2021 Mental Diet Log

13 minute read
Books read in 2021: 72
  1. Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology [C+] Author(s):
    • Adrienne Mayor
    Notes:
    • Enjoyable read highlighting the history of machines and their interactions with man.

  2. Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis [B] Author(s):
    • Michael Ward
    Notes:
    • Amazing work suggesting a compelling interpretive framework for The Chronicles of Narnia.

  3. The Horse and His Boy [A+] Author(s):
    • C. S. Lewis
    Notes:
    • One of my favorite of the Narniad

  4. King Solomon’s Mines [B] Author(s):
    • H. Rider Haggard
    Notes:
    • Fun, well-written adventure story

  5. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative [C] Author(s):
    • Edward R. Tufte
    Notes:
    • Interesting read with some helpful principles for good visual design. The discussion of the Challenger explosion is fascinating.

  6. The Elements of Style [B] Author(s):
    • William Strunk Jr.
    • E. B. White
    Notes:
    • Very good read even for those who are not writers by trade or hobby.

  7. Talking God: Philosophers on Belief [C] Author(s):
    • Gary Gutting
    Notes:
    • Good read introducing philosophical arguments for/against the existence of a God.

  8. The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It [D+] Author(s):
    • Peter Enns
    Notes:
    • Raises some good (and some poor) arguments against considering the Bible as a reliable source of information. My primary complaints are: (1) he does very little to prove any of his claims and (2) he seems very quick to listen to the claims of liberal scholars and slow to consider any conservative interpretation.

  9. The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable [B+] Author(s):
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    Notes:
    • Very insightful and impactful book; a bit repetitive and, at times, rambling - but he raises some great points on the whole.

  10. Confessions [A] Author(s):
    • Saint Augustine
    Notes:
    • One of the most worshipful books I have ever read. Highly recommended.

  11. Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith [A] Author(s):
    • Michael Reeves
    Notes:
    • Fantastic book!

  12. Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction [B] Author(s):
    • Justin Earley
    Notes:
    • Great book
    • Practical, helpful

  13. Introduction to Algorithms (chapters 1 - 4) [C] Author(s):
    • n/a
    Notes:
    • Read through the first four chapters with friends.

  14. Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder [B+] Author(s):
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    Notes:
    • Fascinating read that has implications on numerous areas of life (engineering, programming, finance, politics)

  15. Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America, on the Following Interesting Subjects. [A] Author(s):
    • Thomas Paine
    Notes:
    • Very well-written treatise on the case for liberty of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain practically, politically, and theological

  16. The Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution [A] Author(s):
    • Thomas L. Pangle
    Notes:
    • Fantastic series of lectures investigating the debate between the Federalists and Antifederalists (and oft forgotten period of American history)

  17. Feeding the Mind [B] Author(s):
    • Lewis Carrol
    Notes:
    • Fun, short read drawing analogies between the feeding of our physical bodies and that of the mind

  18. One to One Bible Reading [C] Author(s):
    • David Helm
    Notes:
    • Interesting book highlighting the value of reading the bible with others (whether Christian or not)

  19. Knowledge and Christian Belief [B+] Author(s):
    • Alvin Plantinga
    Notes:
    • Great introduction to Epistemology as it relates to Christian Belief showing the Christian belief can be rational (having warrant and proper function)

  20. Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment [C] Author(s):
    • Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
    Notes:
    • Insightful history of gun rights, gun control, and gun ownership in America (primarily noting the racial and ethnic abuse that necessitated the use of guns)

  21. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws [C+] Author(s):
    • John R. Lott Jr.
    Notes:
    • Insightful work presenting numerous statistics showing, as the title implies, that the more guns possessed by private citizens, the less crime is likely to occur in a given area

  22. Masterpieces of the Imaginative Mind: Literature’s Most Fantastic Work [B+] Author(s):
    • Eric S. Rabkin
    Notes:
    • Fascinating foray into literature of the past 4-500 years

  23. Time Machine: An Invention [B+] Author(s):
    • H. G. Wells
    Notes:
    • Fascinating and fun science fiction story which introduces the idea of time travel and contains some fascinating political commentary

  24. The Island of Doctor Moreau [B+] Author(s):
    • H. G. Wells
    Notes:
    • Gruesome and violent read full of commentary and analysis on the nature of man vs. animals, the role of science, and the role of religion/tradition in a society

  25. War of the Worlds [C+] Author(s):
    • H. G. Wells
    Notes:
    • Fun, imaginative read which does a fantastic job of describing how human society would respond to a sudden invasion - not as good as his other works, though

  26. Out of the Silent Planet [B+] Author(s):
    • C. S. Lewis
    Notes:
    • Amazing work of science fiction (which certainly is influenced by and is a spin on H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds) pondering the interaction of a fallen man with unfallen creatures on Malacandra

  27. The Abolition of Man [B] Author(s):
    • C. S. Lewis
    Notes:
    • An amazing work critiquing moral subjectivism - I think he is, at times, oversimplifying his opponents' views and oversimplifying the evidence in favor of his own, but still think it is a thought-provoking read

  28. A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love [B] Author(s):
    • Milton Vincent
    Notes:
    • Very good work celebrating (and encouraging us to daily celebrate), in various forms and genres, the beauty of God the Father’s love for us as shown in the Son, Jesus Christ, and mediated by the Holy Spirit.

