Progress Report [1]

Alright, it’s been a few weeks since I first wrote about the reading list, my goal of reading at least 52 books over the course of 2013. Part of the motivation for writing about it here was a sense of public accountability and in that regard I’m long overdue for an update.

The Progress Report

Okay last time, I had read 20 out of 52 books. That was ~5 weeks ago, so ideally I would be reading or have just completed book #25. I’ve fallen a little short of that. I just completed book #23, Nudge, earlier this week.

At this point in the year, Goodreads puts me 7 books behind, but it recognizes The Bed of Procrustes, which I did read this year, as counting toward the goal and I don’t. So actually, I’m ~8 books behind.

I’m not really sweating the deficit too much right now. There have been a few choices that were a little dense and time-consuming to read, but I’ve got plenty of fiction books waiting on the shelf that, while not really short, should be fast reads. I’m more than confident they’ll balance things by providing a few 2-3 book weeks before the year’s out.

The Books

While I’ve never really been a good hand at writing book reviews (or any kind of review for that matter), I think it might be a, personally, beneficial exercise to at least discuss them a little here.

[>] Thinking, Fast and Slow: I’ve already written about Khaneman’s a bit, here. At that time I still had ~80 pages left. Nothing in those pages inspired change in the original sentiment. But they did inspire an additional, related, thought.

The main point in the original post was how the book had made me revise a ridiculous policy: avoiding books I fear to be redundant. As if to go the extra mile at driving that point home, there was this wonderful passage in the conclusion.

Without going too into the details, the passage included Khaneman perfectly articulating a sentiment that I’ve been struggling to find the words for, for a few years now. This struggle has resulted in many overly long drafts sitting on my hard drive, consisting entirely of me just rambling aimlessly at the subject. If I hadn’t been so silly and ignored an amazing book for foolish reasons, I’d have had it handed to me.

[>] The Duck Commander Family: Here’s a confession: I bought this book because it was on sale and I loved the cover picture of Si. That’s it.

Nothing against the Robertson clan (honestly, I love Duck Dynasty) , but it’s always been my experience that these kind of books are just dreadful. They’re usually vapid, content-free, ghost-written, fame cash-ins.

Needless to say, I didn’t really intend to read it. At some point after I bought it though, it managed to make its way into my car in the spot reserved for my “Emergency Book”: the dead-tree book I can reach for when all other forms of entertainment/recreation have failed me.

Last month, my wife got LASIK surgery. During the procedure, they had a (pointless) rule against wireless devices which took my Kindle and iPhone out of the picture. Out came the Emergency Book. And I’m so glad it did.

I burned through the book before the end of the day. It was absolutely delightful.

Not to mention that there are tons of incredibly revealing and interesting details about the rise of the Dynasty. And it’s also really refreshing to see an earnest success story, that proactively credits those who provided shoulders to stand on and helping hands along the way.

[>] Nudge: A book that was out quite a bit before than Thinking, Fast and Slow and that I didn’t bother with for the same reasons. Consequently, I regret ignoring it for the same reasons.

I don’t have much to say about Nudge, or at least not in this post. I loved the book, but most of what I walked away from it with is more appropriate in my notebook than in this context.

What I will say is this book is a great asset for anyone that’s even a little curios about Libertarian Paternalism. It’s easy to understand, lays out a petty expansive case for its thesis, and the authors demonstrate their expertise with the science behind their arguments.

In The Works

Another section I want to try out a bit, a quick look at the “Currently Reading” books.

[>] Sandman Slim: This is a series I passed over when it debuted. But after seeing another glowing review of the new installment recently, I decided to bite the bullet and check it out.

I ordered and shelved it earlier this week. It was going to follow The Chronicles of Amber, which I was already a few pages into. An interesting series of events later, however, and Chronicles got Shelved and I ended starting this last night.

I’m nowhere near far enough in to form any kind of substantial opinion, but I love what I’ve seen, so far.

[>] The Shining Girls: I enjoy what I’ve read of this book so, so much, that I really regret picking it up as an e-book.

I’ve got this weird thing about e-books, I won’t go into it here. The short version is that I just can’t seem to read them at even a quarter the pace I read dead-tree books at.

Anyway, this is a brilliant book and Beukes’ talent as a writer is beyond impressive.

[>] Reality is Broken: I’m hesitant to put this one here. It’s been more than two weeks since I’ve looked at it. It was something I thought I might re-read, but now I’m almost certain it’ll find its way off the currently reading list by the end of the week.

Next Time

Assuming, perhaps foolishly, I can get my pace back above 2 books a month and that I can remember to update in a timely fashion (ha), then the next update should have a lot less ground to cover and be a little shorter.

Here’s hoping.


About chaisesmith

B.A. Political Science - University of Kentucky Minor Philosophy - University of Kentucky
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