Category: non-fiction


I know, it’s a bit late for a Best Of 2009 list!  I had to think about the December books for a while and get some perspective on them, and I had to figure out how I defined “Best Of”.

When I find an author I enjoy, I will track down and read as many books by them as I can, so I’ve broken my “Best Of” into two sections:

  1. Awesome authors I discovered in 2009 
  2. Amazing Books I read in 2009

But first, lets look at my reading statistics – I am a scientist after all. 🙂

In total, I read 194 books in 2009 (including audio books).  I read the most in December (22) and the least in April (11).

Looking at genre, in 2009 I read:

107 fantasy books (55%)
13 science fiction books (7%)
31 romance books (16%)
16 graphic novels (8%)
21 fiction books of other genres (mystery/thriller/chick lit/whatever) (11%)
and 6 non-fiction books (3%)

In conclusion, I really like fantasy!  (Please note that some of the romance and most of the graphic novels could be also be defined as fantasy.)

Awesome Authors I Discovered In 2009

Can there be anything more fun than reading an amazing book that blows you away and then finding out the author has a backlist of books for you to glom?  I don’t think so!

  • Ann Aguirre
  • Kristin Cashore
  • Colin Cotterill
  • Jeaniene Frost
  • Linnea Sinclair
  • Nalini Singh

Amazing Books I Read In 2009

These books all have something extra that makes them stand out in my memory. (To get on this list I had to have read these books for the first time in 2009.)

  • Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
  • Thief With No Shadow by Emily Gee
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Eight by Katherine Neville
  • A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
  • Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair
  • Trick of the Light by Rob Thurman
  • Fables: The Dark Ages by Bill Willingham

Wow – these authors and books are pretty wonderful!  I only hope that I can find some equally amazing  new authors and equally special books in 2010.

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A highly readable article from Wired.com about Marc Weber Tobias, a professional lock-breaker and one of those people who is absolutely fascinating to read about, but would be highly annoying to interact with in real-life!

Since Tobias had his sights set on being a professional pain in the ass, law school was a natural choice. So was a private investigator’s license. And a polygraph license. And invitations to help sheriff’s department investigations… And if in the course of an investigation a locked door needed opening or a security system needed circumventing—well, he had some methods for that, too.

These days, Tobias is attacking the lock famous for protecting places like military installations and the homes of American presidents and British royals.

By December 2006, Bluzmanis and Tobias had discovered a method for opening the Medeco3 in about a minute. Tobias called Roberson [Medeco company representative] immediately. “We figured he’d be as interested as we were,” Bluzmanis says. “But he said, ‘No, it’s impossible; the locks must have been defective.'” So a few weeks later, Tobias sent Roberson the breached hardware along with a video of them opening a couple of Medeco locks. “I even posted the clip on my Web site,” Tobias says.

It’s not about me. It’s about what these locks protect,” Tobias says. “Medeco locks are the best in the world—that’s why they’re used by the Pentagon, the embassies. These agencies believe that the locks can’t be picked in under 15 minutes, that they can’t be bumped, that you can’t trace keys onto plastic. It’s the definition of high security—and it’s wrong! We proved it.”

“Look,” he says, taking it down a few notches. “If we can do it, so can the bad guys. Medeco needs to acknowledge it and let the locksmiths know it—and the DOD, FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and all their clients.”

Tobias blinks frantically, trying to clear this appalling reality from his view-screen. “You know, they could have just admitted the problem. Just said, ‘Marc, you’re right and we’re wrong and we need to admit this publicly and fix it.’ But did they do that?”

Tobias waggles an emphatic no. “Instead, they called me an extortionist and trashed the Marc Tobias reputation. And they’re going to pay for that,” he says, stabbing the defenseless tablecloth for emphasis. “Oh yeah, arrogance does have its price.”

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a mob hitman?  To be attacked by a grizzly bear?  To win a Nobel prize?  To give birth?

What It Feels Like… is a collection of short first-person accounts on a variety of subjects.  It was fascinating to read and see not just what something is like while it happens to you,  but how people responded and reacted to that experience.

A good buy from one of those remainder book shops.