Scott Hanselman

October 2005 - My Reading List - Home

October 22, 2005 Comment on this post [8] Posted in TechEd | Speaking | Movies | Africa
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When Mo is asleep, I read. She's on the couch right now, and I'm going through a Philip K. Dick anthology. I have a similar pile at Work, so I figured I'd post each.

First, here's my Home reading stack that's next to my bed.

  • The Carpet Makers - An amazing English translation of a German Sci-Fi now-classic, brought to the states by Orson Scott Card. Told in a series of short vignettes, it's the story of men who weave carpets entirely out of the hair of their wives and daughters. They weave only one their whole lives, and their sons live off the proceeds as they start work on their own hair-carpets.
  • Lion's Blood and Zulu Heart - A novel told in an alternate reality where Africans colonized the Americas and enslaved the poor Irish and other white Europeans. The author has done excellent research on the Ethiopians and Zulus, two of my favorite cultures. He sprinkles in Arabic, Ethiopian and Zulu phrases which makes my reading fun. I need to get back into Arabic, I've lost it all since my few terms in college. Sean McCormack speaks good Arabic if I remember correctly. I remember the lettering, but all my verbalization has atrophied.
  • Second Variety, Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick - Two great collections of short stories from one of the greatest sci-fi writers of our time. The book(s) are always better than the movies. You'd be surprised how many movies have been made from Philip K. Dick stories. (Screamers (made from Second Variety) was a better movie than most folks gave it credit.)
  • Learn Zulu and Teach Yourself Zulu - We're going to teach the baby English (both), Spanish (me and possibly an immersion school), Zulu[Ndebele] (Mo, possibly me, and her family) and Baby Sign Language, so I need to learn more than just the present tense.
  • Ilium by Dan Simmons - I'm having a hell of a time getting through this tome. Simmons is brilliant, and the whole Hyperion series was a great read. However, this thing is like reading molasses. I want to make it through though, because the idea of a large-scope sci-fi space opera based on Homer's Iliad is such a great premise. I may need to re-read the Iliad first since 11th grade English class is a distant memory.
  • The Ringworld Throne by Larry Niven - Ringworld, check. Ringworld Engineers, sure, it was good. Ringworld's Children, it's waiting in my queue. But this one also doesn't flow. I have high hopes for Ringworld's Children, but I need to read this one, number three first. Plus, the whole Known Space ethos is so wonderful.
  • Altered Carbon - Actually, I'm halfway through this on my iPod. Truly,'s Light Listener program is a fantastic deal. If you want a referral, email me. We'll each get a free month. This is a brilliant book where humans travel between planets by "resleeving" themselves in other bodies, some artificial, while putting their own bodies on ice.
  • Software Factories - I made it 3/4 of the way through this before I gave my talk at TechEd, but I need to mark a few pages and highlight a few things. I may actually just give up and read Kathleen Dollard's Code Generation in .NET instead.
  • Be Prepared! A Practical Handbook for New Dads - My wonderful friend Heidi gave me this book. I thought it was just a gag, but it's such a great book written with just the right dry humor that makes the point. It's actually by stand-up comic Gary Greenburg and illustrated by his wife. I'm done with this book, so I need to get it out of the stack and move it into the baby's room.
  • the zen of css design - The book that supports the concepts introduce by the site that more engineers used to convince more managers that CSS can work TODAY. Highly recommended. It's in-depth analysis of a number of themes from CSS Zen Garden and how they worked their magic. I'm about 75% through this. It's a quick read, but more of an "while on the can" book, if you know what I mean.
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson - The one that started cyberpunk. I got about 25% into this when I mentally declared that Snow Crash was the greatest book ever and that any thing Neal does should be immediately bronzed. I'll make it through though, but the fact that the cyberpunks in this book written in 1984 use phone booths does make it hard to stomach. But, who ever said predicting the future was easy?
  • What to Expect in the First Year - Mo's on month eight of the other book, and I'm ready to start teaching him the alphabet. But first, we need to make it through the eat, poop, sleep stage first. Not to mention the little "being born" detail.
  • When the Wind Blows by James Patterson - I really enjoyed Maximum Ride, and I heard that this book was the adult expansion of that story. The sequel to When the Wind Blows is The Lake House, but it's being brutalized in the Amazon reviews, so I may shy away. However, Maximum Ride WAS a great book. We'll see. Plus, ALL the Alex Cross books are fantastic.
  • Servant of the Bones by Anne Rice - This is kind of Interview With an Archangel, if you're familiar with the more Tom Cruisey/Brad Pitty Anne Rice book. This one has no vampires and is very biblical and historical. I'd have to ask Patrick Cauldwell if Anne got her details right, but it's moving along at a nice clip.
  • Democracy Matters by Cornel West - More people would listen to Cornel if he'd shave his moustache, but regardless, the man is thoughtful. A fairly balanced and weighty monologue on ways America could pull it together.
  • The Goal - I've false-started with this book more times than I care to say. I'm going to need to just do it in a weekend, because it's not working to read it piecemeal. It introduces the Theory of Constraints that Eli has built a consulting empire around. "It is based on the fact that, like a chain with its weakest link, in any complex system at any point in time, there is most often only one aspect of that system that is limiting its ability to achieve more of its goal."
  • Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy - Man, oh, man, if only I was graceful enough to be a super spy or Navy SEAL. I'm 600 pages into this 900 page beast and it's getting good. You could literally beat a man to death with this book, and that may just be the dramatic conclusion of this international terrorist thriller.
  • Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison - I loved Invisible Man. Ellison's work, along with Richard Wright, got me into African-American History, which I almost majored in before this whole computer thing worked out. When I heard that Juneteenth had been found and finished posthumously by John Callahan, Ellison's literary executor, I immediately bought a copy. However, here it's sat, at the bottom of the stack since. Sigh.

