Books I Want to Read

I am going to try out something I just found a couple weeks ago that a friend of mine, Angel Rivera, does at Alchemical Thoughts. He calls it “Items about books I want to read.” Seems he has been doing it a while now. He frequently has a link to a review from the media or something similar. Sometimes it’s just what he has to say about why he’s interested in reading it and a link to the record for the book in WorldCat.

It is to help remember why I marked something as “to read.” Seeing as how some things sit for years on the “to read” list, recording more about how I came across something in the first place might help. Hopefully, if I continue this in the future, it will be a bit more timely.

I really have no idea why many of the following books are on my list but some have been for a while. In most cases I do not know for sure how they came to my attention. Some came via Angel above. Many from Goodreads. Some as modern classics (Berlin & Kay).

Many of these are in my Reading goals for 2015 post; some are not.

Beer and Brewing

John J. Palmer and Colin Kaminski – Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) I have read two of the four books [Hops; Malt] in this series and they were both excellent. Looking forward to this and a bit intimidated by Yeast also.

Max Nelson – The Barbarian’s Beverage: A History of Beer in Ancient Europe Not sure where I first heard of this but I have several citations to it marked in multiple sources. That is, lots of people have cited it; some heavily. I got it for my birthday last year from my son and daughter-in-law.

“… presents a large amount of the evidence for beer in ancient Europe for the first time, and demonstrates the important technological as well as ideological contributions the Europeans made to beer throughout the ages. The book provides a fresh and fascinating insight into one of the most popular beverages in the world today.” [back cover blurb]

Ian Hornsey – Alcohol and its Role in the Evolution of Human Society Same for hearing about this one. Although in this, I have read some by the author so I know I want to read it. Besides, isn’t that a fascinating title? Bought self a copy late May 2014.

“This book, Ian’s fourth to be published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, unites archaeology and anthropology, plant breeding and industrial process, together with so many other disciplines besides. It is nothing short of revelatory and thoroughly up-to-date in our fast-moving world; this represents a Herculean effort on the part of the author.” [from Foreword by Arthur Edward Guinness, Earl of Iveagh (vii)]

Terry Foster – Brewing Porters and Stouts Two of our favorite styles. I want to design and brew an incredible Imperial stout, amongst other beers. But that is my ultimate aim. Well, something particular is what I have in mind.

Language and Related

Berlin & McKay – Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution This is a modern classic in several fields. It has wide-ranging applicability and has been cited far and wide. Cannot begin to say when I first heard of this but probably finishing up my undergrad (after retiring from the Army) in one of my cognitive science or philosophy courses.

Literature and Literary Theory

J.R.R. Tolkien – Tolkien on Fairy-stories This was recommended by Candy Schwartz to Sara and I a couple years ago. We were in Sioux City at the time and it came via Twitter, I believe.

Western World History / History

William H. McNeill – The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community I have been aware of this book since I read and reviewed The Pursuit of Power and have owned a copy for a couple years now perhaps.

Roy Porter – The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment Recommended by Dr. Matthew Pangborn who I took Enlightenment Literature from at Briar Cliff my second-to-last term there before moving to Bend.

Certain Kinds of Histories

Urling C. Coe, M.D. – Frontier Doctor: Observations on Central Oregon and the Changing West My friend Jon Abernathy of Bend Beer, Hack Bend and The Brew Site recommended this as have several other sources (people & paper). To better understand life in Central Oregon in the earliest parts of the 20th century. Purchased a copy.

Hanne Blank – Straight: The Surprisingly Short History Of Heterosexuality No idea where I found this but here’s a review I came across sometime.

Elizabeth Abbott – A History Of Celibacy This and the rest in this group were probably suggested by Goodreads recommendation engine. Why not? They could be a lot of fun. Most will come via libraries.

Hanne Blank – Virgin: The Untouched History

Elissa Stein – Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation

David M. Friedman – A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis

Marilyn Yalom –  History of the Breast

Stephanie Coontz – Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage

Karen Essex – Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend


Alex Wright – Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age I had Boyd Rayward for a couple classes in library school (eat your hearts out!) so I know who Otlet was. Also have read many of Boyd’s writings. Looking forward to this. Lest you wonder why I’m going on about Rayward regarding Otlet, here’s his entry from the index: 12-13, 57, 71-72, 104, 177, 225, 301. Rayward also shows up in other entries such as:

Otlet, Paul

as Rayward’s dissertation subject, 12

Just a tad important in bringing Otlet to light.

