Reading Log

Goal: 60 books 

53. Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull (Business)
52. Free to Learn by Peter Gray (Education) [reflections]
51. Rapture in Death by J.D. Robb (Mystery)
50. Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (YA Sci Fi)
49. Good Bait by John Harvey (Mystery)
48. Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb (Mystery)
47. That Bright Land by Terry Roberts (Historical Fiction)
46. Glory in Death by J.D. Robb (Mystery)
45. The Last of the President's Men, Bob Woodward (History)
44. The Governor's Wife, Michael Harvey (Mystery)
43. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb (Mystery)
42. Pilgrim's Wilderness by Tom Kizzia (History)
41. Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch (Sci Fi)
40. White Bone, Ridley Pearson (Thriller)
39. A Disease Called Childhood, Marilyn Wedge (Sociology/Medicine)
38. Goodhouse, Peyton Marshall (Sci-Fi)
37. The Wrath of Cochise, Terry Mort (History)
36. The Red Room, Ridley Pearson (Thriller)
35. Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess (Education) [reflections]
34. Choke Point, Ridley Pearson (Thriller)
33. Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories, Agatha Christie (Mystery)
32. The Affinities, Robert Charles Wilson (Sci-Fi)
31. The Girl with the Braided Hair, Margaret Coel (Mystery)
30. Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, Joe Hill editor (Sci-Fi/Fantasy)
29. The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen (Mystery)
28. The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse, Piu Eatwell (History)
27. The Power of Play, David Elkind (Development/Education) [reflections]
26. They Do It With Mirrors, Agatha Christie (Mystery)
25. Finders Keepers, Stephen King (Mystery/Thriller)
24. How to Write a Damn Good Mystery, James Frey (Writing)
23. Archie Meets Nero Wolfe, Robert Goldsborough (Mystery)
22. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (Sci Fi/Fantasy)
21. Thirteen Hours, Deon Meyer (Mystery)
20. Betrayal, John Lescroart (Mystery)
19. The Baker Street Translation, Michael Robertson (Mystery)
18. The River of No Return, Bee Ridgway (Fantasy/Historical)
17. Listening Is an Act of Love, Dave Isay (History)
16. Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King (Mystery/Thriller)
15. The Poisoner's Handbook, Deborah Blum (History)
14. The Baker Street Letters, Michael Robertson (Mystery)
13. In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larsen (History)
12. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak (YA Historical Fiction)
11. Show Your Work, Austin Kleon (Creativity/Work)
10. Lexicon, Max Barry (Sci Fi/Fantasy)
9. Twilight's Children, Torey Hayden (Memoir)
8. A Test of Wills, Charles Todd (Mystery)
7. Celebrity in Death, J. D. Robb (Mystery)
6. Creative Schools, Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica (Education)
5. Street Gang, Michael Davis (TV History)
4. Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon (Creativity)
3. Move Your Bus, Ron Clark (Business)
2. One Man's Paradise, Douglas Corleone (Mystery)
1. The President and the Assassin, Scott Miller (History)

