Fincher's Follies

Yeah… just let someone else host it

This Is How You Die by Ryan North et al

This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death (Machine of Death #2)This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death by Ryan North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another awesome collection of short stories! This is the “sequel” to Machine of Death (if you haven’t heard of either I would check out that one first). Not only is it a really interesting concept to begin with (a machine that gives you a cryptic message about how, but not when, you will die), but this second volume really took the concept places I would never have dreamed on my own. While I wouldn’t say it is necessarily superior to the first volume, I did feel like it really broadened the horizons of how this idea could blossom.

Another nice aspect is that, because it is a collection of short stories from different authors, if you find yourself reading a story you aren’t fond of it will be over soon! Downside is that some of the ones you really enjoy you just want to keep going!

Overall, it is a great read and a stunning exploration of human creativity (and morbidity)!

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I hope I have been remembering the Goodreads version of the 5 star scale as I have rated previous books. 2 stars is “it was ok”, which I feel sums up how I felt about it. It was mostly easy to read, but the subject matter was boring. Constant blathering about the lives of the rich and worthless. Almost like a good writer created their interpretation of a few episodes of the Kardashians.

This was, again, one of those times where I assume there is some deep underlying meaning that I am missing that is detracting from my enjoyment. Perhaps I need to read some academic summary to understand why this book made it to “classic” status, but for now I think I will be ok. Maricruz and I will likely watch the movie soon since we both read the book, so here’s hoping I enjoy that a bit more!

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What If? by Randall Munroe

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical QuestionsWhat If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The subtitle really sums it up well. Randall Munroe takes ridiculous questions that are submitted to him and does his best to provide scientifically sound, yet thoroughly entertaining, answers. Some examples include whether you could make a jetpack with downward firing machine guns and what would the moon look like if everyone in the world shined a laser pointer at it at the same time. I was familiar with a lot of the questions from his blog, but it had been a while since I read the answers, and it was nice to read some new ones as well.

Definitely the kind of book that I couldn’t put down until it was done, and usually the answers weren’t too long so I could sneak in a few of them whenever I had a bit of free time. I certainly highly recommend!

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m sure that this is one of those books where the characters are some metaphor for some global commentary, but outside of that it was just a simple, kinda sad story about (**SPOILER**) a big oaf who isn’t understood by those around him so his best friend has to kill him to protect everyone. It was an easy, but definitely not uplifting read. Only real positive was that it was a easy one to knock off the reading list!

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The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human NatureThe Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a shift from some of the more casual books I’ve read in the recent past! This was an extremely interesting exploration into the history and origins of the language we use, like why certain words work in forms that similar words don’t (one can fill a glass with water, but not pour a glass with water), cross-cultural similarities, and even a chapter about profanity. The only real downside was that it was a very academic read. That is not an inherently a bad thing, but lately I may have preferred something that felt more like a respite than an intellectual exercise. I think many of my more linguistic friends would really enjoy this, but it would be accessible to most anyone. Just be prepared to put your thinking caps on! It is almost like a well-written textbook. Nearly as information-dense, but not nearly the dry read that most of them are.

I started it a while back and made it about halfway through before getting distracted with life. Glad to be able to pick it back up and finally make it all the way through! Looking forward to following this one with something a little more mindless, haha.

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short review on this one. I actually finished it back in January, but apparently I forgot to write a review! Given that it is a pretty well known story, there were not a lot of surprises. It WAS interesting to read the original subject matter for which I have seen any number of performance adaptations. Doesn’t hurt that it was a short and easy read! :-)

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Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Angels & Demons  (Robert Langdon, #1)Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Definitely one of my favorites. While it is fiction, there is enough history described where it almost feels like you are learning something. I would love to read an analysis of the “history” in the book to discover how much was actually based in truth. It is an easy read and definitely the kind of book that I could really delve in and read for hours (not that that is every an option anymore, haha). I also love that Dan Brown uses lots of small chapters so it is easy to squeeze in short periods of reading and still get to decent stopping points.

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My Beautiful Munchkin

My Beautiful Munchkin

My Beautiful Munchkin

I don’t usually post mobile pics to my Flickr (I tend to reserve it for my photography), but we were too enamored with this photo not to post it. As usual, I got trigger happy and took a bunch of photos and this one turned out great. I think she looks like a little toddler model. ¬°Que linda!

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read this before, but not since we started our reading list. I can’t imagine many people haven’t read this, so a thorough review seems silly, but it was a quick and enjoyable read. One thing to note (obviously depending on which version you have) is in regards to the introduction. In the version I have, the introduction basically gives away a huge amount of the plot! I might understand in a foreword, but I ended up skipping the second half of the introduction because it was so full of spoilers. Crazy! Anyway, it was an easy check mark on the reading list so I can read another leisure book.

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Idiot America by Charles P. Pierce

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the FreeIdiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Overall it was a fairly entertaining read. It turned out to be a little more about history than I had expected, so I had to think harder and read a little slower, but I made it through ok.

Given the title, I was expecting something a little more along the lines of Why People Believe Weird Things. I should have had a tip-off that the book was going to be pretty liberal-biased when the review on the cover says “A raucous rant against the armies of the right… Pierce is at his scathing, insightful best.” It had sections that seemed a little more balanced, but overall it was more of an attack on the right than an elucidation of the dumbing down of America.

This also reminded me of how weird the rating system for Goodreads is. You can give a book 1-5 stars. 3 stars would then mean that it is average, i.e. I would say it was “ok.” But for Goodreads, 3 stars means “I liked it.” How does that make sense? On a normal scale I would give it a 3, but since Goodreads is my book review aggregator, I’ll abide by their system. I thought it was “ok” so it gets 2 stars.

It was interesting, but anything with such a blatant bias, whether or not you agree with it, gets tedious after a while. The last 100 pages or so I was just reading to finish, not necessarily to enjoy. If it had been pared down, or another author had provided some balance, I think it would have greatly improved the experience.

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