2012 Booklist

I expect more books on leadership and team management, what with my new responsibilities at work. Hopefully I'll finish ongoing reads like Huckleberry Finn.
  1. The Control of Nature - John McPhee. From 1989, this has 3 long sections: the effort to control the Mississippi River, to control lava flows in Iceland and Hawaii, and to control debris flows from the erosion of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles. Short version: humans are insane.
  2. Excession - Iain M. Banks. Challenging in spots, but good, with a lot of interesting insights about the Culture.
  3. Fluke - Christopher Moore. Classic Moore, funny but not his best.
  4. Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity - Bruce Bawer. Amazing! It explains so much of modern America.
  5. Surface Detail - Iain M. Banks. I love his Culture novels, but this was sort of meh. The only good character is a psychopathic ship. So it goes: we can't hit home runs every time. The last page is stunningly, inexplicably, mind-bogglingly stupid: read Use of Weapons first and you'll know why.
  6. The Hunger Games Trilogy - Suzanne Collins. First one is gripping, second one is much slower.
  7. God's Problem - Bart D. Ehrman. Subtitled "How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question: Why We Suffer," this is not as satisfyingly coherent as his other books. This might be because it's personal for him: the problem of suffering is how he lost his Christian faith. It's a solid overview of the various Biblical responses to suffering, though it's all academic to me because I have my own view of suffering that I think holds up quite well.
  8. The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy - Clare B. Dunkle. This is some grade-A fucked-up stuff. The language is simple, but the concepts are way beyond what younger kids can imagine: one group gently treats its terrified captured brides, another beats and abuses its women before they inevitably die in childbirth. Kids know their own lack of control and influence over their lives, but can they really understand the process of coming to terms and accepting the circumstances forced on you when you have no choice? When you're forcibly torn away from your entire world? I doubt it.
  9. The "His Dark Materials" Trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle KnifeThe Amber Spyglass- Phillip Pullman. It's not actually anti-religion at all. As one friend says, "It's worse than that: it's anti-Church."
  10. King Solomon's Mines - H. Rider Haggard. So racist! (South Africa, future home of apartheid, in the 1800s.) But a solid adventure read aside from that.
  11. A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs.
  12. Jesus, Interrupted - Bart Ehrman. Bearing the somewhat incendiary subtitle "Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them)"; I assume it's his editor that makes these up. Lots of reference to the reactions to his earlier Misquoting Jesus and God's Problem.
  13. The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 - Chris Wickham. Another long-term project. First two-thirds is sparkling, the last bogs down in details of Frankish court intrigues among dozens of people with similar or identical names.
  14. God and Man At Yale - William F. Buckley. Epic whingefest!
  15. Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain. Finally! I forgot how boring the second half is.
  16. Look to Windward - Iain M. Banks. A lot of exposition and pondering about the Culture, and about grief, loss, redemption, and responsibility.
  17. The Player of Games - Iain M. Banks. I'm a sucker for his Culture novels, but this one is particularly delicious.
  18. Managing Humans - Michael Lopp. I learned a lot from this, especially the degree to which, as a team lead, my job is to pass on information to the team.
  19. The Professor and the Madman - Simon Winchester. About the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. I don't know if there's a book-worthwhile story in there, but in any case, it's poorly told.