Goal: 52 books 

53. Teaching with Intention - Debbie Miller (Education) (see reflections)
52. The Water Knife - Paolo Bacigalup (Speculative Fiction/Science Fiction)
51. Decisive - Chip Heath and Dan Heath (Business/Decision Making)
50. A Lonely Death - Charles Todd (Mystery)
49. Think of a Number - John Verdon (Mystery)
48. Most Evil - Steve Hodel (True Crime)
47. Writing Treatments that Sell - Kenneth Atchity and Chi-Li Wong (Writing)
46. Operation Greylord - Terence Hake (True Crime/Memoir)
45. The Residence - Kate A. Brewer (History)
44. Fed, White, and Blue - Simon Majumdar (Memoir/Food)
43. Forgotten God - Francis Chan (Spiritual/Christian Living)
42. Brilliance - Marcus Sakey (Science Fiction)
41. Raising Boys by Design - Gregory Jantz & Michael Gurian (Child Development)
40. Calculated in Death - J.D. Robb (Mystery)
39. Marsbound - Joe Haldeman (Science Fiction)
38. Blood Will Tell - Walter Kirn (Memoir/True Crime)
37. What If Everybody Understood Child Development?  - Rae Pica (Child Development/Education) (see reflections)
36. Robot Uprisings - Daniel H. Wilson, ed. (Science Fiction/Short Stories)
35. Lego: A Love Story - Jonathan Bender (Memoir)
34. Leviathan Wakes - James S.A. Corey (Science Fiction)
33. Free Fall - Chris Grabenstein (Mystery)
32. As You Wish - Cary Elwes (Memoir)
31. Sin Killer - Larry McMurtry (Western)
30. The Magdalen Martyrs - Ken Bruen (Mystery)
29. The Bully Pulpit - Doris Kearns Goodwin (History)
28. Redshirts - John Scalzi (Science Fiction)
27. The Grave Robber - Mark Batterson (Spiritual/Christian Living)
26. The Art of Work - Jeff Goins (Personal Growth/Business)
25. The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan (YA Fiction/Fantasy)
24. Every Man, God's Man - Kenny Luck (Spiritual/Christian Living)
23. White Heat - M.J. McGrath (Mystery)
22. Memory Man - David Baldacci (Mystery)
21. The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais (Mystery)
20. Dead Wake by Erik Larson (History)
19. Borrow by Louis Hyman (History/Economics)
18. The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg (Thriller)
17. The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons by Lawrence Block (Mystery)
16. Festive in Death by J.D. Robb (Mystery)
15. Creating Literacy Instruction for All Students by Thomas Gunning (Education/Textbook)
14. We All Fall Down by Michael Harvey (Thriller/Mystery)
13. Little Bets by Peter Sims (Business/Creativity)
12. Teaching Young Children by Michael Henniger (Education/Textbook)
11. Paperboy by Vince Vawter (Young Adult Fiction)
10. Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Farrell (Science Fiction/Fantasy)
9. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Biography)
8. Lost at School by Ross Greene (Nonfiction/Education) (see post)
7. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Fantasy)
6. Desire Street by Jed Horne (True Crime)
5. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Young Adult Fiction)
4. The Escape by David Baldacci (Mystery/Thriller)
3. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester (History/Memoir)
2. Edge by Jeffrey Deaver (Mystery/Thriller)
1. Murder by the Book by Rex Stout (Mystery)

I am participating in Jon Acuff's Empty Shelf Challenge. Every book I read from now to the end of 2014 will be posted here. Will I hit my goal of 52 books by the end of 2014? Let's find out.


36. Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb
(Mystery with Science Fiction)
Lt. Eve Dallas investigates the death of a history teacher at a private school. Discovering secrets in the school's faculty and families, Dallas just cannot get a handle on motive or a killer. After another teacher dies, Dallas begins to hone in on a truly unexpected killer, one that easily diverts attention. Dallas must convince her colleagues that she's on the right track. She eventually draws the unexpected to reveal secrets and confess.

I really enjoy this newly discovered series. I think there are several books in this series and I look forward to reading more about Lt. Dallas.

35. Fun House by Chris Grabenstein
Another in the series about John Ceepak and Danny Boyle. This time, a reality show like Big Brother or Jersey Shore invades Sea Haven. The officers get caught up in the "drama" of the show and pulled into its production. Illegal steroids lead to a murder of one of the contestants. Another murder, death threats, possible mob connections all ratchet up the pressure on the policemen to solve what's going on before the big show's finale causes big chaos.

I really like this series. It's fun, interesting, and fast to read. While lighthearted in tone, the mystery aspects really deliver also.

34. Command and Control by Eric Schlosser
This book discusses the history of nuclear weapons and the development of strategies to use them in warfare. The book also includes a discussion of an accident at a Titan II missile silo in Damascus, Arkansas. This history (and the accident) are full of miscues, delays, and conflicting interests. A very compelling read, if a little disturbing.

I heard the author of this book on a radio talk show, so I thought I would read this book. This book made me feel very unsettled about the world and its safety. My overall feeling during and at the end of this book: God has been protecting our planet in ways that no one ever sees.


33. Dead Simple by Peter James
In April I read my first Detective Superintendent Grace book in a random book draw. This is the first book in that series. Grace gets pulled into an investigation of a missing groom. Was his disappearance a stag-night prank gone wrong, a deliberate act of cold feet, or something more sinister? As a reader, we know that the groom-to-be has been put in a coffin and buried by his friends. I didn't think the story could be sustained through the whole novel, but the twists and investigation was really interesting. I will continue to read more of this series.

32. Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb
(Mystery with Science Fiction)
I pulled this book off the library shelf at random. It is part of a series that follows Lt. Eve Dallas in New York in 2060. A mystery with a sprinkling of science fiction, this story follows the murder of a couple by their adult son. Then the son goes on a rampage to take care of old scores by killing. I enjoyed the mix of genres and the mix of personal and procedural stories. I will read more of this series.

31. What Might Have Been edited by Gregory Benford and Martin Greenberg
(Alternate History)
This collection of short stories looks at alternate empires. For example what if the Roman Empire continued to present day? I usually enjoy alternate history stories. But most of these were difficult to follow and I just didn't enjoy them.


30. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
(Young Adult)
Amy Gumm, a girl from Kansas, rides to Oz in her trailer on a tornado. She arrives in a different Oz than the one she has read about. She discovers that Dorothy came back to Oz, was made a princess, and grabbed power. She has become a tyrant and is mining all the magic in Oz. She becomes involved with a revolutionary group and is tasked with killing Dorothy. I enjoyed this alternate look at the Oz story (or is it the rest of the story?). But it is the beginning of a series, which I didn't know when I started, so I felt a little cheated when things didn't resolve.

29. Holes by Louis Sachar
(Young Adult)
I read this book for my literacy class. It was great. Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake for a crime that he did not commit. He and the other boys spend all day digging holes, "to build character." But Stanley discovers that the warden has more reasons for the hole digging than just character building. I liked this book very much. Seeing the change in Stanley over the course of the book was inspiring. And the way that things resolve is pretty great, too.

28. Faceoff edited by David Baldacci
This collection of short stories pairs two thriller writers and their corresponding characters. All the stories seem to work really well. I was not familiar with all the authors and characters but I did enjoy all the stories. I added a few names to my reading list through the introduction in these stories.

27. The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
Inspector Gamache is now retired and living in the hidden valley of Three Pines. He is slowly recovering from his injuries, both physical and mental. His artist friend, Clara, talks to him about a personal problem. She asked her husband Peter to leave a year ago; they would spend a year apart and then come back together to assess. Peter did not return on the appointed day. Gamache, his sidekick Beaufort, and other assorted friends of the village begin an investigation to find Peter, which leads to an unexpected journey.

I enjoy this series very much. This one was a little different in that there was no murder to investigate and Gamache is no longer an official investigator. However the story was satisfying and had all the regular elements of previous books, just slightly shifted. I'm wondering how the series will continue now that he has retired.


26. Spirit Sickness by Kirk Mitchell
FBI agent Turnipseed and BIA investigator Parker travel to the Navaho Reservation in New Mexico/Arizona to investigate the death of a Navaho Police officer. Rumors, criminal acts, and mythology all intertwine as they investigate. And deal with the aftermath of the previous case and their unspoken mutual attraction to one another that never seems to get spoken.

I chose this book randomly at the library to read something new. I like Tony Hillerman novels and this reminded me of those, with Native American themes and mythology pushing into the modern world. The love story aspect got a little tiresome after a while, but didn't overshadow the story. I will seek out others in this series.

25. Personal by Lee Child
Reacher is recruited/forced to work with former associates to find a sniper, someone Reacher put away years ago but is now out and freelancing. Reacher travels to Europe with an unproven field agent. He uses all his regular tricks to uncover the truth behind the events and make sure none of the G8 leaders fall victim to a bullet.

Typical Reacher action. I enjoyed the book overall. But there were few surprises or new revelations about character.

24. The Target by David Baldacci
Will Robie and Jessica Reel train for a top-secret mission to take out a high value target. They are still fighting the consequences of their earlier actions, pitting the leader of their own organization against them. And, when word of the president's plans are uncovered by enemies, they face an adversary as skilled as they are.

A fast moving story with lots of action. But a couple of distracting subplots makes the book longer than it should be. Overall a great read.

23. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
(Young Adult Fiction)
A toddler's family is murdered and he escapes to a nearby graveyard. The inhabitants of the graveyard decide to raise the boy and protect him from the killer. Nobody (Bod) Owens grows up learning from the ghosts and his guardian, Silas (another mysterious inhabitant of the graveyard). The boy wants to venture into the outside world, but the killer still wants to take the boy's life.

I read this for my university literacy class. It is a good book about isolation and belonging. I want to read more of Gaiman's work.


22. Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks
In this memoir, Terry Brooks writes about his publishing career and writing. He gives advice and insights into writing fiction (especially). He tells how he published his first book. He talks about ideas and developing those ideas.

I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read any of Brooks' fiction because I'm not a big fantasy fan. But after reading this book, I plan on reading at least one. The style of this book was really fun. And I liked the way he described his process.

21. King and Maxwell by David Baldacci
King and Maxwell see a teenage boy running through the rain; he's carrying a gun. They try to help and end up with a young client. He's been told that his father was KIA and he wants to know what happened. An email arrives, after his father's "death." And then there's the warnings from Homeland Security and the attacks from mysterious former soldiers. The partners have several close calls as they try to find out who and what is behind all the top-level secrecy.

I love Baldacci's writing and this series is very satisfying. This book sets up the now defunct TV series. But I hope he continues to write King and Maxwell stories.


20. Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
Rebus is back on the force, albeit at a lower rank. He settles back into CID with his former protege as his superior, he gets pulled into an investigation that involves the work of his former precinct and colleagues. This investigation dovetails into larger, current investigations. Rebus must work with a former adversary to find out what's going on.

A great continuation to this series. I wonder if Rebus will become a more minor player as I see others take prominence in this one. Very enjoyable...and a quick read.

19. The Son by Philipp Meyer
A large epic about a family in Texas. The story alternates between the viewpoints of the patriarch (1850-1870s), his son (1917), and great-granddaughter (1945-present). A lot of history and family turmoil, with conflicting interpretations of events when those life experiences (or histories) overlap.

This one has been on my "to read" list since I read about it on Book Riot last year. I liked it. All the questions raised between the narratives were resolved. When I started it, I immediately thought of Michener comparisons but this reads differently from those epics - this one is more personal and told strictly from the biased viewpoints of the three main characters.

18. The Boost by Stephen Baker
(Science Fiction)
The year is 2072. Most people have a chip in their head - the boost - that is connected to the network. People have a video record of everything that happened to them, access to information of all kinds immediately, and can live in virtual reality instead of in the real world. Some have chosen to remain "wild" and most of these congregate at Ciudad Juarez (advertised as a truly wild and dangerous place). Ralf is working on the latest boost update and discovers some upgrades that will allow government and industry to access people's brains. He is kidnapped and his boost is removed. He works to stop the cognitive update and learns that even more dangerous features exist in new chip software.

This book was recommended by my library's Web site. I really liked it. I could see that the future world predicted as a result of our current world - everyone connected not through phones or glasses but chips directly wired to the brain in the head. Also raises questions about what is reality and if more technology and constant access is really a better way to live.


17. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
An unemployed guy stumbles into a 24-hour bookstore and is offered a job...the night shift. After a few nights, he knows that the bookstore isn't just a regular bookstore. Few customers, odd inventory, and a secret book club that checks out books instead of buying them. As things progress, he becomes involved with a secret society, a long-dead printer, and coded books that allegedly promise immortality.

I read about this book on (Okay, it was posted last year. I guess I was a little busy last year to find it then.) I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was surprised at the turns the book took. It was a fast read; it felt like the narrator was telling me the story as I read it - in real time. Not lots of heavy action or twists and turns. But a really enjoyable read.

16. The Father Hunt by Rex Stout

A young woman's mother dies and leaves her a lockbox of $100 bills and a note that tells the girl that the money is from her father. She wants Archie to locate the father she never knew. In investigating, Archie and Nero Wolfe uncover a murder along the way.

After reading the previous book, I needed some quick comfort reading. I love Nero Wolfe and this fit the bill just right. I didn't remember it from the last time I read it, so it was that much more enjoyable for me.

15. Canada, Richard Ford

A father and mother rob a bank in rural North Dakota in 1960. The family disintegrates after their arrest. The daughter takes off on her own. The mother's friend (at her request) takes the son to Canada to avoid an orphanage. The son must struggle to understand what has happened and how to fit into his new reality. There he faces more adults who make poor choices.

I heard about this book on NPR or on a reading site. (I cannot remember.) It sounded interesting so I picked it up to read it. I did like the first half of the book, setting up the robbery. After the boy fled to Canada, the book slowed down and seemed to stretch before me like the Canadian prairie. Maybe that was the point. But it dragged...and just crept along to the end (for me). Also maybe this was too literary. It definitely wasn't mystery, thriller, science fiction, or action - the fiction I mostly read.

14. Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin
John Rebus has retired from CID but cannot stay away from investigating. He's now a civilian worker in the cold case division. Nina Hazlet shows up with a theory that her long-disappeared daughter is connected with other disappearances along the A9. Rebus resurrects the investigations, trying to connect them, when another girl goes missing. Usual Rebus complications follow.

I really enjoy reading the Rebus series and this latest one is great. Lots of complications in the investigation and in his personal life (as usual, too). I thought the series was ended when Rebus retired. Now I wonder if Rebus will go back on the force (since he's applied), if Rankin will take the series in another direction, or if he will end it all. I hope they continue.

13. French Lessons by Peter Mayle
Mayle traveled around France, eating at fairs and other special events that focus on different French foods. He writes about history and stories related to French cuisine.

For some reason, I've been more and more interested in books about food, especially memoirs related to food and cooking. This one was very interesting, each chapter focusing on a different type of food or food item. I enjoyed it (even if I never eat snails or truffles).


12. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
(Science Fiction/Alternate History)
Germany and Japan won World War II and has divided up the United States in addition to taking over the rest of the world. It's now 1962 and life is certainly difficult under these two regimes.