[Boyd was one of my angels at GSLIS. Might not be here if not for his gentle care.]

Robert J. Glushko, ed. – The Discipline of Organizing I think I learned of it when Ed Summers marked it “to read” in Goodreads in late April 2014. I got a copy for Christmas 2014 from my son and his dear wife. This is definite geek material for me. I hope I enjoy it.

Susan Cheever – Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction I believe I found this at a used/antiquarian book shop in Omaha. One of downtown Omaha’s finest features actually, in two librarian’s opinions.


So. Maybe this will happen again. Hopefully in a more timely manner so I can do better at knowing where/how a title came to my attention. I am trying to do a better job recording them but not convinced succeeding.

Nolan – Hunters of the Great Forest

Hunters of the Great Forest by Dennis Nolan

Date read: 16 May 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover image of Dennis Nolan's Hunters of the Great Forest

Hardback, 1 volume unpaged [40 pages]

Published 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

Source: Deschutes Public Library [Picture Books NOLAN DENNIS]

I came across this thanks to the 2015 Graphic Novel Challenge (see below) and, in particular, to Tiffany Pennington’s review.

The book is 11.25×8.75”providing a wide canvas for the author/illustrator. On top of that, every image is a two-page spread; a panorama. This leaves a lot of room for detail, for story development, and, simply put, for storytelling.

There are no words in this book. Not as text and not as text on something. No labels. No brands. No words.

I loved that about this book. It made me truly focus on the images if I wanted to know what the story is; much less, what happened. The images are delightful and whimsical. I think this book would be great for most anyone of any age. This would be a particularly amazing book to spend time with a child who had a fair few words and some concepts regarding “adventuring” and the broader world. Maybe a bright 4-year-old? Five- or 6-year-old maybe? [Sorry, has been 30+ years since mine were that age.] It would be great fun to read this book with a kid like that. One could spend hours at it.

Seven intrepid hunters, each with their own personality and way of dealing with the difficulties encountered, set off. Lots of perseverance and knowing when to run. Working as a team. So much more. Very positive book.

Is that the same person hanging out that tower window on their return as it was on their departure? So many things like that, even in these sometimes austere images.

Don’t miss the epilog or “Easter egg” on the last page/colophon, just like in the Marvel movies. You do sit through the credits for those, right? I don’t know, and doubt it is, an actual teaser but it gives more insight into the story.

Photo of a two-page spread from Nolan's Hunters of the Great Forest

The above panel is perhaps my favorite. Although there is little actually going on it is amazing. Peaceful. Informational. Calm despite the hard work to get there and the long road ahead. It also reminds me of Oregon (and other places) so lets me imagine these fine folks in my neck of the woods, in places I love.

Highly recommended. In case there were doubts.

This is the 54th book in my GN2015

Swaby – Headstrong

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science—and the World by Rachel Swaby

Date read: 09-25 April 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover image of Headstrong by Swaby

Paperback, xiv, 273 pages

Published 2015 by Broadway Books

Source: Deschutes Public Library (509.2 SWABY RACHEL)

I found this book on one of the new nonfiction shelves (Biography?) at Deschutes Public Library.

[Sorry for the crap review. All of these women deserve better. Life is kicking my ass lately. There it is. I said it. Deal. I’m still trying to. Besides, here’s a review after I said I was done for now.]

The book opens with a four-page introduction, then the 52 profiles (~3-5 pages each), followed by acknowledgments, notes, bibliography and index. The 52 profiles are divided into seven major areas: Medicine, Biology and the Environment, Genetics and Development, Physics, Earth and Stars, Math and Technology, and Invention.

A few of my favorites are as follows:


Gerty Radnitz Cori (1896-1957) Biochemistry – Czech

Amazing woman! She and her research partner/husband Carl provided a firm foundation “of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen for which they received a Nobel Prize in Medicine.” They did so much more. Much of it truly foundational work.

Elsie Widdowson (1906-2000) Nutrition – British

Therefore when Elsie proposed the idea of extending their analysis to cereals, dairy and miscellaneous items such as drinks, so as to produce a practical set of tables showing the composition of British foods, Robert McCance took no time at all in agreeing and in 1934 The chemical composition of foods was born, with the first edition being published in 1940. This is now in its sixth edition and is regarded as the foremost nutrition publication and is the basis of most nutritional databases around the world.

