Spring 2015 Reading List

It’s a new year, which means it’s time for a new reading list! I’m quite happy with this semester’s list, it’s a little longer, but unlike last year I don’t have a 500 page anthropological study to get through so it should be a tad lighter overall. I have high hopes for this year’s list, or as I’ve taken to calling it, “all the books I got for christmas” so let’s get right down to it.

The Zombie Survival Guide

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Living in Atlanta I find myself at higher risk of death by zombie-related disembowelment, so reading up on strategies and techniques for keeping my bowels intact seems prudent. I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to end up as a character on the real life version of the Walking Dead.

I want to become a zombie so I can kill Carl myself

All joking aside, this tome seems pretty legit. It’s written by Max Brooks, aka the guy who wrote World War Z (the book, not the movie) so he’s sure to know his stuff. Plus it’s got those cool little drawings that they put in camping manuals and Boy Scout brochures. I expect this one to be both fun and informational, my second favorite combination.

Review:

I did not know what to make of this book. It was weird, like it was funny, but it was one of those things, where you’re not quite sure if it’s supposed to be funny. I mean surely this guy doesn’t actually believe that zombies are real right. I mean the author clearly means it with a wink and a nod…right? He just takes it really seriously is all I’m saying. Not that he doesn’t have good advice. Frankly, Max here has put a lot more thought into his zombie survival plan than I have. And given that this book seems to be a plug for his other book (World War Z), it kind of makes sense that he’d set his survival guide in his fictitious universe. I mean it was good, I just got distracted trying to figure out if he, Max Brooks, was serious about this whole zombie business, and then subsequently proving to myself how zombies couldn’t possibly be real (my argument is fairly strong). I don’t know, this book just occupied that weird valley between real and fake that always has me unsettled. Like The Office, before I realized it wasn’t actually a real documentary (in my defense I was like 11 at the time).

The Martian

oh good it’s “A Novel”

In all honesty I hadn’t heard of this book until one of my siblings gave it to me for christmas. Which is good, I like receiving gifts I don’t anticipate. Anyways, I don’t quite know what to expect. It seems right down my alley what with the spaceman on the cover, plus mars is cool, however I don’t know much about this Andy Weir bloke, so we’ll see. I think it’ll be good though I rather enjoy survival stories.

Review:

Holy shit do I love this book. I know the go to exaltation for a good book is, “oh man I couldn’t put it down! Ha ha ha, aren’t I so quaint.” No but for real. I finished this book in like 3 days. I loved every part of it. And being an Aerospace Engineer (in training), I can confirm that his science is sound. Damn,  this book is so good!!

Update:

Having just seen The Martian (the movie) starring Matt Damon, I can be that asshole and say: the book is way better (movie was still good though).

What If?

We’ve now entered the non-fiction section of the list. This particular tome was written by Randall Munroe, who also just happens to be the man behind the immortal xkcd internet comic. Just one problem I don’t…read…xkcd…

Look I know I should, everyone says it’s great, and the few ones I’ve read have been quite funny. I don’t know, I’ve just never had the impulse to go read them, I don’t know. Anyways this book sounds awesome. I love it when people take ridiculous scenarios, like throwing a baseball at light speed, and use science to describe what would happen. It’s one of those things that makes me really enjoy physics. I know, I’m weird.

Review:

I need to read XKCD now.

Hot Zone

Ok I have a confession to make, I already read this book. Err…well I started to read this book, but I couldn’t finish it. Sorry, let me back up a bit. The final and most disturbing entry on this semester’s reading list is Hot Zone, the horrifying recounting of that time ebola got loose…in 1989. Unbeknownst to me, ebola was kicking around the US (albeit briefly) even before Back to the Future Part III.

What a different movie that would have been…with ebola.

Now back to what I was saying earlier. The book starts off recounting the origins of the 1989 incident in graphic detail. The main reason Ebola is so scary (aside from it’s sky high fatality rate) is because of the symptoms, hemorrhaging doesn’t do it justice. At a certain point you just can’t keep reading about that stuff. Once I got to the part, “and then the patient began to bleed from his anus” I just couldn’t do it anymore. But I’ve decided to put on a brave face and try to get through it this time. I’m told it’s a great book once you get past the whole “bleeding from every orifice” thing, so maybe it’s worth another go.

Review:

Do you know that feeling when something is so scary that it makes your balls curl up inside themselves (or whatever the female equivalent of that is)? Yeah, that was this book in a nutshell. Well no it wasn’t that bad. I mean it was, but only for a little bit in the beginning. The rest of it is actually really fascinating. Also, topical! I would certainly give it a read, just be warned it is pretty gross at parts.

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