Friday, December 30, 2005

The 2005 Book Reading Year-Ender

(blogger’s note: this books year-ender was inspired by fellow dangerous reviewer rob’s 2004 book year-ender which, sad to say is posted at another blog site.)

the books listed below don’t mean they’ve been published in 2005. it just means i’ve read them in 2005. although this is the year when i’ve read the most number of non-fiction books, fiction still dominated my reading. perhaps you can tell me which ones you’ve read.

44. Pattern Recognition – William Gibson
(Fiction: Novel)

i just can’t understand the story of this book. of course, that doesn’t necessarily make it a lousy book. all i’m saying is i couldn’t appreciate it. but i did force myself to read the entire book as i have made it a point to finish whatever i started reading. it took me around 3 months to finish this cause my mind kept on wandering (due to lack of comprehension) whenever i began reading. william gibson had a highly acclaimed sci-fi novel called “neuromancer” (which i haven’t read cause i could never find a copy) and this is what made me buy his latest book. might have wasted my 350 bucks on this one.

43. Life’s Not Fair, But God Is Good – Robert H. Schuller
(Non-Fiction: Self-Help)

this was one of those books that i just found lying around the house and read for no other reason than there was nothing else to read.

42. Nocturne For A Dangerous Man – Marc Matz
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

bought this on a whim at a booksale store cause i was intrigued by the cover depicting a pretty girl being rescued from an exploding ship by a good-looking man with a well-defined body. remember this is not a romance novel but sci-fi. a good enough read considering i wasn’t expecting much.

41. Success Is Never Ending, Failure Is Never Final – Robert H. Schuller
(Non-Fiction: Self-Help)

you don’t need to feel like a failure to appreciate this book.

40. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach
(Fiction: Inspirational)

a story about a seagull who dared to be different.

39. K Is For Killer – Sue Grafton
(Fiction: Mystery)

i’m not a big fan of the mystery genre so i don’t know why i picked up this book. still, it proved readable enough. better than watching t.v.

38. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
(Fiction: Novel)

after the success of his non-fiction book “tuesdays with morrie”, mitch albom tries his hand at inspirational fiction. what i like about this book is that it had short chapters that were easy to read and thus making the book fast-paced.

37. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
(Fiction: Inspirational)

this book teaches us the importance of knowing what we truly want for it is only through this that we can establish true and noteworthy goals in life. this book is ok. but somehow i can’t figure out why a lot of people praise this book so much. don’t get me wrong. it’s a good book. but c’mon, there are more significant books out there.

36. 1000 Stories You Can Use (Volume 1) – Frank Mihalic, SVD
(???: Inspirational)

i don’t know whether to classify this book as fiction or non-fiction as some of the stories are true while some are made-up. different people contributed short inspiring stories in this book including fr. mihalic who also doubles as an editor. this book is perfect for those who are in the habit of making a lot of speeches or sermons as they can quote many anecdotes here to supplement their talk.

35. Living History – Hillary Rodham Clinton
(Non-Fiction: Autobiography)

this is the very first autobiographical book i’ve read. hillary tells about her loves, joys as well as struggles to succeed in a male-dominated world. it’s also about women empowerment as she also discusses the achievements of women in various fields such as politics, sports, the media, education, or even those simply engaged in charitable work. the book can also be viewed as an adventure book as it details hillary’s many travels. hillary for president!!!

34. The Last Juror – John Grisham
(Fiction: Novel)

this is your usual john grisham legal thriller even if the main protagonist is a journalist instead of a lawyer. sometimes, i wonder why i bother to continue reading his books. maybe it’s because they’re easy to understand and are fast-paced. it’s like my brain is too lazy to be challenged whenever i pick up his books. nevertheless, since those lazy moments do exist in our lives, i guess grisham’s books serve their purpose.

33. The Chronicles Of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
(Fiction: Children’s Fantasy)

a 7-part epic fantasy. many symbolisms in this book. if you love stories about children and animals or if you’re into adventures, you’ll love this book. highly recommended for children although adults have been known to enjoy this one too.

32. How To Stop Worrying And Start Living – Dale Carnegie
(Non-Fiction: Self-Help)

lots of good advice on how to beat stress and enjoy life more.

