000+ ratings (not reviews) on GR
*In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan for a book from the Nestie created books you should read list
*Beloved by Toni Morrison for a book set in a place you’ve been
*Legends of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 1 by Barbara Randall Kesel for a book GR recommends for you

10 point tasks (done!)
*Catch-22 by Joseph Heller for a book from the 1001 books list
*Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi for an Alex Award winner
*Feed by Mira Grant for an old NBC monthly pick
*The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein for a book most people read in high school but you haven’t read
*Wide Awake by David Levithan for a book with a LGBT main character or author

15 point tasks
*The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan for the April, May, or June NBC pick
*The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon for an Edgar Award winner or nominee
His Dark Materials by Phillip J. Pullman for a 700+ page book
*Barefoot Gen, Vol. 4: Out of the Ashes by Keiji Nakazawa for a non-fiction history book
*Ranma 1/2 Vol. 1 by Rumiko Takahashi for a book that fits at least two of the other categories

25 point tasks (done!)
*Deadline by Mira Grant for a book that was nominated for the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards
*Ready Player One by Ernest Cline for use Whichbook.net to choose a book
*And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer for a book about which you keep saying “I’ll read that later.”
*Blackout by Mira Grant for something first published in 2012
*Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes for a book about someone with a special need (F or NF)

Finished! Geek Wisdom

Synopsis from Goodreads:

THE GEEKS HAVE INHERITED THE EARTH.

Computer nerds are our titans of industry; comic-book superheroes are our Hollywood idols; the Internet is our night on the town. Clearly, geeks know something about life in the 21st century that other folks don’t—something we all can learn from. Geek Wisdom takes as gospel some 200 of the most powerful and oft-cited quotes from movies (“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads”), television (“Now we know—and knowing is half the battle”), literature (“All that is gold does not glitter”), games, science, the Internet, and more. Now these beloved pearls of modern-day culture have been painstakingly interpreted by a diverse team of hardcore nerds with their imaginations turned up to 11. Yes, this collection of mini-essays is by, for, and about geeks—but it’s just so surprisingly profound, the rest of us would have to be dorks not to read it. So say we all.

Review:
That was an amazing book. Taking such, at times, simple quotes and expounding upon them so profoundly. Amazing. This book should be read by geeks and non-geeks alike. There is so much wisdom in this little book. I’m starting to think they should have made the cover blue. 😉

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Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture edited by Stephen H. Segal
Rating: 5 stars
WBC: Read a book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter.

Winter Book Challenge 2012

After taking the FBC off, I found myself missing checking in and challenging myself to read more books. Granted, that graphic novel and manga splurge was amazing! But it’s back to the challenges. I’m not trying to finish it, but I’m hoping to get quite a few done before it’s over.

I’m taking a much more relaxed approach to this challenge. Mainly just plugging in books I’ve been wanting to read.

5 points
*Scott Pilgrim vs. The World by Brian Lee O’Malley for a romance for Valentines Day
Nothing for a book with a winter word in the title (ice, snow, winter, cold, etc)
*The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for a Newbery winner
Nation by Terry Pratchett for a Printz winner or honor book
Nothing for a play
*Ghost Story by Jim Butcher to reread one of your favorite books
*Dragonquest by Anne McCaffery for a book by an author who has died
*Geek Wisdom by Stephen H. Segal for a book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter
*Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Brian Lee O’Malley for a book that fits any of the 10 or 15 pt categories
The White Dragon by Anne McCaffery for a book with an animal in the title (finished, but after the 301st)

10 points
*The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman for a collection of short stories
*The Sandman: The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman for a book with 4+ stars on GR
*Chobits Vol. 1 by CLAMP for a book published the year you graduated HS
*Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett for listen to an audiobook
A World Without Islam by Graham Fuller for a book by an author whose last name begins with J, F, or M
The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac for a book not originally published in English
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery for go to literature-map.com, enter your favorite author, read a book by an author who pops up
Nothing for a book with an African American main character or author
*Grave Sight Vol. 1 by Charlaine Harris to give an author a second chance (you didn’t like a book by that author earlier)
*Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg for a book you saw on a blog

