Books of December

For several months in a row, I have bemoaned that I was having trouble finding some good things to read – this month was surely full of good reads.

The_Martian_2014The Martian by Andy Weir – Dare I say this was my favorite read of the year?? Written mostly as diary entries, the main character is an astronaut who has been accidentally left behind on Mars in the relative near future. His entries are a mix of depression,  self-deprecating humor, and determination that (for me) made him the best hero you can imagine. I don’t want to give any spoilers because there are some good ones, so I’m going to stop there. Seriously though, this book was a page turner!!!

**On a side note, though I’m not someone who likes to geek out with math and science, had just ONE of my teachers growing up approached real-life problem-solving like this story (in extremely realistic fashion from what the afterword claims), I might have actually been motivated to care about such subjects. As a teacher, I can complain that this is a fundamental flaw in our education system. It’s not until I’m 34 and have finished this book that I have even a marginal interest in physics or chemistry.

Batman_Black_and_White_1Batman Black and White by a bunch of people – Ugh, while I would consider myself a Batman fan, this anthology of Batman stories reminds me exactly why superhero stories never appealed to me growing up. Namely, women are always portrayed in a terrible light: victims, whores, or helpless little girls. You can blame it on the genre, but I can’t roll with that. What I typically like about Batman is that he’s complicated and dark, and his villains are campy and creepy. However, this particularly large set of disconnected chapters, all by different writers and artists was too choppy. Just when I started to get into one chapter, it would end and another completely different story would start.

Sure, I got a nice cross-section of how Batman and Gotham City have been portrayed in different ways, but none of it was that interesting to me. The artwork on the other hand was pretty cool. I know just how long each page takes to plan out, pencil and ink, so that’s impressive – but if we are talking about a collection of stories, well then, this one was very blah to me.

UnknownWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami – If you’re a runner, you really should read this book. Murakami takes a winding path  to describe how he became a runner and some of this  memories about running, but also parallels how being a writer is similar to running. While I don’t think his book is meant to necessarily “inspire” people to be runners (in fact he says it probably doesn’t suit lots of people), I liked hearing about the troubles he’s had physically and mentally throughout his years of running. Sometimes it seems like Murakami doesn’t think much of himself, whereas I’m astounded that he could run a 60-mile ultra marathon, or participate in a marathon every year for 25 years. Being a runner (though not a marathon runner like Murakami), I could often relate to his struggles and also celebrate his successes. In addition, I found myself running a little farther everyday – and some of the most basic ideas he has about his own running have translated into my own.

I’ll be doing a yearly wrap up sometime this week! In the meantime, what great books have you read this year that I might add to my list for 2015?

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