31. Transit Of Earth (Playboy Science Fiction)
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

having loved playboy’s “the dead astronaut” anthology, this collection comes as a disappointment. i regard william sambrot’s “control somnambule” as the book’s redeeming story. other stories were written by richard matheson, avram davidson, william tenn, thomas m. disch, fredric brown, john atherton, frederik pohl, j.g. ballard and 2 stories each from arthur c. clarke and ray bradbury.

30. The Inferno – Dante Alighieri
(Fiction: Divine Comedy)

i can’t believe i ignored this book back in high school. if you plan on reading this, make sure to get a copy that has either a brief summary or explanation for each canto and/or lots of footnotes. relying solely on reading this epic poem would prove difficult to understand.

29. The Power Of Positive Thinking – Norman Vincent Peale
(Non-Fiction: Self-Help)

at first, i thought this book would only concentrate on giving scientific but practical advice on how to reap the rewards of positive thinking. i was surprised to find out that norman vincent peale put a lot of emphasis on having a relationship with god. he didn’t specify any particular religion but he believes that faith and trust in a superior being helps one stay positive.

28. 3rd Degree – James Patterson & Andrew Gross
(Fiction: Novel)

this is part 3 of a 4 part series that focuses on 4 female friends of different professional careers who come together to help solve crimes. although it’s a 4 part series, each book is stand-alone. as is often the case in james patterson novels, the chapters are very short, some less than 1 page long. you can read this book in 1 sitting if you wanted to.

27. Life Of Pi – Yann Martel
(Fiction: Novel)

winner of the 2002 man booker prize. it was this very distinction that made me buy the book. to be honest, i had no idea what the man booker prize was all about (until i checked the internet) but award-winning books (no matter what the award) always get my curiosity. this book tells about a boy’s struggles and adventures to survive at sea after the ship he and his family were riding sank. as if surviving at sea wasn’t hard enough, the boy had to deal with the apparent death of his parents and his brother. he also had to share his lifeboat with a tiger! a great story of survival and triumph of the human spirit.

26. Ten Tomorrows – Edited by Roger Elwood
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

8 of the 10 stories were good. my favorite being “the defenseless dead” by larry niven. other contributors include robert silverberg, barry n. malzberg, laurence m. janifer, edgar pangborn, anne mccaffrey, pamela sergeant, david gerrold, james blish and gardner r. dozois.

25. Who Moved My Cheese? – Dr. Spencer Johnson
(Fiction: Management)

most people classify this book as non-fiction. after all, how can a management book be called fiction? but i maintain that this book be classified as fiction. for though the book teaches readers how to deal with change in the work place, in relationships or life in general, it does so by telling a fictional story about 2 mice and 2 “littlepeople” and the attitudes they have in looking for cheese. more importantly, it relates how the 4 characters react if the cheese that they grew so accustomed to runs out and they have to look for new cheese. the book makes cheese a metaphor for the things in life that could make us happy. it could either be a job, a loving relationship, spiritual peace or anything at all. the book serves as a practical guide on what to do when the things in life that make us happy are gone: when our “cheese” has been “moved”.

24. Science Fiction: The Best Of 2004 – Edited by Karen Haber & Jonathan Strahan
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

i’ve noticed that newer sci-fi stories are becoming harder and harder to understand. is it because the genre has tackled so many varied issues and topics that writers feel they should come up with weirder stories? or maybe science has become so advanced that my knowledge has become inadequate to comprehend it? notwithstanding, this anthology boasts of 13 of 2004’s best stories. my favorites being “the best christmas ever” by james patrick kelly and “periandry’s quest” by stephen baxter. other featured writers include christopher rowe, gene wolfe, joe haldeman, jeff vandermeer, charles stross, robert reed, nancy kress, paolo bacigalupi, m. john harrison, carol emshwiller and walter jon williams.

23. All Flesh Is Grass – Clifford D. Simak
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

what i like about clifford d. simak’s brand of science fiction is that his stories – whether in short or long format – are easy to understand. he tries to spare the readers all the technical mumbo-jumbo that is usually present in sci-fi stories. if you have been discouraged by “hard sci-fi” with all its advanced scientific terminologies and processes that make you feel you need a doctorate in an extremely technical course to understand them, then this is the book (and the author) for you.

