Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 4-Hour Body
(Tim Ferriss, 592pp - read about 350)
This is a big book, about how to bulk up, slim down, & then, because you'll still be hideously deformed by soulless ambition, you can also bone up on inflicting orgasms on women to bribe them to be objects in your life. In spite of Ferriss's psychopathy, narcissism, and near humorlessness, the robot sure can munge up a boatload of information. Although it is too fat to hide behind a respectable brown wrapper, I did sneak peek through much of the book. There's lots of ideas, and surely some of them are not rubbish.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It chooses you
(Miranda July, 224pp)
As a performance art project, running around LA interviewing people selling their junk does make the social scientist inside me think, "Why didn't I think of that?" It's a pleasure to meet these people, through the gaze of Miranda July, whose prose offers so many charms and insights. The only reviewer on Amazon remarked on the way this book is a complement to her current film, The Future. I'm not convinced that it's necessary to know the film, although anyone who enjoys the sorts of things that Miranda July confects would not be wise to deny themselves the pleasure of seeing the film AND reading the book. The New Yorker excerpted several of these stories, which can be read as a pretty strong shot of support for seeing the words as capable of standing on their own. I bought this book on pre-order, but it took a while to find time to read it. Ms. July's power, for me, is her capacity to speak so openly about the fragile hopes and awkward moments of quavering inspiration. Snarky poseurs often peg her as "twee", but to me, she's straight up painfully authentic. In this book, she openly discusses her own creative process, in terms of the angst and self-doubt that share mind space with her bounty of ideas. I hadn't realized she recorded CDs until she offhandedly mentioned getting to know a shoe repairman (who was the model for the main character in her first feature film), to whom she gave a copy of 10 Million Hours A Mile.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

(Tibor & Maira Kalman, 224pp)
What a wonderful whirl. The photos are almost entirely stock, and there's next to nothing but pictures gleefully arranged to show the brio with which humans adorn themselves. Many of the most fascinating turn out to be from PG (Papua New Guinea), but there's delightful shots of people in all phases of life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sacred Treasure: The Cairo Genizah
(Mark Glickman, 8:21)
A fascinating trove of documents, championed by Solomon Shechter after he was exposed to them in the late 1890s. This book is rather pedestrian in its exposition, and although I learned things, I was never once excited by the way ideas and history were framed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Inside the Apple: A streetwise history of NYC
(Michelle & James Nevius, 384pp)
A very enjoyable way to catch snippets of NYC history.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Marriage Plot
(Jeffrey Eugenides, 1st chapter)
Meh. Double meh.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Better Angels of Our Nature
(Steven Pinker, 37+ hours)
Amazingly powerful thesis, demonstrated with great taste and power. I am relaxing a little about the fate of the world, now that Pinker's argued so clearly for embracing the process of civilizing impulses.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

What investors really want : discover what drives investor behavior and make smarter financial decisions
(Meir Statman, 286pp)
A pretty good tour of the literature of behavioral finance. Statman's very clear about the non-financial reasons people get involved in investing. Not nearly as indispensable as Poundstone's Priceless -- I just tried to link to my review of that book, but discovered it was never written up. Priceless was very interesting, full of details that I'd not known before. This book is better organized, but not as penetrating.