My 2012 Book Reading List


The Goal

One of my recurring annual goals is to finish reading at least 26 books for the year. In 2012, I managed to finish 36. Although, 6 of those were lighter reads. So maybe I should discount those and bring it down to 30. In any event, I exceeded my goal. The full list is below.


Some of the titles will look familiar since I gave them a longer write up here. I also mentioned a few on’s GeekDad and on Compliance Building. There are links that will take you to my reviews.

GoodReads versus LibraryThing

I’m still tracking my books in two parallel systems. Library Thing has a superior platform for cataloging books. GoodReads has a better platform for interacting with other readers, sharing reviews, and sharing booklists. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. I’d like to jettison one of them to quit duplicating efforts. So far, neither one has made a compelling move to improve and elbow the other out of the way.

2012 Reading List

Title Author Rating
How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything
Dov Seidman ***
Defending Jacob: A Novel
William Landay ****
The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways Earl Swift ***
Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests That History Forgot Joseph Cummins **
A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five George R.R. Martin ****
Why the Law Is So Perverse
Leo Katz **
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Charles Duhigg *****
A Visit from the Goon Squad Jennifer Egan *****
The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family
Liza Mundy ****
Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston
Michael Rawson ****
The Walking Dead, Book 7 Robert Kirkman *****
Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War Megan Kate Nelson ****
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, Book 2) Suzanne Collins **
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3) Suzanne Collins **
Show Time
Phil Harvey **
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
T.J. Stiles ****Review
Cutting-Edge Cycling Hunter Allen ****
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn *****
Pines Blake Crouch ****
Amazing Gracie: A Dog’s Tale Dan Dye ***
The Age of Miracles Karen Thompson Walker ****
Sharp Objects Gillian Flynn ***
Already Gone John Rector ***
Nine Steps to Sara Lisa Olsen **
The Walking Dead, Book 8 Robert Kirkman *****
The American Alpine Journal 2012 John III Harlin ****
Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author,Who Went in Search of Them Donovan Hohn ****
Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End Manel Loureiro ***
The Dead Room Robert Ellis ***
Make Magic! Do Good!
Dallas Clayton *****
xkcd: volume 0 Randall Munroe *****
Save Yourself, Mammal!: A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Collection Zach Weinersmith *****

The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable
James Owen Weatherall ****
The Most Dangerous Game: A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Collection Zach Weinersmith *****
The Remaining D.J. Molles ***

No-Man’s Lands: One Man’s Odyssey Through The Odyssey
Scott Huler *****

My 2010 in Books

One of my goals for 2010 was to read a book a week. For the calendar-challenged, that meant 52 books for 2010. I was happy to hit my target in October and ended up with 61 books for the year.

Even with all of that reading, the list of books I want to read has not gotten any shorter. Actually, it’s gotten longer. The more I read, the more I want to read and the more attention I pay to new books being published.

The Kindle

I picked up a Kindle this year and managed to read seven books on it. I’m ambivalent about it. It fits nicely in your hand and makes it easy to read a book with one hand.

But the Kindle lacks the substance, feel and permanency of a paper book. I find it inferior. I expect to pay less for a Kindle book than I would for a hardcover book. I found instances where the Kindle edition cost more than the hardcover.

I originally bought the Kindle in anticipation of our canceled trip to Belgium. I definitely understand the advantage of a Kindle holding lots of books and how that could be better than traveling with a thick stack of books.

I do like the immediacy of the Kindle. I can find the book I want, buy it and start reading it minutes. That is a big timesaver.

GoodReads versus LibraryThing

My continuing quest for a way to track the books I read and the books I own continues. [See Catalog your Books Online.] I have been using LibraryThing for several years and it contains nearly all of the books in my library. I have also been using GoodReads concurrently to track my library.

I found that LibraryThing did a better job organizing my books and GoodReads had better tools to interact with fellow readers. I was ready to jettison GoodReads because very few people I knew were using it. Then I found that several people at work use GoodReads. So the social side of the site started adding some value.

I’m still adding the books I own and the books I read in both platforms.

My Books

From looking at the list, you would have a hard time seeing much in the way of themes in my reading.

I read the Percy Jackson book series to The Boy, so those five books ended up on the list. I also read the first three Harry Potter books to him. He seemed to lose interest in Book 4 so we are stalled in completing that series. I thought these books had enough substance, so I included them in the list. There were lots of other books we read together that I thought did not have enough substance to include on the list.

