Nachos Book Club: Episode 7 (Including an Amazing Baseball Book!)

One of my 2019 Blog Resolutions was to read a dozen books before the end of 2019.  Over the summer, I ended up reading a lot of books and actually met my goal well before "crunch time" of November and December.  At this point, I already talked about books 1-4 that I read (here) and books 5 - 8 that I read (here).  Now, let's move on to the final four books that I read in order to complete my resolution.

Note:  Each book will have an Amazon link.  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 books #9 - 12 that I read in 2019:

#9:  Power-Up:  Unlocking the Hidden Mathematics in Video Games

By Matthew Lane

This particular book caught my eye because it combines two of my favorite things:  math and video games.  I originally bought it thinking that it might have something in it that I could eventually use for a math colloquium (faculty at my school give colloquiums each year and I'm also on the hunt for interesting topics).  The book did meet my original goal as I gave a talk on the math behind green shells and red shells in Mario Kart which basically came straight out of the book (except I worked out all the math in detail whereas the author kind of skipped over most of the nitty gritty details).

Even better, I found most of the book to be super interesting, even if I won't use a lot of it for colloquium talks.  I ended up reading the book from front to back (and thus it counted for this resolution) despite thinking when I bought it that it'd be more of a reference only type book.  I have to give the author credit for making the book readable despite having quite a bit of math in it!  My score:  95/100

#10: The Cairo Affair

By Olen Steinhauer

Last year, I read The Tourist by Steinhauer and liked it quite a bit (I gave that novel a 89/100).  Over the summer this year, I was at my local library when I spotted The Cairo Affair and figured it was worth giving the book a shot.  Both books are your typical spy novel full of twists and turns but Steinhauer offers up enough new ideas for the genre that it never feels completely formulaic.  For the most part, this book was also quite good - definitely a page turner and the writing was solid throughout.  However, unlike The Tourist, I found myself severely let down by the ending of The Cairo Affair.  In particular, there were way too many loose threads left unanswered which definitely spoiled my enjoyment of the book to a large extent.  My score:  75/100

#11:  The Lighthouse

By P.D. James

This was another book that I grabbed from my local library but this time from an unknown (to me at least) author.  I later learned that The Lighthouse is actually book #13 in the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series but the book was written in such a way that I didn't feel like I was thrust into the middle of a much longer series (that is a good thing)!

Unfortunately, that's about all that I can say that's good about this book.  For me, the pacing was terrible, the mystery cliche (a murder on an island with suspects that can't get away), and the writing was much too pompous for me to enjoy.  Furthermore, the first 100 pages or so of the novel offer up virtually nothing of interest and the final murder "solution" isn't anything that one could have reasonable figured out on their own from reading the novel.  I don't have any idea how this book garners 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon as I know I have no plans or desires to ever read another novel by P. D. James.  My score:  40/100.

#12:  Bottom of the 33rd

By Dan Barry

My eleventh book of the year may have been a dud but I definitely ended on a high note with Bottom of the 33rd.  This book tells the true story of a minor league game that went 33 innings, a game that starred both Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs (among others).  While that's interesting enough in its own right to a baseball person such as myself, the real beauty of this book is how the story is told.  Basically, Barry tells the story of what happened in the game inning by inning but he does so by going into the heads (and hearts) of each of the main characters of the game.  Furthermore, he has the benefit of this game happening back in 1981 which means he can intersperse anecdotes and information about each character in the book and what happened to them later on in life.  It's heartwarming at times, heart-wrenching at times, humorous at times, sad at times, and basically everything you could possibly want from a novel like this.  My score:  98/100

A nice mix of books to end the year on but the real highlight of the four has to be Bottom of the 33rd.  If there's one book that my blog readers ought to try and track down, it'd be that one.  A great baseball book and easily the best book out of the twelve that I read in 2019!

I haven't yet decided if I'm going to try and do another 12 books as part of my 2020 blog resolutions...on the one hand, reading that much with a toddler in the house is nearly impossible but on the other hand without this resolution I probably would still have Bottom of the 33rd sitting on my bookshelf unread (which would be a shame)!


  1. I'll have to add "Bottom of the 33rd " to my never ending To-Read list!

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  3. Bottom of the 33rd sounds very interesting. I don't read a lot of books... and already have a stack that need to be read, but I'm tempted to track a copy of this book down.

    1. Definitely worth the time, so good!


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