Categories
Books

Crossing to Safety

With all of the tragedies taking place around the world, a bit of comfort reading comes in handy. Two years ago I posted about reading Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety.

I was reminded of this great book again this morning by Cynthia Crossen’s column in the Wall St. Journal Online edition.

Friends, it is said, are the family we choose for ourselves. These days, with many families flung to the far corners of the earth, friends often become the family with whom we celebrate holidays.

Categories
Books

Best Sellers

UCLA physicist Didier Sornette looks at why best selling books are best sellers.

Categories
Books

Netflix for books or “interest queues”

Ted Leung posts on his blog about Netflix for books or “interest queues”:

I love books, and I could quite possibly spend the entire rest of my life reading interesting books. When I was younger, I used to just buy books and have huge piles of them lying all over the place. … A fair number of those are still in our garage, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken to relying on libraries for as many books as possible. I’ve also taken advantage of Amazon’s integration of used books, to purchase as many used books as possible.

Boy, I’m just like Ted. And, like him, I’ve also gotten much more accustomed to checking the library first before buying and then, when buying, prefering a nearby used book seller over the fresh new edition.

Having a great local web-enabled public library ranks high on my list of requirements for places to live. Fortunately, the web has made this all possible — a quick bookmark takes me to our local library catalog, another to Amazon to check used book availability.

(Via Ted Leung on the air.)

Categories
Books

Skywriting

I just finished reading Jane Pauley‘s Skywriting (excerpt online), her very personal memoir about dealing with bipolar disorder induced by medicines being used to treat an outbreak of hives.

I was struck by the sheer openness of Pauley’s writing — some very personal pieces from her journal written at alternating points in time. She’s certainly come to grips with the reality of her illness and her sharing of the experience tells a powerful story.

Late in the book, she quotes Mark Twain:

Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under different conditions.

Indeed! My best work is also my best play.

Pauley also writes movingly about loss, especially about her parents. But I enjoyed this passage more — about taking her twin boys to college.

I put two kids in college in one week. I didn’t cry or make a scene or one of Mom’s famous speeches. I just lingered. First, I folded all of Ross’s T-shirts and lined them up by color; then I went after the chaos of cords and cables from his computer, microwave, CD player, refrigerator, clock radio, lamp, and TV. I got them untangled and began winding them neatly with little twist ties. I was actually underneath the desk when I became aware of an awkward silence that said Anyone here who isn’t somebody’s roommate should go now.

Wow. One moment they’re in your arms as babes and the next thing you know they’re off to college and life beyond.

Categories
Books Weblogs

Amazon Real Names

The New York Times comments on Amazon’s new Real Names reviewer policy in an editorial: The Review of Reviews.

In the end, it’s probably easier just to go to the library and browse.

I don’t agree — although I do love browsing in the library too! Actually, I’d like to see a tighter integration of Amazon and our local library — lots of possibilities there that would benefit both, I think.

Categories
Books San Francisco/California

Smartest Guys in the Room

While on the road earlier this week, I finally finished reading Bethany McLean’s book The Smartest Guys in the Room. It’s a story of the Enron debacle, told in all of its gory detail.

The book begins with ex-Enron exec Cliff Baxter’s suicide a few weeks following Enron’s bankruptcy filing and then peels back to the early days of Ken Lay before following the story through to the end. An amazing story of arrogant egos gone wild. In particular, the chapter on Enron’s manipulation (along with others) of the California electricity and natural gas markets is downright sickening. it’s one of those books that has you washing your hands after reading.

Update: Tomorrow’s Sunday New York Times has a long article based upon interviews with Ken Lay in which Lay claims he’s innocent of any crimes — but, as CEO, admits he is accountable for what happened at Enron. What a guy!

Categories
Books

Innovator’s Dilemma

Kevin Kelly comments on Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma: “It’s the most insightful look into the nature of revolution I’ve seen.” I agree completely!

Categories
Books

Present Value

I just finished reading Present Value by Sabin Willett. What a fun book! Revolves around today’s high tech lifestyle and its impact on relationships. Blackberry’s play a central role. Insider trading, life with Napoleon CEO’s, etc. Willet’s a partner at a Boston law firm and it shows in his fiction. Highly recommended!

Categories
Books

Timothy Egan’s New Book

While I’ve not read it yet (just ordered it!), Timothy Egan is one of my favorite New York Times reporters. His articles dive deep into whatever subject he’s pursuing — and are delightful to read. The only earlier link I can find quickly is to an article he wrote last summer for the Times’ Travel section about the Chuckanut Drive south of Bellingham, Washington.

Egan’s out with his first novel — The Winemaker’s Daughter — one that combines winemaking in the Pacific northwest with Italy. Sounds great!

Categories
Books

Current Reading

Here’s what I’ve been recently reading: