2004

The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien

1/2004

After i saw the Peter Jackson's "The Fellowship of the Ring", it renewed my interest in hobbits, and i resolved to read both The Hobbit and LOTR after i'd seen all three of the films. I was surprised by how simple this story is, but even after all the years it's been since i first read it, it's still a great story.

The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien

1/2004

Once again, i was a little surprised when rereading the Lord of The Rings books (in one handy volume). There were many parts that i didn't really remember and there were many many references that i didn't pick up on when i was 15. It was pretty cool to see the original work and compare it to Peter Jackson's films. And it was also neat to see how Mr. Tolkein tackled the task of making LOTR fit into the same rough world that he built for The Hobbit.

Krakatoa

The Day The World Exploded

Simon Winchester

4/2004

Long on build-up and consequence, a little short on the actual boom itself, but a fairly thorough look at the culture of the lands of Sumatra and Java in the late 1800s and what the explosion of Krakatoa did to change things. The coolest thing (i mean, as far as mass destruction goes) is that the explosions eminating from Krakatoa were heard about 3,000 miles away on an island in the Indian Ocean. Big boom.

Jimmy Corrigan - The Smartest Boy on Earth

Scott Ware

5/2004

This is a sad collection of vignettes, spanning 3 generations of Jimmy Corrigans, but it is so amazingly beautifully drawn that you can't help but feel good about it. Even if you never find the time to read this, you should check out Scott Ware's drawing style in this and his other books like Quimby The Mouse. Impressive.

Life of Pi

Yann Martel

5/2004

This book pissed me off. It pissed me off in the same way that annoying books like Death of a Salesman piss me off. It was a perfectly decent story until about 4/5ths of the way through, then suddenly an element of profound unbelieveability is thrown in, and to top it off, the very end offers an alternate version of the whole damn book! When i read a book like this, i feel like the author is jerking the reader around because he can, and he feels like he's written something "important" that could be discussed in 10th grade english classes. Ick. But in case you're wondering, it's (maybe) about a young Indian boy who ends up on a lifeboat with 3 denizens of his father's zoo, which his family is transporting from India to the US: A hyena, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger.

The Radioactive Boy Scout

Ken Silverstein

6/2004

This is kinda cool/sad/scary. A high school kid in suburban Detroit got his hands on enough radioactive material (radium and thorium) to build a very small aluminum-foil-wrapped nuclear reactor in a shed in his back yard. What's more amazing than the fact that he did it was the fact that no one gave him any guidance to channel his devotion to chemistry and physics and he was mostly ignored, which gave him the freedom to do what he did.

The Quantum World

Quantum Physics for Everyone

Kenneth Ford

7/2004

All hail the flying particles. My dad wrote this book "for everyone" and i have two thoughts on it. One is that i still don't understand what some of the elementary quantum particles are because there's a lot of them and they're all classified in weird ways. But the other is that i think that every high school freshman should read this book, even if they (like me) don't grasp all the particles. It made everything that i was supposed to learn in chemistry, physics, and even biology make so much more sense. This is the basic stuff, man, and everybody should learn about it.

Outside 25

Various Authors

10/2004

This is a compilation (subtitled "Classic Tales and New Voices from the Frontiers of Adventure") of articles that originally appeared in Outside magazine. If i had a subscription to Outside (which i don't) i don't think that i'd read most of these, but having them all in one tome makes it nice in that i can read an article every night for a few weeks.

Most of the stories are interesting and some are about my favorite subject -- true death experiences, but i noticed a distinct favoritism towards rock and mountain climbers. It seems that Outside classifies those people as the epitome of being an outdoor enthusiast. I don't know if i agree with that, but there were enough non-climbing stories to keep me going.

The Demon In The Freezer

Richard Preston

10/2004

Another scary true story by Richard Preston. This one is all about the smallpox virus (with a little about Anthrax), what it does, how it makes people sick (possibly killing them), how it was eradicated from the Earth, but where the stockpiles are and what COULD happen if.....

All Fishermen Are Liars

Linda Greenlaw

11/2004

Linda Greenlaw's third book (i read her first but not her second). Nice little book about a selection of commercial fishing stories. Mostly just true (?) events of good and bad fishing trips, set in a structure of swapping stories at a bar.

Shadow Divers

Robert Kurson

11/2004

Wow. Great book. If you like mysteries and true-death adventures, get this book. It's about a group of divers who find a sunken German U-boat off the New Jersey coast that no one (not the U.S., not England, not even Germany) knew was there. The mystery unfolds as two of the divers spend countless hours of both very dangerous diving and exhaustive research to find out what U-boat this is and why and how it was lost.

The Last Run

Todd Lewan

12/2004

This book has a lot of backstory on the people involved. It's about the sinking of a fishing ship in a horrible storm in the Gulf of Alaska and the subsequent intense rescue effort made by the Coast Guard. I found it interesting, but a little slow getting to the action. Once it gets there though, and the ship goes down and the Coasties are airborne, it's quite a page-turner. Pretty amazing what people can go through in harrowing situations.

Bone

Jeff Smith

12/2004

This is the Bone comic book, all 55 issues, in one 1332-page volume. It is an epic story rivalling The Lord Of The Rings and it is beautifully drawn in black-and-white. (Cartoon Books, the publisher of Bone, is currently working on colorizing and reissuing every comic.) I recommend this to any fan of fantasy or graphic novels, and it's a great story for kids and adults.

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