Holy moly I can’t believe April has already passed. I’ve been keeping pretty busy working on several different projects, but still managed to read quite a bit. So without further ado…
Here’s what I read in April of 2013. Numbers are for chronology, not rank.
1 – The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself, by Chris Guillebeau: Having read Chris’s blog in the past (it’s good, btw), I recognized his name next to this catchy title whilst I was some torrent site. Then I checked if it was available on his website, and when I found that it wasn’t I grabbed the torrent. It’s around 50 pages, and just touches on ways to make money online. If you’re new to the internet this could be useful, but I’m pretty sure he has better products which are more worth your time now.
2 – Moonwalking With Einstein, by Josh Foer (audiobook version): I had heard Tim Ferriss mention this book at least thrice in interviews or articles, so it made it on my reading list. Somehow I was under the impression that this was a book about how to improve your memory, with a little bit of narrative mixed in. The actual ratio is just about the exact opposite. I was, as you might expect, a little disappointed by this; it was nevertheless a compelling story. Read it – you’ll like it. Here’s a quote that made me smile (more for the prose than the idea): “Every sensation that we remember, every thought that we think, transforms our brains by altering the connections within that vast network. By the time you get to the end of this sentence, your brain will have physically changed.”
3 – The Ice Dragon, by George R.R. Martin: This was fantastic. Fast paced, no-nonsense prose that made the 100 or so pages fly by. I’m not really a fan of his Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones), because of his writing style in it, but here a younger Martin (this book was copyright 1980) is a different animal. The Ice Dragon seems to be written for a younger audience, though – so keep that in mind.
4 – Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler (Free, Project Gutenberg): When I was in high school, I noticed this book in my friend Nick’s backpack. He said it contained some good ideas, and a different perspective, but didn’t really go into detail, nor did he sell me on bothering to look into it. I don’t know if Nick failed to sell me on the book because of the stigma associated with Hitler, or because of the writing, but as it turned out, it made it onto my reading list anyway, more than a decade later.
As far as the book itself goes, I saw three distinct parts, which I will describe briefly. The beginning of this book was wonderful – part history lesson, part narrative, part auto-biography of the making of a dictator. You should read the first bit.
The next part was a long, spiteful tirade. Actually, the spitefulness waxed and waned, but the rant was thorough. Once you notice him ranting, it doesn’t get better until much later. The summary is that he hated everyone and everything, but gave the Germans a pass because he felt they were victims of a Jewish conspiracy. There were plenty of logical flaws in his thinking, but mostly, I think, he was just the kind of guy who went looking for negative things, and of course he found them everywhere.
Then there’s the end. It outlines several things that should be taught – organization, leadership, making decisions, taking action. I don’t know remember at what point he started to get into this, but this last part was probably the best.
5 – The Waste Lands (Dark Tower book 3), by Stephen King: This series continues to get better as it progresses. In this book I definitely felt myself becoming fully committed to the story. There are two oddities in this book, though, that I feel the need to mention, hopefully without giving anything away.
First off, the ending is weak. The book just stops. This turns out to be sort of fitting, in an ironic way. Also, there’s an apology from King in a brief epilogue saying the story wasn’t coming anymore, and he didn’t want to fuck it up by trying too hard. I applaud his honesty, and obviously he has the reputation to be able to get away with that sort of thing.
Second, I felt like I was being trolled during most of this book. In fact, it might have been for the entire first half of the book I expected to see the next chapter title be, “Sorry I switched the ebook file, and this isn’t the real story.” And, of course, the non-ending reinforced that.
Anyway, I enjoyed the hell out of this. There are lots of questions, and few answers, and that makes for great reading.
On a side note, though Mr. King will never read this post I will address him here anyway: Sir, I had an idea for a character in a story I may or may not ever sit down to write, that speaks much in the manner your Blaine does. It seemed like a risky deal until I saw it being used. Thanks for the reassurance, even if inadvertent.
6 – The Gunslinger (Dark Tower book 1), by Stephen King (audiobook version): No, that’s not a typo – I read it again. Well, listened actually. After being wowed by book 3 I had to find out if my harshness of the first book was justified. I’m still not sure. I still didn’t much like this one, but at the same time there’s so much that makes sense once you know what happens later. Whether this was written in originally, or was added as a part of his beefing it up and revising after the series was done, I don’t know.
PS: I’m pretty sure this audio version ran considerably longer than it took me to read the print version, and I’m not a very fast reader. Skip it and get the text.