I Like Books, June-August 2012

I’ve rediscovered my love of reading this year, and so I’ve taken a page out of Nick Hornby’s book (har har har) and am going over the books I’ve read over the past several months. My hope is that this will make up for the fact that all this reading has taken away most of the time I usually allocate towards blogging.

Books read:

  • Duran Duran, Mike West
  • Bossypants, Tina Fey
  • Trends, Tom Peters
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry
  • Comedy FAQs and Answers: How the Stand-up Biz Really Works, Dave Schwensen
  • Teach Yourself Stand-Up Comedy, Logan Murray
  • The Ultimate Improv Book: A Complete Guide to Comedy Improvisation, Edward J. Nevraumont
  • Juliet Naked, Nick Hornby
  • Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Michael Lewis
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Clayton M. Christenson
  • About a Boy, Nick Hornby
  • The Man with the Golden Gun, Ian Fleming
  • Geekspeak: A Guide to Answering the Unanswerable, Making Sense of the Nonsensical, and Solving the Unsolvable, Graham Tattersall
  • Enjoying Maine, Bill Caldwell
  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber
  • Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth, Steve Pavlina
  • 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts, Kevlin Henney (Editor)
  • Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Rachel Maddow
  • Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering, Robert L. Glass
  • Joel on Software, Joel Spolsky
  • User: Info Techno Demo: Mediaworkbook, Peter Lunenfel
  • Linux Server Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips and Tools, Rob Flickenger
  • Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, Patrick Lencioni
  • “Tomorrow’s World”, David Stubbs
  • Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, Amy Sedaris
  • I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, Amy Sedaris
  • Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  • Every Mistake In The Book: A Business How-NOT-To, F. J. Fenton
  • I Suck at Girls, Justin Halpern
  • An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge, Ambrose Bierce

I don’t even know where to begin. It might have been a bit ambitious to start with a 3 month period, but I’ve already made the list, so it’s a bit late to turn back. Fortunately, I’m not going to review all of these, because I’m well aware that you could be doing something else more urgent than these book reviews, such as sanitizing your cheese grater or scrubbing the back of your toilet. Onwards!

Most people spend their summers reading guilty-pleasure books on the beach, while I find myself reading technical, business, and self-improvement books. Maybe these books are my guilty pleasure -perhaps I do have a depressing inner-life.

Catching Fire was a pleasant surprise, mostly in that it was able to follow up the Hunger Games successfully. I underestimate young adult fiction, because I’ve cultivated a snobbish literary bent that I can only hope makes me popular at dinner parties and book/fight clubs. But then, I’m still trying to get through Infinite Jest, whereas Hunger Games and Catching Fire were both enjoyed within a day. The Infinite Jest fan-club will say this is an unfair comparison, and talk at length about DFW’s extraordinary vocabulary; the other side will have finished the Hunger Games trilogy and gone about the rest of their lives.

Hornby’s Juliet, Naked and About a Boy, both ended up being enjoyable reads. Juliet, Naked‘s look at music fanboys was keen and brutal - hitting close to home as I was reading it during Sled Island (Calgary’s main pop festival). About a Boy was brilliant, but should be treated a bit like a cultural time capsule of the early nineteen-nineties. That’s not to say it didn’t touch on timeless truth’s, but it really was soaking in its period much more thanJuliet, Naked tries to capture this time. I’m not giving Hornby’s oeuvre enough respect, which is a shame. I guess I’ll have to write something summing up my feelings on his books someday.

Amy Sedaris’ I Like You and Simple Times are fun, campy, and bizarre. I’m wondering how they pitched it to the publisher. ‘Imagine Julia Childs, Emily Post, and Bob Ross all sitting together in a room eating pot brownies, and then writing a book together.’ That would certainly get my attention.

Caldwell’s Enjoying Maine is probably the first book I’ve read about Maine that seemed to hit the mark about the state and also not contain alien spiders and evil clowns (sorry Stephen King). While a lot of the Maine Caldwell wrote about is now gone, the mood is still the same. Oddly enough, Caldwell isn’t even from Maine.

I felt a deep absence this summer, due to the Calgary Vipers baseball team folding last fall. Were it not for a pilgrimage to Fenway back in May, I could very well have lost it. Fortunately, I had a friend in Moneyball, a fantastic book by Michael Lewis. If you don’t know the premise, the Oakland Athletics baseball club is the poorest team in the MLB, and yet they’re still successful, due to embracing statistical research. I ended up picking up a big Bill James tome as a result, though I’m saving that for next summer. I’ll have to space out my baseball reading at least until Calgary gets a new team.

I’ve taken to borrowing more books than I think I can read from the library, in the hopes that the deadline pressure will make me read faster and find more creative ways to insert reading into the niches of time that present themselves during the day. Will I start reading more fiction to balance out the business/computer books? You’ll find out next month!