What I Read – February 2017

Non-Fiction

Whiplash: How To Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe – Not sure. The authors lay out nine concepts that define the age we live in. The concepts are set up to be provocative with a “this vs. that” format. All of the concepts are good. Pull over Push. Systems over Objects. Some of the stories are interesting, but it is not always clear how they support the main concept.  I am not sure the main concepts are always compellingly explained as important. The book is certainly a nod to the MIT Media Lab and I like hearing about the Lab more than I expected. The book though was a mixed bag for me. Could.

Dear Data: A Friendship in 52 Weeks of Postcards by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec – This book collects the mail interchange of two data designers over the course of a year. Each week, they asked a question, collected data and created a representation to send to the other.  The postcards feel more artistic than graphic. Watching the project evolve and seeing their follow-up commentary adds the right amount of context. The book is fun and inspiring. Should.

Fiction

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Narrated by John Lee – I was looking for a book to match with my trip to India in January. The title won the Booker Prize in 2008 and it kept showing up on my radar around books about India and books about entrepreneurship. I chose to go with the audiobook edition, which worked very well given the book is written in first person (and that I can’t read in cars). The protagonist, Balram Halwai, is writing a letter to the Premier of China about his life story and what the Premier could learn from an entrepreneur like himself. The 21st century description of the caste system, bribery, loyalty, and globalization in India resonated with him. I could see glimmers of what Adiga describes. Strangely, the core of the story felt a little hollow to me but the circumstances that drove the story forward were fascinating. Should. 

In-Between

Life of the Buddha by Ashvaghosha, Translated by Patrick Olivelle – This is an epic poem of the Buddha’s life that was likely written in the first century CE. The official translation runs from his birth through the enlightenment. It is a good, but formal version of the story. Should.

Graphic Novels

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet  – Book Two by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and Laura Martin – The story continue and T’Challa fights to see what is going on in his crumbling country and starts to see what must be done to save it. Must.

Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven – I needed to read the original run to be ready for the movie. It’s dark and sad, but it’s Wolverine and it suits him. Must.

 

What I Read – January 2017

 

Non-Fiction

Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen – In this 2011 book, Collins’ points his research practice at emerging companies. The question was how do start-up deal with the uncertainity, chaos and luck during their first decade. Collins with Morten Hansen use the paired approach, comparing 10X companies to their less successful comparables. They found a steady pace, small bets before big ones, consistent strategy, and a healthy dose of “productive paranoia”. The sum of the findings advocates greater discpline and how that discpline creates shapes outcomes in a world with luck, both good and bad.  Must.

Graphic Novels

Ms. Marvel Volume 6 – The book continues its amazing run. Things get more complicated and the consequences more severe. This book takes place during Civil War II event and the influence comes in and goes back out. Must.

What I Read – December 2016

Non-Fiction

The Revenge of Analog by David Sax – This is a strange one. On the one hand, this book was written for me. I collect Moleskines and Field Notes. I bought a Poloroid camera so I could try out Impossible Film went it came on the market. I supported a number of board games that have been launched through Kickstarter. Our Holiday card in 2014 was eight pages of newsprint from Newspaper Club. Sax does a good job reporting this continuing phenonomen of indie, on-demand, analog creation–old forms finding new life with improved or revived technologies. The trouble was that I knew many of these stories well. I subscribed to Stack. I purchase Monocle. I’ve scouted the Amazon Books stores. I am not sure I could have written it, but it needed a little more (and I can’t believe I am saying this) fanboy amazement at what has happened and what more is possible. Could if you already get analog, Should if you want to understand.

Long Story Short by Margot Leitman – I like short books on storytelling, but this one didn’t click for me. The stories from students in Leitman’s classes were interesting but I am not sure her approach to the mechanics of storytelling gave me a new take. Could.

The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly – I have been reading Kelly’s work for a long time. We chose Out of Control for The 100 Best. There were a few high points but this one didn’t have enough surprises for me. It felt a little too abstract, some of the concepts were mushing in how they could overlap and that I had heard these many of these riffs before. Sadly, Could.

Graphic Novels

Hellboy Volume 1 by Mike Mignola and John Bryne – This is a collection of the first two story arcs of Hellboy. We get the origin story and lots of people tell him he is not doing what he was meant to do. I have always wanted to read this title and I wasn’t disappointed. Must.

Special YA Edition from Ethan Sattersten

My son Ethan is a reader.  Since he started tracking in June, he has finished 50 books. I asked him to share his favorite series of the year.

Keeper of the Lost Cities Series by Shannon Messenger -Sophie is a normal human girl in high school at the age of 12 with Yale trying to accept her. Normal, right? But Sophie can hear minds and one day she meets a boy named Fitz whose minds she can’t hear. Sophie is sucked into a worlddo different than her own. She also isn’t who she thinks she is. I love books that have two things: adventure/fight scenes and mystical legends with a twist (courtesy of the author).   This series has a lore that will make you crave the next book. Must – books in the Series include Keepers of the Lost Cities, Exile, Everblaze, Neverseen, Lodestar and two more planned but unreleased titles.

Keys To The Kingdom Series by Garth Nix – This is the story of Arthur, a kid who is given a key by Mr. Monday. The strange events start to occur. I don’t want to spoil it (and it’s hard to explain anyway). I like these books because of the epic battles and reality bending physics. That     WORTH IT. I kinda play up the book series I love, so bear with my fan boying. Check it out! MUST – books in the Series include Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday, Superior Saturday, and Lord Sunday.

Skulduggery Pleasant Series by Derek Landy – Stephanie Egley is an average 12 year old living in Ireland until her uncle’s unusual death. At the reading of his will, , she inherits all of her uncle’s royalties and riches, and Stephanie meets a strange man wrapped in a scarf. From there, her life and destiny are changed forever.  This story known as The Dead Bestseller brings you to a world that could easily be a single plot for every typical hero arc there ever was or will be, all in this seven book series. Warning: There are many deaths in these books of important characters or not) Should – books in the Series include Skulduggery Pleasant, Playing with Fire, The Faceless Ones, Dark Days, Mortal Coil, Death Bringer, Kingdom of the Wicked, Last Stand of Dead Men, The Dying of the Light, and a planned release in 2017.

What I Read – November 2016

Non-Fiction

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton – This book is full of intriguing places off the beaten path. If the book is for you, you’ll find those few stops you have been to and so many more that you’ll need to visit. Such a lovely collection. Must.

Resilience by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy – This one has been sitting in my reading pile for a while.  I love the topic of resilience. The authors touch on all sort of interesting hot buttons – mindfulness, prisoner’s dilimina, swarming – but the book doesn’t hold together enough around the big idea.  Could.

Travel The Planet Overland by Graeme and Luisa Bell – This book came out of the travels that the Bells made all over the planet in their Land Rover and they created a Kickstarter project to publish the book. I couldn’t say no. The book designed to convey advice about vehicle choice, essential gear, how to make money and food that works best for long-term overland travel. Could.

Super Sushi Ramen Express by Michael Booth – This is a wonderful book about traveling through Japan with food as the central focus. I traveled to Japan in 2014 and visited some of the places that Booth reports on, but he does so much more. The book made me realize how much Japanese food culture has moved into Western food culture – sushi, tempura, miso, soy sauce, sake, unami.  Each of those serves as an essay topic along with along with several other stops including modern day pearl divers, poisonous fugu fish and the dualing schools of Japanese cooking. The writing style is simple and clear; Booth’s attitude is fun and mildly adventrous. This book is a Should for most people, and if you love Japan, it is a Must.

Graphic Novels

Trees Volume 2 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard – The storyline gets stale. It moves away from the mystery and gets all muddled up in other motivations of a few characters. It confuses me. I am putting this series down. Skip.

Other Things

Doctor Strange – I honestly don’t know how Marvel continues to produce one great movie after another. I know part of it is being careful to produce across a growing set of genres. I also know they are careful to do too much or reuse plot devices across their movies. As for Doctor Strange, their version of magic is interesting and like in Thor, they show how it intersects with the observable world. Must.

