Saturday, November 12, 2011

My 2011 Reading List

Books read in 2011. Book title, author, and date completed. Because I was writing my own book in 2011, the number of books I read fell quite a bit from previous years.

1. Power Trip: The Story of America’s Love Affair with Energy by Amanda Little 5-15-11

Reviewed in detail on my energy blog - Book Review: Power Trip

2. Cracking the Carbon Code by Terry Tamminen 7-3-11 

Reviewed in detail on my energy blog: Book Review: Cracking the Carbon Code

3. Energy, Convenient Solutions: How Americans Can Solve the Energy Crisis in Ten Years by Howard Johnson 7-15-11

Reviewed in detail on my energy blog: Book Review: Energy, Convenient Solutions

4. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts 7-19-11

You know the Dos Equis commercial about the most interesting man in the world? Gregory David Roberts might actually be fit to hold that title. This is an incredible book, but it is a very big book (933 pages). I have been reading at it for over a year. Not because the book wasn't interesting, just because I generally read when I travel, and the book is so big I didn't always take it with me.

The book is set in Mumbai, a city I have been especially fascinated with since my visit in 2008. When I was there, I often wondered what life must be like in the slums. Roberts takes us there, as he lived there for 10 years after escaping from prison in Australia. The book is described as a novel, but many of the events are clearly from Roberts' life. As with the main character, Roberts' lived in Mumbai's slums, setting up a free medical clinic there, was recruited to Mumbai's mafia, and ultimately went to war in Afghanistan. Unbelievable story.

5. Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft by Paul Allen 11-12-11

I am always fascinated by people who have achieved great success. I like to gain some insights into what it was that made them special. In Paul Allen's case, one of the things he said in the book is that he and Bill Gates were working on the right problem at the right time. Five years earlier or five years later and Microsoft wouldn't have happened. Of course it took more than just timing; Paul is obviously a very smart guy with diverse interests. Some of his interests mirror my own; the workings of the human brain for instance. Even if you took Microsoft completely out of the equation, Paul has accomplished a great deal in his life. He details the failures as well; discussing specific investment mistakes he made that results in billions of dollars of losses. He also was quite frank in his comments on the people he came into contact with. Bill Gates, for instance, is portrayed as a genius, a jerk, and Paul's very close friend. All in all, a very engaging autobiography.