reading july 2014

Hmm. Reading seems to have resumed apace. At least a lot of skimming.

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth – Chris Brogan

Cheerleading for doing business your way, man, cos the world is your oyster if you are willing to march to the beat of your own drum, ra ra. Upbeat, good content but a little feel-good and all about the smart branding and having great anecdotes than having much new to say. More motivational than how-to. Solid though.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right – Atul Gawande

Doctor who pioneered the use of checklists for surgery (resulting in less infections, more lives and money saved, etc) explains the process by which this came about, and why checklists are simple and damn useful. Good stuff.

The Drawing of the Dark – Tim Powers

Goddamn this is good fun. Entertaining and wild and weird; a sort of historical fantasy with a kitchen sink approach. (Wondering how the hell I had not read Powers before. He was won pretty much every award that matters in the field.) Big ups.

The Life Coaching Handbook – Curly Martin

No-nonsense, even a little brutal; coaching with NLP and hard nosed business savvy. Useful.

The Inner Game Of Tennis – Timothy Gallwey

Brilliant. Probably the best self-help type book I have ever encountered. Uses learning to play tennis as a metaphor and worked example for how to live life itself. Totally recommended.

Who Fears Death? – Nnedi Okorafor

Awesome. Set in a future Africa, post-disaster, with lingering technology and resurgent magic, and a generally dystopic yet deeply African culture, thematically dealing with war crimes, abuse, and gender really well, while being an intense yet rollicking good read. Okorafor is a literature professor whose parents were Nigerian, and has visited a lot.)

Creative Visualisation – Shakti Gawain

Skimmed. Pleasant new age fluff, most notable perhaps for the occult sources it references in its select bibliography, and acknowledging its blatant steals from that area.

Do Muslim Women Need Saving? – Abu-Lughod

Really interesting book from an anthropologist with 20+ years field experience working with Muslim women taking on the Western portrayal and framing of Muslim women, and having a serious whack at feminism in the process. Excellent, recommended if the subject matter interests you.

Linchpin – Seth Godin

Godin rarely makes an impression on me, which is why I don’t really read him. Feel good create the future of culture ranting, scans well but lacking oomph.

Maori Mentoring and Paths To Wellbeing: Te Huarahi o te Ora – Rachael Selby and Alex Barnes

Not quite what I was looking for from the title. Book about a Maori community/hapu introducing a mentoring program and how it went.

Myths To Live By – Joseph Campbell

Yeah, Campbell really is amazing, eh? This set of lectures is brilliant. If you have never read Campbell, this is a pretty good place to start. Hero With a Thousand Faces is foundation to any understanding of story and psychology. This collection is more wide ranging but top shelf liquor all the way.

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

Skimmed a bit. Polemic is a weird form. A mix of bang on truth to power, and ranting.

Selected Stories – Alice Munro

One of those literary writers who is kind of showing everyone else how to do it, but is less well known as she only writes short stories. Well worth it. Didn’t read enough of them to have a lot to say, but something I will buy and investigate further.

Transparent Things – Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov is highly energetic and obviously a genius but I really struggle to get into him or go back to him once I have put the book down. This well regarded novella seemed amazing for the first 15 pages, not sure why I didn’t get back to it.

The Marble Swarm – Dennis Cooper

Blurb quotes claim he is the most important transgressive novelist since Burroughs. Read 40 pages. Sort of interesting, and while indeed pretty twisted and transgressive, the palpable unreality of the characters, scenario, and everything meant I didn’t give a damn. Gleeful meaningless unpleasantness.