Okay, so we’re more than half way through the fourth quarter of the year and I’m just getting around to the third quarters book review. Good God I’m failing you guys! Without further ado let’s get started!
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
“In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trail—well, most of it. In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.” – amazon.com
My opinion: Okay, so there is A LOT to this book. I think I might need to read it again sometime. Maybe on some of my long runs. This really delves into so much. It’s hard to comprehend it all. I totally love Bill Bryson!!!
If Wishes Were Horses By Robert Barclay
“In the spirit of Nicholas Sparks comes If Wishes Were Horses. Author Robert Barclay has crafted a deeply moving story of love, hope, and forgiveness, as two damaged souls torn apart by a common tragedy slowly find a way to heal. Destined to be a much-beloved classic on a par with Robert James Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County, Barclay’s If Wishes Were Horses is a story rich in emotion that will touch the heart of every reader who fervently believes in second chances at love.” – amazon.com
My opinion: A bit of light fluff that didn’t require too much of my attention. It did however make me want a horse.
Piranha (The Oregon Files) by Clive Custler
“In 1902, the volcano Mt. Pelée erupts on the island of Martinique, wiping out an entire city of thirty thousand—and sinking a ship carrying a German scientist on the verge of an astonishing breakthrough. More than a century later, Juan Cabrillo will have to deal with that scientist’s legacy.
During a covert operation, Cabrillo and the crew meticulously fake the sinking of the Oregon—but when an unknown adversary tracks them down despite their planning and attempts to assassinate them, Cabrillo and his team struggle to fight back against an enemy who seems to be able to anticipate their every move. They discover that a traitorous American weapons designer has completed the German scientist’s work, and now wields extraordinary power, sending the Oregon on a race against time to stop an attack that could lead to one man ruling over the largest empire the world has ever known.” – amazon.com
My opinion: We dove into this book on a family road trip through the PNW this past summer. I’m usually always up for a good thriller but this one left a bit to be desired. It could be because this book is part of a series and I had no frame of reference.
My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places by Mary Roach
“From acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach comes the complete collection of her “My Planet” articles published in Reader’s Digest. She was a hit columnist in the magazine, and this book features the articles she wrote in that time. Insightful and hilarious, Mary explores the ins and outs of the modern world: marriage, friends, family, food, technology, customer service, dental floss, and ants—she leaves no element of the American experience unchecked for its inherent paradoxes, pleasures, and foibles.” – amazon.com
My opinion: Funny, short, light hearted read. We plowed through this on the PNW road trip as well.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
“In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are. FRANCE, 1939
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can … completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.” – amazon.com
My opinion: Talk about intense and heartbreaking. This is a beautifully written book that looks at WWII in a different light – from the perspective of women. Totally worth reading.
Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
“We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn’t. And it’s what happens afterward that is most important. Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.” – amazon.com
My opinion: Not at all what I was expecting. Both tragic and uplifting and uniquely written.
A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain
“The only thing “gonzo gastronome” and internationally bestselling author Anthony Bourdain loves as much as cooking is traveling. Inspired by the question, “What would be the perfect meal?,” Tony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail, and in the process turns the notion of “perfection” inside out. From California to Cambodia, A Cooks’ Tour chronicles the unpredictable adventures of America’s boldest and bravest chef.” – amazon.com
My opinion: I love Anthony Bourdain and have really enjoyed reading his books over the years. I’m surprised I hadn’t read this sooner. It’s another good one!!! And…now I’m hungry!
Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
“If a more likeable writer than Gilbert is currently in print, I haven’t found him or her…Gilbert’s prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit, and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible. A meditation on love in its many forms-love of food, language, humanity, God, and most meaningful for Gilbert, love of self…Gilber’s wry, unfettered account of her extraordinary journey lets even the most cynical reader dare to dream of someday finding God deep in a meditation cave in India, or, perhaps, over a transcendent slice of pizza.” – amazon.com
My opinion: Eat, Pray, Love was the first book by Elizabeth Gilbert that I ever read and this is the third book by her that I’ve read. It kept my interest the entire time and I found her story to be quiet engaging. I look forward to reading her other works.
UltraMarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnaszes
“Ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes has run 262 miles-the equivalent of ten marathons-without rest. He has run over mountains, across Death Valley, and to the South Pole-and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. With an insight, candor, and humor rarely seen in sports memoirs (and written without the aid of a ghostwriter or cowriter), Ultramarathon Man has inspired tens of thousands of people-nonrunners and runners alike-to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and be reminded of “what it feels like to be truly alive,” says Sam Fussell, author of Muscle. ” – amazon.com
My opinion: Where are my running shoes? When does ultra marathon training start? Let’s run!!! This was a great read. One that had my laughing and crying on a flight to Portland for Labor Day weekend. Also, I’m jealous of his abs!
Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian by EL James
“Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.
Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?” – amazon.com
My opinion: So, I was curious to know why everyone was talking about the 50 Shades of Grey books, so I read them. Let me tell you, they were nothing to write home about. I’ll never get those hours of my life back. Since I had committed the time to that series I felt kind of obligated to see if Grey offered anything different. Nope. Just skip it.
ReWork by Jason Fried and David Henderson
“Most business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. If you’re looking for a book like that, put this one back on the shelf.
Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses.
What you really need to do is stop talking and start working. This book shows you the way. You’ll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.
With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of “downsizing,” and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable guidance in these pages.” – amazon.com
My opinion: This was a super short read with a lot of takeaways. Basically, everything you thought you needed, you don’t. You just need to start doing and stop making excuses. No need for some crazy long business plan or marketing plan. Just make it happen! I’m interested in reading their other book, Remote.
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of David Palmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World
“In medical school, Paul Farmer found his life’s calling: to cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. Kidder’s magnificent account takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that “the only real nation is humanity.” At the heart of this book is the example of a life based on hope and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”–as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too.” – amazon.com
My opinion: Talk about making you feel like you’re not doing anything with your life. It’s time to get my act together and do some good, okay, more than some, lots! Lots and lots of good. Curing infectious diseases might not be on the list but working on other projects like sustainability and things involving our food are more in my realm. Looks like I know what’s going on the 2016 list.
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison by Piper Kerman
” With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.” – amazon.com
Earlier this year I started watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix and then decided I should read the book in order to really know what everyone is talking about. I was pleasantly surprised by this. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting.
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
“Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, and snappers in his backyard. The critters, he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one.
When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called Expedition Survival!, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s inept and egotistical star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger foolishly believes his own PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her father and needs a place to hide out.
They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun . . .
It’s anyone’s guess who will actually survive Expedition Survival. . . .” – amazon.com
Carl Hiaasen write a lot about our environmental crisis but he does it in such a way that you are usually laughing your way through his books. They’re really funny and entertaining. Great when the skies are kind of grey and lacing up your shoes seems like a chore.
What have you guys been reading?