Books

So this is a list of the books I have read while here in Cambodia. Included is also the number of pages, a score on the TG meter, and a brief review. Enjoy.

TOTAL PAGES READ -20,976  6/27/2011


Shantaram
by Gregory David Roberts, 936 pages (TG Meter 9/10) – Great, great, great book. I would recommend that everyone at least try to read it. Did I mention that its great?

From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friendman, 576 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – I liked it, dont love his writing style, but I feel much more informed about the Middle East now.

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, 432 pages (TG Meter 5/10) – Not sure how much I liked this one. Based during the Ottoman Empire, hard to follow making it a difficult read.

Fluke by Christopher Moore, 321 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – This guy is an entertaining writer, with some informative things in his writing that sneak up on you. I would recommend that everyone try at least one of his books.

Dark Rivers of the Heartby Dean Koontz, 576 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – I gave this a low rating, because as a DK fan, its hard to really say he stacks up better or near the top. Still entertaining to read and hard to put down.

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk, 272 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – His writing style is different and enjoyable, but this book was much too short and it just seemed like he copped out when writing it.

Lightning by Dean Koontz, 384 pages (TG Meter 6/10) I love DK books, but again, since I have started reading so many of them, they entertain me the same.

The Stand: Expanded Edition by Stephen King, 1141 pages (TG Meter 8/10) – Cant say that I am a big King fan, but after reading this I am much more inclined to start reading more of his books, long and a good read for Cambo.

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, 352 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – Reading this book after The Stand was an interesting decision. Both have to do with deadly plagues. Good, factual book.

RDCB (Under Orders, The Husband, Scared to Live, Orbit) 578 pages (TG Meter 4/10) – The first and last time I try out the Readers Digest Condensed version of books. All of the stories were good, but they all seemed to be missing something, hence they were condensed.

Miracle at St. Anna by James Mcbride, 320 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – It was hard to read this book and not think about all the bad reviews I heard about the movie. Still a good book, and I wound up thinking it was better than the movie probably was.

Dispatches by Michael Herr, 260 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – A friend let me borrow this book. The style really reminded me of Full Metal Jacket, and come to find out this dude wrote that screenplay. Good book on Vietnam.

Phantoms by Dean Koontz, 448 pages (TG Meter 5/10) – The beginning of this book scared me pretty good. Seeing as how I am essentially camping out here, its not fun to read scary books all that much. The end of this book kind of sucked however.

Saturday by Ian McEwan, 304 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – Good book, written by the same guy who wrote Atonement, which I have not read. Very interesting, but a little heavy on the details. The story becomes almost predictable at the end, but winds up still being an interesting read aside from that. Give it a look-see.

Timeline by Michael Crichton, 482 pages (TG Meter 3/10) – Not bad but not great. I guess they made a movie of it, nothing special, moving along here. I expected more out of Crichton, but thats what happens when you have expectations.

Cheasapeake by James Michener, 1000 pages (TG Meter 1/10) – What a snore-fest. I read this book and was determined to finish it because I was hoping to read a boring book. Did I ever. This probably stopped me from reading a larger amount of books recently, fried my brain.

Black Earth by Sid Meier, 450 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – Started this book because I plan on traveling to Mother-Russia eventually. It was a good, informative look on the place. Cant say I loved the book however, seemed like the guy just thought he should write a book because hes a journalist. Could have been better.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, 367 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – Liked it, but didn’t love it. Its good, but anal rape isn’t really something I choose to read about on a normal basis. Maybe its just me. Still a good book and an easy read, just didn’t grab me all that well.

The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russel, 512 pages  (TG Meter 7/10) – Liked it again, but it also had some anal rape type of scenes going on. Can say it was the follow up to the Kite Runner I was hoping for. However, aside from that, it was a very interesting book and I would recommend people read it if they dig mild sci-fi type of stuff mixed with questions of morality.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, 288 pages  (TG Meter 5/10) – Not bad, but not exactly the classic I was expecting. Read it because it was on the short side and I had some time on my hands, but still an interesting read. Guy has a strange but good writing style, and sounds like a grumpy old man in his style.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, 163 pages (TG Meter 5/10) – Very easy read. I think there are problems with spanish translations at times because the words just dont work out that well together if they arent simple. Good book, interesting ending. More of a long short story than anything else though.

Ball Four by Jim Bouton, 367 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – Uh, great book? yeah, it was. Hilarious. The book is almost thirty years old, but felt like it was written a few years ago. Its about a knuckleball pitcher and is essentially an expose’ to the inside world of baseball and the boys who play it. Hilarious.

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, 405 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – I liked it, but didnt love it. I do like this author an awful lot, but I think fluke, mentioned above, is a better book than this one. However, not bad, good read, interesting and quick.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, 1067 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – Meh, it was ok. I like the ideas, and I felt like she had something really solid going, but then sold it out for some lame-o ending. I was expecting better.