  29. From the Earth to the Moon [C-] Author(s):
    • Jules Verne
    Notes:
    • Mild interesting story in Verne’s style

  30. Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce [C+] Author(s):
    • John Piper
    Notes:
    • Fascinating biography of a wonderful man who fought to end the slave trade and slavery in England

  31. Modern Introductory Analysis [B+] Author(s):
    • Mary P. Dolciani
    Notes:
    • Very good math text that is approachable, readable, and consistent. Does a great job of introducing the value and uses of vectors.

  32. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions [B+] Author(s):
    • Randall Munroe
    Notes:
    • Very fun read which is very well communicated and shows the remarkable power of mathematics to describe even “Absurd Hypothetical Questions”

  33. The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography [C+] Author(s):
    • Simon Singh
    Notes:
    • Informative and clearly written

  34. Software Design Decoded: 66 Ways Experts Think [B] Author(s):
    • Marian Petre
    • André van der Hoek
    Notes:
    • Highly recommended. Insightful, simple, and practical proverbs for engineers, project managers, and creators of all kinds.

  35. The Benedict Option [B+] Author(s):
    • Rod Dreher
    Notes:
    • Very insightful read which offers, I believe, an accurate assessment of the state of the Western World and poignant solutions for escaping and weathering this maelstrom.

  36. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe [B+] Author(s):
    • C. S. Lewis
    Notes:
    • Fantastic read (as always with Lewis).
    • Peter held the door closed but did not shut it; for, of course, he remembered, as every sensible person does, that you should never never shut yourself up in a wardrobe.

  37. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress [A] Author(s):
    • Robert A. Heinlein
    Notes:
    • Honestly, one of the best works of science fiction I have ever read. Involved questions about AI, ethics, political theory, and mathematics. Very fun and fascinating read.

  38. The Wrong Shape [D] Author(s):
    • G. K. Chesteron
    Notes:
    • Perhaps I missed an underlying theme of this work (I did listen to it while otherwise occupied), but I did not find this to be one of GK’s better works.

  39. Prince Caspian [C-] Author(s):
    • C. S. Lewis
    Notes:
    • Not one of Lewis' better works. I appreciated it a bit more this time, but still feels rushed and hastily written.

  40. Whose Body? [C+] Author(s):
    • Dorothy L. Sayers
    Notes:
    • Not bad as far as murder mysteries are concerned.

  41. Unnatural Death [C+] Author(s):
    • Dorothy L. Sayers
    Notes:
    • Not bad as far as murder mysteries are concerned.

  42. Cloud of Witnesses [C+] Author(s):
    • Dorothy L. Sayers
    Notes:
    • Not bad as far as murder mysteries are concerned.

  43. The Necessity of Reforming the Church [B-] Author(s):
    • John Calvin
    Notes:
    • Good work presenting the complaints of the reformers against the Roman Catholic Church. Interesting to hear the complaints in their own words and fascinating how much John Calvin quotes from the church fathers.

  44. Little Book on the Christian Life [B] Author(s):
    • John Calvin
    Notes:
    • Very good book. Recommended for Christians.

  45. Five Red Herrings [B] Author(s):
    • Dorothy L. Sayers
    Notes:
    • Very fun and tantalizing read. Enjoyed this one more than some of the others.

  46. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Cultural Liturgies) [A] Author(s):
    • James K. A. Smith
    Notes:
    • Fantastic read highly recommended for Christian scholars. He, appropriately I believe, addresses the overly rationalistic mentality that is common in the conservative, evangelical church today. I appreciate his focus on the value and import of daily, ‘common’ practices (read ‘liturgies’) that are shaping us.

  47. NutureShock: New Thinking About Children [B] Author(s):
    • Po Bronson
    • Ashley Merryman
    Notes:
    • Insightful book providing recent research about raising children.

  48. Last Days According to Jesus [B+] Author(s):
    • R. C. Sproul
    Notes:
    • Very approachable and comprehensible overview of eschatology (with a focus on the partial, preterite view).