Moana – Walt Disney Animation continues to put out amazing stories. Moana is fun, touching and leads with another great female role model (they even poke fun at the whole Disney princess thing). We took the whole family and everyone loved it. Must.

What I Read – October 2016

Non-Fiction

Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen Eisenhardt – I can remember reading the original 2001 HBR article while I was in business school. I loved it and its idea of simplifying decisions with a short list of effective rules. The book is an extension of the article 15 years later and this felt like a good idea with too many pages. The best of the book can be found in chapter 5, where the authors give solid examples for using simple rules in business context. Sprinkled throughout the book there are other interesting anecdotes about how simple rules create better outcomes, but they are too far between.  Could.

The Best Interface Is No Interface by Golden Krishna – Skip. I didn’t want to say that about this book. The topic is great. The design is interesting. The trouble is that the book suffers from too much rant, not enough hope, and the need for a wider variety of interesting examples that describe non-obvious solutions to today’s problems with interfaces.

A Book About Love by Jonah Lehrer – I learned things reading this one (yes, I was wrong about letting kids cry to learn to soothe themselves; very bad idea). I loved spending time thinking about relationships, effort and the stories we tell ourselves. At other points, Lehrer inserts himself into the narrative in very poignant, jolting ways. He uses literary authors and characters to open some chapters. It felt weird.  Overall I wanted something smoother. Move quickly and you will likely find interesting and useful things to think about. The best I can offer is a Could.

Graphic Novels

Ms. Marvel Volume 5: Super Famous by Wilson, Miyazawa, Leon, and Alphona – This book continues its great run. Ms. Marvel somehow keeps bumping into bad time baddies in Jersey City. Family and friends are changing too.  It’s a lot for our main character to keep up with and she sometimes makes decisions that make things worse. Her job is to work it all out. Must.

East of West: Volume Six by Jonathon Hickman and Nick Dragotta – This far into the series it gets hard to talk it about with giving away the story. Just keep reading this one. It is great. Must.

What I Read – September 2016

Non-Fiction

Grit by Angela Duckworth -This is my favorite book of 2016, hands-down. Duckworth theory is that effort is the key to achievement because it builds skills AND contributes to achievement. Our desire to engage in continued effort comes from passion and perseverance. Her narrative delightfully balances research, case studies and memoir. Her own research is rich and interesting, but even more so as she connects the dots with other researchers like Carol Dweck, Anders Ericsson,  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and others. I’ll be writing a longer summary of the book soon, but until then this is a MUST.

Graphic Novels

Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze – Coates is telling a big story in the newest reboot of Black Panther. What makes the story special is that everyone is right but no one agrees.  What happens when your superpowers can’t save what you love most? Must.

What I Read – August 2016

 

Non-Fiction

The Aspirational Investor by Ashvin Chhabra – I rarely read personal finance books because the advice is so repeated – savings more than you spend & balance your investment classes. Chhabra makes a run at doing something different. Most is the same advice but his take on what gets people on the Forbes 400 list and three tranches of investing is interesting. It needed more interesting. Could.

The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei by John Stevens – There are a set of monks outside Kyoto who practice by running.  Monks start by running 100 days of kaihōgyō and very select few continue into a 1000 day challenge that takes seven years to complete. In modern times, only 46 men have completed the longer challenge.  The book describes the history of the Tendai at Mount Hiei, the requirements of kaihōgyō, and the profile of the people who have completed. Fascinating. Could.

Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel – This book was one of the first to introduce Zen to the West. A German philosophy professor searches for a kyūdō master to teach him and satisfy his curosity in mysticism as he perceived Zen to be. Herrigel, in this short book, writes most of the narrative in disbelief and frustration by the seeming indirect and oblique instruction he receives. Even after he passes his teacher’s test, Herrigel worries the reader won’t believe or understand the journey he has taken. I can relate to the student in protest; his skepticism created a distance for me. Could.