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, 352 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – Good, solid read for anyone who wants to know more about football, and one of the positions that is played in the game. This writer also wrote Moneyball, which is actually why I picked the book up.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran-Foer, 341 pages (TG Meter 5/10) – Not sure why, but I catch myself eating books about reading. Could just be a Cambodia thing. Anyway, if you want a better food book, go read Omnivores Dilemma, however this one isn’t horrible.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, 624 pages (TG Meter 8/10) – I think I have a thing for books on India, but I dont have an overriding interest in going to visit India. Either way, this is a good book, fascinating read on the sadness of the some of the realities that is part of the country.

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown, 384 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – Famous author, good book, quick read… but the story is not fantastic. I liked his other book Deception Point a little bit more. Maybe a lot more.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, 304 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – Solid. Story about a dudes attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail. Would have scored higher had he actually walked the whole thing, that was a letdown, but the book is still a good hearty comical read.

Salmon of Doubt by Douglas N. Adams, 336 pages (TG Meter 4/10) – Mildly interesting, which is sad considering it is a compilation of the last things the guy was working on before he died. More of a posthumous look at his work.

Complications by Atul Gawande, 269 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – Good read. I wish he would have referenced more of his actual experience though instead of paraphrasing from others, mostly because I thought that was what I would be reading.

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, 260 pages (TG Meter 8/10) – One of the best books I have read since being here. Reminded me so much of the culture here, even though it was written about China 100 years ago. Just add cell phones and its the same.

Best American Sports Writing 2009 edited by Leigh Montville, 400 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – It was nice to mix it up with this book. Basically short sports stories. There was one about the Gatorman held off La Jolla shores and it motivated me to do it when I come back.

In the Nagas Wake by Mick O’shea, 264 pages (TG Meter 5/10) – So it wasn’t great. The message was strong though about how the dams China is building are going to effect life downstream. Solid read for people who enjoy the outdoors, other then that, don’t bother.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, 352 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – Some good, some bad, but overall not horrible. Her message fades throughout the book, but initially I really enjoyed it. The “ending” is lame because she makes it seem like it was all magical. Oh well, still not bad.

Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost, 272 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – I liked it because I could relate to the story of isolation amongst the locals. Author is a bit of a douchebag though all things said and done.

Little Brother by Allen Baillie, 153 pages (TG Meter 3/10) – Even though its a story about Cambodia, its fictional. I thought it would be a higher level book than it is as well, so thats my bad.

The Accidental Buddhist by Dinty W. Moore, 197 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – Since coming to Cambodia, I have grown more and more fond of Buddhism, but its not because they practice it so much here. Yes, they are primarily a buddhist country, but no it doesn’t mean much in most day to day practices.

Off the Rails in Phnom Penh by Amit Gilboa, 206 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – So Cambodia was a lot crazier back in the day. Oh wait, its still almost exactly the same. Just most people are so blatant.

Catch a Fire by Timothy White, 315 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – I have had a Bob Marley fascination for some time now. I find his legacy to be quite captivating. If anyone is the same, I recommend this book.

The Fearless Man by Donald Pfarrer, 545 pages (TG Meter 5/10) – I need to stop reading so many fiction books, especially giant ones. I just cant really handle them anymore.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, 225 pages (TG Meter 7/10) – I really liked this book. The implications for what I am doing now in the Peace Corps are quite strong so it was good to read about how certain international decisions get made all the time.

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo, 320 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – Back on the Buddhism thing. I liked it but it wasn’t really anything special. Leaned too heavily on stereotypes.

Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons, 697 pages (TG Meter 9/10) – Took this book with me to Bali, figuring it was big enough to last me the whole trip. Wrong. Killed it in two days. He is my favorite sports writer though so I should have known.

Time Paradox by Philip Zambardo, 337 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – Bought this and crushed this also in Bali. Good, but I was mostly happy with it because they approve of my perception of time.

How to Talk to Anyone by Larry King, 220 apages (TG Meter 5/10) – Grabbed this because I needed something else to read while in Bali. It looked appetizing enough. Decent but not really any astounding advice.

Ten Technologies to Fix Climate Change by Chris Goodell , 278 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – I can always tell when a book is written for an audience other than Americans. Good but not great. The writing style didn’t really fit my reading style.

Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins, 337 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – Good book. Hard to get through his writing at times because he tries so hard to impress with vocabulary. Reminds me a lot of my preferred author, Christopher Moore.

The Corporation by Joel Bakan, 160 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – British authour, see above.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, 554 pages (TG Meter 8/10) – Loved it. Two people recommended it to me. Would do the same if anyone else was interested. Get after this book.

How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer, 252 pages (TG Meter 6/10) – I liked it, but I don’t think he connected the dots all that well. More just jumped country to country to explain soccer around the globe.

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