Saturday, January 9, 2010

Books read in 2009

I read 39 books in 2009. As I've noted previously, most of these I listened to on my mp3 player, which is how I get through so many.

I'll list the first four as the ones that I enjoyed the most, or found most enlightening or inspirational. For most of the others I'll include brief comments.

A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
The title is pretty accurate. It seems to cover about everything, as it recounts the history of scientific discovery of a very wide range of topics. I found it exceptionally interesting.

Guests of the Ayatollah – Mark Bowden
The Iran hostage crisis was an agonizing and frustrating world event for Americans, and those of us who lived at that time may find this book even more interesting than it already is.

Black Hawk Down – Mark Bowden
I was pleasantly surprised at how informative and moving this book was, in addition to the action and suspense. I found myself thinking about it and many related things for days afterwards, the true mark of a good book.

Stalin, Breaker of Nations – Robert Conquest
I don't know if the book itself is all that great, but the subject matter was astounding. I came away convinced that Stalin was the most evil man, the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century. Hitler was a Boy Scout in comparison.

The Fall of Troy – Peter Ackroyd

Flags of our Fathers – James Bradley

In my hand, memories of a holocaust rescuer -- Irene Opdyke

Mountains Beyond Mountains -Tracy Kidder
Inspirational account of a doctor making a difference in disadvantaged areas of the world.

The Mormon Way of Doing Business – Jeff Benedict

Blood Diamonds – Greg Campbell
I count my blessings living in the USA.

Moscow Rules – Daniel Silva

My Detachment – Tracy Kidder
I've read several books by Kidder, and, though good, I've grown somewhat weary of the excessive profanity.

In Plain Sight – Box

Hunger Games – Collins
Wow, what a creative writer! Couldn't put it down.

Mornings on Horseback – McCullough
Interesting account of Teddy Roosevelt's early life.

The Best Game Ever – Mark Bowden
Ahhh, the Colts win the championship game. Pro football and athletes in a different era.

Stars in their Courses – Shelby Foote
I love listening to Foote's southern accent as he narrates his books.

Shiloh – Shelby Foote

Follow Me Down – Shelby Foote

Alive – Piers Paul Read
This account, along with those of the Donner Party, really makes me appreciate each meal.

The Host – Stephanie Meyers
I think I liked it more than Twilight.

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
My first foray into Tolstoy, and some reviewers regard this as the greatest novel ever written. I enjoyed the time and setting (19th century Russia), and it was insightful in several ways. Didn't make my top books list, though.

Andrew Jackson – H.W. Brands(?)
What a violent time in American history, and what a violent man!

Ablaze – Piers Paul Read
USSR in its twilight. And what a monumental disaster Chernobyl was.

The Templars – Piers Paul Read
I actually got into this account of crusades, knights, and interesting historical figures.

The Brothers Karamazov – Dostoyevsky
Another account from 19th century Russia in a highly acclaimed book. I think I liked it better than Tolstoy.

A. Lincoln – Ronald White
Great book, but it just didn't work for me this read (listen).

One Minute to Midnight – Michael Dobbs
Fascinating inside look at the Cuban Missile Crisis, which I lived through.

Massacre at Mountain Meadows – Ronald W. Walker
How is such a thing possible? And perpetrated by God-fearing men? This book does help answer the questions by setting the context. But still.

The Coldest Winter – David Halberstam
Interesting account of the first months of the historically neglected Korean War. And all the politics behind it, and short bios of all the key players. Actually, a prelude to Vietnam.

The Virginian – Owen Wister
Great book.

The Count of Monte Cristo – Dumas
Long, long book, but still hard to put down.

1984 – Orwell
The most depressing read imaginable.

The New Testament

The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Thought provoking and insightful. Perhaps should be in my top list.

The Worst Hard Time –Timothy Egan
Unimaginable hardships on the high plains during the Depression.

Deep Survival – Laurence Gonzales

Collision – Jared Diamond
I found some accounts of failed civilizations fascinating. Scary implications for modern societies.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
I enjoyed the German setting.


  1. great list for me to draw on for 2010!

  2. Jeremy read Short History this year, too. I've read I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bryson and it was good.