Books Read in May 2014

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

I enjoyed this mind-stretching book, although it was a little like stretching in that I didn't really remember it afterwards. People do some weird things.

Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

The book took the interesting stories of Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics and pulled lessons from them, to make it easier to look for other counterintuitive elements and think differently. I enjoyed it but it didn't stand out in my memory.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

This book and its approach to the philosophy of success impressed me. I definitely want to read the book. I'm also now interested in reading some of the classic stoic texts.

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles deLint

Really sweet modern, yet timeless, fairytale that is beautifully illustrated by Charles Vess. And I got the book because I met the author, one of my favorites, and the artist at a Fairy Festival at Sproutwood near to home.

Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan and Alisa Bowman

A good selection of perspectives on how to communicate more effectively. 

How to Think on Your Feet by Cherie Kerr

The book was worth a read, but I won't be keeping it and think I got more out of Pitch Perfect.

Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work edited by Jack Canfield and others

Like all the others in this series, it was full of inspirational little stories.

Stupid Science by Leland Gregory

Funny, itty bitty science related stories. Amusing.

The Next Level by Scott Eblin

The book is intended more for the manager rising to an executive position, so the advice isn't currently relevant. But I still enjoyed seeing the presence and people skills I'd like to reach at some point.

Taekwondo by Bill and Katie Pottle

After earning my white belt black stripe I wanted to start learning more about the martial art and sport and this was the most accessible book to me. It was a solid introduction and I was glad to read it.

Books Read in April 2014

Resource Revolution by Stefan Heck and Matt Rogers

This was impressive, somewhat along the same lines of Abundance, but more focused on the base energy and material building blocks and how new technologies that enable us to keep developing the future will also cause a lot of change.

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

I really enjoyed this fantasy novel as it wove back and forth between a handful of primary characters. The tattoo magic gave it just enough of a twist to not feel like a standard setting. I'm disappointed there's not a sequel yet.

Queen Mab by Kate Danley

This retelling of Romeo and Juliet was very satisfying, and there was actually a valid reason for the expected conversion to a happy ending. It was the focus on Mab and Mercutio that brought heart to the story.

The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher

Episode 5 in iambic pentameter. Still enjoying this and waiting for The Jedi Doth Return.

Brick Shakespeare: The Tragedies

Abridged Shakespeare illustrated with Lego minifigures amuses me. I'd never read any of Julius Caesar before - and I can't say I ever feel like reading the full play.

One Dot, Two Dots, Get Some New Dots by David Silverstein

Very short little book focused on the idea of getting pieces of information and thoughts in common and uncommon places to have the fodder for discovering new insights.

Be the Cat by Blaine Parker and Honey Parker

Another short little book mapping the idea of a "brand" to the idea of a "cat", and especially to the Great Cat, and what you can learn about marketing as a result.

That's Not What I Meant by Deborah Tannen

Descriptive of differences in typical conversation styles between men and women, although I wished that the suggestions of things to do to bridge those differences had taken up more than one short chapter at the end.

But I Don't See You as Asian by Bruce Reyes-Chow

Real-life stories of how events can be influenced by race, ethnicity, or skin color for the purpose of thinking about these "hard things". It was a good viewpoint enhancer, easy to read with interesting stories, and I did think.

Books Read in January-February-March 2014

My favorite reading discovery the last few months was Amazon's Kindle First - as a Prime member I get a free book that is either curated or hasn't even been released yet.

In January it was:

The Line by J. D. Horn

I really enjoyed this supernatural mystery. The main character was fully realized and the location was distinctive. There was a touch of romance, but it wasn't the point. The point was the tangled relationships of family.

In February it was:

Gilded by Christina Farley

This was a great Korean oriented fantasy novel, tying in modern sensibilities, years of history, and a teenage girl at once brash and scared and determined.

I picked up one of March's, but none of them excited me, so I haven't read it yet.

 

I also enjoyed some other fiction...

Fiction River: Hex in the City edited by Kerrie L. Hugh

I read Kris Rusch's blog and had been meaning to pick up one of these short story collections her company publishes. It was fantastic! The story I most enjoyed was the one about an entrepreneurial taxi peddlar in ?? who encountered a fox spirit as a client. I want to get some of the others, even the ones in genres I don't normally read.

Spark by Anthea Sharp

Just as fun as the first trilogy about a video game that is a gateway to the realm of Faerie and a successful shift to a different character.

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Good story and I want to know what happens next in the trilogy. It's a familiar world, on purpose, since the author didn't want to have to establish the ground rules. And yet there are some different politics and complications that could be very interesting.

In the House of the Five Dragons by Erica Lindquist and Aron Christensen

I enjoyed the unexpected world of this novel and the development of the storyline. I figured out a key element a bit before the end, but it was worthwhile. There was a moment of utter despair where I had to check the back to make sure I was going to like the ending. And I did.

Elementary edited by Mercedes Lackey

Enjoyable stories in Lackey's Elemental Masters world, but nothing particularly stood out.

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

An enjoyable mash-up of fairy tales into a consistent world where Woodcutter is the bridge and the protector of the covenant between the fey and the humans. It's written in a plain and somewhat choppy style but it has the lilt of a fairy tale to it, so the style fits the story. I enjoyed and am going to pick up something else she's written.

 

and non-fiction...

Lego Architecture Studio

It feels like a book and it reads like a book, but it kind of isn't. This is the book that came with my Lego Architecture Studio kit. Yum. It's beautiful. I never really thought about what else is going on with Architecture.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I don't think I'd want to hang out with or work for this guy, but wow he can write well about one of the worlds that can exist behind the restaurant kitchen doors. My favorite parts were the section where he talked about what kind of food to look for when and where if you're eating out and the one where, after story and story and story, he admitted that not all kitchens are like the world he lives in and provide a calmer contrasting example.

Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer by Michael Roberto

Fantastic book on collaborative decision making and how to make it work better. I don't know when I'll be in a position to use some of these techniques, but I'll be keeping the book on hand (electronically) for a refresher course when I can.

The Hidden Europe by Francis Tapon

This book was long and rambling but an amazing journey through Eastern Europe, which mostly includes countries that don't think they are part of Eastern Europe. It was personal in that it was primarily based on an individual's experience, but not in that it was full of emotion. I especially loved the twists of how he summarized and described the history needed to understand the cultural background of the countries involved.

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

The book was good, a nice focus on the word sell and what it can mean that isn't quite so awful. Overall, though, it was a little disappointing to me. It felt like a lighter touch of too much I'd heard before than I was hoping for, but I have read extensively enough in this field that ideas overlap so I don't think that should dissuade anyone else.