2004 in Review (books)

Best read, non-fiction: Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics, 3rd edition, by Stan Gibilisco. Over the summer I spent a fair amount of time mucking around with a pile of resistors and capacitors, trying to make an LED flash. As a student, I took a lot of math classes, but the only physics class I ever had was as a high school junior, so now, many years later, I find there was actually a reason for learning how to do differential equations. Gibilisco’s book is a sizeable 800 pages, but well organized into short chapters for easy reading. If you’re trying to teach yourself electronics, I’d suggest getting both this book and Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M. Mims III. If you’re having difficulty figuring out something in one book, the other might have a better explanation.
Worst read, non-fiction: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi, 1990. Comments here. Complete rubbish, made worse by the fact that the concept appeals to some academics.

Best read, fiction: I really should keep a reading journal to keep these things clear in my head. I think I’ll choose A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh. Waugh is a prominent author on the Modern Library top 100 list, and this is the first book I’ve read by this author. I immediately read the other two books of his on the list, Scoop and Brideshead Revisited. A Handful of Dust is the most poetic of the three; the story follows a structure parallel to T. S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”.
Worst read, fiction: This is an easy one: The Bad Place by Dean R. Koontz. Why did I read this? Yes, why? We want to know. I’ll tell you: this book appeared on my shelf many years ago. I once tried to take it to the used book store, but they wouldn’t take it. Before tossing it in the trash, I decided I should at least read it. Cardboard characters and sloppy perspective, but worst of all, Koontz has created a perverse villian simply for the sake of perversity. Spoiler: Candy Pollard has two sets of undescended testicles and no penis. His mother was a hermaphrodite who self fertilized. The family has weird psychic powers, which lets them read minds, teleport, perform telekinesis. Anyway, they all die, and the intrepid cardboard detectives go off to Hawaii or some shit.
Other notable notables: The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy was probably the strangest book I read last year. I’m still not sure what to think.

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One Response to “2004 in Review (books)”
  1. andrew says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll check ‘em out.
    I’ll recommend “My Horse and Other Stories” by Stacey Levine, a recommendation I got from a blog post on Scott Rettberg’s site a while back.
    Also I’ll recommend Michel Houellebecq’s “Platform”, although “The Elementary Particles” I liked even more.