50 Books Challenge 2017 – A Legacy …

Another new year – Another 50 Books Challenge

This first books of 2017 that I’ve read were again about kitchen science, an IT text book, and temporary non-fiction. I haven’t started a novel yet.

Nonetheless, I already stumbled upon a good read which has good chances to stay among my favourite books I’ve read in 2017.

When browsing for biographies and literature about Barack Obama, I found one copy of selected speeches from his presidential campaign in 2008 as well as a so-called bestseller by Obama himself: “Dreams from my Father

For the time being, I prefer reading Obamas own words instead of books about him (books from the earlier years of his presidency lack a lot of events during the last years) – I have the patience to wait for his biography from his own feather.

His bestseller Dreams from my Father has three parts: His childhood, Chicago, and Kenya

The childhood part was interesting to me because I didn’t know so much about his family  background. I couldn’t quite follow the part in Chicago, although, this part might contain the key chapters about black identity, understanding Afro-Americans, and struggle of black people in the US in the eighties. It might also be the start of his political career.

The part when Obama visits his relatives in Kenya caught my attention again.

From my viewpoint, the message about finding own identity, looking for a father he only knew from one visit was clear the big theme of this book.

Digging and searching for his African ancestors history…

Special attention should be given to the Epilogue (a visit to a teacher in Kenya). This last and short part could be interpreted it as an important final appeal and as an attempt to answer a few of the questions of Obamas life journey.

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Barack Obama – Dreams from my Father

Some critics in Internet forums complain that the book is not a biography. Well, I was aware of that before and didn’t consider it as biography when I picked it. Some readers complain that the book is boring. Well, there are auto-biographical elements and the book depicts real-life stories from Obamas youth. A reader not interested in Obamas family background and his search/struggle for identity might find it boring.

To me, it was interesting to read because I consider it as a head-start to get to know Obamas heritage, family background, and how early life events/life path lead to him studying and becoming the well-known first black US president.

Legacy of his father – Himself legacy for the USA

Star Trek on the Planet of the Apes

On the chase for interesting reads in my 50 Books Challenge of 2015, I paid a visit to the section of graphic novels in the library. Although, comics don’t count in my books list –  unless the text outweighs the drawings – every once in a while I enjoy the artwork and design of those drawings. I was browsing through Star Trek comic books when a really good cover art of my favourite sci-fi stories met my eye:

A crossover of Star Trek with The Planet of the Apes

It seemed just as interesting and tempting to read it just as absurd it might sound on the first appeal. My curiosity was lighted up. I took it and read it in just two sittings.

The cover art is spectacular. The drawings depict the TOS characters quite accurate. The most accurate depiction to my judgement was the character of the Klingon Kor. Other secondary characters as well (for example, Pavel Chekov).

The story was not as good as in the series, however, worth reading if you are a fan of both series.

Unfortunately, the German translation of the dialogues seemed floppy – either by accident or as a kind of nostalgia (because the dubbed German TOS episodes are also floppy 🙂 )

Anyway, even if the story itself did not blow me away, the cover art does 🙂

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50 Books Challenge 2016 – Best Of

Year in, year out; the 50 Books Challenge goes on – for the 5th year in a row I read more than 50 books from cover to cover – not counting short books with less than 180 pages or comic books.

In 2016 I finished roughly 59 books. Most of them were non-fiction textbooks about science, IoT literature, cooking/kitchen chemistry, and lots of medical books about diabetes. But I also picked up a few novels and classics.

My favourites of 2016:

08) Der Gastrosexuelle Mann – Carsten Otte (as eBook)
09) Winners Dream – Bill McDermott
10) Kaffeebuch – Johanna Wechselberger, Tobias Hierl
12) Schauen Sie sich mal diese Sauerei an – Jörg Nießen
20) Die Geschichte der Welt in 100 Objekten – Neil MacGregor
23) Die Entdeckung der Currywurst – Uwe Timm
43a) Cross-Over Comic: Star Trek & Planet of the Apes – David Tipton, Rachel Stott
44) Islands in the Stream – Ernest Hemingway
46) Resonate – Nancy Duarte
48) Life of Pi – Yann Martel

 

50 Books Challenge 2015 – Best Of

Year in, year out; the 50 Books Challenge goes on – for the 4th year in a row I read more than 50 books from cover to cover – not counting short books with less than 180 pages and comics or graphic novels are also not included.