The Theory That Would Not Die by Sharon Bertsch Mcgrayne – I have been fascinated by Bayes’ theorem for some time and this book covers the 325 year history of the concept. For a long time, many people thought you could only predict the likelihood of something happening after you observed it happen at least once. Thomas Bayes, Pierre-Simon Laplace and a host of others that followed showed you could take a host of variables and their probablities to help predict these unseen events. Even more importantly, you could keep feeding back new information to improve the predictive outcomes as you progressed. The theory has been used to find lost submarines, break German codes during World War II, show the underrepresented risks with flying large numbers of bomber flights with nuclear weapons onboard.  Heavy on history, my favorite material was in the latter half of the book with the stronger emphasis on modern application.  Could for most.

Graphic Novels

Aya of Yop City by Maguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie – I dropped into the second book in the six book series. The fictional story follows Aya and a cast of characters in Côte d’Ivoire during the 1970’s. I remember seeing a quote from the author saying the goal of the series was to create a more normal portrayal of Africans, one that breaks down the assumptions and stereotypes. The story has shunned relatives “out in the village”, searches for love, and people who are just trying to make their lives a little better. Should.

Other

Chef’s Table – Just finished watching the first season of this documentary series that introduces us to innovative chefs from around the world. This was amazing brain candy for me. I love watching people who do things differently and can explain why. And I love the food they make. I am heading into Season Two immediately. Must.

Kubo and The Two Strings – Fun. Beautiful. Loved it. Must.

What I Read – June 2016

Non-Fiction

Not Invented Here by Ramon Vullings and Marc Heleven – This is a fun run through being better at taking ideas and inspiration from other places. Lots of going framing and examples. My favorite – “In Germany–companies such as Daimler, Bayer, Siemens, and SAP all have an entire department of Grundsatzfragen (in English: a department of Fundamental Questions). It’s clear these companies see questionsing as a strategic asset.” Should.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – Many people will be drawn in and love the inspiration that Gilbert provides. We live in a world where many people need permission practice their art. This is a beautiful answer for them.  For me, I feel I might have read it at the wrong time or I too easily recognized her angle. Could.

Graphic Novels

Authority Volume 1 by Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary – This is a solid 12 issue run with a interesting set of heroes, a dimension traveling ship and bad bad guys. Should.

Letter 44 by Charles Soule and Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque – I read on through Volume 2 and Volume 3. It was OK.  I felt the idea lost its legs and got a little predictable as the story went on. Could.

Both

Cool Japan Guide by Abby Denson – I really enjoyed this comics drawn travel guide to Japan. The book has a nice geek flavor to it with emphasis on manga, food and quirky places to visit. The book is also fun and personal. It is a nice read for anyone planning a trip. Should.

Other

Mozart in The Jungle Season 1 – The appeal for me is in both my inner band geek and the quirky, human way the story plays out. Should.

Drawing is Magic by John Hendrix and Draw Your Big Idea by Nora Herting and Heather Willems – I keep buying these cute books with themed drawing prompts. They are not enough to get over the bump to start; that is my own challenge. Could.

What I Read – May 2016

Non-Fiction

Connected by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler – I have been wanting to read this book for a long time. Understanding how we are connected and how ideas and influences pass between us is fascinating to me and strongly connected to my work.  The authors draw from a wide range of sources and from their own original research. Strangely, the book overall suffers from too much research and data with not enough connective tissue to form a smoother overall narrative.  Could.

Draplin Design Co. – Pretty Much Everything by Aaron James Draplin – A beautiful capture of Draplin’s 20 year body of work – Snowboarder, Field Notes, Thick Lines, and all the logos. A wonderful testament to being prolific, taking inspiration from everywhere and just being nice Should.

Graphic Novels

Saga Book 1 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples – The series is as wonderful and real. It’s about war and family and like all great stories, characters doing things they never knew they could. This version is a collection of the first 18 issues. Must.

Lando by Charles Soule and Alex Maleev – It is a fun single arc story with Lando Calrissian and his advisor Lobot. They pick up a few others to help with a heist and quickly end up over their heads. I thought it was good-ish. He felt more like previous owner of the Millenium Falcon and less like leader of Cloud City in this one. Could.

Captain America by Ed Brubaker and various artists – I checked Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Brubaker’s run on Captain America.  I liked Volume 1 alot. You can see its influence on the CA movies. Volume 2 was OK. It started a completely new story line, bringing in Winter Soldier and Red Skull, but didn’t feel as compelling. Volume 1 Should, Volume 2 Could.

The Manhattan Projects Volume 1 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra – This is a re-imagining of the what it was like during World War II and the bringing together of the most brilliant men of the time. In this retelling, creating the A-bomb is a sideshow project for much more important matters. As I kept reading, I wasn’t sure if I should keep going, and still…I turned the page. I will be moving onto Volume 2 and you Should too.

Letter 44 Volume 1 by Charles Soule and Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque – This is another alt-history where the 44th President shows up for his first day on the job and finds out there is a secret space mission that has been underway for three years. It quickly gets more complicated and intersting. Moving onto Vol 2 and 3. Should.

Other

Been out watching all the superhero movies as they released in theaters.

Here is my ranked order:

  1. Captain America: Civil War – Best of the bunch. Marvel has figured out that right mix of drama, action and humor. Really bad things happen in this movie and that provides so much fuel to propel this movie from start to finish. And if you have been watching the whole MCU arc from the start, it is really starting to payoff for viewers. MUST.
  2. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – Really bad things happening in the DCU but they seem to weigh down the characters. Clark and Bruce carry the weight of their worldviews. Wonder Woman tells us she left because she gave up on humanity. This leaves Lex Luthor seems as the only character with curosity and vision. The series needs some hope, because they is what superheros are all about. Should.
  3. X-Men: Apocalypse – The weakest of the pre-summer releases. It felt like it needed to be big for big’s sake.  The three decade long run across the three most recent movies takes a heavy toll on the continuity, not just with the prior X-men movies but the earlier ones in this series. Big, confusing and a more than a little random. Could.

What I Read – April 2016

Non-Fiction

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor – This book follows perfectly the script for the modern business book. Achor lays out the problem: When comparing studies done on psychology, for every 17 studies on negative psychology, there is only one on positive psychology. He defines his language: “Happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential.” And then he delivers utility backed up by the best psychology research of the last 15 years. Here are some things you can do to have a more positive mindset: meditate, find something to look forward to, commit conscious acts of kindness,  infuse positvity into your surroundings, exercise, spend money on experiences-not things, exercise a personal strength. Should

Culturematic by Grant McCracken – I am a fan of McCracken and had been sitting on this book for too long.   As an anthropologist, he looks for the things that make and shape culture. In his watching, McCracken has started to see a pattern for how memes, ideaviruses, and metaphoric mapmaking happens. He points to food trucks, Apple Genius Bar, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Wordle, NFL Films. The book is written as a hypothesis and that might frustrate some readers, but there is enough pattern matching to satisfy those looking for utility. I know this because I see culturematics all around me – How It Should Have Ended?, Portlandiathe $100 giveaway at 2012 World Domination Summit,  Shasha Martin’s journey cooking a weekly family meal from every country on the planet, Tyler Murphy filling in the blanks with Ben Solo and Chewbecca, Wine Library TV and now #AskGaryVee, Morioka Shoten Ginza: Japan’s One Book Bookstoresketchnoting, Black Lives MatterUniform Project, PechaKucha 20×20, WeWork Should

Graphic Novels

East of West Volume 5 by Hickman, Dragotta, and Martin – Just out paperback. This series is so good. I might need to start buying single issues. I haven’t done that in 35 years. They spent five issues just thickening the plot. Must

The Return of Zita The Spacegirl by Ben Hatke – This is the final book in the current trilogy. Hatke is clever with character, there is great action, and so. much. heart. My favorite line which sums up the series

“[Zita], you’ve helped a lot ‘o folk. An’ you did it by knowin’ when t’do what’s right, not by worryin’ ’bout what’s allowed.”

