Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

First sentence:



"One of the world's most beloved writers takes his most challenging trip yet, through some of the toughest questions that scientists of all kinds have been trying to answer for years - sometimes for centuries.

On this intellectual odyssey, Bill Bryson puts his insatiable curiosity to use as he apprentices himself to the great scientific minds of today, and of history. In the course of this entertainingand revealing question, Bryson asks not only "what" and "how," but more importantly,"why." Are the oceans getting saltier over time, or less salty? How do earthquakes happen? What is a black hole? And how on earth did we ever figure these things out?

Here's science like you never learned it in school - lucid, relevant, entertaining, and often very, very funny." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I think this will be the book that I will go back to again and again. There were so many interesting facts to learn, and I enjoyed reading about how various scientists discovered new information that often surprised them. I liked reading about William Herschel's discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781 and how he wanted to name it after King George III (Georgium Sidus). I also liked learning about prehistoric guinea pigs the size of cows.

Date read: 8/24/2009
Book #: 43
Challenges: Dewey Decimal Challenge, Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2009
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Nonfiction

ISBN-10: 0385660049
ISBN-13: 9780385660044
Publisher: Anchor Canada
Year: 2003
# of Pages: 478
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Final Frontier Reading Challenge

When: April 6 - October 6, 2009
What: Read books dealing with space travel, exploration, colonization, aliens. There are many levels from Fly Me to the Moon (1 book) to Space Oddity (7 or more books).

I will do the "Starman" level (4 to 6 books):
  • Robert A. Heinlein. Have Space Suit - Will Travel -- finished 8/20/2009
  • C.J Cherryh. Foreigner
  • Robert A. Heinlein. The Green Hills of Earth
  • Jack McDevitt. The Engines of God
  • Frederik Pohl. Beyond the Blue Event Horizon

999 Challenge - III. Science Fiction

For my complete 999 Challenge list, go here.
  1. Sheri Tepper. Six Moon Dance -- finished 3/23/2009
  2. Robert A. Metzger. Picoverse -- finished 8/9/2009
  3. Robert Heinlein. Have Space Suit - Will Travel -- finished 8/20/2009
  4. Charles Stross. Accelerando
  5. Jack McDevitt. Engines of God
  6. Iain Banks. Excession
  7. Kate Mosse. Labyrinth
  8. Michael Kurland. Psi Hunt
  9. Edmund Cooper. Seahorse in the Sky

Friday, August 21, 2009

Have Space Suit - Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

First sentence:

"You see, I had this space suit."


"Kip is a volatile teenager whose desire to go to the moon launches him on a much, much longer journey. Struggles haunt his path, desperate seeking forces him on. Eventually he is set down on an ancient planet, finds within himself a primal strength and finally accepts the mantle of responsibility for the entire human race." -- from the backcover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book. I liked Kip and Pee Wee's friendship and their interactions with the "Mother Creature." I also liked how Kip's father challenged him to learn more than what the school was teaching him.

Date read: 8/20/2009
Book #: 42
Challenges: 999 Challenge, Final Frontier Challenge
Rating: 4*/5 = great

Publisher: New English Library
Year: 1975
# of Pages: 175
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island by Linda Greenlaw

First sentence:

"In terms of status, the lobster has come a long way."


"After seventeen years at sea, Linda Greenlaw -- author of the New York Times bestseller The Hungry Ocean -- decided it was time to take a break from being a swordboat captain, the career that earned her a prominent role in Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm and a portrayal in the subsequent film. She felt she needed to return home, to a tiny island seven miles off the Maine coast with a population of seventy year-round residents, thirty of whom are her relatives. She would pursue a simpler life; move back in with her parents; become a professional lobsterman:; and find a man and settle down. But almost none of this works out as planned, and soon she is forced to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about life, luck, and lobsters.

In this hilarious and moving true story, Greenlaw reveals her keen eye for the dramas of small-town life, as well as her talent for fascinating nautical descripton. The Lobster Chronicles is a must-read for everyone who loves boats and the ocean (and lobsters), everyone who has ever reached a crossroads in life, and everyone who has wondered what it would be like to live on a very small island. A celebration of family and community, this is a book that proves once again that fishermen are the best storytellers around." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed reading this book about trying to make a new life back home. I especially like Linda's observations about her relatives and other Islanders.

Date read: 8/18/2009
Book #: 41
Challenge: Dewey Decimal Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Memoir

ISBN-10: 0786885912
ISBN-13: 9780786885916
Publisher: Hyperion
Year: 2002
# of Pages: 235
LibraryThing page

Monday, August 10, 2009

Picoverse by Robert A. Metzger

First sentence:

"The Nunn Physics Building, a six-story sprawl of red brick and smoked glass, dominated the northern boundary of Georgia Tech's campus, throwing a long shadow down 14th Street, painting the dozens of ramshackle student bungalows that hugged its western edge in depressing shades of gray and brown."


"In the early twenty-first century, a team of scientists has done the impossible -- ripped apart the fabric of space-time and created a brand new universe. . .one million-millionth the size of our own. Now, they're going to see where it takes them." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

This was an interesting and challenging book to read. I liked the way the characters entered various alternate picoverses, sometimes for seconds at a time.

Date read: 8/9/2009
Book #: 40
Challenge: 999 Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 044101030X
ISBN-13: 978-0441010301
Publisher: Ace
Year: 2003
# of Pages: 389
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page