Print Story 2006 books
Books
By MillMan (Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 11:45:16 AM EST) (all tags)
I actually kept track this year.


Fiction
Villa Incognito - Tom Robbins
Old roommate M gave this to me for christmas last year. First Tom Robbins book I've read. I enjoyed it but it didn't leave me craving more.

Never let me go - Kazuo Ishiguro
Bought off of Theophile Escargo's review. Worth the read.

Rainbow's End - Vernor Vinge
An easy, near future plot, same sort of thing that Gibson did with Pattern Recognition a few years ago. I wish Vinge would write more epic space opera.

Down and out in Paris and London - George Orwell
I read most of this while I was in London to serve as a contrast to all the wealth that surrounded me in central London. As far as the book itself, it's strictly average.

The Emperor's Children - Claire Messud
I try to keep my consumption of books about neurotic, privileged, navel gazing, self-important New Yorkers doing the stuff that such people do to near zero, but this book was worth it. Very well written.

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This book drags on as many people complain, but as a fatalist obsessed with chaos, I absolutely loved how the people and the town faded into the background noise of the universe. Creation, life, and destruction. Awesome.

The African Safari Papers - Robert Sedlack
I think Blixco recommended this one a few years ago and I randomly pulled it off my amazon wish list. Good read. The main character is much too self aware for a teenager and serves as a clear vehicle for the author's cleverness, which does hurt it a bit.

non-fiction
Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World - Margaret Macmillan
History text on the post WW1 peace conference in Paris. I think Tony Judt put it this way - "after WW1 they moved the borders, after WW2 they moved the people." Very interesting account of all the various characters looking for land for their respective countries and the often hilarious reasoning presented. Gives a good overview of how the nonsensical borders of the modern middle east came to be.

Planet of Slums - Mike Davis
My favorite leftist academic strikes again. The thing that struck me reading this is how little account there is of how people in the slums actually live and how so many people have been forced into that way of life, since he does an actual analysis. The normal analysis is simple emotional blackmail. "Look at these people living on a garbage dump, isn't it terrible?"

The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan
My favorite book of the year based on the first third of the book alone. He eviscerates industrial agriculture and provides the best example driven critique of capitalism I've read in a long time. As someone put it on eurotrib (paraphrased) "it demonstrates the bizarre and perverse excursions capitalism goes out on in search of profits." He also demonstrates how agribusiness has completely rigged the game at the expense of both the farmers and the consumers. Of course most of us just blame the farmers. I've heard this all before...

Renewable Energy Policy - Paul Komor
Great little handbook on the various policies that have been tried around the world to promote renewable energy use. Presents the pros and cons of all of them, and is thankfully non-political.

Shaping Things - Bruce Sterling
I bought this based on boingboing pimping it, so draw your own conclusions. Anyone interested in tech and "reads the internets a lot" isn't going to get many new ideas here.

Wind Power - Paul Gipe
Handbook for what I want to do when I grow up.

Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak - Ken Deffeyes
As the title implies. One of the good things it does is debunk the myth that new technology will enable us to find ever growing amounts of oil, as Deffeys actually talks about the technologies that have been developed in the past few decades rather than leaving the the concept as an abstract.

The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins
Despite having little background in evolutionary concepts (I think? maybe I have learned more from the internets than I assume I have), I found that I already knew the vast bulk of the material presented here. Dawkins isn't the greatest writer, either.

The Collapse of Complex Societies - Joseph Tainter
Another book promoted by the peak oil crowd, although it wasn't written from that viewpoint. Using Rome, the Mayans, and a few other societies that have collapsed, his ultimate argument is that "declining marginal returns on investment" have historically always caused collapse, and he makes a very good case. In the process he (worryingly) demonstrates why we're unable to live in harmony with our surroundings. Amusingly, he presents evidence that we're on the same track to collapse just like every society that has come before us, but then simply declares that it won't happen at the end of the book. Presumably he can't emotionally handle the heavy weight of his own research.

