Books Read in 2011

This is and will be a list of all the books I will be reading and have read in 2011.

1. This Side of Paradise – This is my second book read by F. Scott Fitzgerald. After my love of The Great Gatsby it was only fitting that I finally read another book by Fitzgerald. It was far different than I expected but ultimately I ended up loving the book. It was slow to start but around the half-way mark I began to fall in love.

2. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – I picked up this book based on a few recommendations and I’m glad that I did. Without this book I wouldn’t have the opinion of free-market capitalism that I do now: that it is not the way to go about restructuring a government – or perhaps that it would be if a “shock” was necessary every time. I read with horror as the same thing that happened to Chile in the 70s happened to Iraq (and is why the war has gone on for as long as it has) just a few short years ago. It even happened in our own country with the reconstruction of New Orleans. I now have a new fear of the word reconstruction. Don’t be fooled though, the material here, while great, is dense and can be hard to get through at times. I read this book in stages but powered through the last 250 pages. All in all I finished 5 other books while reading this book and having just finished it (beginning of February) I did start reading it at the beginning of this past November. The book covers the shocks to Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Poland, Russia, Iraq, post Katrina New Orleans, Sri Lanka and Israel. With each passing shock over the roughly fifty year span your jaw will get closer and closer to the floor.

3. The Girl Who Played with Fire – I blew through the book in less than a week and was glad that I had the third book already on my Kindle so that I could start it right away. My best recommendation when it comes to this book other than reading it is having the third one on hand so that you can immediately start reading it after finishing this one. This is part 1 of a two part adventure and it is simple to figure out why – you don’t want to carry around a thousand page volume for two weeks or more.The book starts off simple and stays that way for a while but also not in the way that it was hard to get through the beginning of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for the first time. I was excited to read backstory – especially about Lisbeth – so much so that I was so caught up with it that when the main conflict struck I was completely caught off guard. The book is more relaxed that the first in the series and that was nice to see because when Larson is relaxed his writing and his characters are at their best. In the last half of the book, just like last time it became a race to see the resolution and I couldn’t turn pages fast enough.After finishing the first book in The Millenium Trilogy I was worried about reading the second and third books because I thought nothing could top the neat little package that was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Lucky for me and millions and millions of others, I was wrong.

4. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – I feel this way every time I finish a series of book with the same characters: empty. I won’t get to peek behind the door and see what is happening to these characters that have become real to me. The events that began with The Girl Who played with Fire are concluded and wrapped up neatly at the end of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Only a few items, that were briefly mentioned in all three books, aren’t concluded but the reader won’t feel like anything is missing. One can see how Larsson wanted to go further with these characters though perhaps it wouldn’t have been a good thing if he did. We’ll never know.
Hornet’s Nest starts off slow and details Lisbeth’s recovery and the building to the events that end the trilogy. I’d say that it starts off a little too slow because it took me a week to get through the first half of the book and only two days (a night and the following morning) to get through the last half. The Girl Who Played with Fire could not stand on its own without this book but this one was my least favorite – Played with Fire was my favorite.If your reading this review you know that you love these books already so go pick this one up if you haven’t already, you won’t be disappointed.

5. Reality is Broken – Reality is Broken is the message that we are taught throughout most of this book. We are taught that life should always be at the peak of excitement and that we should never feel bad about doing what we love most. Reading this book made me feel a whole new excitement for gaming and helped me to put into words what I have felt about gaming for my whole life up until this point. Gamer or not you should read this book. I’d almost recommend this to those who do not game even more because it will help you understand those who do and though tolerance isn’t the message it is definitely a message that is inadvertently achieved.

The last 5th of this book, however, was mostly drab and boring. It was the most hypothetical part of the book and most of it left me just after reading it. The part that was the most disappointing was when the author backpedaled and said that we can’t avoid reality – we can’t of course. It just felt like she spent the entire book telling us that gaming is better than reality and it is in the ways that she outlined. It just seemed like she wanted to cover all of her bases not wanting to be responsible for the few people that would have took some of the books messages to heart and quit reality and only played games.

It was a great book but the ending just seemed to pander to an audience that the book wasn’t written for.

6. The Hangman’s Daughter – To have this review be as helpful as possible I just wanted to mention that Oliver Potzsch named, as far as I know, this series of books he is writing The Hangman’s Daughter – this is the first in the series. This point is to alleviate any concerns one might have when discovering that the hangman’s daughter is not the focal point of this book. I personally hope Amazon translates the rest of Oliver’s books into English.

Despite the novel not being exclusively about the hangman’s daughter Potzsch still manages to weave a page-turning tale.

The book starts with an execution, hooking you from the start, but then slows down a bit as we meet all of our characters and discover the story’s conflict. A boy dies bearing a witches mark. Subsequently, because this child – other children as well – hung around the town midwife she is then accused of being a witch. The hangman and the young town physician do not believe she had anything to do with it; the rest of the novel is dealing with them trying to prove her innocence.

It was nice to spend some time in 1600s Bavaria and Lee Chadeayne’s translation perfectly captures the feel that Potzsch originally set out to capture.

There was a particular part where the characters are in a claustrophobic place and myself being claustrophobic I noticed that at this part my heart beat faster while my breathing also quickened. This is probably the best compliment I can pay this author. I only hope that we are lucky enough to see the rest translated into English.

7. The Hunger Games – I was hooked and could not stop clicking pages (poor Kindle joke) from the very first page. This a great next step for the Harry Potter generation and one that should be taken. I would never feel comfortable recommending something like Twilight to anyone but this coming of age story fits right in there with Catcher in the Rye. It teaches the brutality of war.

I don’t know that I would want someone in middle school reading this but would definitely recommend it to someone in high school or higher.

From the first page I was reminded of the dystopian future set forth by 1984 – 1984 is one of my favorites. I can’t sing any higher praise for this book other than recommending that you start reading this as soon as possible – at any age.

8. Catching Fire –

Catching Fire continues Suzanne Collins brilliant series – The Hunger Games. As with the first book I could not peel my eyes from the this book for two straight days. It is another quick read in the same vein as the first Hunger Games book.

Keep in mind though – for younger audiences – this book is even more brutal than the first book. A particularly well-described whipping scene comes to mind.

Collins tells a great story that you won’t want to put down but don’t expect it to shatter any literary boundaries either.

9. Mockingjay –

From page one Mockingjay’s structure differs from that of the first two books and while that should have provided me with a read that didn’t get stale instead it provided me the ability to read between the lines: when Collins isn’t stringing you along page to page her prose is BORING. In the other books Katniss is a world weary, but still strong, female character and in this one it seems as though she regresses in age and becomes whiny and pathetic. I wanted to feel bad for Katniss, she has been through a lot until this point, but instead Collins made me care less about what happened to her.

I was told by a friend that the book was sad but I found (Book 1 spoiler ahead) Rue’s death far more sad than anything else that happened in the series.

In general I found the whole of this book disappointing and it soured me on the series. It is still better than some books out there and if you’ve read the first two you’ll be reading this. Just don’t expect the world and maybe, just maybe, you won’t be disappointed.


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