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Three Men in a Boat
Jerome K. Jerome

Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom - Ken Ilgunas I debated giving the book 2 stars because I actually liked the book and the main character for the first third of the book or so. It made me a little more sympathetic to the millennial generation -- coming out of college, faced with debt. Not because I think their situation is really so much different than earlier generations. I know very few of my peers who graduated college without debt or who immediately found jobs in their fields. But it did remind me that it's a scary time for anyone -- and that I, too, was in a hurry to pay off that debt. (Now, well, I have a much healthier relationship with money -- though I'm guessing the author would not agree).

So back to my 1-star review. About halfway through the book (maybe less), the book turned from being a story of a few years of youthful adventure and finding one's self, to being a platform for self-indulgent ramblings. The writer turned preachy and shamefully judgmental -- for someone who previously railed against his parents and friends who he felt judged him for his life choices. He's just hard to like and lacks any self-awareness. I finished reading the book only because I wanted to be sure my bad review was justified. I wanted to like this book and the author -- but was disappointed by both.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman Really beautiful story -- built around the mythic concepts/characters of maiden, mother, and crone. (Though, I embarrassed to say that it took me a while to figure that out.) I love the compactness of this story -- so much said in such a relatively short novel. Thematically the book covers childhood and growing up -- and the differences between how adults and children see the world -- as well as the nature of fear and faith, memory and the passage of time, perception versus reality, and probably a lot that I'm missing. I love a book that marries myth and fiction and the book does it beautifully. I'd like to sit down and read it again with a copy of Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces at my side, so that I can start to see some of the intricacies of this book that I am sure that I missed.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking - Susan  Cain Interesting insights in this book, especially around effectiveness of introvert managers and extrovert managers for different types of employees -- and the studies around sensitivity. However, it's clear this author has an axe to grind with extroverts. I'm about as introverted as they come, so I know the difficulties of working and living with extroverts. But this author writes as if there are almost no redeeming qualities about extroverts, which frankly makes it difficult to trust her and take her seriously. Also, though I know she provides her own definition of "introvert and extrovert", not following the traditional Myers-Briggs definition also weakens her case. Her definitions simply extend the stereotypes of introvert and extrovert -- and that's the most disturbing part of this book. Under her definition, if I'm identified as an introvert, I'm not simply someone who gets energy from introspection and thought -- I'm shy, socially awkward, can't work when there's lots of noise, and, particularly if I'm a man, I'm thin, pale, unathletic, and I wear glasses. (Don't worry, the definition of extrovert is even less flattering.) This is a great topic, and when she's writing about actual research, there are interesting insights. But it was difficult (sometimes infuriating) to wade through all the emotional baggage the author was clearly carrying.

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones Like several goodreads reviewers, I was inspired to read this book by the movie. And I can say I was not disappointed by either. This is a book that I will go back and read again and again because I know I missed much on the first reading. There is not a character in this book that I don't find compelling.

The Night Circus

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern This book has really wonderful imagery and it's laced with mythic elements (that i could spend a lifetime contemplating). My kind of book:).

On Writing

On Writing - Stephen King Really enjoyed this and I didn't expect to. I laughed out loud several times (especially in the autobiographical section). The "On Writing" section made me want to try my hand at fiction (or at least get back to writing something, anything.) It's a little disjointed, but I don't think that detracts from the story or the learning and enjoyment.

People of the Book

People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks The book tells two stories -- one in the present day, about the book conservator uncovering the secrets of the book and her relationships with family and a romantic interest, and one that is the history of the book (the Sarajevo Haggadah). The second story is fascinating, creative, and well done. But compared to it, the first story is pedestrian and distracts from the story of the book. That said, I do like the framing device of using the remnants/artifacts found in the book as the jumping off points for each phase of its story.

Stand Back and Deliver: Accelerating Business Agility

Stand Back and Deliver: Accelerating Business Agility - Pollyanna Pixton, Niel Nickolaisen, Kent McDonald, Todd Little Good tools and examples. And a quick read -- something I like in a business-y book.

The Witch of Portobello

The Witch of Portobello - Margaret Jull Costa, Paulo Coelho It's a good book, but it was hard to get into. I started it three times before it finally pulled me in. I will definitely read more Paulo Coehlo, but I enjoyed "By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept" more.

Do the Work

Do the Work - Steven Pressfield Quick, inspirational read for those of us who've been putting off that personal pet project.

The Johnstown Flood

The Johnstown Flood - David McCullough Fascinating story, though it reads a bit like a history book. Good contrast to Isaac's Storm (by Erik Larsen), about the Galveston flood.

Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life

Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life - Stewart D. Friedman I'm often pretty hard on business/management-type books because, frankly, I seldom learn anything new. While this book does contain a fair amount of common sense advice, it is packaged in a way that inspired me to take it more seriously and make some changes, not just at work, but at home.