Monday, January 5, 2009

My 2008 Favorites

1. Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan

Excellent reading. I almost bit off more than I could chew, having decided to read one more book (by a Scottish author) a week before I was to leave Scotland. It's a pretty long read, and I finished this and dropped it off as I was leaving town. Interestingly, the UK version - which was the version I read - is called "Black Man." I guess the U.S. publishers felt that was politically incorrect. I had previously read and enjoyed Morgan's Altered Carbon, but I didn't know anything about this one. I just thought the cover looked pretty cool. But given that I had enjoyed Morgan before, I decided to give it a read. Very glad I did. The book is about a genetically engineered human (happens to be a black man) who was made to be a "super soldier." Once peace breaks out, these folks are seen as a threat. The U.S. has also split in two in this book, which was an interesting concept. For the most part, Republicans got the middle, and Democrats got "the rim." Good stuff though, and a compelling read.

2. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

It seems like I have been working at this book for years. The 3rd book in the Ender series, and Card still had some tricks up his sleeve. I like his far-out biology concepts; they really stretch the imagination. A lot of people felt like this one fell short of the two in the series that preceded it. To be honest, it's been so long since I read Ender's Game - which is sometimes described as the best science fiction novel ever written, that I really can't compare them. I found Xenocide pretty entertaining; no complaints from me.

3. Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy Independence by Robert Bryce

This was a great book, and I reviewed it in detail on my energy blog: Book Review: Gusher of Lies

4. Big Cotton: How A Humble Fiber Created Fortunes, Wrecked Civilizations, and Put America on the Map by Stephen Yafa

Fascinating book. I learned a wealth of information about cotton, and it gave me a whole new respect for it. This book was well-written, humorous, and very informative. I especially enjoyed reading about the history of the battles with various pests, and how technology has evolved to combat these resilient pests.

5. How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible by John Jeavons

This is really a great book to have on your shelf if you are a gardener. I probably learned more about the importance of soil quality (how to maintain it, the need to have it loosened to a greater depth, etc.) than I had learned up to this point in my life. I am actually putting the techniques in this book into practice in my garden.

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