15 points
Nothing for a book with one of the 7 deadly sins in the title
Dracula by Brahm Stoker for a book written before 1900
*Deadline by Mira Grant for a book about a disaster (natural or man-made)
Nothing for a western
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink for a book from Oprah’s book club
*Chobits Vol. 3 by CLAMP for a book that fits an unfinished category from a previous challenge
The Tar-Aiym Krang by Alan Dean Foster for a science fiction book
Nothing for read and discuss the Jan, Feb, or March NBC book
Star Trek Movie Memories by William Shatner for a book by a celebrity or politician
Nothing for a biography of a woman for Women’s History Month

25 points
Nothing for a “non-fiction” book about a paranormal subject
Nothing for any book from any of the Best American series
Nothing for a book with a dessert in the title or about a baker/bakery and then bake something yummy and share with the board via picture
Nothing for a book about a medical mystery (fiction or non-fiction)
Nothing for two books in different genres by the same author. Post about which book/genre you liked better, why, and whether you would consider reading additional books by the same author in the other genre

A look back at September

September was a huge month. Not only did I do the best ever in any NBC challenge, but I got a lot read. Let me show you:

Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams
Feed by Mira Grant
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Vol 6: Retreat by Jane Espenson
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Sketches by Eric Walters
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Mistress by Leda Swann
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Vol 7: Twilight by Brad Meltzer
The Amazing Spider-Man: Crime and Punisher by Marc Guggenheim
The Amazing Spider-Man: Death and Dating by Mark Waid
The Amazing Spider-Man: Election Day by Marc Guggenheim
The Amazing Spider-Man: 24/7 by Fred Van Lente
The Amazing Spider-Man: American Son by Joe Kelley
Avengers: The Initiative, Vol. 3: Secret Invasion by Dan Slott
Avengers: The Initiative, Vol. 4: Disassembled by Dan Slott
Dark Avengers Vol. 1: Assemble by Brian Michael Bendis
Dark Reign: The Underside by Frank Tieri
Wolverine Origins: Dark Reign by Daniel Way
Batman: The Widening Gyre by Kevin Smith

19 books! 19 books in one month! And all those graphic novels were read in a week. What can I say, they’re good and quick reading.

I am actually taking the FBC off. I have a huge stack of graphic novels to work through and a few novels too. So there’s going to be a lot of graphic talk these next few months. And obviously I have a lot of posts to write. You won’t be short of reading material any time soon!

A look back at August

August ended up being a slower month. I only got these finished:

Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
For Love of Mother-Not by Alan Dean Foster
The Red Tent by Anita Diamanta

When I finished For Love of Mother-Not, I started The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I just finished it. I love it, but it’s non-fiction, which always takes me longer to read. Especially in the last part of the book.

I am really glad my hubby recommended For Love of Mother-Not. It’s helped me look at sci-fi books in whole new way. A new way that has me wanting to read more! Yay!

Finished! The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The bestselling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the twenty-first century

“What should we have for dinner?” To one degree or another this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore’s dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn’t-which mushrooms should be avoided, for example, and which berries we can enjoy. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore’s dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance. The cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet has thrown us back on a bewildering landscape where we once again have to worry about which of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. At the same time we’re realizing that our food choices also have profound implications for the health of our environment. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is bestselling author Michael Pollan’s brilliant and eye-opening exploration of these little-known but vitally important dimensions of eating in America.

