Tuesday, February 22, 2011

36 Arguments for the Existence of God
(Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, 15:34)
Good, but not great. I have spent a little too much time dallying with theology of late, but I couldn't resist this. Ms. Goldstein encodes roman a clef with intimate knowledge of academia. Her first book, the Body-Mind problem, played with Saul Kripke in an alternate universe. This starts with a pompous faker Jonas Elijah Klapper (surely based on Harold Bloom in his acts of ledgerdemain and self-arrogating disdain for science "after Freud.") Napoleon Chagnon is also shadow-sketched, as are others in the small world of giant egos in academia. The tale gets more engaging in the last half, since the focus on a child prodigy shows Ms. Goldstein's true reverence is for genius incarnate.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts
(Martha, 416pp)
Block potato printing, botanical pressing, French mats, decoupage, and soap making. Sound fun.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Crowdsourcing: The Coming Big Bang of Business and How It Will Change Your World
(Jeff Howe, 9:44)
Very interesting although occasionally too rah-rah. The prose was more vigorous than Wikinomics, which I read at the same time, and the content overlapped about 75%. Of the two, this is a better book.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
(Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams, 13:40)
I read about 2/3 of this, but it's not quite as good as Crowdsourcing. It was published in 2007, rather than 2008 for the latter book.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
(The Heath brothers, 7:42)
Very smooth, very interesting. A little deceptive (or should I just say, Gladwellian) as it focuses on cases where hard behavioral changes can be facilitated by small tweaks. Certainly there are success stories to inspire, but there's an analogy to NP-hard problems: while it's easy to recognize their solution, it's very very difficult to find that solution, until you are presented with it. Loved the concept of 'action triggers', and I probably will start using the term "inch-pebbles" to build up "milestones." Here's a very cool map of the book