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Books Read - January 2005

Inspired by gnomi, who participates in the LiveJournal 50bookchallenge community, I've decided to blog about some of the books I've read recently. Maybe I'll get to 50 books by the end of the year without being an "official" part of the challenge! To wit, here are the five books I finished in the month of January, with comments:

#1 Hype and Glory by William Goldman: I'm very fond of Goldman's books on screenwriting (such as Adventures in the Screen Trade), as well as his movies (such as The Princess Bride). When I heard of this book, I ran to the library to read it. Goldman spent one year serving as a judge for both the Cannes Film Festival and the Miss America pageant, and his memoir of the year reads like much of his work does -- you're sitting down with a friend for an informal, personal chat about his experiences. Frankly, I don't care much about either competition, but Goldman made the behind the scenes stuff fascinating.

#2 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: Recommended to me by taxonomist. The novel is narrated from the first person Point of View of an autistic child, who is trying to solve the mystery of who killed a neighbor's dog. What I found remarkable about this book was two things: 1. Haddon captures the voice of the autistic child very well. It may not be how an autistic child really views the world, but it certainly felt like it. 2. There's much more going on than the killing of the dog...

#3 Sky Coyote by Kage Baker

#4 Mendoza in Hollywood by Kage Baker: These two books are the second and third of Baker's series about the Company; last month I read the first one, In the Garden of Iden. They had been recommended to me before but I had never got around to them. Now I wish I had sooner. The premise is simple: a future corporation has discovered time travel and immortality, and uses these tools to create an immortal race of cyborgs out of abandoned children who were lost to history. These cyborgs will arrive at the future the long way; in the meantime, they work for the Company preserving historical artifacts for the mortal owners, who live in the year 2355. Baker keeps hinting that something more is happening underneath the surface, and I can't wait to see where these books lead. The latest one was just published, and so I'm reading as fast as I can.

#5 Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell: Gladwell's The Tipping Point, about social epidemics, was a fascinating read; this one, about the way we make snap decisions and how often they are correct or incorrect, is just as good.

Comments

Blink was indeed very good; it's in my pile-o-books-to-review.
Thanks for the review of #2; I'd seen it on a shelf in passing, and wondered whether it was a Sherlock Holmes homage. (I recognized the title line as coming from "Silver Blaze.")
I'll second the recommendation for The Curious Incident...; I thought it excellent.

Blink

Interesting that you liked Blink as much as The Tipping Point. I thought Blink was distinctly inferior. The problem I had with it was that he conflates three different things: the expert snap decision, the general public snap decision, and the malfunctional snap decision. I would have liked to see, in particular, a discussion of how to turn general public snap decisions into expert ones.

On the other hand, the book certainly made me think (even if much of it was criticism). It also led me to some interesting thoughts about the process of teaching. So in that sense, it was certainly worthwhile.

Re: Blink

It's true that he leaves out the question of how to work on making the proper kind of snap decisions (which he calls thin-slicing) but he does seem to approach the question with his whole discussion of the Amadou Diallo shooting.

I found it as enjoyable to read as The Tipping Point, even if the first book did get into the strategizing question better than the second book.
The fourth book just came out in trade paper. Perhaps she's doing so well they wanted to release it in a more expensive version?

To be honest, I've been borrowing them from our local library.
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