Pollan has divided The Omnivore’s Dilemma into three parts, one for each of the food chains that sustain us: industrialized food, alternative or “organic” food, and food people obtain by dint of their own hunting, gathering, or gardening. Pollan follows each food chain literally from the ground up to the table, emphasizing our dynamic coevolutionary relationship with the species we depend on. He concludes each section by sitting down to a meal–at McDonald’s, at home with his family sharing a dinner from Whole Foods, and in a revolutionary “beyond organic” farm in Virginia. For each meal he traces the provenance of everything consumed, revealing the hidden components we unwittingly ingest and explaining how our taste for particular foods reflects our environmental and biological inheritance.

We are indeed what we eat-and what we eat remakes the world. A society of voracious and increasingly confused omnivores, we are just beginning to recognize the profound consequences of the simplest everyday food choices, both for ourselves and for the natural world. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a long-overdue book and one that will become known for bringing a completely fresh perspective to a question as ordinary and yet momentous as What shall we have for dinner?

Review:

“…we North Americans look like corn chips with legs.”
~Todd Dawson, p.23

The more I read about corn and the farmers, the more I’m depressed. It’s in so much. Yet so many farmers are going broke growing it yet don’t see the point in growing anything else which keeps the viscous cycle going. Really, the government needs to look at how it’s handling subsidies, especially with the budget problems we have right now. If they didn’t subsidize the corn, they would be forced to diversify their crops again.
The more I find out how much corn is in our food, the narrower my options become. But that’s a good thing because it simultaneously makes my diet more diverse. If I can reduce or eliminate all this processed corn from my diet, I won’t feel so bad eating sweet corn or corn tortillas or another actual corn product.

“…perhaps by sitting down to enjoy one of the microwavable organic TV dinners (four words I never expected to see conjoined)…”
~p. 138

Industrial Organic is a contradiction. But I think it’s a necessary one. While processed organic foods are another contradiction, it can be a very useful tool. When I started reading I had a thought, and that section of the book makes me more determined to follow through. Buying organic from Whole Foods, Meijer, Kroger, and even GFS is a step. A step toward the ultimate goal of eating out of the garden, buying from the butchers and from the farmers. I figure the step in between is the Farmer’s Market.
One major thing is how we use Industrial Organic. If you can stick to Pollan’s three rules (Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.), there is still a lot of food you can buy. Of course trying to buy as locally as possible helps also. I figure, something from California is better than something from Chile.
And while Industrial Organic isn’t the greatest for fossil fuel consumption, there’s a lot less pesticide and other chemicals being dumped into the Earth.

“We do not allow the government to dictate what religion you can observe, so why should we allow them to dictate what kind of food you can buy?”
~Joel, p.236

That last part of the book, to me, is just as much about gardening and simply being aware of your food as it is about hunting and gathering. It doesn’t make me want to go out and kill something myself to eat or even to try to find edible plants and mushrooms. But it does make me think more about where my food comes from. Really it is a great way to end the book.

To me, that is what this entire book is about. It’s something that has been lost here in America and is slowly being lost all over the globe. Being aware of where your food is coming from. The closer the source, the better. The simpler the food, the better.
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The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Rating: 4 stars
SuBC: Read a non-fiction book from the NY Times Notable list from 2009, 2008, 2007, or 2006

Wow it’s been a while

Getting everything ready for, going to, and recovering from Dragon*Con was a bit distracting. But I have been reading! Right now I’ve actually got three books going at once and a post I really need to write up.

I’ve finished The Red Tent and love it. Hopefully tomorrow or Saturday I’ll get that one up.

I’ve been working on The Omnivore’s Dilemma. It’s taking a while to read, not because it’s boring, but because non-fiction always takes me longer.

Because I was close-ish to being done with it, and because it felt like it would fit in with the D*C weekend better, I took Feed. It is really hard to put that book down. I’ve been reading it for about a week when I can and I’m almost halfway through it.

Once we got back I started listening to Life, the Universe, and Everything in the car. It’s only 5 discs long and I’m on disc 3. My only complaint so far is that Zaphod sounds like he’s from Brooklyn. For someone who’s listened to the radio shows as much as I have, that just doesn’t sit well.

