Nov 11

REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson

Liked the latest from Neal Stephenson, but didn’t love it. As per usual, he really needed a stronger editor for the last half of the book. The book was pretty fun, and a departure for Stephenson, in that it’s not really science fiction, but something that can happen today (if a little, you know, cyber-y).

The first half reads a little bit like a World of Warcraft tutorial (believe it or not, that’s actually a compliment, although I know it won’t sound that way), and the last half is a bit of global chase.

Pretty good, very fast to read and I enjoyed it.

Nov 11

The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel, by Dan Sinker

This book may not be for everyone. But if you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s laugh-out-loud funny. It’s more or less the whole Twitter transcript of @MayorEmanuel, the fake chronicle of Rahm Emanuel on his quest to become the mayor of Chicago.

If you like sustained, over the top profanity and imaginary vignettes about Axelrod in a bear costume tailgating with Rahm Emanuel dressed as a bottle of Jack Daniels at Bears’ games, but only in 140 character chunks (with some mild annotation), this one is for you. ­čÖé

But I thought it was pretty damned funny — Kathy thought I was losing my mind:

“@MayorEmanuel: My giant bottle of Jack costume is too tall to fit on the L. Fuck. If you see a huge bottle of whiskey walking down Milwaukee, that’s me.”

“@MayorEmanuel: I’m in my giant Jack bottle knocking people down Urlacher-style and yelling “YOU JUST GOT JACK’D.” Then we do a fucking shot.”

And if you’re not into that kind of thing, then yeah, maybe not for you.

Sep 11

Just My Type, by Simon Garfield


As I’ve written about a ton of times before, I’m a font nerd. Love them. Could talk about them forever. Could spend 2 days screwing around with my blog looking for just the right look. So I tend to read histories and essays about them whenever I can.

I liked this book, but didn’t love it, honestly. Told lots of stories about how fonts have evolved, the various points where things shifted, etc. As much as anything, I liked reading about some of the subtle letterform differences and breakthroughs that various designers made.

So I recommend this for fellow type nerds, but hard to recommend more generally than that, I think.

Sep 11

In the Plex, by Steven Levy

I really liked this look at Google by Steven Levy — I’ve always liked his insights about the company — he’s had extraordinary access, and I loved the stories about when Google was less gigantic & earth-encompassing. Was fun to read about the exploits of an awesome group of people just out and about and trying things.

Google’s obviously going through periods of intense change now, and I think that a few years from now this book will feel like it describes a completely different company — and, really, it maybe already does.

But it was fun to read about so many of my friends and colleagues and what they went through, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone in the industry.

Sep 11

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

I really enjoyed this book and really recommend it to anyone who grew up in the 1980 with D&D, Intellivision, War Games, Tempest, Rush, and on and on. It’s great fun.

It’s set 30 years in the future, and the premise is that we all spend a huge majority of our time in a virtual world called the OASIS — a creation which netted its inventor billions of dollars. When he died, he set up a massive scavenger hunt across the OASIS — the winner, who successfully navigates a series of quests based on the classic nerd fare from the Eighties, would inherit the founder’s fortune.

Not the best work of literature ever produced, and some flaws & predictability in the book.

Still, I really loved it. So much of my childhood and coming of age is in the cultural references, and I read it greedily and quickly.

Fun book!