The Book Report

It’s been almost a year now since I started my A Book A Month project, where I aimed to read at least one book every month. How did that turn out? It’s time for the book report.

I used to read quite a lot back in the days, but not so much lately. “Lately”, as in “over the last five years or so”. It’s not terribly hard to pick up a book and read a bit, though. Books are, for instance, great for killing time when moving around using public transportation. Most pocket books are conveniently small, and not much hassle to carry around. A digital option, like a Kindle, is even better – given that you’ve remembered to charge it. And if yet another device to drag along doesn’t suit you, the Kindle app runs on pretty much every smartphone. So if you want to read a book, there’s very little stopping you from doing it. You just have to make time for it, or take some time that would have been wasted and make good use of it.

But the A Book A Month-project was still ambitious, at least by my standards. For some reason, I rarely manage to follow through on my personal projects. So to make it even more ambitious, I decided to write a review of every book I read, too. Everything started out quite well. When January was over, I’d plowed my way through “The Man in the High Castle” by Philip K. Dick, “Abusing the Internet of Things” by Nitesh Dhanjani, and “The Running Man” by Stephen King. I’d also managed to review the two first books, and I’ve got the notes for The Running Man laying around here somewhere.

But then: Catastrophe!

All went well until I started to slip during the summer. My June pick, “Neuromaner” by William Gibson, wasn’t finished before the beginning of July. The last page of July’s masterpiece, “Robogenesis” by Daniel H. Wilson, wasn’t closed until the middle of August.

Then came the great meltdown. My August book was “Children of Dune” by Frank Herbert. It’s the third book in Herbert’s well-known Dune series, and I really like the first two books. The inaugural “Dune“, in particular, is a science fiction favorite of mine. But when I’d only managed to get through 70 pages in 63 days, I decided to abandon it and look elsewhere. As I write in my after action report, I didn’t stop reading because “Children of Dune” is a bad book. I just needed a break from Frank Herbert’s universe, and perhaps the entire science fiction genre.

To get a change of scenery, I picked up “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” by Ralph Leighton as my November read. It’s a biography about the American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. 88 pages in, I’ve realized that the books is mostly an unstructured mess of Feynman telling more or less interesting stories about his life. Not too bad, but it’s a bit like listening to a drunk, old fart I don’t know that well reminiscing about the days that was.

Success or Fail?

“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” will most likely be the last book I read this year, and there will be no December book. Does that mean that the project was a disaster? Was my attempt to become ever so cultivated a failure I should quickly brush under the carpet, and forget I ever tried?

Of course not. This year I’ve read 13 books – 14 if I finish the Feynman biography before “Auld Lang Syne” is heard across the land. That’s a lot more than I read in a normal year. It’s also 1 (or 2) more than my initial goal, which number you should be able to derive from the project’s title. I’ll do my best to follow up in 2017, too, and I’ve got a few books lined up. Most are science fiction, though.

By Vegard Vines Skjefstad

6 replies on “The Book Report”


I’m terrible at multitasking, so audio books probably won’t work too well for me. I’d put the car in a ditch, forget to get off the bus, and I’d never be able to write a coherent paragraph in Confluence while listening to an audio book. And we wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?

I’m impressed with you progress, even if you failed to live up to your own standards. I’ve never really come close to completing my own project, which was reading the entire bibliography one of my favorite authors. I was thinking Neal Stephenson, but since his books average about 800 pages each – it would maybe be a tad masochistic.
By the way – as a certified Dune fanatic who has read all the books a handful of times, I don’t blame you for taking a break from Children Of Dune. The quasi-philosophical musings tend to get heavily in the way of the narrative..

Thank you! 2017 is off to a rather rough start reading-wise. I’ve not even managed to finish the Feynman biography. But it’s close now!

How much time do you even have for reading and other hobbies with a small daughter tugging at your trouser-legs all day? (I have the luxury of crippling loneliness.. ;) )

By the way – I noticed in an earlier post that you loved ‘Enders Game’, by Orson S. Card. Have you read any of the sequels / “parallellequals”? While not coming close to the brilliance and thrill and of the original, some of them are very exciting and satisfying. Bean especially is a fantastic character that deserve his own novel.
(You don’t have to agree with an authors political / philosophical view to enjoy their works, thankfully.)

Science Fictionally Yours,

I’ve finally finished the Feynman book, so I might give another Card novel a go. I read Starship Troopers and enjoyed it, so I’m getting used to trying hard to ignore that the author of whatever I’m reading might not have (or have had) political and world views that align perfectly with my own.

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