Reading List for May 2016

It was kind of a big month for me, as far as reading goes. If you read last month’s post you know that I’ve recently started treating writing as a daily habit instead of just doing it in chunks until I was sick of it, then not writing at all until the next chunk. So far, it has been 2 full months of daily writing with at least a 15 minute writing sprint each day. My output has increased, but not to a staggering number. I’ve been taking it slow, not pushing to meet any goal I have in mind just yet, but I should be around one thousand words per day for the month on average.

It turns out that this writing habit carried over to other areas, because I’ve found ways to streamline my reading this month so that I’ve done more of it, without it feeling like a chore. What has fallen away to make time for the extra reading is games, a lot of small stuff, and podcasts. Unfortunately, I actually want to keep the podcasts as a part of my routine, so I batch listened to them for 3 days straight this month. That was okay, but I need to find a better way than that to consume them. It’s a good problem to have, much better than trying to find the time to read another book each week.

But enough of that for now, here’s the reading list:

John Dies at the End by David Wong: At times this book was simply brilliant, but at other times I wondered why I was still reading it. I recommend that everyone read this, because the good parts are so good – but skim when you’re feeling bored because it’s probably not that important to the plot.

This Book is Full of Spiders (John Dies at the End #2) by David Wong: This is a zombie thriller set at a scorching pace, and while it had the dick jokes you’d expect from Wong, it lacked the mind-numbing bizzaro high points of John Dies at the End. If you want an example of how to pace a thriller – this would be a good place for you to start.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong (audio): Wong outdid himself with this one. I realize that it’s been over a decade between these 3 books of his that I read, and in that time he’s been honing his craft on Cracked, but the improvement in his writing over that period is staggering. Again, this one lacks the high points of weirdness, but here they would be unwelcome intrusion. I really enjoyed reading this.

Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson (audio): Better ending than I was anticipating. Enjoyable read overall. This is probably a series I will get for my nephews in a few years for birthdays and Christmas gifts. It’s not very graphic, but I think it’s a little bit above their current level.

Mitosis (Reckoners #1.5) by Brandon Sanderson (audio): Essentially a 35 page fight scene that doesn’t add a whole lot to the story. Although, it did confirm my suspicions of this series being somewhat Matrix-influenced. The name gets tossed around later, but it’s not vital to know what happened in this.

Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson (audio): The tension in this is absolutely perfect. The plot is a little hand-wavey, but nothing too bad. Sanderson’s ability to write horrible metaphors is a blessing.

Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson (audio): This is the one in which Sanderson tells you to own your destiny. I thought the beginning was a little too slow, but that ending was beautiful. Most of the reviews on Goodreads violently oppose the last “fight” scene, but I thought it was fine. I think the moral of this story is that the real opponent is ourselves.

The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump: Great read. A little biased, but that’s to be expected. One of the best business books I’ve read, because you can’t help but to start thinking big as you read it. This was published in 1987, and during the 2016 election I can tell you that Trump hasn’t changed much in that time.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo (audio): The writing reminds me of an old radio broadcast, which is charming at first, but soon becomes tedious, then it’s grating. Still, this is a classic story, and well worth your time.

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein (audio): This is okay. More like a history of statistics than a story of risk, though. I’ve seen this recommended in a lot of books, and I have to say my expectations were disappointed because of that.

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach (audio): Pretty standard personal financial advice. Automate your savings, investments, and bill payments (that’s the automatic part of the title). Probably a better book at the time it was published than it is today. A more up to date book in a similar vein is Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to be Rich.

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (audio): Maybe it was just me, but I didn’t find a lot of tips in here. It seemed mostly like the author’s own stories told in clips and phrases. I’m very introverted; the idea of trying to meet a ton of people for the sake of adding them to your Rolodex scares me. But I got some ideas from this book that will be useful, so there’s that.

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free by Cory Doctorow (audio): Timely and relevant, but quippy and thin. Kind of a Twitter rant in book form. If this were written for tech-illiterate lawmakers, it’s a bulls-eye.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport (audio): Do you have problems getting important things done, because you’re too busy dealing with email and social media? Maybe check this out.

Rigged by Ben Mezrich (audio): Fun read, but don’t let the subtitle fool you.

Jaws by Peter Benchley (audio): I don’t say this often, but the movie was much better than the book. And consider that the shark in the movie didn’t work right so they used it less, which made it more terrifying. Everything went wrong and you end up with a better product at the end of the day. That’s a life lesson for you.

Launch to Market by Chris Fox: Solid marketing book for beginner authors. Overview of everything you need to know – pricing, preorders, mailing list, etc.

The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg (audio): Feels like a TED talk book. Read the blurb, skip the book.

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1) by Robin Hobb (audio): Robin Hobb writes such vivid characters that you feel like you could spend weeks getting to know them. It’s a gift and a curse here, though. With such a huge cast, the lesser characters feel unloved compared to the POV characters. And to that characterization much is sacrificed. So many plot lines are started – and left open – with even the main thread seemingly only there to setup later events in other books – and this with 880 pages to work with. But I’ve read – and loved – The Farseer Trilogy, so I trust Robin Hobb, and I trust that all of what I just read in Ship of Magic will come together in some incredible way. Still, know what you’re getting into with this one.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (audio): Longest sales pitch ever. The essential idea – that a growth-mindset is better than a fixed mindset – is fantastic, but this book is written like the script for an infomercial. Ever watch a Shark infomercial? You don’t need a full hour to figure out what a vacuum does.