2006 Book Review

At the start of 2006 I decided to keep a log of all the book I read. Through the year I knocked down a total of 22 books. Oddly enough, more then half of those were back in last January (a month of rain wherein I first joined the awesome Vancouver public library). Out of the 22, I had only read 1 before, and non-coincidentally I'm rating it at the very top. Here are my top 5 books from 2006:

Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A Heinlein
  This is currently my favorite book of all time. I strongly suggest you read it.

The Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Flatlander - Larry Niven

In A Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson

Mount Appetite - Bill Gaston

The full list comes after the jump, with small descriptions...

January (12):

In A Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson
  An excellent trip through Australia.

The Smoke Ring - Larry Niven
  Good sequel to The Integral Trees.

Airframe - Michael Crichton
  Good book with lots of information about the aircraft manufacturing industry as well as media relations. This book wasn't written yet when I went through my Michael Crichton phase. He continues to be an excellent author.

City of Glass - Douglas Coupland
  A short picture-book exploring Vancouver. It was good to read as part of my continuing introduction to the city.

The Practice Effect - David Brin
  Excellent sci-fi/fantasy book. I'm going to check out more stuff by Brin, it's the first thing I've read of his.

The Flight of the Horse - Larry Niven
  A book containing 3 novellas. I liked the last 2 better then the first. Overall it was good, but not Niven's best stuff.

Timeline - Michael Crichton
  Excellent book about medieval life with some quantum mechanics thrown in. If you've never gone through a Crichton phase I urge you to do so. He's a consistently wonderful author.

The Legacy of Heorot - Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Steven Barnes
  Excellent book about humanity's first interstellar colony and their (eventually disastrous) interaction with the alien ecology.

The New Hugo Winners, Volume IV
  A mixed collection of award winning short-stories and novellas. My favorites were 'Beggars in Spain' by Nancy Kress (apparently later expended into a series of novels) and 'A Walk In The Sun' by Geoffrey Landis.

Scatterbrain - Larry Niven
  A collection of stories, novel excerpts and essays from Niven later works. Like the title suggests it jumps all over the place.

Orphans of the Sky - Robert A Heinlein
  An excellent tale of the aftermath of a colonization ship that underwent a disastrous mutiny. After a few generations the populace has lost the understanding of their original purpose and reverted to a religion focused semi-rural way of life.

Tomorrow Happens - David Brin
  An interesting collection of stories and essays, mostly looking into possibilities for humanity's future.  

February (3):

Sundiver - David Brin
  An OK sci-fi book. The sequel won a bunch of awards, so I'm looking forward to that. I didn't find this too captivating though.

Flatlander - Larry Niven
  An excellent collection of stories about Gil "the arm" set in a futuristic human society. This is superb Niven stuff, with great characters, plots (detective mystery style), and intelligent thoughts on where our society is headed. Highly recommended.

The Magic Goes Away - Larry Niven
  Good collection of short fantasy stories set in our world in the far past, when magic still exists. Wizards have been using up all the mana, though, and the earth is running out. It's a great setting, and I've read some other previous stories by Niven set in this world.

March, April (0)

May (2):

Paths Not Taken - Simon R. Green
  An interesting fantasy novel. The world it's set in has some cool features, and the writer wraps a humorous and captivating story. I feel that this kind of totally magical fantasy doesn't hold up all that well when compared to hard sci-fi though. The main character can basically pull out his awesome powers in different ways whenever he needs some help, and while there are some limitations to it the author can ignore them when he wants. Still a good book though.

The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
  An excellent novel about a boy's growing up and a fantastic trip in a lifeboat after being shipwrecked. Has some interesting zoological content. Highly recommended.

June (2):

Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth - Simon R. Green
  A follow-up to "Paths Not Taken" and it packs pretty much the same punch. Cool world and characters, but the ending was a let down.

The Man Who Sold the Moon - Robert A. Heinlein
  A good set of short stories (that all flow together in the world he builds) from Heinlein. It's a small book, and it's worth reading. However, it doesn't come close to Heinlein's best work IMHO.

July (1):

The Green Hills of Earth - Robert A. Heinlein
  A decent set of short stories from Heinlein. Some are better then others. On the whole not as good as the above book.

August (0)

September (1):

Mount Appetite - Bill Gaston
  A great collection of short stories, with the central theme of desire, need, hunger for something in life.

October, November (0)

December (1):

Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A Heinlein
  Absolutely awesome book. Tells the tale of a human raised by martians who returns to Earth and human society, but without all the pre-conceived notions that every other human grows up with. I first read this book when I was a teenager. It was one of my all-time favorite books then, and it still is now.

Posted by dustin on January 8, 2007 with category tags of

Great list! I'll take your suggestion to read Stranger in a Strange Land, especially since I just brought home a used copy from a local shop. If you like David Brin at all (I couldn't get into Sundiver either), you must read his Earth. It's brilliant. Of course, reading it now is very different from when I first read it in 1990.
   comment by Simone on January 8, 2007

Have you read any of Bryson's other travel books? I thought Sunburned Country was okay, but it doesn't begin to compare to the sheer genius of Notes From a Small Country and Neither Here Nor There. Those two are the reason he got famous in the first place, and you can see why.
   comment by goodladd on January 8, 2007

Yeah, I read Neither Here Nor There a few years ago and liked it a lot as well. I've heard good things about his other books too.
   comment by dustin (#1) on January 8, 2007


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