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1910-1994) Biochemistry – British

Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances.”

Biology and the Environment

Mary Anning (1799-1847) Paleontology – British

I absolutely adored the opening sentence! “Before she was struck by lightning, Mary Anning was a dull child.” It continues, “But after she was lifted from the grisly scene and sponged off (her babysitter and two friends dead and a horse-riding event ruined), the baby had changed” (54). It just gets better from there. I mean, Dickens wrote about her! (18 years after she died. [Or not.])

What a story. Her and her brother discovered “the world’s first ichthyosaur fossil” (55). I’m not going to forget Mary. Class is a bitch! Class and gender …

In 1811, she saw some bones sticking out of a cliff; and, hammer in hand, she traced the position of the whole creature, and then hired men to dig out for her the lias block in which it was embedded. Thus was brought to light the first Ichthyosaurus (fish-lizard), a monster some thirty feet long, with jaws nearly a fathom in length, and huge saucer eyes, some of which have been found so perfect, that the petrified lenses (the sclerotica, of which it had thirteen coats) have been split off and used as magnifiers. People then called it a crocodile. Mr. Henley, the lord of the manor, bought it of the enterprising young girl for twenty three pounds. It is now in the British Museum.” She was 12 years old FFS!

Ellen Swallow Richards (1842-1911) Chemistry – American

So many important contributions! 1st woman admitted to MIT. Her biography at MIT Archives.

Genetics and Development

Nettie Stevens (1861-1912) Genetics – American

The real discoverer of sex determination. Died “of breast cancer eleven years after her career began” (85). Wikipedia entry. Article at Nature.

Earth and Stars

Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) Astronomy – American

“Maria Mitchell worked as a librarian by day, but it was her other office—a makeshift observatory on the roof of her parents’ home in Nantucket, Massachusetts—that was her favorite workspace,” is how this entry begins (155). How can I not like that?

My first thought was, “What kind of librarian?

As a young woman, Mitchell worked briefly as a schoolteacher, then as a librarian at the Nantucket Atheneum, while still continuing her astronomical observations. Her father encouraged her, and through him, Mitchell was fortunate to be able to meet some of the country’s most prominent scientists, though generally as a young woman she was shy and avoided company.

Maria Mitchell, the first female professional astronomer in the United States, became instantly famous in October 1847, when she was the first to discover and chart the orbit of a new comet, which became known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet.”

Math and Technology

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) Statistics – British



Most of these women I had never heard of, but I have heard of a dozen or so and had some idea of why they were famous. But then there’s a woman like Florence Nightingale who many think of as the epitome of nursing and while she quite probably was an exemplary nurse, her statistical work “marked the beginning of evidence-based medicine” (187). She also created the first modern nursing curriculum and many other important contributions.

And I left out many amazing women such as Ada Lovelace, Sally Ride, Rachel Carson and others.

Interesting read with a fair few sources. All of the links I used came from the book.

Going to have to find that Dickens’ piece on Mary Anning. [Citation: Dickens, Charles, “Mary Anning, the Fossil Finder.” All the Year Round, July 22, 1865.] And here it is!

2015 Reading Update

I wanted to give an update on this year’s reading so far as it is about to change. Well, my reading may not change, or it will, but my reporting of it will. I am not going to be writing many more reviews for a while.

I am currently facing some issues in life that have seriously beaten me down. We have been attempting to get help now since early Aug 2014 without much luck. Thankfully, the glaringly obvious answer (thyroid) is not, based on several tests. That’s good; perhaps. But it leaves us in the dark.

I have just recently found someone to work with and I am cautiously hopeful.

Mindfulness will be a big part. Two of the key attitudinal factors of mindfulness are non-judging and letting go. Some things have to go and the “need” to participate in these reading challenges is entirely self-imposed. Thus, change.

Challenges and Status

My Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge was set at 75 books and I am past that now. I finished reading my 75th book on 28-29 April 2015. I have completed at least four others since. This will continue as Goodreads is the main (social) place I track my reading.

