I’ve just started reading Richard Wolffe’s new book Renegade: The Making of a President – all about the Obama presidential campaign.

Wow, this guy can write – I’m finding it very hard to put down – it’s very well done indeed!

Highly recommended!

Books Business Living

What’s Your Book?

From The House of Dimon: How JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon Rose to the Top of the Financial World by Patricia Crisafulli:

I tell people there is a book on every single one of you.

If I want to know you, all I have to do is talk to people who work with you and for you, clients, counterparts at other firms, friends, and relatives. . . . I will know you . . . much better than you think; in fact, maybe even better than if I spent an hour with you or two….

There is a book on everybody, and part of it is to try to make sure you figure out that book.


Books Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove Current Affairs

Steinbeck and Things

Perhaps my favorite fiction author has been the late John Steinbeck. I best remember reading his Travels with Charley in Search of America back in high school – describing his road trip with his poodle driving a camper around America.


Unlike some of his other books, Travels with Charley wasn’t required high school reading – it was my choice to read it and that made it even better. According to the Wikipedia article on the book, “the real reason for the trip was that Steinbeck knew he was dying and wanted to see his country one last time.”

Part of my love of Steinbeck’s work is the place he often writes about in many of his books – Monterey and Pacific Grove. His writing about those locales just brings them back to life. You can smell the salt water and, perhaps, even the sardines!

In an op-ed piece titled “A Recession Only Steinbeck Could Love” in today’s Washington Post, Rachel Dry writes about how there’s been an upsurge in interest of late in re-reading Steinbeck’s most read novel “The Grapes of Wrath”. She says “there’s nothing like a Great Recession to make people want to read about the Great Depression.”

Dry goes on to note Steinbeck’s views late in his life about American materialism – “the domino effect of materialism”. She concludes that “even if his rage makes him seem too curmudgeonly to take advice from, Steinbeck’s observations are worth listening to at this moment. Untangle yourself from things.”

It may be springtime in America – but it still feels pretty dark and cold. Feels like it’s time again to re-read Travels with Charley. Maybe follow that with Stegner’s Crossing to Safety.

Books Kindle Web/Tech

Amazon’s Kindle and the E Ink Displays

Wade Roush does a great interview with Russ Wilcox, co-founder and CEO of E Ink, the company behind the screen used on Amazon’s Kindle and (in an improved version) Kindle 2. Turns out it’s taken 12 years and $150 million to bring the E Ink technology to this point!

“What we’ve got here is a technology that could be saving the [global print media] $80 billion a year.”

Interestingly, he talks about color E Ink coming in 2011 – and that having color is particularly important to advertisers in e-newspapers, for example (if there are any left by 2011!).

Books Business Current Affairs

More on Joe Nocera and the Lords of Finance

One of my all-time favorite business writers is Joe Nocera. Here’s been at the New York Times for since 2005 – writing a weekly column on Saturdays titled “Talking Business” that’s always a joy to read. He often uses his Executive Suite blog to extend the discussion from his column and to gather reader comments. I last wrote about Joe while reading his most recent book last summer.

Books Kindle Web/Tech’s New Kindle 2

At an event in New York City’s Morgan Library this morning, CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the new Kindle 2 – a significant upgrade from the original Kindle.

I’ve been a big fan of the Kindle since I got my first one a week after the announcement in November 2007. It’s a constant traveling companion whenever I’m away from home – it’s in my backpack along with everything else I seem to lug around everywhere.

The thinness of the Kindle 2 is especially attactive – along with the new, brighter/faster (to flip pages) screen. Significantly more storage is nice – although that’s never been a problem for me given that books can be deleted from the Kindle and later re-downloaded from the digital bookshelf that Amazon maintains for each Kindle. Something that didn’t change was the $359 price – apparently given the demand (and somwhat endless out of stock over the last few months), Amazon felt there was no need to a price reduction just now.

In other Kindle news, The New Yorker is now available on the Kindle!

And, yes, I couldn’t resist and impulsively ordered a Kindle 2 this morning! Amazon says “Even though we’ve increased our manufacturing capacity, we want to be sure our original Kindle owners are first in line to receive Kindle 2. Place your Kindle 2 order by midnight PST on February 10th and you will receive first priority.”


Two Johns: Updike and McPhee

Doc Searls writes about the recent death of John Updike and, in the process, reminds us of John McPhee. My tastes in fiction (mostly historical fiction) never included much of Updike’s work – but it’s on my list to get back to as time permits. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of great fiction by skipping Updike.

John McPhee‘s work, on the other hand, has always been at the top of my list. I think the first book of his that I read years ago – which scared the bejezus out of me at the time – was The Curve of Binding Energy: A Journey into the Awesome and Alarming World of Theodore B. Taylor. I followed that with Oranges, a book about a striking different subject but written with McPhee’s same craftsman-like writing style. From there, I’ve read many more of McPhee’s books and essays.

In fact, I first subscribed to the New Yorker out of a desire to read McPhee’s work as soon as it was available. I remember how delighted I’d be when a new weekly issue would arrive – maybe once or twice a year – with a new McPhee piece.

Books Current Affairs

Hearing Gwen Ifill on The Breakthrough

Gwenn Ifill at Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley - January 28, 2009 - iPhone Photo by Scott LoftesnessGwen Ifill was in town today for a Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley event discussing her new book “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama“.

Ifill spoke about how her book isn’t just about Obama – but rather about several others who have also “broken through” as politicians at the mayoral, governor and congressional levels – and how having Obama win was like the cherry on top of the sundae. In the Q&A, she said the hardest work she’d ever done was preparing for the two vice-presidential debates she’s moderated – and how, during the debates, she learned to respect how smart the audience was at figuring out when a candidate answered a different question than the one she asked.

Good fun to see her today in person – for years I’ve very much admired her work on PBS (both on the Newshour and Washington Week). I’ve got her book on my Kindle and started reading it on the flight to Burbank this afternoon after her presentation.

Books Libraries Menlo Park Selling on

What Am I Selling on And Why?

Every once in a while, I seem to get into a flurry of selling items on

Typically, the flurry is a result of my taking a look around my home office and deciding that I’ve got stuff piled up that I really don’t need anymore. I like to try to move the stuff out of my hands and into better hands!

Last I checked, about a third of Amazon’s sales are actually fulfilled by third-party sellers – in other words, by folks like me. By the way, I’ve also got a whole store (!) on Amazon for my Scott’s Kitchen food/recipes blog – but that store is just reselling new items from Amazon – not the used items I sell in my storefront.

Books Current Affairs

The Ditherer

Just now reading the preface to David Sanger’s new book The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power – and his frankly scathing (appropriately so IMHO) commentary about how George W. Bush wasn’t the decider, he was “the ditherer“.

Sanger writes:

Instead, we pursued a path that has left us less admired…, less feared…, and less capable…

Sanger concludes his preface by saying that we Americans need to go back to that special mixture of ingenuity, sacrifice, and risk-taking to turn things around.

I think we left it right over here…

David Sanger was on Charlie Rose earlier this week – in two parts.