One year, not many moons ago, I decided to challenge myself for lent.  I mean, really choose something that was a sacrifice and would be non-trivial to follow through on.  I chose to forgo shopping for myself whether in stores or online.  No little treats, no clothing, no books.  I would also donate a weekly amount of money to represent my non-shopping savings to charity.

I remember announcing this to the family when they asked what I was doing.  My daughter’s eyes grew really big, and she gasped, “NO SHOPPING? HOW WILL WE EAT?”  I soothed her upset by explaining that it did not mean I would not do the grocery shopping, just that I would not be treating myself to the unnecessary items that seemed to find their way into my basket.  Like those little irresistible nail polishes you find on the endcaps.

I was successful. The last two weeks were rough.  And the hardest item to eliminate purchases of was books.  I spent a lot of time in the library checking things out.  Too bad that habit didn’t stick for long.  I love them too much not to own them.

This year, I am trying to similarly challenge myself.  I am toying with the idea of forgoing eating out in restaurants, but that might be a tad too rough, as it puts a damper on the occasional meet-up with friends I don’t regularly see.


First, allow me to preface this with the statement that I loved the novel by Andy Weir.  I found it to be one of the most engaging and fast paced books I’ve ever enjoyed.  Frankly, it is in my top 10 ever favorite reads.  If you have not picked it up, I highly recommend reading it over the movie.  It seems to be a novel that cannot be pigeonholed into the sci/fi category alone, because I have found that it appeals to a wide range of readers.

To say I was eagerly awaiting the movie adaptation is an understatement.

Alas, the movie could not live up to my lofty expectations.  There was not much wrong with it; visually the cinematography is mesmerizing, and Ridley Scott did a good job with following the plot from the book.  However, it does a poor job of building the suspense.  The novel form was chock full of harrowing and time-pressed problems that had to be solved in order for the astronaut to survive.  These problems were riddled with tricks, turns and twists that kept you on the edge of your seat, tempered with a dry wit that made you come to love and root for The Martian to survive. 

Most of those stress-building scenarios did not make it to the screen adaptation. So, to me, the movie had a plodding feel to it.  I think if you hadn’t read the book, you might like the movie better.  But, then you would be foregoing the extremely wonderful pleasure of reading it.

My rating is a 6 out of 10.  The movie is passable entertainment, but my advice is to read the novel, instead.


I stumbled upon this NPR Top 100 List tonight when I could not sleep and was up cursing the two cups of Coca-Cola I drank this afternoon.  I happened to be searching for reviews of a book I wish to read, The Mote in God’s Eye, which happens to be #61.   It’s an interesting list.  I have read quite a number of these, loved many, hated a few.   How many have you read?  I bolded mine.  There are actually one or two in here that I hated and would not recommend (most notably #17 and #98), but for the most part, I agree with many of the selections on this list.  Perhaps there’s room on my nightstand for a few more.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis



While watching  TV, I was paying a superficial amount of attention to a commercial for the movie adaptation of Beautiful Creatures (a book that I loved, by the way).

“Nothing good comes from loving Morons.”

That’s what I thought I heard. Scowling and confused, I tried to figure out where in the story it was from, because I just didn’t remember that part. Then, I realized she said Mortals, not Morons. Thankfully, that makes so much more sense.

Although, the first bit is still probably pretty good advice, as well.