  49. The ZDoggMD Show [A+] Author(s):
    • ZDogg
    Notes:
    • Not a book, but a very highly recommended podcast in which ZDogg investigates various aspects of medicine. He does a better job than anybody I know at communicating nuance and complexity of things like the covid vaccine and whether or not masks do anything helpful. If there’s one thing you take away from this list, it’s to read some C. S. Lewis. Second to that is listen to this podcast :)

  50. Civilization and Its Discontents [C] Author(s):
    • Sigmund Freud
    Notes:
    • Sometimes thinkers appeal to what they perceive is a general consensus to prove their point which I do not share. I find Freud does this a bit. I agree with Freud’s own comments late in the book viz that the work is, at times rambling. Perhaps I lack the taste necessary to appreciate Freud or maybe this is not one of his great works, but I found it disappointing for someone so highly regarded and oft cited as Freud.

  51. No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind [C+] Author(s):
    • Daniel J. J. Siegel
    • Tina Payne Bryson
    Notes:
    • Good book w/ helpful principles for disciplining children. I appreciate the emphasis on connecting with kids and redirecting them toward better behaviours rather than flying off the handle in spur-of-the-moment frustration.

  52. Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know [A+] Author(s):
    • Emily Oster
    Notes:
    • Valuable book applying an evidence-driven approach to conception, pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Very informative and thorough in both depth and breadth.

  53. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave [A] Author(s):
    • Frederick Douglass
    Notes:
    • This is an powerful and compelling narrative describing the horrors and inner workings of slavery. Also, a powerful indictment of the kind of religion which was complicit in slavery.
    • I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land… The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.

  54. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions [B] Author(s):
    • Edwin Abbott
    Notes:
    • Funny and fascinating read. It is funny as a critique and commentary of Abbott’s victorian society and fascinating to consider what a two dimensional world would be like and the complexities of moving from one dimension to another in either reality or imagination.

  55. He Saw That It Was Good: Reimagining Your Creative Life to Repair a Broken World [C+] Author(s):
    • Sho Baraka
    Notes:
    • I still do not know what I think this book. I recommend it and there is some great, thought provoking content therein. I am saddened and confused by an attitude in the book that seems to say (and I sincerely hope I’m not misrepresenting the book) that Christians of different ethnicities should be separate so they don’t lose their cultural identities and creative resources. While I whole-heartedly support the preservation of cultural identities and creative resources, I also believe that a Church can be ethnically and culturally diverse without eclipsing many of the constituent ethnicities (although, I grant, this is rarely accomplished). I could have misunderstood Sho Baraka, but I understood him as advocating for christians of different ethnicies to remain relatively distinct and I do not see that as a desirable goal.

  56. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse [A+] Author(s):
    • Charlie Mackesy
    Notes:
    • “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “Kind” said the boy.
    Private Notes:
    • 6065,2419,4748,1988,1627,35,3613,4382,2549,4732,3907,84,3010,5785,1134,2844,1853,1849,3996,2162,1325,1551,1051,4316,2616,689,5218,4342,3987,4352,2329,3181,3570,3874,4874,5119,5957,372,5731,5414,5650,3798,4857,5948,3604,2669,1673,1293,5530,4801,1014,2975,5321,1922,4807,1005,2965,3538,2785,4112,2499,5901,3178,2600,470,943,2457,5448,5799,2021,2784,5640,4274,3826,127,80,2237,5396,4464,2361,4462,2143,5684,1375,2793,897,2443,141,5530,332,5255,5765,5684,1739,443,4275,6104,6097

  57. Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species [C+] Author(s):
    • Nathaniel T Jeanson
    Notes:
    • Interesting book. The first bit (half?) is introductory biology and genetics (both history and theory). The second half of the book makes the argument that speciation occurs rather rapidly (one new species every couple of years) and that “shifts from heterozygosity to homozygosity are the major genetic mechanism of speciation”.

  58. The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth [C+] Author(s):
    • Edward O. Wilson
    Notes:
    • Good book, written by a secular humanist scientist to a hypothetical pastor, presenting the case for preserving the created world. As the author expresses, I find it fascinating that Christians who believe God created the world have bought into political ideologies (the current, Republican mantra) which treats our planet with very little dignity.

  59. The Most Beautiful Mathematical Formulas: An Entertaining Look at the Most Insightful, Useful, and Quirky Theorems of All Time [B] Author(s):
    • Lionel Salem
    Notes:
    • Fun book to read with some fascinating mathematical principles and formulas.
    Private Notes:
    • 5550,862,707,4731,1715,803,5084,5535,4931,1508,1161,473,5361,2264,4030,5021,5443,4609,5359,5912,2521,2625,5103,4884,5155,5244,1005,5979,3953,924,3794,2449,567,3869,1512,817,3840,4622,3340,519,4149,146,143,442,798,1789,14,4276,3226,5215,2872

  60. Better Left Unsaid [B] Author(s):
    • Curt Jaimungal
    Notes:
    • Pertinent and poignant analysis of what’s going on in America today and the bifurcation of discourse in America.
    Private Notes:
    • 4658,29,5430,5450,4170,2429,1137,2415,2890,2380,2855,4102,2816,3573,339,2991,442,5198,4085,1697,878,247,2308,3845,3932,3546,2638,1129,5370,460,3173,524,2617,5171,187,3695,127,1892,5300,2098,2582,1877,2893,2088,5246,932,4259,2811,832,4887,3674,3255,1207,4896,2266,3861,3265,3963,2040,1817,1280,5350,2044,4792,116,3257,1848,4292,5818,3951,3549,2639,95,2761,3072,3385,3330,5727

  61. Flowers for Lisa: A Delirium of Photographic Invention [B] Author(s):
    • Abelardo Morell
    Notes:
    • Beautiful collection of creative and imaginative photos!