The Red Queen - Matt Ridley
Finishing this book right now, and I found it at the right time. Its main purpose is to investigate why lifeforms often reproduce sexually rather than asexually, but what the author also does (purposefully) is to beat on the leftist academic concept that the universe is egalitarian and that deviations from this are caused entirely by man's desire to control his fellow man which ends up codified in culture and institutions.

Now that I'm starting to understand humanity's problems at a more fundamental level I'm recognizing this idea to be just as outmoded and unable to deal with said problems as religious or conservative ideology. It seems that ideology cannot, by definition, transcend man's own ego and his many myths of greatness. It took me 29 years to go from the myth that "we are god's perfect children" which I grew up with to a near complete melting away of the collective unconscious human ego. There is no compelling reason that we need to be here, no tragedy if we cease to exist.

My life certainly improved this year, but my world view got much, much darker. Peering into the core seems to do that.

< Emergency shopping: complete | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
2006 books | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
plus, by garlic (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:04:11 PM EST
too much weed smoking, or drinking with MNS.


those are good things by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:10:45 PM EST
smoking weed does not lead to a dark world view.

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?

[ Parent ]
Not if you leave the window open a crack by ad hoc (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:27:07 PM EST
hey now by alprazolam (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:37:14 PM EST
don't go telling people that their opinions aren't necessarily based in fact, or that their experience isn't absolutely the only possible experience. you commie.

cool idea, keeping a book list. i wonder if i can remember to do that. kinda doubt it but it would be cool to look back and see like 60 books i read in the past year.

i'm gonna have to read that book about the british kids/chick, it sounded interesting.

[ Parent ]
Science by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:38:32 PM EST
...leftist academic concept that the universe is egalitarian and that deviations from this are caused entirely...
Many leftist academics should read more biology texts. Hell, many leftist academics should read more science in general. The universe is a nasty place.

The Selfish Gene is certainly not Dawkin's best...the ideas in it have become commonplace (they certainly weren't at the time) though a lot of people who have read nothing but the title still think it's some sort of defense of selfishness. (It seems that the ideas have spread better than knowledge of where those ideas came from.)

Stephan Jay Gould is a much better writer.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

Gould by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:44:21 PM EST
Based on some of his articles I've read that were reposted online I have to agree. I have one of his books in my queue somewhere. I should order it.

still think it's some sort of defense of selfishness

That's the basic problem: reasons are considered as justifications. It has done severe harm to the ability of leftists to have meaningful conversation.

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?

[ Parent ]
Beware by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:00:52 PM EST
Most of his books are pop-science, but "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory", while very, very good, is very, very dense.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
on this topic by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:06:42 PM EST
I prefer pop-science writing as I'm not in much need of technical convincing.

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?

[ Parent ]
Convincing by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 05:02:22 PM EST
The book isn't actually about convincing (except perhaps about convincing his technical peers about punctuated equilibrium.) It's more of a complete description of evolutionary theory, and a complete description of the philosophical history of it.

(Not that I'm saying you should read it...the pop-science stuff is a lot more fun.)
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
meaningful conversation by theantix (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 07:06:18 PM EST
The idea that life is fundamentally selfish is something that leftists still have yet to fully grasp, too many still give the whiff of hope that everyone will just be nice and happy if only those other people would stop being mean boo hoo.

The problem I think is that the word "selfish" carries the impression of something childish, and people with childish attitudes like libertarians think that being selfish means they get to have everything they want.  In fact, it's perfectly selfish to want to live in a just society, it's in our own selfish interests to not destroy the planet.

Maybe selfish was a bad word to choose, but that's only because of how mentally stunted the people who take it that way are.  I don't think you'd have meaningful conversation with them no matter what Dawkins titled his book.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
well by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #14 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 07:31:16 PM EST
I don't know if even a majority of people that call themselves leftists believe in "the basic goodness of man." I know many, especially people of older age and more experience, understand left wing policies as a way to counter our some of our natural selfish tendencies that are good for the individual but bad for the tribe.

