Saturday, January 02, 2010

Books I Read in 2009

These are all the books I managed to complete reading in the year 2009. The book at the top is the one I completed last:

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart - Dr. Gordon Livingston
The Hound of Rowan - Henry Neff
bonk - Mary Roach
If Only They Could Talk - James Herriot
One Renegade Cell - Robert Weinberg
Better - Atul Gawande
Complications - Atul Gawande
Tell Me Where It Hurts - Dr. Nick Trout
Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson
The Life You Can Save - Peter Singer
The Worry Cure - Robert Leahy
Cognitive Therapy Techniques - Robert Leahy
Feeling Good - David Burns
How To Be An Adult - David Richo

You may notice that I only read one book of fiction... That was The Hound of Rowan, which I actually enjoyed very much despite its many similarities to Harry Potter. It's quite fun. I got really into reading books about science and medicine this year. Atul Gawande's essays are really compelling. He's a terrific writer and the subject matter, which largely revolves around hospitals and his work as a surgeon, encompassed a lot of things I had never really thought about. Both books were eye-opening and I pretty much couldn't put them down until I was done. Robert Weinberg's primer on cancer was really difficult to understand (I had to re-read many of the paragraphs several times over) but very worthwhile. I didn't have any idea what cancer was or how it worked to destroy the body, so it was something I was obsessed with for a little while. Mary Roach's book is hilarious. I loved it. The cognitive therapy books were great and very useful at the time. I thought they were going to totally change my life and I do think they made a positive impression, but it's amazing how difficult it is to change how you think, to change such deeply ingrained habits. I discovered that I really am quite a negative and critical thinker... and learned many ways I can stop that downward spiral once I notice I'm in it. Three Cups of Tea is a wonderful book. It made me think a lot about another favorite book of mine, The Places In Between (Rory Stewart). Mortenson's book takes place in Pakistan, whereas Stewart's book takes place in Afghanistan, but both books are so beautiful. I have such deep admiration for Greg Mortenson's work building schools. What an incredible sense of purpose!! And, I got a bird's eye view of what people are like in a place so far away, a place I may very well never go. I love to travel that way. It's such a treat. Peter Singer's book is basically a plea to people with money to give it to starving children in developing nations. He specifically calls out to people who make at least $100K, which does not include me, but I think it's a worthwhile read for anyone. It drew my attention to the work of a few really noble organizations that I have started giving money to. Also, I read two books by veterinarians. James Herriot is an excellent writer, of course. Dr. Nick Trout's book was really wonderful. He's a surgeon at an animal hospital where I went many times with my kitties while living in Boston. It's a very touching book and gave me some measure of peace. The very last book I read was a book given to me by my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas. It's full of a variety of good advice about life and going out on a limb in pursuit of happiness. Three books did not make it to this list because I didn't finish them in time, but I do hope to finish them all at some point in the next year (I hope!): The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Male Sexuality by Dr. Michael Bader. Dawkins's book has not yet made me decide I'm an atheist (and most likely will not), but #1: It is making me understand his point of view much better and is making me realize that most people I know who don't like him don't actually understand his point of view or what he means by "atheist" and #2: It is broadening my appreciation for science's desire to understand where we come from and how the universe began. The Bader book is absolutely fascinating. That's all I'm going to say. Riveting. The Idiot is wonderful, but it's long and dense, and it always takes me a long time to read Dostoevsky, as much as I love his writing. It often helps for me to switch to another translation if I am having trouble getting through, so I think I'm going to do that.

PS: I should also note that I bought and was given many books that I never ended up reading. One book in that category was Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. I love the title. And, the first chapter was an amazing and touching story. But, chapters 2-5 were really not that interesting, so I quit reading... Also, Who Dares Wins by Bob Mayer was really great and useful to me in overcoming some fears I had, but I didn't end up needing to read the whole book, even though the whole thing might have been useful...


michaelbader said...

How could I NOT like this post?

Pam said...

Neat! I'm on p. 72. You wrote a really awesome book! I actually considered not including it, thinking that my friends might think I was a weirdo for reading a book called *Male Sexuality*, but it honestly has been so helpful and enlightening, not just about the relationship that just ended a few months ago, but about me. Thanks! I hope lots of other people read it!

michaelbader said...

Hey, Pam....if you ever feel like it, email me for perhaps a fuller discussion, back and Thanks again, though!