Thursday, April 10, 2008

17: A Secret of the Universe - Stephen L Gibson

Started: back in September or October 2007
Finished: Around April 1st 2008

There were aspects of this book that I loved. The book was meant to be the story of a man discovering he was an atheist and exploring that, whilst also maintiaining a close friendship with a devout Christian and Creationist Intelligent Design Believer. I have to say that I hugely enjoyed some chapters in particular in which there was in depth discussion on the bible, Christianity, and skepticism, but on the whole I found the book kind of frustrating. I think you can totally tell that Steve (the author) is an "ex-christian". He uses such corny language, and his characters, even the most abrasive of atheists says stupid things like "you have to know how much your friendship has meant to me" and blah blah blah. However, as I listened to the audio version (read by the author), it might just be the performance that is really bothering me (not that it was at all bad, just totally condescending and corny). Overall, I did enjoy the book, until the last chapter.... but I won't spoil. Let's just say that you know how drawn out the ending of The Lord of the Rings is... well it's got nothing on this book!

Rating: 2.5 /5

16: The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman

Started: Monday, 24th March 2008
Finished: Friday, 28th March 2008

I like it when you can associate a book, or a CD or something with a particular event or stage of life. I will forever associate this book with my Child and Family Health Prac placement in Marsfield. I enjoyed this installment a lot more than the first one. It's almost like a whole new story! I can't really say why, maybe the relationship between Will and Lyra gave the book a bit more life. I also liked the sub plot with the witches. I'm even excited to know what happens next!

Rating: 2.75/5

15: Northern Lights - Philip Pullman

Started: I don't remember
Finished: about 2 weeks later

I'd heard great things about this series, but I was kind of underwhelmed. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't always comparing it to Harry Potter. I found it lacked the... joy... I love about HP. A bit of humour and love goes a long way. I'll keep reading the rest of the series though.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, March 14, 2008

14: Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

Started and Finished: One day in February while packing to move house


Rating 1.5/5

Saturday, February 09, 2008

13: Bleak House - Charles Dickens

Started: Wednesday 23rd January 2008
Finished: Wednesday 06 February 2008

Rating 3/5

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

12: State of Fear - Michael Crichton

Started: Tuesday January 15, 2008
Finished: Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I don’t know what to think about this book. I do love Michael Crichton, his stories are always intriguing and thought provoking. I wanted to read this one as I have recently seen An Inconvenient Truth, and have become a bit gung ho about the climate change. However, I was still a bit skeptical about the reality of the situation, and knew that this book portrayed the other side of the argument (if there really is one). Now I am more confused than ever. It seems that there is no such thing as really “raw” data, and the very same data can be interpreted in so many different ways by different people, often with an agenda in mind. I was hoping to hear both sides of the “debate” and decide for myself… but I’ve come to the conclusion that this is almost impossible with an issue like this one. Every argument is the result of bias and interpretation. I think the only way I could satisfactorily be sure that my conclusion was truly correct was if I read all the studies and viewed all the data, which would take far more time and energy than I am willing to put into it. Until then I’m going to continue to try and reduce my energy usage, and any other negative impacts on the environment which are a result of my existence. It may not be necessary, but it can’t hurt!
Anyway, the book was still great… a fantastic example of understanding scientific studies, how data can be adjusted or interpreted, and the importance of actually drawing your own conclusions rather than listening to what other people tell you.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, December 30, 2007

11: The Bible

Started: Monday 1st January, 2007
Finished: Monday 31st January, 2007

It's one of those things you have to do before you die. And now I've done it. And I'm pretty underwhelmed. I listened to the Daily Audio Bible Podcast every day for a year, and I didn't really get much out of the experience except for (much needed) practice in self discipline. I suppose it would probably have meant more to me if I were a Christian, but even so, I expected a bit more. I did enjoy Genesis, and the Gospels, many of the Psalms and Proverbs were thought provoking, but I found that I already knew all the best bits, they're all part of pop culture trivia and Religion classes. I was also really looking forward to Revelation, having heard so much about how spooky it was, and although it had some fantastic imageryof the apocalyse, I was again, left unimpressed.
If I were to do it again (which I won't rule out completely, a lifetime is a long time) I would definitely use a study guide or something to help with understanding what I'm reading. I found many contradictions in the actions and words of God and Jesus that I would have liked to understand better.
Rating: 1/5

10: The Christmas Mystery - Jostein Gaarder

Started: Saturday 1st December, 2007
Finished: Monday 24th December, 2007

I always enjoy Gaarder's books. The 'story within a story' aspect appeals to me, although he reuses it (in some people's opinions) too often. I make an effort to read this book each year, as a kind of advent calendar. The book is in 24 chapters, and each corresponds to a day in the advent calendar in the book. In fact, the hardest part is stopping myself from reading at the end of each chapter... it's so tempting to read just one more day. However, on this year's reread, the story seemed far more childish and simplistic. The religious nature of the book was also more obvious to me this time around, but I think that is more to do with me and my personal growth throughout the year.
Rating: 3/5

9: A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Started: Friday 14th December 2007
Finished: Sunday 16th December 2007

Every time I read this book, I'm surprised at Dickens' writing. I always expect it to be full of archaic language, and difficult to understand, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is so amusing and witty... here's one of my favourite quotes from page 1.

"Old Marley was as dead as adoor-nail.

Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of
myown knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have
been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of
ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my
unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will
therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a

It's such a good fun story, and it's really what the meaning of christmas is all about. An oldie but a goodie. This is one of those books that I can imagine reading aloud to my children one day. I'll definitely be reading it again next Christmas, and I'll be reading more Dickens in 2008!
Rating 4/5

Monday, September 24, 2007

8: Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart - Gordon Livingston, M.D.

Started: about a month ago

Finished: 29th September, 2007

First of all, I'd like to say that unless you're writing a book that is meant to be recieved as a scholarly work, there is really no need to include the M.D. after your name. What a wanker Gordon Livingston must be.
Second of all, there's obviously a lot of money to be made in re-writing common sense and marketing it to idiots.
Rating: 0.5/5

7: The Outsider - Albert Camus

Started: Sunday 23rd September
Finished: Monday 24th September

I remember reading this in school, and having discussions in class about existentialism. I remember not knowing (or really even caring) what that meant at the time. I re-read it because for some reason it had been in my thoughts recently. Having re-read it, I still don't understand it very much. Meursault is certainly a character I can relate to though. I always relate to the freaks.
Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

6: Prey - Michael Crichton

Started: Friday September 14
Finished: Saturday September 15

Hmmm, I wasn't planning on reading this book. Or at least not yet. I like Michael Crichton. The reason I did choose to read this is because of my week on Mental Health clinical. I was talking to a client with schizophrenia, and he mentioned that he had recently read this book. I hate to think what his mind made of it. They shouldn't let paranoid schizophrenics read things like this. I could definitely trigger a psychotic episode. Such stuff as delusions are made of.

Anyway, i like Michael Crichton, and I liked this book.
Rating: 3.5/5