22. Prey – Michael Crichton
(Fiction: Novel)

this book will be appreciated more by those in the computer science field as it talks about the “hive theory” in artificial intelligence computer programming. i must admit that even though i’m a com-sci graduate, there are a lot of terms here that i didn’t fully understand. just goes to show you how outdated and obsolete i am.

21. Whipping Star – Frank Herbert
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

i have yet to read a frank herbert book that i didn’t like. his dune series is a classic even if i’ve read only the first 3 books. but that’s because i couldn’t find the other parts. all his books should be a must read. this is no exception.

20. Wolves Of The Calla (The Dark Tower V) – Stephen King
(Fiction: Novel)

the much awaited 5th part of the dark tower series. roland deschain and his ragtag band of gunslingers continue their quest for the dark tower. in this book, stephen king craftily pays tribute to star wars, marvel comics, and j.k. rowling.

19. Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
(Fiction: Children’s Fiction)

part 6 of j.k. rowling’s classic series. just when i thought she’s used up all her tricks to surprise readers, she comes up with another unpredictable tale. my only complaint is that my favorite character, professor severus snape turned out to be a bad person here but i’m still hoping that in the final book, j.k. rowling will make it appear that everything snape did – including killing hogwarts’ headmaster and mentor of harry potter, albus dumbledore – was all for a good cause. i’ll keep my fingers crossed.

18. The Doctors Book Of Home Remedies For Depression – by the Editors of Prevention
(Non-Fiction: Health)

lots of tips on how to cope up and overcome depression. contributors range from psychiatrists, psychologists, herbalists or simply health experts. with so many people collaborating, some of the advice seemed to conflict one another. but this just tells me that beating depression is a trial and error battle. whatever works for one person does not necessarily work for another. you simply have to find what works for you.

17. The South Beach Diet – Arthur Agatston, M.D.
(Non-Fiction: Health)

what sets this diet apart from other diets is that it’s a healthy one as it was originally designed by dr. agatston for his patients who have heart problems. but since the diet also effectively lowered down the weight of his patients, it has caught on with other residents of florida, the state where dr. agatston sets up his practice -- thus the name: south beach diet. i read this book with no intention of going on a diet. i just wanted to load up on valuable information. but if i do intend on going on a diet in the future, i’ll make sure to have this book by my side for easy reference.

16. Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
(Non-Fiction: Inspirational)

now this is what inspiring is all about. morrie, an old professor diagnosed with a terminal illness called lou gehrig’s disease decides to spend his remaining days reaching people and teaching them about what really matters in life. and he is in a perfect position to do so. a dying man theoretically would only do things that seem important to him. things like spending time with family and friends or enjoying the beauty of nature instead of watching t.v. the author, mitch albom, was morrie’s former student in college and they decide that this book would be their last lesson together. a final thesis so to speak.

15. The Year’s Best Science Fiction, No.2 – Edited by Harry Harrison & Brian Aldiss
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

the first volume of this series representing the best science fiction of 1967, this volume collects the best sci-fi of 1968. most of the stories here have endings that are startling and surprising. my favorite stories are “appointment on prila” by bob shaw and “golden acres” by kit reed. the book also features a poem by j.r. pierce and 4 different reviews of stanley kubrick and arthur c. clarke’s movie, “2001: a space odyssey”, a film first shown in 1968. other writers contributing stories include robert sheckley, david i. masson, john d. macdonald, isaac asimov, k.m. o’donnell, mack reynolds, fritz leiber, stephen goldin, robert silverberg and theodore sturgeon.

14. Ang Paboritong Libro Ni Hudas (Judas’s Favorite Book) – Bob Ong
(Fiction: Avant-garde)

a funny book that packs a lot of hard facts and trivia. but you have to be alert as to when the author is stating facts which seem to be funny or if he is simply telling a joke. a book you probably wouldn’t mind reading again and again.

