Here’s what I read in March of 2014. Numbers are for chronology, not rank.
1 – The Wind Through the Keyhole (Dark Tower book 8) by Stephen King: This one felt more like a marketing gimmick than an actual part of the Dark Tower series. Like a “fill out the form on the back of the cereal box and include 3 UPCs plus shipping and handling to get this 8th book in the series!” type of gimmick. It takes place in an earlier part of the timeline, but you only get a brief glimpse of your old friends from the series, before you get a flashback, which itself contains a fairy tale telling. It’s this fairy tale that makes up the bulk of this volume. On its own, the fairy tale is top notch, and I’m pretty sure it would fit Campbell’s monomyth to a tee; however, as a book in the Dark Tower series this was a huge disappointment to me. My view on the rest of the series is still that it’s a must read.
2 – Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (audiobook): This wasn’t close to the movie, FYI. At first, he sings a heroic ballad about the industriousness and vision the titans of the fast food industry had in their early days, but then it gets all The Jungle on you (which was more like the movie). It was such a night and day shift that I assume it was written by different people. I’m not sure people are still shocked about the workings of a slaughterhouse, but it seems to be necessary for every book of this type to recount it. I’m all for shining light on problems that need to be solved, and what surprised me was the actual action plan at the end of this where the author gives steps to take to cleanup the industry.
3 – The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco (audiobook): I read this last year, and thought it was great. I was hoping that the audio would provide a quick refresher, but it’s over 12 hours long. Not exactly quick. If you are interested in prosperity, this is a must read, although you should probably get the print version (it is a much better format for this type of book).
4 – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (audiobook): I was first introduced to Michael Chabon’s writing almost a decade ago in Details magazine. I really liked his style, but this was the first time I actually read one of his novels. The result? Still dig his style, but this book didn’t thrill me. It doesn’t help that I’ve never been a fan of comic books, but it was the characters that disappointed me. They’re good, but a little flat. A touch more salt and I think I would have liked this.
5 – Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott (audiobook): I *think* this one got put on my reading list because of the prostitution chapter in SuperFreakonomics. It was pretty good. It was kind of dry, but the sort of dry that you get in History class when you enter a period of history full of interesting characters and questionable ethics. A story of vice, scandal, and graft, but what I took away from this were the business lessons. Here’s one: outwork your competition and raise your own standards, and price becomes a non-issue to your competitors. Interesting factoid: The brothel this focuses on was called “The Everleigh Club” from early 1900s Chicago. The clientele would brag about their upcoming visits by saying they were going to “get Everleigh’d tonight” (it’s pronounced Ever-lay, if you didn’t get that already) which was shortened, and now you know where the phrase “getting laid” comes from.
6 – Linchpin by Seth Godin (audiobook): Easily the best Seth Godin book of the ones I’ve read. In the audio (which he does himself), you get a sense of his passion for the topic, and so maybe he believes this to be his best work, too. The riff here is that regardless of your occupation, you are an artist and you need to do “emotional work”. Without context, that seems like complete bullshit, which is what I said about The Icarus Deception, but here it is not. Here, he explains his emotional work concept as caring about what you do, and improvising, and doing the right thing in your job even though it may not be the standard response, or what’s written in the manual. It seems obvious, but how often do you get great service? Almost never. And if you were the one working and dealing with a customer, how likely would it be that you were giving exceptional service? Probably very unlikely. Anyway, this was a great read – check it out.
7 – Make Money with Fiverr: Pay Off Debt One Gig at a Time by Bryant Dodd: I was on Amazon, falling down the rabbit hole of clicking related items, when I came upon this and the following digital books, both on free promotions. I use Fiverr, but I’ve always been on the buy side so far; I decided this might be worth a look. There are some major grammar and typography issues, which would’ve made a grammar Nazi’s head explode, but there is also some practical advice.
8 – Albert Einstein’s Life Changing Lessons by William Wyatt: This had “Kindle info marketer” written all over it, and I mainly grabbed it to see what they were doing. Turned out to be a pretty decent little guide. It is more a self-helpy feel-good guide than biography, but I have to say I like the writer’s style. Typos aplenty though, so beware.