What I Read – January 2015

Smartest by Shane SnowFBP - Federal Bureau of PhysicsThe Wake by Synder and Murphy

Over the last two years, my book reading has dropped off significantly. I often blame it on the amount of reading I am doing in my day job but the further away from actively reviewing of books, the more I find myself reading magazines and online features.  I certainly like that I am still avidly reading. What I miss with this current content mix is the deliberateness you find in the writing for books.  There is a more careful consideration for a topic. Books are containers with boundaries and edges.

So in January, I adjusted my reading mix to heavy dose of hardcovers and paperbacks.  I largely read in two categories – business in a very general sense and comics/graphic novels. Each group is organized roughly in the order I finished them and with a hint of commentary.

Business Books

  • Creativity for Sale: How I Made $1,000,000 by Wearing T-shirts and How You can Turn Your Passion into Profit by Jason Surfapp – Jason sold $75,000 worth of advertising in this book before he got started on the book. I had to see what it was about. Jason does a lot of selling himself – the shirt he wears, the right to his last name – so it would only make sense that he would bring that to his book.  His story was interesting, the rest was OK. 5/10
  • Customers Included: How to Transform Products, Companies, and the World – With a Single Step by Mark Hurst and Phil Terry – I could never figure out what the authors were trying to do with this book. Didn’t get past page 20. 2/10
  • Everything I Know by Paul Jarvis – Couldn’t get into it. Lots of high level, commonly heard advice that made it difficult to grab on. ?/10
  • Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow – I liked this book. There is some nice unexpectedness in the stories and research. My one smallish complaint is that Snow turns the corner too fast with many of his chapters hinging on a person’s story and one interesting piece of research. I would like to have seen more material to bolster the points in his framework. (which are Hack the Ladder, Train with Masters, Rapid Fastback, Platforms, Waves, Superconductors, Momentum, Simplicity, and 10X Thinking). 7/10.
  • Hipster Business Models : How To Make A Living in The Modern World by the team at Priceonomics – I like this book a lot but it is a little hard for me to know who I would recommend to. The authors have pulled together 22 stories that have been featured on their blog and filled out the details a little more.  The stories are of people doing what they want to do and possibly finding a way to make money doing it – underwear with a pocket, jellyfish tanks, a better frisbee. If you love seeing lots of alternative business models or reading about entrepreneurs trying to make their businesses work, this book will work for you.  Otherwise, skip it because you will likely fail to see how cool all of these people are. 8/10 for me.

Comics and Graphic Novels

  • Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 1 – The Ronin by Stan Sakai – This rabbit samurai bodyboard has been saving feudal Japan since 1984.  This is my first run through this classic series and it is fun. 8.5/10
  • The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1  by Gillen McKelvie and Wilson Cowles – If you follow comics at all, you have been hearing about this title.  There is a soundtrack. All the praise is well deserved. I only buy collected issues in paperback and Vol.1 ends with amazing things just getting started. Given that, I recommend waiting until July until Vol. 2 is released, so you can read straight through. 8/10
  • Viktor Kalvachev’s Blue Estate Hardcover – I bought this on a tip from Wink Books and I liked it. What is there not to like about movie stars, assassins, Russian mobsters fighting Italian gangsters and a few misunderstandings that create a self-propelled storyline? 7.5/10
  • The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean – I liked this limited run too. Lots of nice alt-biology and alt-future history running through two storylines separated by 200 years. 8.5/10
  • FBP by Simon Oliver, Robbi Rodriguez, and Ricorenzis – Buy this now! The authors have created a world where the laws of physics aren’t as constant as they used to be and the Federal Bureau of Physics is called to investigate and fix the rips and tears in space-time, some accidental and other created on purpose. I burned through Vol.1 and had to buy Vol. 2 immediately. 9/10
  • The Fear Agent Volume 1 by Remender, Moore and Opena – I wanted to like this more. Maybe it is the reckless cowboy angle that didn’t work for me. I am not sure. You should give it a shot if you haven’t. 6/10

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