A year ago we started our move to Swaziland (it is tough to say what day we actually moved because it took us 72 hours to get from BG to St. Philips). It has been a great year and the adjustments have been exceptionally smooth. Some adjustments have been difficult (the heat, loss of electricity, poor internet access, being away from friends and family) while other have been incredible (touring Africa, working for a great organization, meeting wonderful people). One of the adjustments I have absolutely loved is that I have been able to read much much more.
At the six month mark I had read 23 books (and posted my thoughts here). Now that the year is over, my grand total is 41. Here is what I read most recently and a few quick notes on them.
Auschwitz – This is a true account of a Jewish doctor who was employed at Auschwitz and the horrors he experienced. Excellent reading but a very difficult subject matter.
Beneath the Neon – I heard the author of this book on NPR many years ago and had always wanted to read it and finally did. It is the story of a journalist exploring the storm tunnels underneath Las Vegas. It wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped.
Desert Solitaire – Just finished this book up tonight. My father always held it high regard and I have enjoyed reading some of Edward Abbey’s other stuff. It was a bit ironic to read it on an ipod since it is all about connecting with the earth, but that did not diminish the excellent writing.
Desperate Passage – A book about the Donner party. It was a top seller on Amazon and a pretty good read.
Diamonds Gold and War – technically this one should not be on the list since I haven’t finished it yet, but it is a good historic account of how the British and Afrikaans established themselves in South Africa. Pretty dense with a lot of names to keep up, but a good read.
Finding Amelia – I watched a show on history channel about Amelia Earnhardt and wanted to know more so I read the book.
Germs Genes and Civilization – Fascinating book on how disease has shaped civilization. The author outlines some pretty significant ideas that are quite relevant since I literally live in culture that has been shaped by a disease.
Love and Death in the Kingdom of Swaziland – a story about the sisters who run Cabrini that primarily takes place during the first months we were in country. You can find more information here.
Marine Sniper – An odd book for a pacifist to read, but it is an account of the sniper with the highest kill rate in Vietnam.
Particles and the Universe – Nerdy science book about sub atomic particles. What can I say… I really dig that kind of stuff.
Physics of the Impossible – Similar to above in its subject matter but deals with quantum physics. Both books filled my need to geek out on science
Rats – Dad read this book about rat colonies in NYC several years ago and we gave him a hard time, but I finally gave in and read it myself. It was very enjoyable and well written.
Speaking in Tongues – I needed to read some fiction so I picked up this book by Jeffery Deaver. Nothing special, but was an easy read.
Spook – This was the only Mary Roach book that I hadn’t read yet. I love her writting, and while it was not my favorite of her books, it was still very good.
The case of the missing moon rocks – Free book on Kindle that I read quickly while flying all over the place in the states in March.
The Disappearing Spoon – A captivating book about the periodic table of the elements, its history and how the different elements have shaped the world. Rather long, but I loved every page of it. I just bought a book by the same author about how DNA and genes affect a variety of things.
Tipping Point – Interesting read about cultural trends, especially after reading Freakonomics. Fun concepts to think about, but both books paint with too broad of a brush.
Triangle – Short story by Jeffery Deaver. It was a great read before bed.
Looking back over the last 6 months of reading, I would give the title of "Best Read" to The Disappearing Spoon although Desert Solitaire comes in a close second. And then, if I rank my top 5 books from the last year, I would put them in this order: