Recent books read

The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd, Richard Zacks. A very good, very engaging read about a man you only think you know something about.

The Long Way, Bernard Moitessier. A quintessential sailing story. It’s the story of the author’s year-long journey alone in the Round the World Race. Moitessier could have won the race but decided instead to continue halfway around the world again to go hang out in Tahiti. There’s not a lot of edge-of-seat suspense here–it’s much more of a study of aloneness and of someone who does something for the love of it, rather than the money or glory.

Deep Blue: Stories of Shipwreck, Sunken Treasure and Survival, various authors. This is a compilation of excerpts from (supposedly) classic sailing novels. I’d read many of the classics contained within and while I did enjoy revisiting them I felt a little ripped off. The other stories were, for the most part, mediocre.

A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson. I love Bill Bryson. He tells a great story. Unlike the other books of his I’ve read, this one contains no humorous sidekick. Actually, except for a couple of spots (I laughed out loud twice), it really isn’t that funny. But it is a fascinating read. It took me into the details of subjects I hadn’t delved into since High School and College. He covers everything from the minuteness of quantum physics to the vast reaches of the Universe and everything in between.

Professional XML Development with Apache Tools: Xerces, Xalan, FOP, Cocoon, Axis, Xindice, Theodore W. Leung. This is a good introduction to the technologies mentioned in the title. If you are starting a web project and you are using some or all of these, I think this is a good place to start. But, unless you are doing something relatively straightforward, you will still need a deeper reference on each. These technologies are just too complex to exhaustively cover in a single volume. Still, I recommend it.

Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg. My cousin mentioned this book to me when he was visiting for Thanksgiving so I put it on my Amazon wish list and it wound up in my stocking. What luck! This is a very short, very quick read that encourages the reader to start a “writing practice”. The author weaves Buddhist teachings with advice on learning to find your own voice as a writer. The main thrust of her teaching is to write each and every day in a deliberate way. She provides advice on how to come up with topics, how to spark creativity, how to make your writing interesting, and so on. She’s inspired me to give it a try.