2014 preview: Reading



Well there you have it, another year in the books. Have a look at my list from last year here. I finished 18 books total which is 7 less than in the two previous years. I have been focused on music so much, I guess something had to give.

For this year I went back to arranging all the books in one shelf again (pictured above). Which looks nice but is of course only half the story – 9 of the books that were added to the list during the year were Kindle books… (here is the list of the books on the picture)

Since I will probably be focused on music just as much this year I’ll read about the same amount which is fine. I noticed though that music books seem to work quite well 😉

What I like best however is to go back to previous years to see the history.

Review: Walter Isaacson – Steve Jobs, a biography

Oh my. How painful it is to read this book and think “what could have been”. Here you have a guy that has amazing access to the man Steve Jobs and then he writes a turd of a book. I remember reading Gruber’s review in February and thinking “it can’t be that bad”… Well I hate to say it, it is bad.

1. It was either a bad decision to put so little passion in this book or it is just bad writing. It reads not written a guy having amazing access but like a homework assignment. “I have to cover this, this, this and that. Done.”

2. Never have I been bothered as much by shitty structuring as in this book (or it is just bad writing). First he tries chronological, later topical, then mixes both approaches. WTF. Loads of approaches possible but this mixtures leaves the reader scratching his head wondering, “what does this have to do with the chapter I just read?”

3. The book has 5oosomething pages. I am not saying it should be shorter, but how about focusing not so much on the know parts of Steve Jobs’ life but instead delving deeper into the heart of his design sense or no-compromise-attitude? Or following up on a question like you mean it. Jobs went to India and read an Autobiography of a Yogi? Good, thank you. NOT. What are the main points of that book, what were Jobs’ key take-aways?

This book is a summary, nothing more. Unfortunately. What a wasted chance.

Preview: Reading 2012

As for the last couple of years, there will be a reading list for 2012. Last year was pretty good, I worked my way through 24 books. Some of them were short, sure, but the ideas still valuable.
After 28 books in 2009 and 18 in 2010 two books/month is a nice pace, considering that I have other hobbies, too?

The shortlist for this year looks as follows at the end of the post and as always you can keep track of my progress on this page.

In the last couple of years this would also mean changing my twitter background, but the shelf hasn’t really changed. Now what? I’ll find something 😉

What are you reading?

  1. PLI/Abby Marks Beale – 10 Days to faster Reading
  2. Georg Franck – Die Ökonomie der Aufmerksamkeit
  3. Thomas Klupp – Paradiso
  4. Nick Hornby – Juliet Naked
  5. Siri Hustvest – Enchantment of Lily Dahl
  6. Chris Brogan/Julien Smith – Trust Agents
  7. Jack Falla – Home Ice
  8. Minette Walters – The Breaker
  9. O’Reilly – Your Brain: The Missing Manual
  10. Charles Frazier – Thirteen Moons
  11. Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird (*)
  12. Hanif Kureishi – The Buddha of Suburbia
  13. Richard Powers – Generosity
  14. Charles Bukowski – Ham on Rye
  15. Chip & Dan Heath – Switch
  16. Steven Levy – In the Plex
  17. Walther Isaacson – Steve Jobs Biography
  18. Eric Ries – The Lean Startup
  19. Thomas Pletzinger – Gentlemen, wir leben am Abgrund
  20. David Halberstam – Playing for keeps
  21. Jonathan Lethem – Chronic City
  22. Don DeLillo – Underworld
  23. Gavin Menzies – 1421
  24. Jostein Gaardner – Sophie’s World
  25. Andreas Eschbach – Eine Billion Dollar*
  26. Jaron Lanier – You’re not a gadget
  27. Lee Child – Reacher No. 17
  28. Nassim Nicholas Taleb – Der Schwarze Schwan+
  29. Howard Jacobson – No more Mr. Nice Guy+
  30. James Altucher – I was Blind but now I See + (Kindle for iPhone)
  31. Tom Peters – Re-Imagine +

Quick thoughts on publishing: Kindle and last.fm

Ok, so the Kindle 2 is out, with read-out-loud feature which the publishers don’t like. I don’t get it. This is a prove of concept feature. People will realize, they like having a book read to them, when they are driving. Or on the treadmill. And the Kindle 3 will have more HD space and Amazon will ship real audio books. And have a color display. And play music, too. And Steve Gillmor will be right again about the value proposition of liner notes. And I about audio books. But let the publishers complain for now, we shall not tell them about how giving away something for free actually entices people to later buy more.

