I thought it might be interesting to make a note of the books I read this year. I’ve found some interesting books by seeing them mentioned on other people’s blogs, so I thought I’d just stick my little book list in a virtual bottle just in case anyone else might enjoy one of these.
The Annals of the Former World by John McPhee. This is his magnum opus about the geologic history of North America. It’s composed of five books, two of which I’d read before. While the subject sounds dry, it’s really quite entertaining. The stuff about conodonts was quite interesting, and the story of how California came to be was also very good. But that’s just because John McPhee is a very good writer.
Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants by Jill Soloway. It’s her memoir about growing up, chock full of funny stories and little rants. And reading it was great fun.
How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson. Her story about how she became the well-known porn star. It’s kind of sad at times, and hilariously funny at times.
Lights, Camera, Sex! by Christy Canyon. This is another ‘how I got into porn’ story. I met Christy once, and she was quite charming and funny in person. And her book is the same way. It was tremendously entertaining.
Collapse by Jared Diamond. An examination of history and the reasons why societies collapse. Part historical tome and part cautionary tale for the present, it’s quite readable.
Conduct Unbecoming by Randy Shilts. The full history of gays in the military, told in minute detail.
Stiff by Mary Roach. All about uses for human cadavers in research and education. Tremendously funny, although that might not be immediately apparent from the subject material.
Astro Turf by M.G. Lord. A history of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but from a viewpoint of examining its male-dominated culture and the women who now inhabit it.
Finding Fault in California by Sue Hough. I work with Sue, and her book is intended as a tourist’s guide to seeing the scarps, hills, and sag ponds formed by fault movements around California. I’ve found that going to see them makes for some nice little bike trips.
The Bone Woman by Clea Koff. This is a personal memoir of a forensic anthropologist who worked exhuming the mass graves of genocide victims in Rwanda and Kosovo. Well-written, but it’s ultimately a grim story.
Candy Freak by Steve Almond. A somewhat personal story about the history of candy in the United States, and in particular about the few remaining independent candy companies still in business. Tremendously funny.
Bare by Elisabeth Eaves. This is her memoir about being a stripper at a peep show in Seattle. Full of interesting stories and some introspective talk about why she felt drawn to stripping. Very entertaining.
And one re-read of note:
The Control of Nature by John McPhee. Three stories about how man tries to control natural forces. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I had go back and read the section about the Army Corps of Engineers and their attempts at controlling the Mississippi River.