Books Read in December 2009

The Oathbound, Oathbreakers, and Oathblood by Mercedes Lackey

Sometimes you get a yen to reread something you've loved. I have all of the books in Lackey's Valdemar universe and I pulled out these three with Tarma and Kethry to reread. I love Lackey's comments in Oathblood about how these stories originally grew from a desire to do something different - to present women in fantasy that were neither trying to be men nor oversexed nor interested in each other.

Brightly Burning, Exile's  Honor, Exile's Valor by Mercedes Lackey

Okay, I guess my Valdemar rereading kick isn't over yet. I'd only read Brightly Burning once before so I thought I'd try it again. It's one of her weaker books, standing alone in time. The two Honor books, though, are the fascinating story of Alberich and reveal a great deal of the intrigue and background to her primary timeline while being good books in and of themselves.

Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese

A social and scientific look at the different aspects of coal over the years. It was illuminating and helpful to me as background. The stories were told well and flowed nicely. It wasn't as deeply intertwined as some other similar books I've read, but that made it a little easier to read.

Rethinking the Fifth Discipline by Robert Flood

This book left me gasping for air. It was readable, but I was having a hard time really grasping the concepts. I'm thinking I won't get them until I write about them but am debating whether I should do that first or read a different book I have about the different types of systems thinking first.

The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar

The message of the fable is still valid - for success as an entrepreneur you need to be doing what you want to be doing now, not putting what you want off until later. Passion in something new is what captures investors. The story feels a little dated, though, since it's setting is Silicon Valley, published in 2000. I enjoyed it and sped through it.

Art Revolution by Lisa Cyr

This was a fascinating book, looking at why artists are integrating digital media into their mixed-media art work. There was a little bit of how, which was a nice touch, but it's more of a thinking, inspirational type of book.

Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson

The Results Oriented Work Environment sounds fantastic. I'm lucky enough to work in a place that's more oriented on core hours and letting people know if you're out, so I'm not as restricted as the guy worrying that his fourth day 15 minutes late makes him an awful employee in danger of getting fired. But the ideas still resonate. This was a fast read and only a start to a huge culture change if a company decides to make it happen.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Not what I expected. Much better. A glimpse into something that our minds our primed for that sometimes serves us well and sometimes serves us poorly. I blogged about these first impressions over on Inventing Elephants.

ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor

A fitting conclusion to the Looking Glass Wars trilogy. Some of the key ideas wrapped around again and all was satisfactorily resolved.

Never Cold Call Again Online Playbook by Frank Rumbauskas Jr.

I didn't really learn anything here, but it was a great summary of internet marketing techniques for someone who wasn't familiar with them.

Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Bob Bly

I've picked up most of this information elsewhere, some from other things Bob Bly has online through AWAI. But it was a great way to pull it all together. It would be interesting to sit down and compare it directly to the Well-Fed Writer and see if I could make a recommendation on which to start with. In some ways they cover the same information.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming by Christopher C. Horner

I picked this one up at a used book store for the opportunity of seeing another point of view. He had some very interesting points about interpreting data and effectively uses things that the prevailing view has actually said but not emphasized.

I feel very ill-qualified to discuss the topic of global warming intelligently after reading the book because I realize how complicated things can get. And it makes me wonder what data HE might have left out that would have weakened his argument. Was he doing the same thing he claims the environmentalists are doing?

The most interesting thing about this book was the tone. It was sarcastic and almost scornful in places, potentially truthful, but in a way that deliberately disparaged the point of view of the other side. It was appropriate for the format, but felt odd to me to see it in a book instead of a column or blog post.

I'm now curious about the rest of the Politically Incorrect Guide series and what kind of questions they would spark in my mind and what they could teach me about evaluating the prevailing view - and then the contrary view itself.

The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan by George Bradt, Jayme Check, and Jorge Pedraza

There were some really interesting ideas in here - like starting your relationship building and work before your first day actually begins. A lot of the value is in going through the worksheets for a particular step and I only skimmed them. I'm keeping this on my bookshelf for the day I get to move into a product management position. They don't tend to have direct reports but they are expected to be leaders.

Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street by Louise A. Gikow

Such a huge and beautiful book. I loved the insider stories and behind the scene pictures.

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faiza Guene, translated by Sarah Adams

This was a young adult book in first person with a very distinctive voice. I'd picked it up used because it was a bit about the boundaries between cultures and a bit about change. It fulfilled my expectations.

On the Nightstand:

Lean Thinking, Ill-met at the Arena, Mastering the Complex Sale