Nachos Book Club: Episode 5

One of my 2019 Blog Resolutions is to read 12 books for the year.  As of the time of my last resolution check-in (back in early July), I had already knocked out nine books which put me ahead of schedule nicely.  While I won't spoil how many books I've read since that time (you'll get that information during my next resolution check-in at the end of this month), I did think it would be fun to highlight a few of the books that I've read thus far this year.  Who knows, maybe one or more of them will be to your liking...or maybe you'll have a recommendation for me!

Note:  Each book will have an Amazon link next to it.  Amazon pays me a little bit of money when people click through my links and then order something (at no extra cost to the buyer).  I'm always looking for different ways to support my hobby so any Amazon purchases you make through my blog is much appreciated.  

Enough fine print, let's get to the book list!  Here are the first four books I read in 2019:

#1:  Numbers and the Making of Us:  Counting and the Course of Human Cultures

by Caleb Everett

I originally picked this book up thinking that I might be able to use it in my Mathematics of the Ancient and Modern Worlds course (i.e. my Math History class).  At the time, I was looking for an approachable text for my non-math majors section of the course and Numbers and the Making of Us sounded intriguing.  That said, in the end I opted not to use this book for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, the vast majority of the actual math history in the book was material that I already covered during the course.  Secondly, the book itself was definitely more of a sociology book rather than a math book - that's a good thing if that's what you want but it wouldn't work as a great main text for a math course!  All of that said, there were a few sections of the book that I personally found interesting including a lengthy discussion of anumeric or nearly anumeric cultures.  That is, cultures with virtually no distinguishable math or words/concepts for numbers.  My score:  70/100

#2:  Why Dinosaurs Matter (TED books)

by Ken Lacovara

Why Dinosaurs Matter is a book that dives into the lives and deaths of the dinosaurs and, perhaps more importantly, what lessons we can learn from the ancient giants that walked the Earth.  This book is a delightfully small book and is written with great flow (I believe it was originally a TED talk, or at least inspired by a TED talk).  Loyal readers of my blog will know that I have a fascination with dinosaurs so this book was immediately appealing to me and, happily, it didn't let me down at all.  For the price, you can't really go wrong here.  My score:  95/100

#3:  The Last Shot:  The Incredible Story of the C.S.S. Shenandoah and the True Conclusion of the American Civil War

By Lynn Schooner

According to my Amazon purchase history, I actually bought this book way back in 2015.  It ended up dormant on my bookshelf for a number of years before I finally dusted it off and gave it a read this year.  For that, I'm glad I did because it was a great book full of incredible history about a war that frankly I thought I basically knew all about.

The Last Shot follows the trek of the confederate ship the C.S.S. Shenandoah as the boat traverses the entire world looking for Union ships to capture.  With some luck, some skill, and a surprising amount of human decency during war, the Shenandoah quickly becomes a terror on the seas.

For me, I hadn't heard or read much at all about the naval battles during the Civil War so I ended up learning a lot here.  The book was a fairly quick read, especially once the boat was properly launched out to sea.  My score:  90/100

#4:  Map of Bones

By James Rollins

You can probably see that my reading interests are all over the place here!  One thing that I knew when I wrote my blog resolutions was that if I was going to actually read 12 books in a year at least some of them would have to be "junk novels" as I lovingly call them (you may call them "beach reads").  Map of Bones is one such novel, though honestly this one is much more "junk" than it is novel or anything else. 

The story is set mostly in Italy (and I read this book prior to taking my class to Italy which was part of why I chose it).  Unfortunately, that's about it for highlights.  The story was too predictable, too formulaic, and ultimately, too disappointing for me to really recommend the book.  My score:  30/100

I hope you enjoyed that little foray into literature!  Don't worry, I have plenty more baseball card related things coming up on my blog but it never hurts to branch out a little bit, right?!  As for you, if you have any good book recommendations for me I'm all ears (and eyes).  Out of the first four books I read in 2019, I can feel confident in recommending The Last Shot to anyone who likes history and Why Dinosaurs Matter for anyone with even a passing interest in the terrible lizards.  The other two books are more of a "your mileage may vary" type recommendation, though even Map of Bones while earning a low score from me was still a fast-paced, easy reading book that I finished quite quickly.


  1. I don't read a lot of books. But if I were going to start and pick a book from this list... #3 seems the most interesting.

    1. It was a good read for sure! I have been forcing myself to read this year and honestly, I think it's been a good thing for me and I have read a bunch of interesting books (along with some not-so-good books of course).


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