13. Memoirs Of A Geisha – Arthur Golden
(Fiction: Novel)

although this is a work of fiction, the book taught me a lot about geishas and japanese culture in general. the story itself is simple but the writing style flows and runs freely. it’s like reading poetry with its adept use of similes and hyperboles. a very rich book and a satisfyingly good read. the book incidentally has been made into a movie. can’t wait to watch it.

12. 1984 – George Orwell
(Fiction: Novel)

a book written in an extremely emotional manner. you can immediately feel the anger the lead character harbors towards “big brother” and his evil, ruling party. the paranoia portrayed in this book is infectious. this is the book that formed the basis for the popular but shallow reality tv show “big brother”. forget the show. read this book instead.

11. Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
(Non-Fiction: Psychology / Self-Help)

a very interesting and eye-opening book that talks about the importance of instinct and first impressions. it shows many real life instances when the subconscious knows a lot more than we think it does. of course, the book also gives occurrences when instincts go awry. and that seems to be my gripe: the book wasn’t able to clearly define to me when or when not to trust your instincts.

10. Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki w/ Sharon Lechter
(Non-Fiction: Business)

i never thought there’d come a day when i would read a book about business. this is a book you’d either really love or really hate. personally, i disagreed with a lot of the teachings in this book but i still found myself engrossed in reading it as the author defends his points well. and he has the credentials to prove it. after all, who is the certified millionaire: me (a bum) or the author? this book is undoubtedly provocative and persuasive. and even if you’re not serious in becoming a rich person, this is still an enjoyable read.

9. State Of Fear – Michael Crichton
(Fiction: Novel)

probably michael crichton’s most political book to date. this story talks about environmental issues like global warming. is the crisis of global warming real or is it something exaggerated by fearmongers? this must be crichton’s longest book – over 600 pages long. lots of interesting and informative cold hard facts.

8. Universe 7 – Edited by Terry Carr
(Fiction: Science Fiction Short Stories)

this is the 7th installment of the “universe” anthology. it’s actually an old book having been first published in 1977 but the stories are definitely timeless. i enjoyed reading ALL 8 stories which goes to show how great i think this book is. usually in a collection, there’s bound to be at least 2 or 3 that i don’t like. not so here. the featured writers include fritz leiber, brian aldiss, julian reid, robert chilson, george alec effinger, gene wolfe, r.a. lafferty and carter scholz.

7. The Dead Astronaut (Playboy Science Fiction)
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

10 stories that were previously published in playboy magazine. what i like about this collection is that with the exception of frank robinson’s “the wreck of the ship john b.”, the stories are very short and easy to read. they all have a common theme: space flight. my favorites are david duncan’s “requiem on the moon” and ray russell’s “here comes john henry”. other contributors include j.g. ballard, leland webb, ursula k. le guin, avram davidson, brian rencelaw, arthur c. clarke and robert sheckley.

6. Starshine – Theodore Sturgeon
(Fiction: Science Fiction Short Stories)

this book contains 6 short stories from writer extraordinaire theodore sturgeon. what i like about theodore sturgeon is his uncanny ability to write stories that are very original. furthermore, whether consciously or subconsciously, he is able to make each story very different from the other. although popular within sci-fi circles, it saddens me that he is not given proper recognition in mainstream fiction the way an isaac asimov or an arthur c. clarke is popularly celebrated.

5. Conquerors From The Darkness – Robert Silverberg
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

this is a sci-fi / adventure book that focuses on a simple-minded land dweller named dovirr, and his vision of making a difference in the world. what sets apart this sci-fi book from others is its surreal way of mixing and correlating different sets of species and making astutely relevant comparisons between their lifestyles. dovirr, the main character, is a shining example of how a person who comes from a mediocre race can dream of loftily high goals and achieve them as well. though his goals were selfish by nature, he went on attaining them through such noble and praiseworthy means he makes preachers unworthy of their calling.