My 2015 8th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge was completed on 25 April with book 52 for Silver Age: Bunn, et al. – The Sixth Gun, book 2 I have read four since and posted one review. I found lots of things to read from this group. There wasn’t a lot of direct social action, and I am perfectly fine with that—not looking for “community”—but a few of the folks read lots of great sounding books. I have already read a couple I found this way and have quite enjoyed them.

My 2015 Nonfiction Reading Challenge was (fully) completed on 4 April for Full Master with book 20 of 16-20: Dunlop – Portland Beer: Crafting the Road to Beervana I had already decided to stop contributing to the Nonfiction challenge because I didn’t find any form of community there and I wasn’t finding book recommendations; not that I need any more. I realize that both of those seem in direct contradiction with things I wrote just above. But they truly aren’t.

As of 1 May (and to the best of my knowledge), I have completed 22 of the 50 challenges in the 2015 Reading Challenge. This one will continue but I am not committed to meeting all 50. If I do, great; but it isn’t likely. I would though like to mark off a couple more.

Other Finished Books

The books I have finished so far that you may well not see reviews for are the following:


This seems like an easy thing to let go. I am pressuring myself—judging myself—because I am not producing reviews of everything I read so far—like I ever have—and am getting further behind as I read more. I assume you realize that I also have about a half dozen books that I am currently actively reading with many more sitting in the wings. As one does.

So. I will work towards not judging myself on this issue and work at finding more things to let go.

If you are aware that I have read a book (by whatever means), of course, please feel free to ask me about it. Can’t promise I’ll remember much but perhaps I can add more than a simple entry and a couple of stars to the discussion.

And to all those readers who are a part of my book reading “community”—be it Goodreads, author visits at public library, personal recommendations, Manga/Graphic Novel Challenge, weekly recap from Unshelved Book Club, etc.—I want to extend a hearty thank you for all the pleasure you bring me. Cheers!

Greenberg – The Encyclopedia of Early Earth

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
Date read: 28-29 April 2015
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cover image of Greenberg's The Encyclopedia of Early Earth
Hardback, 1 volume unpaged
Published 2013 by Little, Brown and Company
Source: Deschutes Public Library (GN GREENBERG ISABEL)

Sara picked this up at the public library when browsing the shelves. Turns out I added it back in January to my To Be Read list as the author was under 30 when she wrote it and that counts for my one remaining challenge [see below].

I actually began reading this because I had just come across a World War I war poem adapted by Greenberg in another graphic novel I am currently reading, Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics. The poem she adapted was Osbert Sitwell’s “Therefore Is the Name of It Called Babel.” She also adapted another poem in the same volume.

I enjoyed the Encyclopedia quite a bit. Not sure why it needed to rip off the Bible so much though. Decent early 21st-century remix of stories.

This is the 75th book in my Goodreads 2015 Challenge which “completes” that one for me.

It also qualifies as an Author under 30 for my 2015 Reading Challenge.

This is the 53rd book in my GN2015

Bunn, et al. – The Sixth Gun, book 2

The Sixth Gun. Book 2. Crossroads by Cullen Bunn (writer), Brian Hurtt (illustrations and lettering), Bill Crabtree (colors), etc.
Date read: 23 April 2015
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover image of Bunn, et al's The Sixth Gun, Book 2, Crossroads

Paperback, 128 pages
Published June 2011 (1st ed.) by Oni Press
Source: Deschutes Public Library (TEEN GN BUNN CULLEN)

I liked this. The story moves along a bit faster and we get a little character development in Sinclair and Becky. Gord steps into a prominent role.

I gave this 5 stars compared to the 4 I gave the first. It felt more … I don’t know. Perhaps it was a bit calmer. Plenty of death and destruction but it felt more leisurely of a story. Probably not even close but that’s the best I have at the moment as to the difference in feel.

Went to request Book 3 from the public library but the one copy is “LONG MISSING.” ::sigh:: Copies of 4-7 are conveniently available.  This kind of thing puts a big damper on my serial reading. May learn to stick to single issue/book titles in graphic novels. Series are fraught in so many ways for me.

This is my 52nd graphic novel or manga of the year. This qualifies me for Silver Age, the highest-level—a book a week on average, in the 2015 8th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge.

I already finished my nonfiction challenge having read and posted reviews of 20 nonfiction books.

I am also 2 books away from the first reading challenge I set myself this year, which is 75 books at Goodreads.

