Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Childhood's End & Rework

Just couple days after the previous audiobook post, I finished two more books:
  • Childhood's End (by Arthur C. Clarke) was a first Clarke novel I've read since I was a teenager. Naturally the early year it was written (1953) is evident on technology description, but it did not make the book less enjoyable.
  • Rework (by the guys at 37signals) was a disappointment. Even though I knew it was a short book consisting of a collection of small pieces of productivity/small business advice the end result was too scattered and self-promoting for me. On the book the writers boast that they've edited almost 50% of the text out in last stages - maybe they should've edited it a bit more? To books merit, there was many good pieces of advice and things that resonate well with the common sense at work - one good example was how inefficient the meeting culture usually is, and the many suggestions to improve/replace it.
At the moment my commutes are filled with House Rules (by Jodi Picoult). More about that next week..

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Crop of audiobooks

Ever since my change of job last summer and the fact that the new work resides physically quite far away has naturally changed my commuting routines completely; No more bus or train rides to the city center and back, usually with magazines and books to read and music and podcasts in my ears. No more handy time off both work and home for personal notes in journal, or emails. Now it has been roughly one hour car trip one way every day, only occasionally broken with days on the train.

As the finnish radio programs have never really kept my interest I tried to find out some real content to fill the long commutes. On this first year, audiobooks have been the filling. Audiobooks, and occasional conversations on the phone with friends on the phone (anohter habit I had almost forgot under the huge amount of SMS and emails).

Now it has been almost 10 months since I started the long commutes and during that time I've listened 21 audiobooks. The number was a surprise. I do not remember a year in my adulthood where I've read more than five book in a year (non-work-related books, that is).

Here's the list of books so far in rough chronological order, with rbrief comments attached:

  • Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (John Perkins) - Thought-provoking narrative on multinational companies behaviour with developing countriers. Facts or fiction, who knows?
  • Getting Things Done (David Allen) - A bit over-hyped but still inspirational book for time management disasters like myself. Ever since listening I've used GTD-like methods with success.
  • Legacy of Ashes (Tim Weiner) - Perhaps a bit one-sided view on the history of CIA. Gripping book, nevertheless.
  • Endymion (Dan Simmons) - I even have this book but never finished it on paper. All four books of 'Hyperion cantos' were quite an effort to listen timewise but I did enjoy them all.
  • The Fall of Hyperion (Dan Simmons)
  • Hyperion (Dan Simmons)
  • The Rise of Endymion (Dan Simmons)
  • A Game of Thrones (George R. R. Martin) - Another multi-book monster (A Song of Ice and Fire) started. Enjoyed the different (more traditional?) kind of fantasy book after a loong while. Have not continued with the series yet but I will.
  • Rivo Satakieli (Leena Lehtolainen) - Trip to finnish detective story genre. Will not be the last one, especially if the plots vary enough. It was fun to have the story happening at Espoo (where we live). Bought for few euros from a book fair. There should be electronic distribution for finnish audiobooks!
  • Life of Pi (Yann Martel) - Well-told road-trip with Indian and ocean-going twist.
  • Ubik (Philip K. Dick) - First Philip K. Dick novel I've tried. Short and confined. Liked but not the best of all things.
  • Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson) - As a physical book this is a monster, as audiobook not as frightening. As computer history/security/crypto things are close to my heart this was pure joy. More like this?
  • Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson) - bought this with in the good feeling from the previous book. More on the pure scifi/cyberpunk genre. Did like!
  • Redo Moon Rising (Matthew Brzezinski) - Phew, what a contrast to 'Snow Crash'! Historical view to the race to the space. A bit limited, but included facts that I would've not come accross elsewhere, especially on the USSR-side of things.
  • The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) - We have this book physically, but as no time to read it I decided to go for it. Well-told story. Left me thinking for a long time the life in totally different cultures - how narrow-viewed we really are, and very lucky at the same time..
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini) - Chose this after good experience of the 'runner. Similar good qualities, enjoyed very much!
  • The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown) - As having read the previous Browns I knew I would read this eventually. So why not now. Dan Brown cannot help copying from his previous bestsellers which was a bit annoying. There was no diffinculty on listening through this. I'm just hoping that the next one would be very different..
  • Blade Runner (Philip K. Dick) - The original novel loosely behind the Blade runner movie. More enjoyable than the previous novel of his I listened. Now I want to see the movie again!
  • Sarasvatin Hiekkaa (Risto Isomäki) - Recommendation from an old aquaintance. Well, the story was a good one, but perhaps too one-track-mind without sufficient self-critique to be really good.
  • Sinuhe Egyptiläinen (Mika Waltari) - I did start listening to this years back on CD:s. Now, after converting to iPod friendly format I did get back and listened the last 15 or so hours. No wonder this has been a worldwide bestseller. Thoughtprovoking, pondering, very human story in its historical marvel.
  • A Scanner Darkly (Philip K Dick) - Finished this just this morning. Trippy story blended my dizzines of super-early-morning train journey. Again a book leaving me wanting to see the movie. Well, usually they dissappoint - do they?
The following books I have 'cued' already on my iPod:
  • Childhoods End (Arthur C Clarke) - currently playing
  • House Rules (Jodi Picoult)
There's at least the following books I have earmarked recently for listening.

  • Rework (37signals)
  • Fatal System Error (Joseph Menn)
  • Daemon (Daniel Suarez) - any legal way to get these on Europe? audible.com seems to restrict the sales of Suarez books only to US.
  • Freedom (Daniel Suarez)
As hinted above, most of the books have been bought from audible.com using their two-books-a-month subscription. I have been pretty pleased with the selection so far. I will start to use the local library much more in the future, if I just have the time for all that CD ripping.

Any recommendations? Please fill in with the very best audiobooks you've listened to!

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