I also jumped into the Walking Dead graphic novels so those five books made it on the list. They contain fewer words and more images than your typical book but they have incredible depth, interesting themes and complex story lines. Plus, I like zombie literature.

Fifteen of the 61 were given to me by publishers in anticipation of a review. Those were a mixed bag. Some were really good and some were really bad.

The Books I Read in 2010

Title Author Date Finished Rating
Makers Cory Doctorow Jan 4, 2010 ***
Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust Chris Brogan Jan 7, 2010 ***
Wake Up Dead: A Thriller Roger Smith Jan 11, 2010 ****
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) Rick Riordan Jan 15, 2010 *****
Planets X and Pluto William Graves Hoyt Jan 17, 2010 **
Crossing The Gates Of Alaska Dave Metz Jan 23, 2010 **
Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities Frank Jacobs Jan 26, 2010 ***
The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) Rick Riordan Jan 29, 2010 *****
Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed Gregg Easterbrook Jan 30, 2010 *****
Escape from the Deep: A Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew Alex Kershaw Feb 3, 2010 ***
In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic David Wessel Feb 10, 2010 ****
The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3) Rick Riordan Feb 13, 2010 *****
Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek – The First 30 Years John Booth Feb 15, 2010
The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4) Rick Riordan Feb 28, 2010 *****
Shades of Grey: A Novel Jasper Fforde Mar 2, 2010 *****
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto Michael Pollan Mar 12, 2010 *****
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5) Rick Riordan Mar 12, 2010 *****
Face of Betrayal (A Triple Threat Novel) Lis Wiehl Mar 16, 2010 **
The Informant: A True Story Kurt Eichenwald Mar 30, 2010 ****
Eye of the Red Tsar: A Novel of Suspense Sam Eastland Apr 3, 2010 ****
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Michael Lewis Apr 7, 2010 *****
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1) J.K. Rowling Apr 12, 2010 *****
The Strangler William Landay Apr 22, 2010 ****
Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll Apr 29, 2010 ****
Sleepless: A Novel Charlie Huston Apr 30, 2010 *****
Money for Nothing: How the Failure of Corporate Boards Is Ruining American Business and Costing Us Trillions John Gillespie May 13, 2010 ***

No Sleep till Wonderland: A Novel Paul Tremblay May 16, 2010 ***
The Girl who Played with Fire Stieg Larsson May 21, 2010 ****
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right Atul Gawande May 27, 2010 *****
Mixed Blood: A Thriller Roger Smith May 29, 2010 ****
Warning the Witness: A Guide to Internal Investiations and the Attorney-Client Privilege David Z. Seide Jun 3, 2010 ****
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Stieg Larsson Jun 10, 2010 **
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) J.K. Rowling Jun 12, 2010 *****
Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea Linda Greenlaw Jun 17, 2010 ***
Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work and World Matthew Fraser Jun 25, 2010 *
WAR Sebastian Junger Jul 2, 2010 *****
Boston Noir Dennis Lehane Jul 7, 2010 ***
World Without End Ken Follett Jul 19, 2010 *****
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) J.K. Rowling Jul 29, 2010 *****
Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2010 Jed Williamson Aug 4, 2010 *****
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World Niall Ferguson Aug 16, 2010 ****
The Walking Dead, Book 1 (Bk. 1) Robert Kirkman Aug 27, 2010 *****
Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn Larry D. Rosen Ph.D. Aug 30, 2010 ***
The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean Susan Casey Sep 5, 2010 ****
The Walking Dead, Book 2 Robert Kirkman Sep 5, 2010 *****
The Walking Dead, Book 3 Robert Kirkman Sep 6, 2010 *****
The Walking Dead, Book 4 Robert Kirkman Sep 7, 2010 *****
The Walking Dead Book 5 Robert Kirkman Sep 9, 2010 *****
Gilded: How Newport Became America’s Richest Resort Deborah Davis Sep 18, 2010 **
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Jane Austen Sep 29, 2010 **
Miles Away… Worlds Apart Alan Sakowitz Oct 9, 2010 ****
The Little League That Could: A History of the American Football League Ken Rappoport Oct 19, 2010 ****
The Hunger Games: Book 1 Suzanne Collins Oct 29, 2010 ***
Impact Douglas Preston Oct 31, 2010 ****
Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do Michael Tougias Nov 13, 2010 ***
The US Private Equity Fund Compliance Guide Charles Lerner Nov 23, 2010 ****
Memories of the Future, Vol. 1 Wil Wheaton Nov 30, 2010 ****
America Bowl: 44 Presidents vs. 44 Super Bowls in the ultimate matchup! Don Steinberg Dec 7, 2010 ****
Cleopatra: A Life Stacy Schiff Dec 10, 2010 *****
The Familiars Adam Jay Epstein Dec 28, 2010 ***
The Good Son: A Novel Michael Gruber Dec 30, 2010 ****

Catalog Your Books Online

A few weeks ago I started comparing LibraryThing, GoodReads and Shelfari to see which one was the best for tracking books online: Tracking Your Books and Library Online. Since I want to read more books this year, I thought it would be good to check out these sites.

I’ve been using LibraryThing for two years and I thought I would take a look at the other two to see if they have caught up. I published my results over at GeekDad: Catalog Your Books Online.

LibraryThing is still on top, but GoodReads offers an interesting alternative.

Here are some of my other GeekDad posts:

Tracking Your Books and Library Online

GoodReads versus LibraryThing versus Shelfari

Back in 2008, I started looking at ways to catalog my household’s book collection: Books and Knowledge Management. LibraryThing was the winner. That decision was largely driven by their ability to manually enter books. Back in 2008 GoodReads and Shelfari libraries were limited to books listed on

Since then, I have happily been using Library Thing. I have entered over 1,200 books in my LibraryThing catalog. About 300 of those books are more than 50 years old, meaning they are not available on

It’s been about two years so I decided to take another look at my options. LibraryThing has been good to me, so I am hesitant to move. I suspected that there would be a great deal of time trying to recreate my catalog on another site.

Import and Export

All three have the ability to import and export books. So I exported the lists to Shelfari and GoodReads. I ended up with 1082 in Shelfari after manually adding 100 or so books. Shelfari made me go through a painful process of adding books by matching covers, with only 20 books per page. I gave up a third of the way through. I did not manually enter any books in Goodreads and ended up with 967 books.


Back in 2008, Shelfari had the best visuals of the three. Unfortunately, it looks like time stopped for Shelfari. I did not notice any change in its visuals. The site  shows the book covers sitting on a wood grain bookshelf.

LibraryThing is the least attractive of the three. But it seems to have forgone good visuals for a user interface full of information. I found it the easiest to use, but I had the most familiarity with it.

GoodReads has the best looking user interface of the three.

Tags, Shelves and Collections

One of the keys is how the sites allow you to organize the books. For me, I have two basic pieces of data. The first is the reading status: read it or planning to read it. The second is whether I own it or not. Essentially I want to track the books I’ve read and the books I own in one place.

LibraryThing uses “collections” that work well for my basic data. The collections are not exclusive, so books can be in multiple collections. My collections are currently reading, publisher provided, reviewed, read but unowned, and to read. The LibraryThing also allows for extensive use of tags.

Goodreads allows many “shelves.” I set up currently reading, to-read, borrowed, and publisher provided. For some reason, your ownership status for a book is separate from the shelves. There is no separate tagging.

Shelfari limits your “shelves” to reading status, own, favorite and wish list. Instead, they allow lots of tagging.

Mobile Views

All three have a stripped down mobile view of their sites. Of the three, GoodReads has the most functionality squeezed onto the small iPhone screen, yet it still very readable.


All three sites about their active network of users sharing information about books.  I had very few connections on the sites. Lots of connections on one of the sites would be a good reason to selection that site.

Integration with Other Applications

Goodreads has a nice tie into Twitter and Facebook allowing you update you books status to those sites. I really like this feature.

LibraryThing and Shelfari both have Facebook applications but they are far behind GoodReads.


All three sites allow you to use widgets to show part of your collection.

LibraryThing had the most widgets and an ability to customize those widgets.


All three sites are free.

LibraryThing requires you to buy a membership if you want to keep more than 25o books in your catalog. I bought the $25 lifetime membership.

GoodReads and Shelfari both display advertisements.

What’s Next?

Going forward for the next months, I am going to use all three site and try to replicate the information. (although, I’m not going to spend much time going back to clean up my catalogs in GoodReads or Shelfari.) The stack of books next to my nightstand has gotten nearly as tall as my kids. So I have an itch to  cram in a bunch of book reading this year to clear out my backlog.

I will publish a follow-up in a few months and let you know which site won the competition.

In the meantime, if you are using any of the sites let me know your thoughts and connect with me.