Late last year, I started blogging about the books I read. It was easy — I was on vacation. But I had hopes of continuing to do that into this year…those hopes lasted about one week. Even though my reading pace fell off substantially with the return to work, my blogging pace fell off even faster. But I hung on to the dream and kept books that I finished on my dresser, at least the ones I didn’t borrow from the library, knowing that I’d get around to blogging them some day.
Eventually, though, the pile of books got big enough to become unstable, and I had to do something.
I could simply have shelved the books and gone about my life, but that would have been too easy. Instead, I put them into my inbox (yes, I have been paying too much attention to Getting Things Done lately), and now it’s time to deal with them.
So, in no particular order, and with no guarantee of completeness, here are Some of the Books I’ve Read This Year:
- Great Science Fiction by Scientists
I picked up this book at Rasputin Books in the ex-Tower Records in Palo Alto; Groff Conklin’s anthologies almost always have several good stories, and for 95 cents, how could I go wrong? Some of the stories show their age (1930-1962), but there are classics, too. My favorite in this collection is Miles Breuer’s “The Gostak and the Doshes”, the only SF story I can think of based on grammar, but Clarke’s “Summertime on Icarus”, and Ralph Cooper’s “The Neutrino Bomb” are worthwhile, too. And did I mention I only paid 95 cents?
- All the Colors of Darkness by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
I first borrowed this book (and its sequel, whose name escapes me) from my elementary school library. It shone more brightly in memory than in the rereading, but I don’t regret spending the time (or the 95 cents). The story here is simple — humanity is developing teleportation machines, which will lead inevitably to self-teleporting spacecraft and our going out to the stars. However, the Powers That Be out there don’t believe we are worthy, and send a team in to sabotage our efforts, by making the teleportation system appear unsafe by making sure that some number of passengers (all They, of course) don’t arrive at their destinations. Our hero, Jan Darzek, investigates, figures out what’s going on, follows one of Them closely, and winds up on their Moon base. Moral dilemmas follow.
- The Best from F&SF, Sixth Series
Another Rasputin find, with good stories from Kornbluth (“The Cosmic Expense Account”), Pohl (“The Census Takers”), Anderson (“The Man Who Came Early”), and Sturgeon (“And Now the News…”).
- Three Worlds to Conquer, by Poul Anderson
A not terribly exciting story of rebellion in the outer Solar System. It feels like it’s three short stories glued together, but the colophon doesn’t list any previous publication data. Perhaps having read it will come in handy at “Trivia for Chocolate” during Denvention — they often ask questions about Anderson’s stories.
- You Can Negotiate Anything, by Herb Cohen
I picked this book up at last year’s IBM Technical Leadership Exchange — they offered a couple of hundred books for “free” (in other words, the charges were picked up at a level above your department), and they shipped them for you, so I erred on the side of grabbing anything which seemed interesting. This year, the model was different — you had to put the books on a credit card (to be reimbursed on your expense account), and you had to haul them home with you — so I was much more careful in what I chose. And I probably wouldn’t have chosen this book this year.
The book was published in 1980, and the language shows it, as do many of the examples, but the principles are still valid. Worth a read.
- Power Mentoring, by Ellen Ensher and Susan Murphy
Another book from TLE 2007. The key insight in this one is that you can have more than one mentor and be a mentor to more than one protege. Not terribly surprising, but there it is.
- Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner
The last of the TLE 2007 haul, at least in this batch. A good tool for understanding what to do about people who drive you nuts — helps you see where they’re coming from, why you can’t stand them, and how to react.
- Work-Life Balancing, by Paul Baffes, Ph. D.
I must confess to some bias here — I know Paul and work with him occasionally, and I got the book free by asking a question in his session at this year’s TLE. But despite that, I think I can objectively recommend the book — Paul writes about the methods he uses to make his work and the rest of his life support one another instead of being in conflict. The details may not fit your life exactly, but the ideas are sound, especially being “selfFIRST”.
Now I have to figure out where to shelve these books…there’s always something….