Shortly, the only ongoing reading challenge I will have left for 2015 is this oddball one.

This is the 52nd book in my GN2015

Bunn and Hurtt – The Sixth Gun, book 1

The Sixth Gun. Book 1, Cold Dead Fingers by Cullen Bunn (writer), Brian Hurtt (illustrator & letterer), etc.

Date read: 19 April 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover image of Bunn and Hurtt's The Sixth Gun, book 1

Paperback, 170 pages

Published January 2011 by Oni Press [“This volume collects issues #1-6 of the Oni Press series The sixth gun”–T.p. verso.]

Source: Deschutes Public Library (TEEN GN BUNN CULLEN)

Supernatural, Old West, post-Civil War. Undead Confederate General on the rampage. The story of six guns of extraordinary power. Guns that are keys to something even more powerful.

Goodreads recommended this to me and I was able to request a copy fairly quickly from the public library. I have already requested the next volume.

Recommended if you like the Old West, the supernatural, Pinkerton detectives, not-so-good vs. evil, and, well, guns. For mature teens and up.

This is the 51st book in my GN2015

Dingess, et al. – Manifest Destiny. Volume 2, Amphibia & Insecta

Manifest Destiny. Volume 2, Amphibia & Insecta by Chris Dingess (writer), Matthew Roberts (penciler & inker), Owen Gieni (colorist), Pat Brosseau (letterer)

Date read: 17 April 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover image of Dingess, et al's. - Manifest Destiny. Volume 2, Amphibia & Insecta

Paperback, 1 volume unpaged

Published 2015 by Image Comics

Source: Own.

The survivors of La Charrette continue upriver. Beside themselves (“the evil that men do”), the expedition battles giant insects and amphibians while neither the land nor the river is safe. Another arch is encountered; again with dire results. We also learn how Lewis and Clark ended up on this expedition.

Highly recommended. For mature readers due to scenes of rape, gruesome death, bad language, etc.

My review of volume 1, Flora & Fauna, is located here.

[I apologize. I know this review needs more work but Monday defeated me early this week.]

This is the 50th book in my GN2015

Wilson, et al – Ms. Marvel: Generation Why

Ms. Marvel: Generation Why (Ms. Marvel (Marvel NOW!) #2) by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Adrian Alphona (artist, #8-11), Jacob Wyatt (artist, #6-7), etc.

Date read: 13 April 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover image of Wilson, et al's Ms. Marvel: Generation Why

Paperback, 1 volume unpaged

Published 2015 by Marvel Worldwide [“Contains material originally published in magazine form as Ms. Marvel #6-11″–Title page verso.]

Source: Deschutes Public Library (TEEN GN MS MARVEL)

Kamala’s life has definitely gotten wacky but she’s dealing with it. She meets more of her heroes; gets (and loses) a companion; battles evil and outright weirdness.

Takes on the issue of the slacker generation and what they’re good for. Easily applied more or less broadly though. [FYI: I am not a fan of generational stereotypes.]

I enjoyed this well enough and will check out the next one. I could see myself losing interest quickly but we’ll see.

Recommended: Those who want to read it and many who don’t. Many should. But we can’t prescribe books for each other. Many who explicitly refuse to read this are the ones who truly should. ::sigh:: Way too fraught. Read it if you like or are interested.

This is the 49th book in my GN2015

Wilson and Alphona – Ms. Marvel: No Normal

Ms. Marvel: No Normal (Ms. Marvel (Marvel NOW!) #1) by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Adrian Alphona (artist), etc.

Date read: 12-13 April 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover image of Wilson and Alphona's Ms. Marvel: No Normal

Paperback, 1 volume unpaged

Published 2014 by Marvel Worldwide

Source: Deschutes Public Library (TEEN GN MS MARVEL) [“Contains material originally published in magazine form as Ms. Marvel #1-5 and All-new Marvel Now! Point One #1”–Title page.]

Kamala Khan is a teenage girl from Jersey City just trying to fit in as an ordinary American kid. Being Muslim and Pakistani isn’t helping. But, then, becoming a superhero doesn’t exactly help in that regard either. Did you know superheroes can be grounded by their parents? There truly is little to no normal(ity) in Kamala’s life.

This volume chronicles the origin and backstory of the new Ms. Marvel.

This is the 48th book in my GN2015