  62. Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation [C] Author(s):
    • Bill Nye
    Notes:
    • Neither Bill Nye nor Ken Ham (a creationist Bill Nye debated which prompted this book) are very nuanced in their views and they both overstate their position. For example, Bill overstates the advantage and evolutionary world-view holds over a creationist view with respect to the joy of discovery and exploring the world around us. Both the evolutionist and creationist can passionately explore the world around us. Bill does raise some good objections to Ken Ham’s distinction between ‘historic’ science and ‘present’ science (as he did in the debate). I will say, Bill Nye’s rebuttle to the creationist objection that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics by requiring that order come from energy released in a closed system was very poor. He objects that earth is not a closed system because it gets energy from the universe around it. This ignores the fact that the argument still works if one just expands the objection to the universe. In other words: granted that the earth isn’t a closed system, but the universe is, so the same problem applies. Why is there order in the universe if, according to an evolutionary worldview, the universe is a closed system into which energy is released.

  63. Kubernetes in Action (2nd Edition) [C+] Author(s):
    • Marko Lukša
    Notes:
    • Great introduction and overview of kubernetes. Link.

  64. The Montessori Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Nurturing Your Baby with Love, Respect, and Understanding [C+] Author(s):
    • Simone Davies
    • Junnifa Uzodike
    • Sanny van Loon (Illustrator)
    Notes:
    • Very practical tips and guidance for parents. Very repetitive (not necessarily a bad thing, but can be a bit bothersome at times).
    Private Notes:
    • 192,474,3954,4980,3194,1664,2375,913,5154,2087,3594,2574,5231,5797,77,2661,5,2053,1664,5616,4227,1608,5287,4511,4832,2097,4590,3297,2498,2189,1947,2889,1275,2274,5717,2725,4242,874,630,4787,136,524,4042,2340,2804,758,1956,71,1016,407,4577,3107,3315,6030,6095,1474,5907,3790,4642,5355,3242

  65. The Chess Player’s Bible: Illustrated Strategies for Staying Ahead of the Game [C+] Author(s):
    • James Eade
    • Al Lawrence
    Notes:
    • Approachable, insightful, and enjoyable read.

  66. The Gospel in Dostoyevsky: Selections from His Works [C] Author(s):
    • Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    • (Introduced by J. I. Packer, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Ernest Gordon)
    Notes:
    • I read a few of the selections in this book. I’m not a huge fan of books which are selections of works (I didn’t realize it was selections from his works when I checked it out), but the book does a good job of capturing some of the most powerful passages.

  67. The Symmetries of Things [B+] Author(s):
    • John H. Conway
    • Heidi Burgiel
    • Chaim Goodman-Strauss
    Notes:
    • This book is a very enjoyable read. I highly recommend it as part one is very approachable to anyone with a basic math backgroud. The notation is simple and powerful but be warned: once you get the hang of it, you’ll start seeing and describing symmetries everywhere! Part three was beyond my current abilities, but still worth skimming for the beautiful diagrams.

  68. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine [B+] Author(s):
    • Wayne Grudem
    Notes:
    • Great theology book. I appreciate the author’s views on a number of issues like creation, spiritual gifts, and eschatology.

  69. Red Couch Podcast [C+] Author(s):
    • Propaganda
    • Dr. Alma Zaragoza-Petty
    Notes:
    • Fun podcast with insightful, funny, and interesting discussions

  70. Gospel in Life Podcast [C+] Author(s):
    • Dr. Timothy Keller
    Notes:
    • Great podcast with of Pastor Keller’s sermons

  71. Theories of Everything with Curt Jaimungal Podcast [C-] Author(s):
    • Curt Jaimungal
    Notes:
    • Mildly interesting podcast that, sometimes, discusses theories of everything, but often discusses other, fringe topics like consciousness and UFO’s.

  72. Early Retirement Extreme: A philosophical and practical guide to financial independence [C+] Author(s):
    • Jacob Lund Fisker
    Notes:
    • Good book, worth reading.
    • The author takes a very radical approach and seems to be unaware of recent trends (e.g. the trend toward getting value and meaning through one’s work), but still has some great insights.