Friday, December 27, 2013

P4A (Again) And The Best Of All The Things 2013

I know that I blogged about Project for Awesome (P4A) last week, and you probably don’t want to hear about it again, but I’m going to tell you anyway.  One of the best things about Project for Awesome is the 48 hour live stream.  A bunch of people who are involved in the Project stay awake for 48 hours and try to be entertaining.  The video above is the weirdest moments from this year’s live stream.


2013 is pretty much over.  I was thinking about the 60ish books that I've read this year and trying to come up with my favorites.  Most of the books that I read were classics, and I’ve discovered that classics tend to blur together in my mind, especially the British ones.  I still love reading classics, but none of the ones that I read this year really stand out in my mind.

Which books did stand out (for good reasons)?  Here are my top 3 that came out of the All The Things pile.  The Summaries are from Goodreads.

#3.  The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Why I liked it: Like all of John Green’s books, the plot was predictable, and the characters were similar to characters in his previous books, but that didn’t matter because I thought that he handled the Cancer Kid thing perfectly.  The characters were kids who happened to have cancer.  The cancer did not define them.  They also didn’t die gracefully as disease martyrs.  I thought that the book was very realistic in that way. 

(And, if you watched the video above, the author of this book is the guy with the Sharpie on his face).



#2.  When Prophecy Fails: A social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group that Predicted the Destruction of the World – Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken, Stanley Schachter

When Prophecy Fails [1956] is a classic text in social psychology authored by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. It chronicles the experience of a UFO cult that believed the end of the world was at hand. In effect, it is a social and psychological study of a modern group that predicted the destruction of the world, and the adjustments made when the prediction failed to materialize. "The authors have done something as laudable as it is unusual for social psychologists. They espied a fleeting social movement important to a line of research they were interested in and took after it. They recruited a team of observers, joined the movement, and watched it from within under great difficulties until its crisis came and went. Their report is of interest as much for the method as for the substance."-Everett C. Hughes, The American Journal of Sociology.

Why I liked it: I have been an amateur cult researcher for a lot of years, and this was one of my favorite books about cults ever.  The authors infiltrated a benign UFO cult and recorded how the cult grew and developed as it was happening.  Most books about cults are written by scientists who studied the cult from the outside or by former cult members.  This one is unique.



#1.  Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood

"Cat's Eye" is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman--but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, "Cat's Eye" is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knot of her life.

Why I liked it: Margaret Atwood is tied with Stephen King for my favorite author ever.  I’ve read all of her short story collections and all but 3 of her novels.  I loved this book because of the characters, especially the bullying that happens within the group of young girls.  It was disturbingly realistic.


Here’s the final All The Things update of 2013.

I’m currently reading Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.

All The Things = 17 books.

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