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 *****

The Strangler and my Kindle

In his second crime novel, William Landay weaves together the story of three brothers, the death of their policeman father, Boston’s urban renewal projects, and the Boston Strangler. It’s Boston in 1963. Kennedy has just been assassinated. Real estate developers are bulldozing Boston’s West End to put up shiny new towers. A mob war is being waged. The Boston Strangler is terrifying the city.

If this sounds interesting, you can read chapter 1 of The Strangler online.

I need to let you know that Bill (yeah, I know him as Bill) is a friend. Our sons went to the same preschool. We have been to each others’ homes and countless kids’ birthday parties. And if you buy his book through one of the links in this post I get a very small commission from Amazon.

I thought it was great book. You see see the flow of violence and changes to the city of Boston through the eyes of the three brothers: Ricky, the burglar; Michael, the lawyer; and Joe, the cop. The story gets complicated as all you jump around through the eyes of the brothers and the backdrop of criminal activity.

The crime is not just in the background. Joe, the cop, is a bad gambler who gets behind on his debts and starts working for the bad guys. In the first chapter, Ricky steals some jewelry from a hotel room at the Copley Plaza Hotel.

The Boston underworld in the book is a brutal place. It may be too violent for some readers. Just as violent is the destruction of the physical city as 46 acres of homes and small businesses in the West End are bulldozed to make way for a handful of residential high rises.

You also may have noticed from the picture that I read The Strangler on my new Kindle. This is the first book that I’ve read on the device and I’m not sure how much that influenced the reading experience. I really like the portability of the device. It’s lightweight, easy to carry and easy to hold. I also like that it dedicated to reading, so it doesn’t have Twitter, Facebook, email and all the distractions that would come with an iPad. I can focus on the reading.

I think Bill would appreciate a device without distractions. He just finished writing his third book using an AlphaSmart Neo. That allows him to focus on writing, without all the distractions he would get a full blown laptop.

The Strangler marks the 22nd book I’ve read in 2010. (I am continuing on my quest to finish 52 books for the year.) Next up is Sleepless, a novel by Charlie Huston.

Mission Flats – A Great Crime Novel for Your Bookshelf


What do you look for in your crime novels? Plot twists? Good cops doing good things and bad cops doing bad things? Good cops doing thing bad things and bad cops doing good things? The seedy underside of the criminal justice system?

Then you will enjoy William Landay’s Mission Flats. If you have some leftover funds from your holiday gifts, pick up a copy.

The book starts off with three homicides: the ugly slaying of a beat cop in 1977, the botched drug bust that left another officer dead in 1987, and a dead assistant district attorney in the present. The last murder happens in a small town in Maine. That brings the local sheriff into the investigation of the other two murders.

Before I go much further, I need to let you know that Bill (yeah, I know him as Bill) is a friend. Our sons went to the same preschool. We have been to each others’ homes and countless kids’ birthday parties. And if you buy his book through one of the links in this post I get a very small commission from Amazon.

But you don’t have to take my word for how good the book is.

Mission Flats won the John Creasey Memorial Dagger literary award for first time novelists writing crime fiction in 2003.

New York Times Book Review: “Tough but true: a first-time novelist has to bring something new to the table — something like the trumps that William Landay throws down in his high-stakes police procedural.”

Bill is a former was an assistant district attorney before he turned to writing. He brings depth and authenticity to the characters and criminal justice system.

Here is my favorite quote from the book:

“There is no absolute beginning to any story, after all. There is only the moment you begin watching.”

My review may be biased, but I’m also a bit sheepish to admit that after all these years I just got around to reading his book. Now that our kids are not in school together, I wish I had read the book earlier. You can read the chapter one of Mission Flats if you want to get a taste of the book.

I added his second book, The Strangler to my reading list. Bill is also working on his third book. You can see how he doing with it on his blog: William Landay’s blog.