4. Science Fiction Origins – Edited by William F. Nolan & Martin H. Greenberg
(Fiction: Science Fiction)

here are 7 stories (3 novellas, 2 novelettes, 2 short stories) which served as the basis for 7 very successful science fiction novels. there’s also a short explanation (either by the author or the editor) on how each story became novels. featured writers include ray bradbury, philip k. dick, william f. nolan, robert silverberg, roger zelazny, evan hunter and arthur c. clarke. hard to pick a favorite as all are good but i guess special recognition should go to bradbury’s “the fireman” which was the precursor for the award winning novel “fahrenheit 451” and clarke’s “guardian angel” which was the forerunner of the highly acclaimed novel “childhood’s end”.

3. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
(Non-Fiction: Management)

a truly amazing book that teaches success in terms of morally sound principles. pointing out that most success books nowadays preach the importance of a person’s personality which stephen covey deems manipulative, dishonest and fostering duplicity, the book concentrates instead on the character ethic. for possession of the correct character ethic is the true basis of a trustworthy personality. i find the author very sincere in his attempt to educate readers on how to live a contented and happy life. i feel i can trust his words for he projects no ulterior motive other than to be of genuine service to people.

2. Your Best Life Now – Joel Osteen
(Non-Fiction: Self-Help / Inspirational)

tired of priests, pastors and religion gurus telling you to pray and meditate when what you need is a helping hand? tired of having religious verses quoted to you when what you need is some understanding? well this book will give you new found hope. not that lakewood church pastor joel osteen does not believe in prayer and bible passages, it’s just that his teachings are more action oriented. he talks about aggressively practicing one’s christian faith. if you’re looking for a miracle in your life, try reading this one. there is no wasted word or punctuation mark in this book.

1. Song Of Susannah (The Dark Tower VI) – Stephen King
(Fiction: Novel)

when reading a stephen king book, be prepared to throw all the rules of book reading out the window. to appreciate a stephen king book, you have to set aside all your preconceived thoughts about logic. not that stephen king’s stories are illogical, it’s just that his plain of logic is different from what we are accustomed to. his imagination does not lie in the path of euclidian geometry that i am compelled to call it kingian geometry. in this part 6 of the dark tower series, he has totally revolutionized the art of storytelling to new heights. i won’t be surprised if a number of generations down the road, an entire plethora of literature courses are devoted for the study of stephen king’s works. not including part 7 – the final part of the dark tower epic (which i still haven’t read), “song of susannah” ranks as my most favorite in the series. too bad you can’t appreciate it without reading parts 1-5 first.


rob said...

Roehl, lots of good books here. 'State of Fear', Crichton's latest book for me is the most interesting in your list. Haven't read it yet but I plan to in the future. I wasn't able to finish 'Prey' (Crichton's book prior to 'State of Fear'). For some reason I got bored with the story. Though I have been a bit disappointed with his last few books, I still like the guy's info-tainment style but he should stop tailoring his books for the movie industry.

'Blink' by Malcolm Gladwell, one of the books in your list makes an appearance in my top ten list. Gladwell is one of my current favorite writers.

Strangely enough, I'm not a fan of Stephen Covey. Although I believe he has done a lot of good to people, I find his tone too geared towards selling to corporate types rather than speaking to people directly.

'Ten Tomorrows' sounds good owing to the title. I assume the theme is about potential future events. I'll check it out.

I actually read one of Robert Schuller's books (forgot the title). He's ok, but nothing that great.

Mitch Albom's books look interesting. I keep postponing reading them.

The Inferno - ok I've got to read this. I only know the cool quotes from this book, hehehe.

I'll post my top ten list soon, which will contain some expected and unexpected books.

By the way, if you're looking for good books, referrals based on what other like-minded people have read, you should check out I love this site, a great resource for discovering new books based on your interests.

Happy reading!

rmacapobre said...

this only means i am neglecting my reading because only two of the books i have read (harry potter and memoirs) made it into the list.

da vinci code didnt make into either of your lists .. is it because of the topic? ^_^ hehehe no judgements here ..

rob said...

re: Da Vinci Code - I think Roehl was one of the first to read the book, even before last year. He also recommended to me the other Dan Brown books.

roehl said...

re: da vinci code

yes, i have read all 4 dan brown books prior to 2005 that's why none of them made it to the 2005 list. im actually waiting for his next book which according to news is a continuation of the da vinci code and even more controversial. it's said that in da vinci code, dan brown was holding back so as not to alienate sensitive readers.