Monday, October 27, 2008

Book 0: Anathem

Title:  Anathem by Neal Stephenson.

Pages: 937

How was it obtained:  Online from Barnes and Noble.

Time spent on the "To Read" shelf:  About 2-3 days.  That's why it is Book 0--I owned it and started to read it before my challenge came to mind.

Days spent reading it:  Around 3 weeks.

Why I read it:  Honestly--The cover looked really, really awesome.  So I read the inside flap and thought it sounded interesting.  I have read Neal Stephenson before (Snow Crash, The Diamond Age) so I thought I'd enjoy reading another.

Brief Review:  Ok, this book was huge.  My first comments would have to be, Neal Stephenson needs a real editor.  This book needed to be about 300 pages shorter, maybe even more.
Stephenson drops you into a world called Arbre.  It is similar, but disimilar to our own.  The first 175 pages are spent dropping new words and vocabulary as if Stephenson was speaking a foreign language I was supposed to understand.  Once I got acclimated to his language, the book became a fairly good read.  Stephenson is prone to talk about esoteric ideas, and integrate them into his plot as if they make sense.  Maybe Stephenson is smarter than I am, but I spent a good part of the book saying, "That's sounds interesting, but I don't understand the point."
When Stephenson was actually moving the plot along, instead of having two or three of his characters in a strange Dialog about these bizarre ideas, the book was really cool.  It would be difficult to give a synopsis of the plot without having to explain a billion terms, but the general idea was cosmological theoreticians are assembled to figure out how aliens have arrived at the planet Arbre.  Great and strange events follow.  A good overview is given here on the wikipedia page made for Anathem.  
Not for the faint of heart at 937 total pages (45 being appendices), but not a waste of time for the dedicated.  One of the things I love about sci-fi is an author's freedom to explore interesting ideas about religion, politics, science, etc. without having to fit into a set of rules.  Stephenson definitely exploits these freedoms to their max.  I don't regret reading it, but if I had known how difficult it was going to be, I might not have started it.

Favorite quote from the book:  "Do you need transportation?  Tools?  Stuff?"
"Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs," I said.  "We have a protractor."

Stars:  3.5 out of 5.

The Final Word:  Extensive.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The List

Here is my list.  This is also the order I plan on reading the books in as well.  I'm almost done with Book 0 by the way.  What's your list?  Are you joining The Patrick Challenge (but with your own books)?
  1. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
  2. Psmith in the City by P.G. Wodehouse
  3. Alosha by Christopher Pike
  4. God's Continent:Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis by Philip Jenkins
  5. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  6. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  8. Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov
  9. Oedipus the King by Sophocles
  10. The Jesus Creed:Loving God, Loving Others by Scott McKnight
  11. Ruler of the Realm by Herbie Brennan
  12. Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus
  13. Wyrms by Orson Scott Card
  14. Faerie Lord by Herbie Brennan
  15. Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends ed. by Kevin VanHoozer
  16. The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
  17. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  18. Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
  19. Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson
  20. Jesus and Politics: Confronting the Powers by Alan Storkey
  21. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  22. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  23. The Shaktra by Christopher Pike
  24. Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  25. Gracias!  A Latin American Journal by Henri J. M. Nouwen
  26. The Yanti by Christopher Pike
  27. The Gormenghast Novels by Mervyn Peake
  28. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  29. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
  30. Creating Community: Five Keys to Creating a Small Group Culture by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits
  31. The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum
  32. The Fourth Hand by John Irving
  33. Metamorphoses by Ovid
  34. Maximum Ride: School's Out-Forever by James Patterson
  35. Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy by Shlomo Ben Ami
  36. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
  37. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson
  38. Forward the Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  39. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  40. Youth Culture 101 by Walt Mueller
  41. Life at Blandings Omnibus by P.G. Wodehouse
  42. The Dark River by John Hawkes Twelve
  43. The Simarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  44. Hunters of Dune by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert
  45. The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldridge
  46. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Paterson
  47. The Sandworms of Dune by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert 
  48. The Bourne Ultimatum by Robert Ludlum
  49. Forbidden Knowledge: The Gap into Vision by Donald Stephenson
  50. Servants of the Servant: A Biblical Theology of Leadership by Don Howell
  51. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  52. Maximum Ride: The Final Warning by James Patterson
  53. August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  54. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity by Philip Jenkins
  55. John Adams by David McCullough

Friday, October 24, 2008

Day 1--Get all my books in order

Welcome to The Patrick Challenge.
The problem:  55 books that I have "been meaning to read" sitting around my house.  I keep moving on to new and different books.
The solution:  Create a list of all the books I want to read.  Do not buy any more books until they are finished
The Rules:
  1. I am allowed to skim books if I desire (I have difficulty skimming though, I usually get drawn into the text and forget to skim).
  2. If I do not like a book, I am allowed to move it to a later position or remove it entirely. There is freedom in this list to scrap junk books.
  3. I am a fiction junkie. So to keep myself straight, I have 1 non-fiction book for every 4 fiction. That still may seem like not enough non-fiction for some of you, but that's how I roll.
  4. I am allowed to introduce a new book if it pertains directly to youth ministry or performing my job better. I tend to read these at the office, but have been making them home reading as of late (I'm just so dang interested in modern movements and youth movements)
  5. 25 is the initial goal. After 25 I can revise my list to introduce a (small) handful of new books.
  6. My own initiative to not purchase books does not apply to my loving family who likes to feed my book addiction, I'll just add the books to the end of my list...
The Books: (Don't be offended if I have not gotten around to that book you gave me two years ago.  I really DO want to read it, that's why I made this challenge!)
I'll post the list soon.  I have to finish my "Book 0" first.
Book 0:  Anathem by Neil Stephenson.  (937 pgs).  I have 250 to go!  Wish me luck!