It’s been a while since I’ve been keeping up with FrescoVA and figured I’d start now that we’re well into the new year – belated resolution. More than anything this will be a journal so that I can look back and revisit what I’ve done in the past.

So, with that said I figured I’d start with compiling a list of the books I consumed this past year (2017). The majority of them I have listened to on my daily commute to and from work.

They’re listed in chronological order, with the first book of the year at the top of the list; this way it provides a glimpse as to why I may have read the next book on the list.

Hit me up if you want more info on any of these books…

Van Halen Rising: How a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal
Greg Renoff
Love Van Halen and David Lee Roth. This book provided some great historical perspective as to how the band came to be and how the relationship of its members evolved over the years. If you like Van Halen I highly recommend it.

Catch 22
Joseph Heller
Brilliant. Can’t believe I waited so long to read this book. It made me understand a lot of the bureaucratic nonsense I saw while in the Army. Hysterical and utterly disturbing at the same time; Full of the sarcastic humor I tend to love. This was my favorite read of the year. I’m definitely coming back to it.

The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance
Paul Stratern
In 2016 we watched a series on Netflix called Medici: Masters of Florence so I sought out a book that provided an actual account and historical perspective of this famous family. This book did just that. If you are a history buff you’ll enjoy it.

Guitar: An American Life
Tim Brookes
I recently started playing the guitar and wanted to learn a bit about its history in the United States and how the instruments are made. This book was a pleasure to read. The alternating chapters between historical accounts and visits to a luthier actually building him a guitar provided great interludes between each topic.

Deep Survival: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death
Laurence Gonzales
I attended a wilderness safety and first aid class early last year and this book was recommended by the instructors. The book explores several stories of survival and attempts to decipher why some of us manage to make it out of unthinkable situations while others simply sit and wait for death to come.

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
Paulo Coelho
A Fable always has a moral or a lesson; The Alchemist has many – surprising in such a short book. I listened to this one several times and I always walked away with, simply: just do it. Nothing ever replaces doing something. Santiago wanted to see the great Pyramids – so he did, simple as that. Very cool little story and the power of one’s “Personal Legend.” This was one of my favorite books of the year.

Room Full of Mirrors: A biography of Jimi Hendrix
Charles R Cross
ever since I visited my buddy Victor in Seattle and seeing Jimi’s statue I have been wanting to learn more about this iconic guitar player. The book was incredibly detailed and not only painted a vivid picture about Jimi, but also the entire music scene in the 60s. It’s such a tragic story; there was so much potential and energy within Jimi, he only really got to showcase part of his talent. A great loss for what may have come next…

The Bobiverse Books 1, 2 and 3
Dennis Taylor
All These Worlds – Book 3
For We are Many – Book 2
We are Legion (we are Bob) – Book 1
This was a super fun series of books about Bob, a successful software engineer, who dies prematurely but had the presence of mind to have himself Cryogenically preserved just in case. He wakes up about a hundred years after his untimely death but instead of as a person, as an AI loaded into an advanced computer that has the capability to clone itself. Thereafter more and more Bobs come to be. It is cleverly written and highly entertaining.

Shadow Divers: Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of WW II
Robert Kurson
In 2016 I had read Into Thin Air and Everest and was looking for a similar adventure book. As I searched this tiled popped up a couple of times so I took (no pun intended) the plunge and got it. Unfathomable to believe that people actually dive to great dark depths for fun, virtually risking their lives on each and every dive. The book does a great job at explaining the risks and dangers of deep ship wreck diving. It also explains why these divers do what they do. Shadow Divers chronicles everything two divers did, above and below water, to identify a sunken U-boat off the coast of New Jersey. It’s a remarkable story. One of my favorite books of the year.

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and The Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
Robert Kurson
Cool account of a group of divers searching for the remains of the Golden Fleece, a ship captained by the Pirate Joseph Banister. I won’t tell you if they found it or not ;-)

The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs
Tyler Hamilton, Daniel Coyle
Holy Crap. I had a clue, but this confession from Tyler Hamilton really painted a vivid picture of what he, Armstrong and other riders did to win – at all costs. It comes across as brutally honest. It helps you gain a thorough grasp of what the riders did and why – such sad truth…

Slaying the Badger: Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault, and the Greatest Tour de France
Richard Moore
Absolutely brilliant book. This book was recommended to me by no other than Andy Hampsten. I used to do some work for him on his website a while back and he recommended I watch the ESPN documentary that had been put together from the book. It took me a while, but I finally got around to it and I absolutely loved the story and all the drama that abounded in the rivalry between Hinault and Lemond. Knowing one of the participants also made it feel a little closer. After reading the book I sat down with my wife and we watched the documentary. Each can stand on its own, but having the background of the book and hearing the protagonists tell their stories on screen was a huge bonus. Highly recommended. This was one of my favorite books of the year.

An American Cycling Odyssey, 1887
Kevin J. Hayes
I love cycling and this book was a great account of one of Cycling’s earliest epic adventures. The book tells the story of the first “cycling blogger,” George Nellis and his epic trip across the country abord a 52″ high-wheel Columbia Expert. Great read if you are into or interested in cycling.

The Subtle Art of Not giving a F*ck: A counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Mark Manson
Every once in a while I get sucked into the hype and pick up a self-help book everyone is talking about. This is what made me gravitate to this title. There is some sound advice in here, primarily that we should not concentrate on greatness, but rather deal with and make the best of what we have; basically accept who you are and stop worrying about your limitations. It’s after you’ve learned to do that that you will really start enjoying your life and who you are. Nothing earth shattering here, just common sense – don’t dwell on the stuff you have no control over, nor the stuff you can’t – i.e. start Not giving a F*ck about those things. Only give a F*ck about the things that really impact your life.

Dan Brown
I’ve been a devoted fan of Professor Langdon since the Da Vinci Code so getting Origin when it first came out was a no brainer. The book was entertaining and timely since it took place in Spain, a country we visited shortly after I finished the book. If you’ve read any of the other Langdon novels you come to expect pretty much the same from all of them: Langdon solving a puzzle in art rich city with the help of a pretty/intelligent woman.

The Old Man and the Sea
Ernest Hemingway
I had visited this book when I was in high school and could barely remember reading it. Quite honestly I likely didn’t and used some cliff note to write a required paper. This time around I paid attention and thoroughly enjoyed the story and struggles of Santiago. After all he went through he came back with virtually nothing, yet so much.

Del Amor y otros Demonios (Spanish)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Spanish/English) continues to be my all time favorite book, and one I’ve read multiple times. Garcia Marquez has a way of painting with words that I’ve yet to encounter in other writers. Del Amor is no different.  Garcia Marquez tells the story of Sierva Maria, a young colonial girl who’s bit by a rabid dog Instead of receiving the actual medical attention she deserves she is surrendered to a convent where she is treated as if possessed to be exorcised.

Andy Weir
I really enjoyed Andy Weir’s “The Martian” so I figured I’d give this one a try. Artemis wasn’t nearly as good, but it was entertaining; and short enough that I killed it in a couple of days. I’m sure one of the studios has already bought the rights to this one and it will make it to the big screen.

Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World
Joan Druett
I wasn’t to sure what to expect from this book but it ended up being an interesting story of human resilience, leadership, collaboration and ingenuity. The book chronicles the experiences of two crews of sailors marooned on Auckland Island and how one managed to survive while the other lost nearly all its members.

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870 – 1914
David McCullough
I’m a big fan of David McCallough. His attention to detail and sometimes “novel like” story telling make his books a joy to read/listen. This one was a marathon. Tremendous amount of detail how the canal was surveyed and all the maneuvering done by the French and then Americans to build a passage on the Panamanian Isthmus. I finished the book wanting to take a cruise to see the great Culebra Cut and Gatún Lake.