I read 5 books in December, 3 non-fiction, 2 fiction. 2 in print, 3 on the Kindle.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. This book, which is not short, is sort of a history of science for the non-scientist. If you just like to know things, but aren’t really looking to apply the science, you couldn’t do better than this entertaining overview. Warning: Do not read if you are a pessimistic sort, as every few pages Bryson articulates another way in which the world could end.
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. It took me a while to get into Year of Wonders, but once I did I really liked it. The book is set in 17th century England, in a small village in which the Plague breaks out. The village eventually choses to quarantine itself to try to protect the surrounding countryside and the narrator, Anna, a servant for the Rector, describes the experience of living so surrounded by death.
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson. I had no idea how little we actually KNOW about William Shakespeare (answer: very, very little). Bill Bryson did a great job of fleshing out the few known facts with information about Shakespeare’s time. A quick, entertaining and informative read.
The Voluntourist by Ken Budd. When I was about a quarter of the way into this book, I realized I was kind of burnt out on the whole voluntourism genre. I’ve read a lot of these books and I just wasn’t as interested this time around – which means it took me 6 months to finish this one, reading sporadically. One thing that I did really like about the book was Budd’s discussion of his desires to be a father and coming to terms with the fact that he wouldn’t be. I feel like that’s a narrative that we don’t hear much, at least from the male perspective. Overall though, the book was just okay for me.
The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith. This is the 6th book in the 44 Scotland Street series, which you might as well call the Bertie Chronicles for me. The books center around perhaps a dozen residents of Edinburgh (most of whom I like), but my favorite is by far 6-year-old Bertie. This books are all quick, “comfort” reads – amusing and they don’t require too much thought.