In 2015 I finished at least 53 books; varying from non-fictous topics (for example, every-day-chemistry, cooking/cuisine science, drug reports …) to massively huge novels (Don Winslows novels about drug cartels, Steven Kings “Under the Dome”, Dan Browns “Inferno”) up to sci-fi stories.

I’d like to point out the following books:

Novels

  • Inferno – Dan Brown (#7)
  • Ein Mann namens Ove – Frederik Backman (#36)
  • “Days of the Dead” and “The Cartel” – both by Don Winslow

Classics

  • Fiesta: The Sun also Rises – Ernest Hemingway (#31)
  • Gulliver’s Travel  – Jonathan Swift (#32)
  • Der illustrierte Mann – Ray Bradbury (#42)

Non-fiction

  • Anleitung zur Schwerelosigkeit (Astronaut’s Guide to life on Earth) – Chris Hadfield (#24)
  • Crystal Meth – Wie eine Droge unser Land überschwemmt – Dr. Roland Härtel-Petri (#19)
  • Rätsel der Kochkunst – Hervé This-Benckhard (#44)

 

Bonus/Comics
Asterix und die Trabantenstadt (#12a)

 

50 Books Challenge 2015 starts “Large”

One of the first books of this year’s 50 Books Challenge was about the biggest machine build by man:
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

The book is a photographic journey through the vaults of CERN with its many projects about particles, as well as a small collection of superlatively large facts, figures, and photos. Its large hardcover caught my eye because it was sticking out of the book shelves in the library due to its sheer size. The actual trigger to read the book hit me when flipping up the cover and reading the quote by one of my favourite scientists in the coverpage:

“Science … is like sex:sometimes something useful comes out, but that is not the reason we are doing it.” – Richard P. Feynman

The book itself contains insight footage on the diverse machines, or to be more precise machine parts (because most of the machines are too large to have them on a single shots), some interviews with scientists/researcher at CERN, and tidbits/facts about the projects and their footprints. For example, the data about LHC events reported by the sensors is 1 PB – each second (!). Of course, only a fraction of the data is processed at all.

http://home.web.cern.ch/about/computing

http://www.lhc-facts.ch/index.php?page=datenverarbeitung

Another book about LARGE but as well small stuff around the world was “Extremwelten”.

Picosecond
0,000 000 000 001 s

Speaking of large and enourmous quantities:
Due to a huge/voluminous novel that I’ve read in the last weeks, I am a bit behind schedule in the book challenge.
Still it is unclear why I was so curious about that particular novel: Under the Dome – Stephen King
I was never a fan of the genre, never had a big interest in the novels/stories. As a teenager, I read a few of his short stories and occasionally two or three novels. The adaptions of “The Shining” and “Running Man” were good – that’s it.
The setting or basic plot of “Under the Dome” might be the reason why this novel caught my attention: A small town is suddenly trapped under a mysterious and unpenetrateable force field.

After reading the first few pages, I had a flashback and recognised why I am not so fond of Stephen King: the American Way of Life
All in all, an interesting read, every other evening I could read about a few brutal deaths while feasting on my dinner veggies…
the ending .. well.
and yes, go large or go home. This book is the third longest novel by King: roughly 1270+ pages (the German edition that I have read)

50 Books Challenge 2014 – … and the winner is:

This post deals with my favourite books from last year’s 50 Books Challenge.

Notwithstanding that successfully finishing the 50 Books Challenge for the third year in a row makes me a winner per se, this post points to a few good reads that might draw your attention as well.

Category “Fiction”
It’s hard to decide which novel or story was the best since I read a bunch of good stories.