And last.fm got all upset about Techcrunch writing that they give their data away, in this case about users playing the new U2 record before it was published. They are right to be upset, but the issue is different in my opinion. Again, users shouldn’t be blaming the company but their own behaviour. Downloaded an album before the release? Played it on iTunes, let it scrobble, maybe even broadcasted what you’re playing via the iChat status or the Skype status? How stupid are you? You were going to buy the album later anyway? That’s fine, but not the point, downloading is still illegal. And telling everybody you did. That is the really troublesome part to me. Do I trust last.fm with what they said? Sure I do, but when a court were to make them release that data, they’d have to anyway, so I’ll just be careful how I use the programm.

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Reading list for 2009 (enough with the resolutions already)

As you may remember, we will be moving in spring 2010 and we want to trim down the number of boxes of stuff to be moved. A good place to start is books, we own a lot. And I mean, a lot.
One way to go about it, is stop buying new books and reading the ones we have and didn’t get to yet. Another is to bookmooch and a third is to give books away. We’ll do all these.
As I went through the shelves (books are standing in double rows) to fill a box to go in the attic, to make room for the books lying around elsewhere, I created a little “books on reserve” shelf (Handapparat aus der Uni), with books I really need to get to and intend to read this year.

2009 book shelf by you.

Here is the complete list:
Macolm Gladwell – Outliers
Carlos Ruiz Zafón – Shadows of the Wind
Wallace Stegner – Crossing to Safety
John Irving – Until I Find You
Siri Hustvedt – Sorrows of an American
Dan&Chip Heath – Made to Stick
Paul Auster – Book of Illusions
Richard Powers – The Time of Our Singing
Jasper Fforde – Eyre Affair
Joseph Jaffe – Join the Conversation
W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne – Blue Ocean Strategy
David Foster Wallace – Infinte Jest
Siri Hustvest – Enchantment of Lily Dahl
Hermann Scheer – Energie Autonomie
Dan Tapscott – Wikinomics
Sten Nadolny – Discovery of Slowliness (*)
Ken Follett – Pillars of the Earth
Charles Frazier – Thirteen Moons
Nick Hornby – Slam
Jonathon Franzen – The Corrections (*)
McCarthy – McCarthy’s Bar
Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird (*)
Jonathan Safran Foer – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Paul Auster – Oracle Night (*)
Naomi Klein – Shock Doctrin

That’s 23 books, more than two weeks per book which should be manageable. The number of business books seems low, but you can add to that 1-2 books I will still get for Christmas and 1-2 I intend to pick-up as the year progresses, depending of what comes out and my way. And course Lee Child – Nothing to Lose once that comes out as paperback.
The Irving tome, Shock Doctrine and Infinite Jest look scary thick, but what’s a guy to do.

However, I have finally started to read Stephen D. Frank’s The Evelyn Wood Seven-Day Speed Reading and Learning Programm, a book I had lying around for years. Last night’s speed was 580 words per minute, faster than average they say, but they are striving for at least 1.500 words per minute. That sounds scary too.

Have a great 2009!

Book worming, PT 2: Book marketing

As I said in the previous post, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the new book by Thomas L. Friedman, is on my reading & wish list. It is there for two reasons, the topic and the author. Not because of the marketing. Ever since I got into bestseller lists a bit for my M.A. thesis, I have big problems with “the new XXX bestseller”. From their print run alone or based on pre-orders, expecting sales, books are promoted as bestsellers, without having sold a single unit.

To promote Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the publishing house Farrar, Straus, and Giroux gave away the audio book of Friedman’s previous bestseller The World is Flat and a “sound bite” from the new one. Great! Freebies are always good to catch one’s interest. Now, I expect some “commercial messages”, but I was taken aback by the pre-roll ad on each track, announcing the new “breathtaking account”, “bestseller” etc. at length. On all tracks.

Why don’t you let me be the judge? I can think for myself, you know?

Secondly, I’d prefer a chapter from the beginning of the book that lays down the topic, not from the middle. And, not the one that makes to point that there are thousands of “how to save the plant-lists”. Because I don’t want to listen to three minutes of somebody reciting the names of those lists. Boring. You are not making a point, you are burying it.

So, despite these points I’ll most likely read the book. See above.