We need more Zita in the world. Must

Hawkeye vs Deadpool by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli and Jacopo Camagni – If you are going to do Deadpool, it has to be funny. I thought this one was OK. Could

Little Robot by Ben Hatke – I started looking for more books by Mr. Hatke.  This one works well for a younger (and older) audience.  The book is about a little girl who finds a robot that fell off a truck and what happens when the factory finds out. It’s also about how we do the best we can for the things we care about and how our best sometimes isn’t good enough. Should

Zen

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones complied by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki – This compliation of Zen stories and koans is made up of four smaller works: the modern 101 Zen Stories, the 13th century Gateless Gate, Ten Bulls and Centering. Many of the stories like A Cup of Tea and The Sound of One Hand have entered common culture as a result of its publication. Must

Reboot Podcast with Jerry Colonna – Jerry is doing something important on this podcast.  You could call it business with heart.  You could call it enlightened leadership.  I find he is at his best when he is coaching startup founders through their current challenge. He is so good at meeting them where they are and helping them see their struggle from a slighly different place. Should

Other

Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisian Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish –  The book opens with his story of leaving a sales job at IBM to learn to bake bread in California, Minnesota, and France.  The author ended up in Portland and he now bread bakes and pizza makes. The book is a wonderful combination of narrative, better strategy for home bread making and infinite combinations of loaves. Probably need to go buy this one for my shelf. Should

WTF Podcast with Marc Maron – Lorne Michaels – Maron tried out for Saturday Night Live and failed twenty years ago. In his style, he resolves that open wound with Michaels and explores what makes SNL so amazing. Should

The Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese – It is impossible to read this and not have some reaction. It is the best piece of writing I have read so far in 2016. Must

WTF Podcast with Marc Maron – Louis CK – This is a great episode about the behind-the-scenes making of Horace and Pete.  I have only watched first episode so I can’t speak for the series, but I found the creative process that Louis CK described as fascinating. We wanted to make this thing that didn’t really exist – somewhere between theater and episodic television.  He wanted to say things and do things that didn’t match his past work. He wanted to show it to people as fast as he could put it out and without any warning or preview. He was able to get Edie Falco, Alan Alda, and Steve Buscemi to sign on to the show with one script (that should be endorsement enough to watch it all). Marc does such of good job of giving Louis space to talk about the emotions of making the series. Must

What I Read – March 2016

I made a New Year’s resolutions in 2015 and 2016 to read more books and share what it is I have been reading. I added some new ratings with the intention of being more helpful – Must, Should, Could, and Skip.

Non-Fiction

How to Cook Your Life by Dogen Zenji, commentary by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, translated by Thomas Wright – These is the Instructions to the Tenzo, or cook,  written by the founder of Zen Buddhism. This was a temple position that always existed but he elevated its importance in his time through these writings. The directions are simple and provide a view for bringing practice into everyday life. Dogen says, “Maintain an attitude that tries to build great temples from ordinary greens.”Must if you practice Zen

Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar – The best takeaway from the book is that greater happiness comes from taking time to self-reflect through things like meditation or keeping a journal. I had a hard time connecting with the rest of the abstract feeling material. Skip

One Bird, One Stone by Sean Murphy – This is a collection of modern stories from the people who brought Zen Buddhism from Japan to the United States and the first generation of American teachers who helped it take root. Murphy interviewed as many of them as he could and the book is structured with that narrative interspersed with collected stories. I really liked this book. Should if interested in Zen

Sprint by Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz – Three Google Venture partners show how to run one week sprints that create workable, successful prototypes.They have determined the people you need and exactly how you should spend your time over those five days. Their process design is firmly seated in insights about where ideas come from and the challenges of group decision making. My favorite piece was a first time exposure to the almost 50 year old technique of “How Might We…?” This book is written to address a specific problem in a highly structured way. I left wanting something more modular or something with more visual treatment that would have been short and more effective at conveying this material. Should if you innovate or facilitate.