I'll post the Work stack next week during lunch.

Now playing: Alicia Keys - Goodbye / Butterflyz

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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October 23, 2005 8:13
As one new father to one who's heading that way, I'd recommed the book "The Happiest Baby on the Block". It's helped us figure out how to soothe our little girl during some late, late night fussy-fests.
October 24, 2005 16:23
As another new father I would recommend reading all of these quickly as once you have the baby there will be little time left over for such endeavors:)
October 24, 2005 22:44
I'm just wondering: where you find the time to read all of this, *and* work, *and* blog? Let alone have time to spend with your wife and have an outside life! Can you give a hint of what your schedule looks like on an average day/week?
October 24, 2005 23:55
Well, I actually don't do a very good job of managing my time. Work is a constant thing...all the time, and the crackberry doesn't help. I get home from work around 6, and hang out with Mo until 10 or 11 when she falls asleep. I might then work on dasblog, the book, blog, read, play xbox, work on the mame system, whatever, until about 2 am. So there's 3-4 open hours every day. Same with weekends.

The other untapped spot for doing stuff like reading is being on a plane. I can't tell you how many times I've been on a plane at 9am when literally the whole plane is asleep. That's 2+ hours to read or work. Same thing with waiting for boarding. I keep my laptop on standby, not hibernate or off. That way I get instant on and off. You'll be more likely to open your laptop if it's easy and trouble free. Lunch is also a good time, or any downtime. I blogged recently while hanging out in the waiting room of Beaverton Toyota during an oil change. It's really just the will to do it.
October 25, 2005 0:49
Congratulations on the impending fatherhood (note the commemorative email address).

If you think Stephenson is great you should check out Neil Gaiman:
Good Omens - the funniest book about the apocalypse you'll ever read. It's as good as Douglas Adams' books.
American Gods - full of what made Snow Crash cool: well-researched mythology, compelling characters and attitude. Anansi Boys is the new sequel that's sitting on the top my pile, not yet opened.
Smoke and Mirrors - entertaining and original short stories, many of which are also found in audio form. If you can find Bebe Neuwirth's reading of Snow, Glass, Apples your ipod will love you for it.
Sandman graphic novels - I don't read comics any more, probably because Gaiman stopped writing them. Fortunately he's given us enough to read for months before starting again at the beginning.
October 25, 2005 7:42
I like seeing someone with a lot of books in the queue. The question is how many are you reading at once...heh.

I recomend finishing Ringworld Throne, the ending is pretty cool. I thought Ringworld's Children goes a bit far and ended a bit abrubtly, but was a fun read nonetheless. I would like to have seen someone that writes fatter books (like Tad Williams or Niel Stephenson write it, I felt Niven left something on the table with that one.

I'm actually bummin around here because I am evaluating blogging solutions and DasBlog is the leading contender. I am also looking at DotNetNuke and the new NewBlog module but my dba team is uncomfortable with giving a web app dbo permissions in a prod environment (why is that heh). It's also written in and although that isn't a problem, it's just a bit icky to work in IMO.

It's late, I'm rambling. caio.

October 25, 2005 9:04
I'm reading about 7 of these at a time...usually 50 pages a day for one book, rotating...
November 02, 2005 6:03
wow -- i thought my bedside table was stacked high -- this is shockin!

glad to know i'm not the only one with bedsidestackitis.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.