Stuart Thompson’s Recently Read Books – April & May 2007

A strange and quiet thing happened last year amongst the melee of distortion that filled my life.  Without realizing it, I had stopped reading…completely!  I’ve gone through times in my life before where I read more certain months and less others depending upon what else is going on in my life.  However, never before have I simpled stopped reading altogether.  Somewhere in the confusion of everything that happened last year, I simply stopped outright.  It was only a couple of months ago that I realized this and ever since then I’ve been deepening myself in all of the wonderful books I’ve missed.

For a bit of fun I thought I’d put a list up here.  Its been really nice to catch up on some books I’ve wanted to read over the last six months, especially those that friends of mine recommended.  I keep a list of recommendations from friends, not only on books, but also on places to visit and things to see.  Oddly enough, despite the fact that I wasn’t really reading anything, I would still add their recommendations of books to my list.  So, without further ado, here is Stuart Thompson’s book list for April & May of 2007.

Decoding the Universe
ISBN: 978-0143038399
Decoding the Universe by Charles Seife is about the modern evolution of Information Theory.  The classic physics of the seventeen and eighteen hundreds paved the way for the quantum physics theories of the twentieth century.  Over the last hundred years, more and more knowledge has been gathered and understood about the continually evolving information theory.  It is becoming generally accepted that information theory is a superset of classic physics and quantum theory and actually extends closer to a grand unified theory than any previous understanding.  This is the second book written by Charles Seife that I’ve read and I hold his writing ability in the highest esteem.  He has a unique ability to present complex scientific concepts in very understandable ways, a talent that many technical writers unfortunately lack.  I can highly recommend both this book and Zero, which I read a couple of years ago.  For more information on Decoding the Universe, check out the article from my technical blog here.  I wrote to Charles Seife to congratulate him on such a great book and received a very nice response from him.  Great author, great scientific journalist, and all around nice guy!

Something Wicked This Way Comes
ISBN: 978-0380729401
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a Ray Bradbury classic that was recommended to me by Meaghan.  It tells the story of two young boys and the adventures they encounter when a dark carnival comes to town just a week before Halloween.  Bradbury uses evocative language and insightful descriptions to tell the entire story, sometimes slipping into a mock prose rather than a traditional narrative.  This book is fifty percent story, and fifty percent experience.  I wasn’t as engrossed as I think I could have been had I read it in my teens, but I certainly enjoyed it and thank Meaghs for the recommendation.  If you’ve got a spare weekend and a six pack of cool beer, this would make an awesome Sunday afternoon read.

Everyone Worth Knowing
ISBN: 978-1416543008
Everyone Worth Knowing is the second book by the author of The Devil Wears Prada.  Basically its chewing gum, but it was on my shelf half-finished from about the time I stopped reading and it felt unceremonious to leave it unfinished.  It’s amusing to read, lends a lot to The Devil Wears Prada and ends on a happy, uplifting note.  Meh!

Battle Circle
ISBN: 978-0380018004
Battle Circle by Piers Anthony is absolutely superb.  It was recommended to me by a friend of mine at work: John Goalby.  From the point I finished book 1: Sos the Rope, I was absolutely hooked.  Telling the tale of nomad tribes in post-apocalyptic America, Anthony has created one of the finest works of science fiction I’ve read.  I finished all three books in the space of a week, often unable to put them down until late into the night and then avidly reading again before work early in the morning.  I have since used several of my favorite character’s names from this book for characters in The Lord of the Rings Online.  If you get the chance, pick it up for $3 from your local used book store and enjoy!

Say It In Six
Say It In Six challenges you to do just that, in meetings, and in any future presentations.  An appropriately short and worthwhile read about speaking efficiently and involving others in your presentations.  Six minute meetings are the new corporate power stroke and companies not adopting them will soon realize their competitive advantage is being eaten up in 54 minute chunks.  Principles absorbed and put into practice; so far it has been working well.

ISBN: 978-0345379063
David Gemmell was a journalist working in London when he wrote Legend, a book which launched his career as an author.  I love science fiction and fantasy books, so perhaps it was predictable that I would love the story of Druss, Captain of the Axe.  Either way, I read this book in about two days straight, again unable to put it down.  I’ve been very fortunate in that several of the books I have read recently have been superb…Gemmell kept up the streak in style and has added another wealth of enjoyment to my recent literary adventures.  It is apparently the first in a complete series about the Drenai people.  Powell’s may be getting another visit this weekend for the rest, considering that today was payday!  Legend was all about heroism, mysticism, and the power of morale.  Fighting a battle you cannot win only became that way because you accepted defeat.  Never underestimate the power of having a Legend beside you.

That’s it.  I don’t know if this shall be the only Stuart Thompson’s Recently Read Books.  We’ll see.  It has been quite fun writing about them and bringing the enjoyment of their pages back to mind.  For now I’m just glad to be back in the proverbial saddle.

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