Graphic Novels

All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely – Morrison’s World of Superman is fun and classic. Strange things happen. Everyone feels a little paranoid. You can say that about many of his works, but underneath it all he gets what Superman is about – the secret identity, the fight with Lex, and, of course, Lois. We get to see all the characters – Jimmy, Bizarro, Ma and Pa.  And it all starts with the question – what if Superman were dying? MUST

Nichiren by Masahiko Murakami and Ken Tanaka – This is a manga version of the life of Nichiren, a buddhist monk that lived in the 13th century. He is founded a entire branch to Buddhism solely based on the teaching of the Lotus Sutra and the practice of chanting the phrase “Nam Myoho-Renge-Kyo”. Courtney Love actively practices.  This fictionalized version of Nichiren’s life is just OK. I wanted something more like Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha. I am not sure I came away with a good sense of the monk’s life or how this practice came to be. Skip

The Zen of Steve Jobs by Caleb Melby, Forbes, and JESS3  – This short graphic novel was published in 2012 and it attempts to shed light on the relationship between Jobs and his Zen teacher Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi. It is fictionalized account taken from interviews with those who studied with Kobun and alongside Jobs. The interchanges feel real. The jumps back into his real life don’t feel like the right cause and effect. Zen practice isn’t that obvious. Even with my complaints, I love that this exists. Could to Should

Guardians of the Galaxy (#7-#25,War of Kings Vol 1 and Vol 2 and Realm of Kings) – The rest of the series was messy for me. Lots of characters, over the top action to keep the universe whole and shifting versions of one side versus another with the Guardians stuck in the middle.  I realize that sounds like every comic book storyline, but there are some that do it better than others. Could

Multiversity by Grant Morrison – I tried. I didn’t get it. Skip

Other Stuff

The Expanse on SyFy – I gave it two episodes to see if it would stick and I ended up buying the whole series to binge watch in two days. There is something to this series.  The characters are interesting. There are mysteries to solve. Should

How To Cook Your Life (with Edward Espe Brown and directed by Doris Dörrie) – I found this documentary as I would searching for Dogen’s version. I bought it on a lark. The film is largely a collection of Brown’s dharma talks during cooking classes he held. Could

 

 

What I Read – February 2016

images-4EastOfWest_v3252634814628689-16oprah-winfrey-presents-belief-dvd-309_1000

 

I made a New Year’s resolutions in 2015 and 2016 to read more books and share what it is I have been reading.

Non-Fiction

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown – Really interesting look at a kind of activity that we don’t think about much. Brown draw from a wide range of disciplines to make his case for the importance of play. “The opposite of play is not work; it is depression.” Even with that praise, I lost some interest about halfway through and decided to move onto another book. Still recommend it. 7.5/10

Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenburg – I finally read this book after hearing about it for a very long time. I like the model alot – observations, feelings, needs, requests. Rosenberg had been doing working in the field for so long that the book is filled with nothing but stories, similar style to Covey’s 7 Habits. Even if the title doesn’t feel right (I didn’t for me), consider giving it a shot. I plan to do a yearly read on the book from this point forward. 10/10

Graphics Novels

East of West Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4 by Jonathan Hickman and Nicholas Dragotta- I continue to really enjoy this series. There are certainly well worn tropes in use but I can’t help but like this ride into the Apacolypse. 9/10

Lazarus Volume 4 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark – The story pushes forward as House Caryle struggles with war on several fronts and Forever continues to save the day. 9/10

Ms Marvel Volume 4 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona- Kamala dealing with an ex-boyfriend, family, the boy next door and parallel universes. Luckily, she is gets a little help from her namesake – Captain Marvel. Liking this series more and more. 9/10

Guardian of the Galaxy: Legacy Volume 1 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning – This is the start of the 2008 run that served as the base material for the movie version. There are a few more members to the team in the comics series, but it shares the same challenges of pulling a group of misfits together toward a common goal. I’ll keep reading. 8/10

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics Volume 4 by Simon Oliver and Alberto Ponticelli – This collection closes out the series. This is one of those stories where you don’t 100% believe what the characters do at the end of the book. I am still a big fan of Oliver did with this series and the premise is so interesting.  This issue – 6.5/10 Overall: I recommend Volume 1 and 2 of FBP and stopping 9/10