The premise was interesting to me and I was very interested in reading about this world. The first part of this book was intriguing and I read with gusto. The last half of the book dragged for me and the ending was flat - didn't really lead anywhere. While an interesting mental exercise, I don't think I would recommend this book to others. Just not engaging enough throughout the book.


11. Dead Man's Grip by Peter James
Detective Superintendent Roy Grace investigates a hit-and-run accident. The victim is the son of an American Mafia family. People involved in the accident begin to die. Grace discovers what is happening and races to save an innocent caught up in the circumstances.

I chose this book at random from the library. I really enjoyed it (but I really like England-based police procedurals). I will definitely read the other books in this series.

10. Elementary Science Methods by David Martin
This book explores how to teach elementary students to "do" science more than to learn content about science. The focus is on processes and how students can practice them. This was one of the textbooks for my university course. Some great ideas for a more constructivist approach to teaching science.

9. The Sciences: An Integrated Approach by James Trefil and Robert Hazen
This book explores lots of science concepts and content. I liked the way that this textbook worked to integrate different areas of science together through concepts. This was a textbook for my university course. I definitely understood some of the science content better this time around. I don't know if it was the book's approach, my broader background knowledge, or a combination of factors.

8. The Buffalo Knife by William O. Steele
(Elementary Novel)
Andy, his family, and their neighbors load up everything on a river flatboat to move further into the frontier. Indians, lack of meat, rough and shallow waters, and a rattlesnake bite threaten the families as they travel to French Salt Lick settlement. And Andy lost the new knife that his uncle gave him.

I read this book for an assignment in my class on teaching social studies. I enjoyed it and would probably have enjoyed it if I read it in elementary school. I think my boys would really like this book. I will definitely use this for a read-aloud in the future (and may even try to fit it in before the end of school this year).

7. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
The most recent book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. The death of a famous quint provides the start of this one, but the focus in on resolution of all the intrigue in the Surete that has been developing in the previous books. Gamache confronts his adversary and his friends.

I enjoyed this book. I was glad all the loose ends from the previous book were resolved. I will be interested in seeing if this series continues and what will happen if it does.

6. Poirot Loses a Client by Agatha Christie
Poirot receives a curious letter dated weeks before. When he follows up, the writer (a rich elderly woman) has died. Of course, Poirot investigates, uncovers a murder, and detects the murderer.

Another classic author I enjoy reading and revisiting. I've read this before, but it's been a long time and I enjoyed it again. (Since I'm so busy reading for university and planning for school, I enjoy these quick and familiar reads. But a reread counts as much as a new read!)


5. Too Many Clients by Rex Stout
Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin are hired by a man that is later murdered. But they discover that the client wasn't really who he claimed to be. Archie goes in search of a client to solve the murder and ends up with four people willing to pay them. Classic Nero Wolfe investigation ensues.

I have enjoyed Nero Wolfe stories for years. I often revisit those familiar characters when I want a quick and "mindless" read. However, I didn't remember reading this one before. Which is odd, since this book resides on my home shelves.

4. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
The story of Marconi's development of wireless telegraphy and the mystery of Dr. Crippen. Both are told in alternating ways until the stories converge, each impacted by the other.

I immensely enjoyed Devil in the White City by Larson so I expected to enjoy this book as well. I struggled through the first part of it; sometimes Marconi's story seemed tedious and Crippen's story was very brief at first. But as I read more of it, I was taken in by the book, especially the parts about Crippen.


3. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
(Elementary Novel)
The classic story of a spider's friendship with a pig and what she does to save him from becoming Christmas dinner.

We have been reading this as a class FOREVER. We finished today. This was a favorite of mine in childhood and I hope to pass along the enjoyment of it to my students. I'm not sure how many really liked it but they did clap when we finished.

2. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
(Elementary Novel)
A story of a second grader and his family throughout a school year. Each section focuses on an important in Billy's life.

I was looking for a new read aloud for my class. This is a fun and fairly quick read. I'm considering it as the next book we read as a class. Of course, I love the picture books by Henkes and this is a great "novel" for older, more proficient readers.

1. Worldwar: In the Balance by Harry Turtledove
(Science Fiction/Alternate History)
Aliens arrive during World War II to conquer the world. Nations must stop fighting each other and fight the new invaders.

Alternate histories are interesting to me and I saw this in my local library. There are several more in series; I enjoyed this one enough to eventually read the rest of the story.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this book too, Scott. I read it aloud to my 7 y o son. My wife, also a second grade teacher, plans to read it aloud in her classroom. It's a nice change of pace compared to other books and has a good message.