The Shyness Solution

Catherine Gillet


My mom gave me this book for Christmas and i was actually really interested in reading it. I was hoping to identify my type of shyness and find out more about it, but this book turned out to be more in the vein of the "i'm good enough, i'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" kind of self-affirmation stuff. Its proscription for shyness was "pretend you're not shy and you won't be." Yeah.

No Shortcuts To The Top

Climbing The World's 14 Highest Peaks

Ed Viesturs with David Roberts


Another book from my mom. Ed seems like a very likable guy (probably best known as the featured climber in the IMAX Everest film, and one of the climbers who went to the rescue in Jon Krakaur's book "Into Thin Air"), and this is a very well-written book about his "Endeavor 8000", an 18-year task of climbing all 14 mountains in the world higher than 8,000 meters. It's a bit of a memoir too and it's neat to see how he's mixed his personal and professional life into one big cool life.


Nathaniel Philbrick


The third book that my mom gave me for Christmas. This wasn't as good as "In The Heart Of The Sea", but i learned a lot about the first settlers in Massachusetts (i never knew that the Pilgrims and the Puritans were two separate settlements and groups). About half the book is about the Pilgrims sailing over and finding a place to live, and the other half is about King Philip's War, which was the first fight between all the English and a lot of the Indian tribes (King Philip was an Indian leader, the son of Massasoit). It's amazing how intolerant and uncivil communities can be, and this is our history.

Ultimate: The First Four Decades

Pasquale Anthony Leonardo & Adam Zagoria


Awesome. I ran into a few names i knew, saw one picture of a shirt that i'd made, and learned a lot about how ultimate came to be. Great book.

The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins


I picked this book up at the library and was curious about it. I found it to be a little scattershot with a very professorish feel to it, with a lot of little loose ends, but it's a pretty huge topic. Basically put, Dawkins says that there's no way any sort of god could exist and a good portion of the people on earth have been essentially brain-washed into believing in dieties. He lays out the arguments well and has some good points and some scary stuff about religious addicts, but it's written as if it's a college lecture. I had hoped that it might significantly change my way of thinking, but it lacked a nice punchy conclusion to really make me go out and preach the gospel of atheism.

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Book the Eleventh - The Grim Grotto
Book the Twelfth - The Penultimate Peril
Book the Thirteenth - The End

Lemony Snicket


The last three books added more mysteries, left lots of questions unanswered, and got very moralistic, making the villians a little less villianous and the heroes a little less heroic. But they're still fun reads.

North Star Over My Shoulder

Bob Buck


My father gave this book to me when he came up to Vermont to visit. We were scheduled to visit Bob Buck the next day but unfortunately due to a fall the day before, Bob died in the hospital that night.

Bob Buck started out as a teenager flying open-cockpit biplanes and then flew as a pilot for TWA for his entire career, from DC-2s and DC-3s to 747s. He had special assignments flying for the war, flying through thunderstorms for research, and flying the Hollywood actor Tyrone Power around the globe. Pretty fascinating account of the maturing of the airline industry.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

J.K. Rowling


Ahhhh.... Mmmmm.... Sad to see it all end, but so well done. The day after i finished it, i went back and reread the last three chapters. Neville's my hero.

I started book 1 at the beginning of June and read them all back-to-back, finishing book 6 the night before i got my copy of book 7 in the mail from Amazon. Excellent series. Only 2 things bothered me in the whole thing though. At the end of book 4, how did Harry get his Marauder's Map back, and why couldn't he see the thestrals when he left Hogwarts?

Crashing Through

A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See

Robert Kurson


Mike May was blinded by a chemical explosion at age 3. He had a surgery to give himself vision again at age 46. Not only is this a great story about Mike May and his life as a blind man, but it's a fascinating introduction to how the brain processes all the data that streams though the optic nerve and what's needed to really "see".

The Places In Between

Rory Stewart


Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan in January, 2002, 3 months after the fall of the Taliban. He relied solely on the Muslim tradition of welcoming and feeding guests for every night of his trip and walked from village to village among people who were illiterate and had never been outside their small feudal territory, but all had guns.

What amazed me about many of the Afghanis that he met was their unflinching ability to lie. It seems that if an ignorant holy man or village elder didn't know something, they'd just make up an answer and call it truth. This book really makes you aware of the different tribal areas in Afghanistan and how it's barely "one country". It also might make you wince at the western notion of "bringing democracy" to a myriad of cultures we know nothing about.

Monkey Girl

Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul

Edward Humes


Awesome book. It describes the trial in Dover, PA where the school board tried to insert Intelligent Design into the school science curriculum and were sued by a group of parents. But it's so much more than the coverage of the trial. It really makes clear just what the science of Evolution is and where Intelligent Design and Creationism stand, and that place is NOT SCIENCE.

Guns, Germs, and Steel

The Fates of Human Societies

Jared Diamond


Holey moley, this was a hard book to finish. There's some really interesting stuff in it about why some human civilizations advanced further and faster than other civilizations, but i think i would've enjoyed the Readers Digest condensed version better.