Book Ratings from 2012 + List for 2013

Happy 2013 readers!  I hope that everyone has a very happy, healthy and successful new year!

Those of you who know me know that I love to read.  Since I have been slow about updating the book review section of this site, I have decided to list all of the books I have read in 2012 along with a simple rating system + for positive, – for negative and = for being ambivalent and perhaps a sentence about why I gave it that rating.  If you have any comments or thoughts I would love to hear them!  I included a list of the books I hope to read in 2013, if you have any you think I should add(or remove), please comment and let me know.

2012 Non-Fiction

(+)No Easy Day by Mark Owen.  The author is humble and insightful about being a SEAL and being involved in the Bin Laden Raid.

(+)The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver.  His book was not as easy to read and entertaining as I had hoped, though it was very good.  That said, he is someone I respect immensely(and have written about in this blog) and it was on a topic I enjoy reading about.

(=)Imagine by Jonah Lehrer.  The book was about how to be more creative and increase imagination, but I had read most of the book in other places.

(-)Mortality by Christopher Hitchens.  I expected some insight or philosophy, but it was just a collection of disjointed thoughts.

(+)We Are Anonymous by Parmy Olson.  It was a good look inside the hacking world of Anonymous and its history, but even though I enjoyed it, it would probably not interesting to most people.

(=)The Amateur by Edward Klein.  The author spoke to high level people with personal knowledge of the President who said negative things about the President.  Much of it has  been written before and although it was interesting, I am usually skeptical of people with a clear agenda.

(+)10 Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program by Jason Selk.  I thought his discussion and exercises were very good and useful for someone who has a job with a lot of stress.

(-)The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urea.  The story was interesting, but the author did not captivate the readers.

(-)American Sniper:The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History by Chris Kyle.  I hated this book because the author was an egomaniac without regard for the people he killed.  Reading No Easy Day reminded me of how terrible this one was.

(=)Assholes Finish First by Max Tucker.  Another in this series of lewd but entertaining tales by this author.  Was readable, but definitely not for everyone.

(=)The Big Short by Michael Lewis.  It was a good book about the recent market crash but was not as good as some others on the same topic.

(+)Boomerang by Michael Lewis.  A very well written and interesting book about market collapses in different countries.  Far better than The Big Short.

(=)Bossypants by Tina Fey.  There were some humorous moments in the book which saved it, but it was dull in a lot of parts

(-)50/50 by Dean Karnazes.  I like running books and his story was interesting, but the book was far too repetitive and uninteresting.

(-)Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler.  Similar to Assholes Finish first, and not particularly good.

(+)The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  The author did a good job of blending the current story with Henrietta’s history and made the book very easy to read and get into, despite the fact that the topic was only mildly interesting

(=)The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  His advice was sound and I enjoyed reading his story but it was a bit depressing(obviously) and not that inspiring.

(-)Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer.  I am not sure that the author’s story could have been interesting in the best of circumstances and he didn’t do a great job of capturing the reader and taking him through his journey.

(+)Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan.  I like these types of books that discuss economics and its applicability to everyday life.  This book has more relevant information then Freakanomics, but is not as entertaining.

(=)The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  The author did a good job of condensing a lot of material about habits and trying to teach the reader how to improve their habits and better their life.  However the book wasn’t that well written or engaging.

(+)Scorecasting by L. Jon Wertheim.  It was similar to Moneyball, but addressed different areas in sports and misconceptions.  It was a very good read.

(+)Sex on the Moon by Ben Mizrich.  I think this would appeal to many people as the author has a good writing flow that keeps the reader entertained.  Plus, the story was interesting and probably unknown to most.

(-)Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern.  It was a collection of uninteresting and not so funny tales.

(-)Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman.  A description of her life and the reasons she left the Jewish Satmar community.  It didn’t really resonate or interest me.

(+)What the Dog Saw:And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell.  A superb, life changing  book that will change your view of the world.  A must read.

(-)Why Do Men Have Nipples? by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg.  Q&A’s about random questions that wasn’t that interesting.

(=)The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric.  I forget what I thought about it, but it was a very fast read.

(+)Back to Work by Bill Clinton.  It is superbly written and reasoned as to why the government should proceed in the manner he lays out.  He writes the way he speaks and is incredibly rational in his discussion.  I liked it a lot.

(+)If It Was Easy, They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon by Jenna McCarthy.  The book is a series of relatable stories and humorous commentaries on married life.

(+)Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  I enjoyed reading about natural ultra marathon runners and the author did a good job of making it relatable and entertaining

2012 Fiction

(+)Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.  The author keeps the reader in suspense and the character development is very good.

(+)Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  A very moving historical fiction about a Chinese and a Japanese family in America during World War II.

(+)Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Well written with lots of twists and suspense.  It was good enough to make me want to read her other two books, which were both very well received.

(=)The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.  I read the book after seeing the movie, and the book included a lot background and important information.  It was ok, but nothing special.

(=)Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.  Kind of a trashy, implausible book that was a page turner, but not particularly good.

(-)Perfume by Patrick Suskind.  The main character was not particularly engaging, nor was the book gripping.

(+)The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon.  It was written from the point of view of an autistic boy and was phenomenal.  Moving and captivating, you root for the main character very hard.

(=)Drown by Junot Diaz.  I like the authors unique style, but it was similar to the other books he has written, and I preferred The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

(=)This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz.  It was better than Drown and but not as good as The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

(=)The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  It is historical fiction in Chicago in the 1890′s which was entertaining, but got a bit long winded and boring in some parts.