There is another way to look at it though: this is all indicative of an intellectual culture that is less than honest.

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?

[ Parent ]
+800,000,000FP by theantix (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 08:02:17 PM EST
"understand left wing policies as a way to counter our some of our natural selfish tendencies that are good for the individual but bad for the tribe."

This is a fair summary of my basic justification for government.  If your selfish tendencies work together with the positive outcomes for the tribe, the "invisible hand" takes care of the details and no governance is needed.  But in cases where your selfish tendencies work against positive outcomes for the tribe, government is needed to take care of these externalities -- to shift the balance of the equation so that people's selfish interest is again aligned with a positive tribal outcome.

It seriously makes me happy to know that you feel that at least some rough version of this is common amongst leftists you know.  Maybe we still have hope left, because the traditional "goodness of man" crap (and it's opposite which drives parts of conservatism) drives me nuts.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
is this now obligatory? by R343L (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:43:56 PM EST
I did not keep track, but as I bookmark amazon pages to keep track of what I want to read (usually), it should not be too hard. Maybe it can go at the tail end of next diary.

And I now have at least three more books on the list. Good thing I like reading.

Rachael

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

i wouldn't call it obligatory by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:56:00 PM EST
obligatory was a faux outrage comment by R343L (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:29:50 PM EST
You know, husi's version of a secret society social requirement. ;)

Rachael

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
Tom Robbins. by grendel (2.00 / 0) #16 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 08:59:44 PM EST
I'm a big fan. Villa Incognito was pretty good, I thought, but not his best. It and Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas I'll likely not reread. I gotta say though, Skinny Legs and All is a fantastic story, and fun to read.

I debated a 'books read' diary, and I might still, but it'll be difficult to assemble. I read a lot.

there are by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 09:25:12 PM EST
a lot of voracious readers here. I think the most I've ever read is 35 in a year, and that is a low number for most of the people that do lists like this.

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?

[ Parent ]
i find that a low number by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #18 Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 10:44:31 PM EST
even if i don't count, say, rereading two dozen of my favorite fiction books from high school, which i've done this fall.

most of them sucked.

don't even get me started on what a terrible writer piers anthony is.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Piers Anthony by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #19 Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 12:26:40 AM EST

Eventually I found an authors note in one of his books along the lines of "I'm a very disciplined writer, I write 7000 words every single day no matter what.". My immediate thought was "Well, yes, but why do you have to publish them all?" and haven't bought another of his books since.

[ Parent ]
re-reading favorites by R343L (2.00 / 0) #20 Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 05:08:20 AM EST
That was one thing I just stopped cold about a month ago (after that one hole entry). I spent too much time re-reading things and decided I should read new things.

But your re-reading of Piers Anthony reminds me of Terry Brooks Shannara books. Now, Terry Brooks actually has written good novels (Magic Kingdom For Sale is one that stands re-reading). However, I remembered liking Shannara as a teenage and bought a copy six months ago or so. I wasn't expecting a mind-altering experience -- just a rousing, well-written, sword and sorcery.

I was incredibly disappointed. The writing was bad. The settings and characterizations were just so-so (but I remembered the characters being vivid!) The plot started to tangle up a few chapters in. So depressing.

Did I just have really bad taste and judgement as a teenager?

Rachael

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
re-reads by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #21 Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 06:25:33 AM EST
I reread a lot coz I read a lot and it would be too expensive otherwise. For me, Eddings falls into the above category but I find if I am ill with a temperature, just enough of my brain is off that I can enjoy them again.

[ Parent ]
fortunately for my wallet by R343L (2.00 / 0) #22 Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 07:49:12 AM EST
There are a lot of libraries in my area. Unfortunately, I imagine there are a lot of small(er) towns where even with inter-library loan reading a lot of books would be a PITA (or take so long you lose interest).

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
[ Parent ]
The trick with peering into the core... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #23 Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 11:03:14 PM EST
is not to get too caught up in the darkness of world view it inspires. If you find a way, let me in on it...

2006 books | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback