Ying Yang Gear

Tao Ex Machina

The Way from a machine

Project blog by Tim Heath

A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step -Lao Tzu


2018 Reading Challenge

This year was my first time participating in the goodreads.com reading challenge. My wife has participated for a few years now. She pledged to read 80 books in 2018. So I felt inspired to try and read at least half as many. Thanks to an Audible subscription, and a book club between my wife and me, I did in fact read at least 42 books this year.

2018 Books in review

I started the year with a completely new-to-me book series, The Stormlight Archive, from author Brandon Sanderson. The Way Of Kings, Words of Radiance, and Oathbringer. Each book is longer than the last, but I still devoured them. The world building and characters are just excellent. Stylistically reminiscent of Dune, but better. I felt like the author presented some thoughtful commentaries on race, stereotypes, and what it means to be honorable.

This past year was also my first foray into the Discworld series from Terry Pratchett. Being a long time Douglas Adams fan, I’d heard praise and recommendations for Mr. Pratchett’s dauntingly large and meandering series but never made the effort till now. I managed to read 6 books from the over 50 or so volumes concerning the Discworld. They were an absolute delight. Simultaneously funny and meaningful. Satirical and sincere. I don’t know that I’ll ever “finish” the Discworld series, and I’m not even sure I care to. But I’ll be happily picking up more of these books in 2019, and likely for the rest of my life.

In addition to the series above, I managed to read The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings, and re-read Harry Potter. When aiming for 40 books to read, it was neatly efficient to add whole book series. All of those listed were at least good and interesting. Admittedly, this was my 3rd read through of Harry Potter. They were good audiobooks to have on while at work, only giving half attention to, but still picking out little details that I had missed in previous readings.

At times it felt too easy to add graphic novels to the list of books read. Especially while consuming 1200+ page novels and four whole book series. Yet, great comics remind me of their literary prowess. Goodnight Punpun is a farcical and fantastic coming-of-age tale with personality to spare. Nijigahara Holograph is a darkly fascinating story with thematic references to the dreamer and the butterfly from Taoist canon. Saga is well known at this point and it's about time I started it. Saga has won a ton of well-deserved rewards. Finally, I Kill Giants was beautiful, touching, and makes you question your assumptions, which I love.

The last book I’d like to give honorable mention to is The Hike by Drew Magary. It’s not likely to be a literary classic. It won’t be taught in schools. I only rate it 4 of 5 stars even. A little funny. A little thoughtful. A little adventurous. But thinking back, it was one of the more unique books I’d read in 2018.

And so I start 2019, pledging to read at least 50 books. Which is again, Half as many as my badass wife.