Category: Books

Technical books are great, but make time to read for yourself.

Finished a good book over the weekend. It was Bringing Down the House, by Ben Mezrich. It’s the story of the MIT blackjack teams that won millions from casinos in Vegas and other casinos around the country. If you have any interest in blackjack or gambling, you’ll really like this book. It is unbelievable. For a taste, here‘s the Wired article that originally turned me on to the story.

Recent reads

Read a couple of good books. Bryson’s Lost Continent is about Bill’s travels through America as he tried to find the perfect small town. He gets close but never finds his ‘Amalgam’. Along the way he mostly finds cheesy tourist traps and sites and sounds that remind him of trips with his father as a boy. Lost Continent wasn’t as engaging as A Walk in the Woods. In the latter his sarcasm is often very funny. In the former, it often comes off as whining.

Last weekend I read the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It is a short and lively book that’s hard to put down. It’s a series of short, insightful tidbits–almost a meditation–on why we don’t do the things we are “supposed” to do. Resistance is the thing that keeps us from being true to ourselves. The book explains sources of Resistance and offers a firm foot applied to your backside to get you moving. There are a couple of times Steven gets a little too metaphysical but I still enjoyed it.

Finished Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods last week. What a good book! I could really relate to the sometimes comical things that happened to him as he prepared for and embarked on his journey along the Appalachian Trail. His observation of the progression of the states of filth you go through on the trail are right on. (I’ve never hiked the AT, as Bryson calls it, for any serious length but I did spend time in the Mt. Rainier back-country which I’ll have to blog about when I get some time).

The description of Bryson’s early encounter with Katz, a man Bryson hadn’t seen in many years and who would turn out to be his companion on the trail, had me rolling in laughter.

The book is a good mix of facts about the famous trail and its environs as well as a humorous travel narrative. Don’t expect a nail-biting, life-or-death, man-against-nature, survival-against-all-odds story.

Finished a few books while in Hawaii…

Blue Latitudes, Tony Horwitz. Tony re-traced the steps of Captain Cook and his three historic voyages of discovery. The book is a quick read, entertaining, and filled with lots of good detail on Cook. Includes a nice bibliography as well.

Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains, Jon Krakauer. This is a collection of the articles Jon has written for Outdoor magazine and others. Definitely worth a read for climbers, outdoor enthusiasts, or adventure writing buffs.

Violets are Blue, James Patterson. Somewhat cheesy suspense/thriller. Quick read.

My blogging is conflicting with my reading and vice versa. I’m in the middle of The Long Way and I’ve got Blue Latitudes on deck. The Long Way is really good but I think you’ve got to really be in to sailing to get into the book. It also helps if you’ve got kind of a Zen outlook on life.

You can check out my list of high seas reading here.