Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nachos Book Club: Episode 2

Welcome to the second episode of Nachos Book Club. (See the first episode here.)

Note: My goal is to highlight a few books that I've read (and I plan to continue this feature periodically) and briefly give my opinion on them. After I read a book, I keep an Excel spreadsheet with a brief summary (about 1 sentence) and three "scores" (fun, pace, and scholar). Fun is self-explanatory, how much fun was it to read the book? After all, if you are reading for pleasure that's usually one of the most important factors! Pace, on the other hand, is my attempt to quantify the "speed" of the book. A real page turner will have a great Pace score while a denser novel will not. Want a book for the beach, look for a high pace score. Want a book for a rainy day while sitting on your porch, perhaps a lower pace will be the ideal speed. Finally, Scholar is an attempt to numerical catergorize any possibility of learning within the book. If a book is full of factual information, despite being fiction, it will earn a high score here. Finally, I give an Final score which is basically my assessment of the book as a whole. The Final score is not meant to be an average of the three previous categories (as there are many different aspects of a book that add up to a good, or not-so-good, novel!).

Enjoy some more recommended reading!


Sharpe's Trafalgar
by Bernard Cornwell

Sharpe's Trafalgar is the fourth in a series of twenty books by Bernard Cornwell, though I didn't realize that when I purchased the book (since this was the first book I'd ever read by Cornwell). I've always been interested in history, so historical fiction books are often right up my alley. This book was a fast read, driven by a likeable hero in an epic oceanic battle, a bit of a love story, and enough villains that there is bound to be someone you'd like to see "swimming with the fishes" when all is said and done.

Fun: 8
Pace: 9
Scholar: 3
Final Grade: 80/100





The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
by Leonard Mlodinow

As a mathematician, it's basically a given that I'm going to read mathematical themed books. It's also usually a given that a math-themed book won't appeal to the general public...but that's where The Drunkard's Walk shines. Mlodinow manages to seamlessly blend mathematical discussion into aspects that affect everyone's lives. Think that job that you didn't get was due to some fault of your own? Think that the guy who has "beat" stock market for the last two years knows something the rest of us don't? Think that that CEO is somehow smarter than any average person off the street? This book will make you rethink all those ideas plus many more...and prove why our senses and intuition fail us almost as often as they help us!

Fun: 8
Pace: 8
Scholar: 10
Overall: 98/100

Obviously, with the end of the semester fast approaching (and with it, lots of final exams to grade)...not to mention the holidays, my reading is likely to slow down even further than it already has. However, hopefully you enjoy the two recommended selections above. And, just to prove that I don't always pick "winners" when it comes to books, here's one of the worst books I've read in a long, long time:


Word Freak
by Stefan Fatsis

I like the board game Scrabble so I thought this particular book had potential to be interesting. Wrong! While it does a nice job of documenting the life and journey of a few different Scrabble personalities, it's quickly apparent that the only thing more boring than waiting for someone else to make their move in a game of Scrabble is reading about someone else waiting to make a move in Scrabble.

Fun: 2
Pace: 1
Scholar: 5
Overall: 25/100

As always, if you have some favorite books you've read recently let me know in the comments - I'm always looking for good, new books...even if I don't have time to read them!

4 comments:

afrankangle said...

Thanks for the tip on the Math book as your description intrigues me.

Wishing you a bountiful and safe Thanksgiving!

deal said...

I actually really enjoyed "Word Freak".

Will look into "Drunkard's Walk"

FanOfReds said...

Yeah, Word Freak got good reviews from the majority of people...but I guess it simply wasn't for me. I found it much too slow, and I obviously don't care enough about Scrabble to get excited reading about guys memorizing lists of "bingos".

3rdStoneFromTheSun said...

Happy T-Day :)

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