(+)Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel by S. J. Watson.  Gripping book about a woman trying to figure out why she lost her memory.  Reminded me of the movie Memento without the violence.

(-)Blindness by Jose Saramago.  The book was almost unreadable as the story was boring and the characters did not entertain the reader at all.  Not sure how it got made into a movie.

(=)This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper.  I was entertained, but I thought it was nothing special or unique.

(+)The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.  A fantastic book where you feel in sync with the main character and root for him continuously.  The authors writing is incredible.

(+)Tandia by Bryce Courtenay.  The sequel to The Power of One and was equally good, though a bit long(900 pages) for most people.  I enjoyed every page and it was as good as the previous book.

(=)Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.  The basis for the show Dexter, which I love.  I did not think the book developed the characters or made me want to follow through with the rest of the series.

(-)Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.  I did not think it was particularly good and don’t know what all the fuss was about.  Was extremely glad to finish and not read the next two in the series.

(+)The Hunger Games 1,2,3 by Suzanne Collins.  The first book was good and made me want to read the others.  Unfortunately, in the next two books the author was struggling to come up with a plausible way to add a sequel and did not entertain me.

(+)American Assassin by Vince Flynn.  It was a page turner about an American spy.

(+)Kill Shot by Vince Flynn.  One in the above series that was also excellent.

(=)The Litigators by John Grisham.  I thought it was medicre, especially for him.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly enthralling either.

(=)The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.  I had a lot of trouble getting into the story, though I thought it was well written.

(=)The Street Lawyer by John Grisham.  I thought this book was ok, but certainly doesn’t compare to the Grisham of old.

(-)The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.  I tried really hard to like the story but the writers style and the story made it nearly impossible.

(+)We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.  This was a very different book about a different subject, but I liked the way it was done and the author kept me involved in the book.

(+)Room by Emma Donoghue.  I liked different perspective that the author wrote from and she really stimulated my mind.  I enjoyed the whole book overall.

2012 Poker

(+) Playing the Player by Ed Miller.  A superb book that is great for middle stakes no limit players looking to improve.  I am very tough on poker books, but I think this one was excellent.

(=) Exploiting Regulars by Tri Nguyen and Tom Marchese.  The book is well written and probably cutting edge in its time, but I don’t think it is particularly applicable to today’s online games and not good for live play.  It doesn’t do a great job of teaching you to think, like Playing the Player, and is more about specific hands.

(+)Small Stakes No Limit Hold’em by Ed Miller, Sunny Mehta and Matt Flynn.  Good book for beginning no limit players.

(-)The Poker Blueprint by Aaron Davis and Tri Ngyuen.  The hands and concepts were ok, but it did a poor job of teaching applicability, which is where most players go wrong.

(+)PLO8 Revealed by Dan Deppen.  The book is the only book about PLO8 on the market and does a good job of teaching the basics, which is enough.

(+)Let There Be Range by Tri Ngyuen and Cole South.  This was one of the first expenive poker ebooks written and still stands the test of time.  It is no wonder why Cole crushed the games and you seeing his thought process is great.

(+)The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler.  The author has intricate knowledge of what is necessary to improve the mental game and does a great job of explaining it.  He is very descriptive about player types and goes through exercises to help in the future.

(=)A Rubber Band Story and Other Poker Tales by Tommy Angelo.  I didn’t think this book was as good as his other ones but it was entertaining as the author has a knack for captivating the readers.

(+)Advanced Pot Limit Omaha Volumes 1, 2, 3 by Jeff Hwang.  There isn’t a lot of good material on PLO, and his is among the best out there.  3 and 1 were considerably better than 2 though.

(+)Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hanson.  His explanations about why he does certain things can be useful to every type of player.  Though his advice might not be directly applicable to anyone, seeing his thought process in tournaments was very insightful.

(-)Treat Your Poker Like a Business by Dusty Schmidt.  I disliked this book because the author assumes that because his way of playing poker works, it is applicable to business, in which he has no experience.  Aside from that, the book gives general advice that is in no way unique or special, even as directed towards poker players.

(=)High Low Split by Ray Zee.  It was and probably still is the best book on 7 card stud, but the advice is basic and probably will not help even a medium stakes player all that much.

(+)Raiser’s Edge by Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier.  He advocated a completely different style of play that is explained well and can be applied to all games.  While there is some very useful information in the book, there is a lot that might not work for most people.

(-)Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time: Volume 2 by Eric Lynch, Jon Van Fleet and Jon Turner.  I disliked this book because I thought that 2 of the 3 authors played  terrible in the hands they describe.  To people who cannot discern the difference between good and bad play, this will lead them down the wrong path.

Books I Hope to Read in 2013

The Middlesteins by Jamie Attenberg

The Age of Miralcles by Karen Thompson Walker

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultra Marathon Greatness by Scott Jurek

The Lifespan of a Fact by John D’Agata

Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald

The Big Thirst:The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water by Charles Fishman

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking

Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad

Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O. J. Simpson Got Away with Murder by Vincent Bugliosi

The Complete Guide to Buying and Selling Apartment Buildings by Steve Berges;

Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher;

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Argo by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio

Ikes Bluff by Evan Thomas

Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton

12 million stuffed Shark by Donald Thompson

America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski

Antifragile by Nassim Taleb

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

How Children Succeed Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

How to Read Hands at No Limit Hold’em by Ed Miller

Quiet by Susan Cain

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Housseini

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose

The Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren Buffett

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

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