For fun:
“The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” – Jonas Jonasson

Serious reads (ordered by reading date):
“C” – Tom McCarthy
“Herr aller Dinge” – Andreas Eschbach
(“The Circle” – Dave Eggers)
“Blackout” – Marc Elsberg

Category “Nonfiction”
Two life events are reflected in this years book list: “working in Shanghai” and “getting a flat”
A few of the companions were really good. The German “Stiftung Warentest” published a few companions that helped me a lot.

For Shanghai, mostly guides on culture and especially business culture were valuable reads.

Category “Classics”
“Im Westen nichts Neues” – Erich Maria Remarque
Due to the centenary of WWI, I finally read THE autobiographic (anti-)war novel. Despite the dark subject this piece of fine literature belongs to the must-read classics. Dark, sad, and realistic atmosphere, pictured with marvellous metaphors, a good portion of ironic/black humour, and first of all: underlining the uselessness of war …

50 Books Challenge 2014 – Second Half

Popular science, novels, some bestsellers, and more novels coined the rest of 50BooksChallenge 2014

A Hologram for the King – Dave Eggers
Since “The Circle” by Eggers was still a demanded bestseller in my library, I passed the time waiting for “The Circle” by reading “A Hologram for the King”. The story is simple – as is the key message. Alan Clay, project manager in a US technology company, is sent to the Arabian desert to get a contract with the Saudi King Abdullah; exclusive rights for his company to supply the King’s dream city in the desert with technology.

At first, it seemed kafkaesk because the King never appears. That gives time to reflect on Alan’s past of his life and to get to know how often and thorough Alan failed or was overtaken by the development of the time.

Even in the small private or business situations Alan is pictured as a loser – someone that can’t get a grasp of the situation. Poor guy … somehow funny. A quick read after all.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/books/dave-eggerss-new-novel-a-hologram-for-the-king.html

The Circle – Dave Eggers

In a near dystopian future: The female protagonist starts working for an uprising and growing technology company. However, the products and services of that company erase more and more privacy, bring people to put private matters public, any piece of information gets connected with other pieces, personal information is commercialized, personal data is used to help the police solving or even preventing crimes, surveillance is spread, and so on.
The similarities with actual internet/tech companies are not coincidental but intended. An obvious word play is the title itself – since the social network of one of the biggest tech companies is organised in “circles” 😉
As in a hologram for the King”, the message is clear. While reading, the appeal jumps into one’s face. This novel is not about a near dystopian future, it is closer to reality than good for us …

Blackout – Marc Elsberg

A very well researched novel about what might happen during an electricity takedown in Europe. A terrorist induced blackout continues for several days. The reader travels with the major and minor protagonists through the possible horror scenarios in European cities w/o electricity. The start of the book was great, somehow it loses its speed and tension half-way through the book, however, the “end-on-an-ending” brought me back again into the tension. Surely a good read, very realistic, educating, and awakening awareness of how dependent we all are on electricity – what we consider as standard could be gone tomorrow … are we prepared for a major power outtake?

Darm mit Charme – Guilia Enders

This book was hyped to a bestseller. Maybe because it breaks with a taboo by talking about the intestines that you usually not talk about. It’s not only about the stomach, but the complete way from eating to … you know … going to the toilet. The book taps a bit into popular science, but also uses lots of medical terms that go beyond school biology. On other parts, it gets down to a low level that even kindergarten kids would grasp it – and giggle. the witty and funny metaphors as well as joking sentences in the book brought also me to giggles and clapping in appreciation. A nice read! Unfortunately, not much that sticks in my memory because of medical terms that are hard to grasp. However, worth waiting for. After all, you will be educated with a smile on your face. Unless you are an endocrinologist – in that case, you will only smile 😉

Herr aller Dinge – Andreas Eschbach

Bit slow in the beginning, however, getting more tense and interesting after a third/half the book. I enjoyed reading my favourite German Sci-Fi author again – how long has it been since I touched a book of his? Well researched, some turnovers and surprises … it also brought inspiration for my book queue of 2015