So hopefully within a week, or two at the most, I’ll have plenty of posts going up. Now if I can just get the rest of these books read!

A look back at July

This month had quite the list of books finished, but that simply got me back on track for reaching my goal of reading 111 books this year. Right now I’m trying to finish the SuBC in time, so I’m sticking to books for that. I may take the FBC off or be much more casual about it so I can sit back and just read whatever. Granted that’s going to include a lot of graphic novels and manga, but I’m really behind on a bunch of series. It’s just hard to fit them into the book challenges. So here’s the list:

Dawn: Return of the Goddess by Joseph Michael Linsner
Dawn: Three Tiers by Joseph Michael Linsner
Hellsing Vol. 10 by Kohta Hirano
Love Hina Vol. 4 by Ken Akamatsu
Neon Genesis Evangelion Vol. 2 by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green
A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

If Mrs. Dalloway hadn’t taken so long I would have been able to get Eragon done too, but I’m getting close on that. But in order to get the SuBC finished, I’ve got to read at least 6 books in August and September. If I can just get 7 read this month I’ll definitely be good!

Finished! A Whole New Mind

A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. PinkSynopsis from Goodreads:

Lawyers. Accountants. Software engineers. That’s what Mom and Dad encouraged us to become. They were wrong. Gone is the age of “left-brain” dominance. The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: designers, inventors, teachers, storytellers—creative and empathic “right-brain” thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t. Drawing on research from around the advanced world, Daniel Pink outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are essential for professional success and personal fulfillment—and reveals how to master them. From a laughter club in Bombay, to an inner-city high school devoted to design, to a lesson on how to detect an insincere smile, A Whole New Mind takes listeners to a daring new place, and offers a provocative and urgent new way of thinking about a future that has already arrived.

Review:
This is a great book. I never noticed before how l-directed thinking is not as important as it used to be. Which is great for me since I’m more r-directed. It gives many good tips for improving your r-directed skills. It also gives a lot of insight into said skills and why they’re becoming so important. It’s made me stop and think about how I can use more of my r-directed thinking in my l-directed job.

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A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink
Rating: 4 stars
SuBC: Read a book from a summer reading list.

Finished! In Defense of Food

In Defense of Food coverI decided I needed to reread this to remind me to eat better. It is working really well. The way he goes into detail about how the government has messed with things and thus our diets as well.
The rules are really useful in guiding one’s diet. I’m finding I’m sticking to them pretty well in regards to groceries, but I’m eating out way too much. I need to work on having more healthy meals that can be prepared quickly.
When I first read this book I put two long, detailed posts about it over on The Green Geek (post 1 and post 2). If you haven’t read it, definitely read it. Everyone should read this book. I just hope that enough people learn from it and change their diets for the better, thus making it more affordable for everyone to.

The Rules

Eat Food
-Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother (or older) wouldn’t recognize as food.
-Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a)unfamiliar, b)unpronounceable, c)more than five in number, or that include d)high-fructose corn syrup.
-Avoid food products that make health claims.
Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
-Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.
Mostly Plants
-eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
-You are what you eat eats too.
-If you have the space, buy a freezer.
-Eat like an omnivore.
-Eat well-grown food from healthy soils.
-Eat wild foods when you can.
-Be the kind of person who takes supplements.
-Eat more like the French. Or the Italians. Or the Japanese. Or the Indians. Or the Greeks.
-Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism.
-Don’t look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet.
-Have a glass of wine with dinner.
Not Too Much
-Pay more, eat less.
-Eat meals.
-Do all your eating at a table.
-Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.
-Try not to eat alone.
-Consult your gut.
-Eat slowly.
-Cook and, if you can, plant a garden.

He goes into wonderful detail on each of these and it really helps you to figure out how you can change your diet for the better. Wonderful book!

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In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Rating: 5 stars
SBC: Read a non-fiction book that isn’t a biography or memoir