Bookpile: May 2010

Deja Dead – First in the series of books that the TV show Bones is based on. I accidentally started with book two some time ago and was looking for just anything to take on a trip recently. Decided to go back to book one and see if I could fall in love with these. And, while I’m OK with them, I’m not in love. They’re solid, even when she starts rather academically lecturing on things like bones and so forth, but given the wide number of books available, will only be a fall-back for me. As always, be warned that Temperance in the books is absolutely nothing like Temperance on the show. Other than the bones thing, that is. And actually, I like the more normal Tempe in the books a bit more. The whole cultural ignorance thing gets old after awhile.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – You might have seen Pink’s TED talk about motivation; it made quite the rounds. The book is a hugely expanded version of the talk, complete with all the requisite academic references. And yes, it’s a fascinating concept that we’re more motivated by challenging and creative work than by financial rewards. At least in the long-term. Productivity goes up when the work is its own reward. The financial incentives are best for boring, routine type work. It’s an interesting read and I’m fascinated to see how it gets applied at corporations. Strikes me as the kind of thing that’s great to talk about but hard to actually do. It’s so much easier to just throw money at a situation than to actually apply thought.

The Boy with the Magic Numbers – Second one of the Magic Children series and still find them delightful. Just a little sad that they’re so hard to find these days. Love that the magic part with these kids helps them out in sticky family situations. In this case, a boy who has to come to grips with the fact that his dad isn’t as fabulous as he thinks and that there’s more to family and friends than he realized. Charming story, although this one has a bit more “scary” action to it than the last one I read. Actual big danger involved, although the magic numbers make everything better in the end.

Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot – First heard of this book from my friend, Jon Dale, and finally got around to reading it. And, while it has a lot of stuff that definitely is worth reading, there is a lotThe story  that is a bit “duh”. Maybe because I didn’t come in needing to be convinced that I have a sweet spot and I should be in it. Much to think about here and there’s a lot of workbook stuff at the end to help you work through most of it. Definitely a challenge read, but only if you’re ready to take it. Thinking I need to read it again with a highlighter and be more serious about it. Potential for life change with this if you’re open to it.

No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process – Another suggestion from Seth. And you might have heard of this one because the documentary is coming out soon, but I think it’s an either/or situation for me and since I’ve already read the book … . Which I really enjoyed, by the way. Well-written, entertaining, thought-provoking. But definitely a bit one-sided presentation of evidence. OK, a lot one-sided, actually. He rips Kimberly-Clark for chopping down trees but never once mentions the fact that they plant them as well. So read, enjoy, be challenged, but don’t accept everything he says as the complete truth, OK?

Andrew Lost: In Time – Book nine of this series and sort of the first of a two-parter it seems. Found it when I was looking for kid-level science fiction stories. And it’s not. It’s science, but not science fiction. So still looking. Open to suggestions! It was a good book, don’t get me wrong. Nice way of presenting the big bang theory to kids, and I’m sure the rest of the series is great as well in covering various science topics. Very Magic School Bus to me, just for slightly older kids than that.

The Fair Maid of Bohemia – Next for me in this mystery series set in Elizabethan England. The Westfield’s Men acting company vacates England altogether in this one – in part because of the plague, in part because of a request to perform for the Emperor – to head to Prague. Company bookholder Nick is saved from death by a case of mistaken identity and needs all his wits along the route to keep everyone else alive and deliver two mysterious packages to the same mysterious person. Marston delivers as always with a nice tale to pass the time. I always enjoy his stuff, although I wouldn’t rave over it. Nice set of cozy mysteries if you’re in to those, though.

A Fine Line – Couldn’t finish this one. Just wasn’t what I was thinking/hoping/expecting and I couldn’t get into it. But, if you’re interested in design, particularly of products and thinking of it in terms of strategy and not just a to-do on the checklist, check it out. It was recommended by several designer types and maybe they just were getting something more out of it than I was. By the guy who developed the whole Apple aesthetic and certainly a leader in the field.

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Had the HBO series in my Netflix queue and somehow ended up picking up the book so that I was actually partaking in both at roughly the same time. But this is about books! And the book has that feel of the way people talk in Africa – the no compound sentences, no contraction, clipped kind of feel. (Although he does actually use contractions.) It can be distracting, but if you’ve ever been to Africa, it also makes you feel more in the setting. Or maybe that’s just me. Liked this first book, but not enough to pursue more of them unless I’m just wanting something light to read and can’t think of anything else. I think the lack of overarching mystery made it less compelling, although it’s really less about the mystery and more about Precious’s way of seeing the world and figuring out puzzles and daily life in Botswana. You really have to be invested in her as a character to want to continue and I left the book feeling like she was being stand-offish with me. (For the record, she felt more like a real person in the TV show, in part because she showed vulnerabilities in worrying about money, etc. Hmm.)

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