My reduced focus on books stems, at least in part, from my reading exploits being available to view on my Goodreads Books page. I figure that those of you who are interested can follow along that way, and then I don't need to bore the rest of you on a regular basis. At the same time, it seems possible that non-Goodreads users might like a summary of books every now and then.
Working on that assumption, I'm happy to share some of my most enjoyable reads for the year. It seems that I've read 15 books to date, and 10 of those I rated as 4 or 5 out of 5 (summarised below). That seems like quite a good hit rate, and hopefully it will persist over the next 8 months too.
The highly rated 10 are...
- The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir (4/5, finished in January 2013): A non-fiction biography of King Henry VIII's wives, including their lives before marrying him, as well as Henry VIII's life over the course of his marriages. Excellently written and easy to read.
- Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients, Ben Goldacre (4/5, finished in January 2013): Another non-fiction book, focusing on the problems associated with medical trials, misreporting or selective reporting of data, and decision making in medicine. I found the book a little long, but rated it highly because of the effort Dr Goldacre invested in addressing such a concerning and problematic area.
- Eleven Seasons, Paul D. Carter (4/5, finished in January 2013): A football-focused book revolving around Jason, a teenager growing up in Melbourne with a passion for the Hawthorn Football Club. It resonated for me because my Dad grew up in some of the areas discussed and he still has a passion for Hawthorn.
- Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, Jamie Oliver (4/5, finished in January 2013): I didn't used to 'count' recipe books in my reading lists, but I've noticed that other people do so, and adopting that approach allows me to keep track of them. This book includes general reflections from Jamie on 15 minute cooking, as well as the recipes themselves.
- Leon: Ingredients and Recipes, Allegra McEvedy (5/5, finished in February 2013): The first half of this book is all about ingredients, including different varieties of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and spices. The second half is recipes. Both halves are great.
- Unusual Uses for Olive Oil, Alexander McCall Smith (4/5, finished in February 2013): A Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld tale, following the earlier book in this series Portugese Irregular Verbs. I love Alexander McCall Smith and this was no exception.
- The Solitude of Prime Numbers, Paolo Giordana (4/5, finished in February 2013): An Italian novel that takes the uniqueness of prime numbers and applies it to the two central characters, who have never truly fit in, and who are affected by Asperger's disorder and anorexia nervosa respectively.
- Deaf Sentence, David Lodge (4/5, finished in March 2013): As always, David Lodge mixes humour with tragedy in his writing, this time by focusing on deafness, ageing, and human relationships.
- The Food Revolution, John Robbins (5/5, finished in March 2013: The best book I have read on the food industry, vegan and vegetarian diets, and how our eating patterns influence the earth. I can't recommend it enough. Balanced, based on data, and well written.
- Terminal World, Alastair Reynolds (4/5, finished in April 2013): I mentioned this book recently. It is best summed up as 'space opera', science fiction that is more about people and drama than the science per se. Beyond that, I can't do it justice in summary form, so recommend reading a longer review if your interest is piqued.
|Books I am waiting to read...|
Today isn't just about books. Unusually, I have already seen 6 1/2 films this year, more than I seen in some 12 month periods. The 'half' comes from Sweeney Todd, an at home DVD viewing that I couldn't continue with after the first person was, well, disposed of.
As for the other 6? I'm doing them the justice of summarising them all.
- Safety Not Guaranteed, seen at an outdoor cinema in January 2013: Mentioned in this post, the independent film was an excellent blend of drama, comedy, science fiction and romance. 9/10.
- The Avengers, seen at home on DVD in February 2013: Wonderful. Robert Downey Jnr, superheroes, winning 'good guys', a New York City backdrop, and enough laughter and action to keep me awake without spiking my heart rate. 9/10.
- Anna Karenina, seen at the movies in March 2013: I liked this less than I was expecting, although the acting was wonderful and the sets and costumes excellent. I just found it a little long, and in some parts a little confusing, and perhaps went in with unrealistically high expectations. 7/10.
- Samsara, seen at a rooftop cinema in March 2013: Also discussed previously, a silent film blending exquisite photography shot over 5 continents and 5 years. 6.5/10.
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service, seen at home on DVD in March 2013: Mr Bite calls this the best 'old' James Bond film, and he wanted to introduce me to it. I agreed that the plot was clever, and the filming adept for its time, but found it a little too fast paced and was dismayed at the ending. 6/10.
- Argo, seen at home on DVD in April 2013. This was an incredible film. I highly recommend it. However, it nearly gave me a heart attack. I should have paid attention to Joanne's experience. I also should have worn my heart rate monitor during the viewing - I'm sure it rivaled my half marathon heart rate! Still - 9/10 despite the suspense.
|Argo: "Electrically suspenseful" is about right.|
So there we have it - my reading highlights and film experiences for 2013 so far.
How do my book and film experiences compare to yours? Do you have any highlights from 2013?