Other Stuff

Oprah Winfrey presents BELIEF  – This seven part series originally broadcast last fall look at belief systems from all over the world. Oprah says she was inspired by the Planet Earth series and the photography in Belief is beautiful. The series is about struggle, faith and forgiveness. The stories inspire to differing degrees, but the real strength of the series is its creation of a mosaic of spirituality that show striking similarities, not decisive differences. 8/10 (and there is follow-up stories on the website)

What I Read – January 2016

startherenowhawkeye v4msmarvel v3eastofwest v1serial podcast

I am very happy to be returning to some emphasis to reading books again in 2016.

Each month I share what I have been reading and listening to.

Non-Fiction

  • Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock – I had high hopes for this one. I was really interested to hear what Google’s People Operations did differently. The book has too much fluff surrounding a couple of mildy interesting anecdotes. After 125 pages, I had to move on.  5/10
  • Start Here Now by Susan Piver – I saw the book recommended as a good introduction to meditation. I have had a meditation practice for five years and books didn’t work well for me when I was starting. I like the flavor of Susan’s cautions and encouragement. Start Here Now would have been a nice touchpoint in the beginning and I feel like I have a book I can recommend to others now. 8/10
  • Mindful Work by David Gelles – I really wanted to like this book.  Gelles reports on people who are bringing mindfulness to the world of business. He provides neutral account of individual mindfulness efforts in a range of applications across the ethical spectrum, making the uneven outcomes not surprising. My bias wanted something less neutral. 7/10

Graphic Novels

  • Hawkeye Volume 4: Rio Bravo by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Chris Eliopoulos, and Francesco Francavilla – This completes the amazing Fraction/Aja run.  The story. The design. The art. Loved what they did with it. I will miss it. 10/10
  • Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 1 – I got a strong recommendation from the ComicsAlliance and it didn’t work for me. On a very practical level, all the characters look the same and it was hard to follow the plot and dialogue. Maybe I don’t know my Autobot canon well enough, but I can’t suggest this run based on the first volume 6/10
  • Ms. Marvel Volume 2 and Volume 3 – I went back to it after my lukewarm response to Volume 1. There is something more here now and they needed the set-up to ground Kamala as a character. I still think the plot is sometimes too much on the nose, but I like the ernestness of Kamala trying to figure out growing up.  I have my oldest soon-to-be teenage son reading it and he likes it. 8/10, 10/10 for tweens/teens
  • Locke & Key Master Edition Volume 1 – I checked this out on a strong recommendation from a friend. Just not my game. A little too dark, a little too graphic. 6/10
  • East of West Volume 1 – I am sure others have tried to describe this series, but it is hard.  There is some alt-history, some western, some sci-fi, and some bible borrowing.  The mash-up made me want to compare it to Gaiman’s Sandman, but this series can stand on it own just fine. 9/10

Other

  • Serial Season 2 – They are telling the story of POW Bowe Bergdahl and like last season, we are finding out stories like this are complicated. I am five episdoes in and really love the work they are doing. 9/10

You can always find more recommendations on my What to Read page.

What I Read – July 2015

identity crisis

I made a New Year’s resolution to read more books and share what it is I have been reading.

Graphic Novels

  • Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales – What happens when someone targets the partners and family of superheroes? This was a wonderful premise for the series. And Meltzer takes the story in so many wonderful directions. The ending bothered me, but I still would recommend this series. 8/10

What I Read – June 2015

I made a New Year’s resolution to read more books and share what it is I have been reading.

I really slowed up reading last month. I had less time in general as we were closing out the school year and what free time I did have was spent more playing games. Splatoon is a little addictive.

So, just two books this month…

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics  Vol 3 – The writers were trying to go from one place to another and the transition was rocky.  The new destination seems a little forced. I will probably stay with it to see what happens but this left me a little more unsure about the series. 7/10

Monster Factory by Ernie Harker – The book shows step by step how to draw monsters. It was an impulse pick up from the front display at the library and I am glad I picked it up. There were some great examples and now the trick is to picked up the pencil and start doing it.