Books I’m reading

Maybe I read too much.

People often ask me to share my reading list with them, and yet I haven’t really done so except in fits and starts. There are a number of reasons for this. One, I read too much. Two, I haven’t particularly liked any of the book-sharing websites I’ve been pointed towards. Three, when I do share the list, I want to do more than just list the books, I want to say something about each of them. That’s the way I am.

Talking about book-sharing websites, what I’d really like is a smartphone app that does something like this:

  • scans barcode or ISBN number.
  • identifies book, gives me chance to confirm and augment the data.
  • lets me point the data towards one or more digital places it lets me set up: my library, borrowed, lent, blog post draft, amazon/abebooks/others recommendation engines, etc.
  • lets me know when authors of books I’ve starred are in the vicinity, current or planned. e. lets me know who else in my network is reading the book or related books.

Regular readers will be familiar with my reading style. Around ten books at a time. Books read at different paces. Books usually a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, even reference. Some books read more than once.

So here’s my current list:

  • Tainter, Joseph: The Collapse of Complex Societies. 1st reading. Because Clay Shirky suggested it. Fascinating. Hadn’t really got into collapse theory before. Think it is very important for anyone who seeks to understand why companies fail in paradigm shifts.
  • Johns, Adrian: Piracy. 2nd reading. Random bookstore buy, never heard of the author before. Still spitting at the idiocy of the Digital Economy Act, I owe it to myself to continue to delve into the entire issue in depth.
  • Sankar: Chowringhee 1st reading. Another bookstore purchase, the illustration on the spine caught my eye. Silhouette of man, umbrella, bike. Something very Calcutta about the set-up and the lighting. An enjoyable regression into a Havanaesque Calcutta.
  • Leonard, Elmore: Comfort to the Enemy. 2nd reading. Been a Leonard fan for years. More a dipping into than a reading. The Carl Webster stories are divine, and this a great triple.
  • Eisenstein, Elizabeth: The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. 5th reading, at least. I try and read and re-read and re-re-read this book regularly. For me to really understand and appreciate the nuances of the internet and the web, I need to be steeped in the learning of print. And it’s a fascinating subject anyway, one that has significant light to shed on copyright and IPR and socio-economic implications.
  • Zanini de Vita, Oretta: The Encyclopaedia of Pasta. 1st reading. Amazon recommendation. Trying to read this seminal tome from cover to cover. I love food, love pasta, and this is a great book for beginners and experts alike.
  • Gawer, Annabelle: Platforms, Markets and Innovation. 1st reading. I was aware of Prof Gawer’s earlier works, but hadn’t come across this recent publication. It’s a collection of essays by the great and the good in the sphere of platforms. Made all the more enjoyable by having a presentation copy from the author.
  • Gambetta, Diego: Codes of the Underworld. 1st reading. Very unusual book by a very unusual man. Bought via a book review somewhere I can’t remember. Shame. Fascinating study by someone who really knows his subject, presents an intriguing set of observations that we can extrapolate into all kinds of areas of strategic communications.
  • Miller, Donald: A Million Miles In A Thousand Years 1st reading. Loved Blue Like Jazz, was therefore positively inclined for any new Donald Millers. Urged to buy the book as  a result of something Chris Brogan said, probably on facebook.
  • Crawford, Matthew: The Case For Working With Your Hands. 1st reading. Serendipitous visit to bookstore while waiting for someone or something. Wonder why I’ve never heard of this guy before, loving the book. Reading it very slowly as a result. Described as Heidegger and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
  • Dodd, David: The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. 1st reading, if you can call it that. Amazon recommendation. Didn’t know when the book had been published, the Dead oeuvre is large enough to warrant a Harry-Potter-sized book designed to give you wrist strain as you read. I’m random-dipping into it.
  • Perez, Carlota: Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital 9th reading? Something like that. One more of those books I keep picking up regularly to learn about the environment we’re in, its causes, the implications.

You will notice I haven’t panned any of the books. You know why? Life’s too short. If I don’t like a book, the best thing I can do is not to mention it. If I read four or five hundred books a year, and mention maybe 30 in the blog, that’s a sign in itself. Why waste energy?

Talking about energy, hope you find the list useful. Tell me what I can do to improve it.

One thought on “Books I’m reading”

  1. Great list, JP, many thanks. You ask what you could do to improve it. A very minor thing, and perhaps special pleading: state whether a book is available on Kindle or not. Piracy, Pasta and Collapse are, the rest I believe are not. If you added this to the list I could go straight to the ones on Kindle and just buy them. I agree completely with your critique of current book recommendation services. A project for you?

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