My goal this summer when I was at my place in Alaska was to read a book a day. I didn’t make it, but still covered a lot of ground by reading 28 books in the 60 days we were there. Following is a short synopsis with ratings from 1 to 5 (1=sucks, 5=awesome) with the books segmented by category. If I’ve reviewed the book on my site, I’ve linked the rating number to the review.
The best book of the summer – uncontested – was Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I highly recommend all of the books I rated as 5’s. All the 4’s are also must read if you are into the topic. The rest are hit or miss.
- The Long Walk: (5): Incredible story of Slavomir Rawicz’s walk from Poland to Russia to India.
- My Friend Leonard: (5): James Frey’s awesome follow up to his memoir A Million Little Pieces.
- Starting Something (4): The story of Neoforma from the eyes of founder Wayne McVicker.
- Planetwalker: (3): The story of John Francis’s journey of 22 years of walking with 17 years of silence.
- iCon: Steve Jobs (2): Read only if you are a Steve Jobs / Apple fanatic.
- FAB: (5): The “personal fabricator” will be to innovation what the personal computer was in the 1980’s. Read about the today’s version of the future of custom fabrication.
- Economics of Innocent Fraud: (4) John Kenneth Galbraith’s short treatise on a very contemporary topic – fraud.
- Jim Cramer’s Real Money: (1) Don’t waste your time – watch CNBC’s Mad Money instead.
- 109 East Palace: (4): Excellent history of The Manhattan Project from a new perspective.
- What The Dormouse Said: (3): Good, but Fred Wilson liked it a lot more than I did. I guess I haven’t done enough drugs.
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: (5): Hands down the best book of the summer. Jonathan Safran Foer is a genius.
- Old School: (5): Tobias Wolff’s first novel – and it’s a great one.
- Killing Rain: (5): John Rain solves problems and gets laid – with grace.
- How I Paid for College: (5): Absolutely hysterical. I picked it up randomly at the Homer Bookstore – a high school senior’s romp through – well – teenage stuff (sex, drugs, rock and roll, parents, college, money, sex).
- Metro Girl: (3): Janet Evanovich tries a different set of characters – it’s pretty good.
- Eleven on Top: (1): I think I’m done with Stephanie Plum.
- Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: (1): Buddhism plus psychiatry. Dull. I tried.
- Hacking Movable Type: (3): In preparation for MovableType 3.2, I thought I’d tune up my template skills.
- Firefox Hacks: (2): Surprisingly, I found very little new information in this one.
- Selling Online: (2): On the list for novelty factor – this was the guide to First Virtual’s Payment System (a gift from Charley Lax early this summer – thanks Charley – I read it).
- The Know-It-All: (2): A nerd writes about reading the encyclopedia. Stick with Wikipedia.
- Frank Shorter’s Running: (1): Beautiful pictures, but completely dull.
- The Experts’ Guide to 100 Things: (1): Massively overrated. Several people told me it was great – clearly a coffee table book.
Science Fiction / Fantasy
- This Day All Gods Die: (5) I love Stephen Donaldson – his Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series still rate as some of my favorite books. This is his foray into science fiction. All five of the books are good, but this one – the finale – is awesome. If you are a sci-fi fan, it’s worth reading the full series starting at the beginning.
- Harry Potter: The Half-Blood Prince: (5): The best HP yet. Finally, a really good guy dies.
- Chaos and Order: (3): You’ve got to read this one to get to the real juicy one (This Day All Gods Die).
- A Dark and Hungry God Arises: (3) You’ve got to read this one to get to Chaos and Order.
- Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix: (3): I realized I’d never read this HP. It was ok – nothing earth shattering.