Scott Hanselman

October 2006 - My Reading List - Home

October 25, 2006 Comment on this post [16] Posted in
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Last year this time, I posted my reading list for that month with the grand idea of posting the list monthly, but it's just such a hassle to get the books input into the post. (Should have used Amazoner, I suppose) However, I remembered, belatedly yesterday that the whole point of writing the Windows Live Writer CueCat/Amazon Plugin (I need a better name) was to make this kind of list. So, here's a partial list of what I've just finished reading, or that I'm in the middle of reading.

  • I've just finished reading Stardust by Neil Gaiman and what a fine book it is! I noticed on Amazon that folks who read the kinds of books I read also read Gaiman, so on a whim I just went to my local book store and bought every Gaiman book. I was not disappointed. He definitely has a writing style, while his books can only be described as modern fantasy. Truly a great book by a great author.
  • I'm about 300 pages into American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman and it's another that did not disappoint. It's a little more obscure in its references and I've had to look up a few mythological things, but it's a book that is hard to put down. It could be a fantastic movie if someone truly cared enough about doing it right. Do check out his blog as well.
  • I'm always trying to Learn Zulu but there's not a lot of books published in the last 10 years on the subject. I keep this one around just to stay frosty.
  • Travis has been trying to get me into Vurt by Jeff Noon and it's just not happening. I've been 150 pages into this thing for at least 2 months now and I just can't slog through it. It's so abstract as to be obtuse. I'm hoping it picks up soon.
  • I enjoyed The Goal by Eli Goldratt so Chris Brooks recommended Critical Chain. I'm only a few chapters in, but it's already got me thinking.
  • As a new Dad, I'm loving John Rosemond's New Parent Power! It's huge, but appropriately broad in scope. I particularly like the "Principle of Benign Deprivation: Give your kids 100% of what they need, and 10% of what they want." That's how I was raised and I think it's a great way to manage things in this tricky American metaculture of acquisition we live in.
  • Chris Sells recommended On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington) by David Weber and I'm about 1/4 of the way through but it's just not gripping me. Not sure why, it just reads so old. You have have a paperback read worse than a hardback with bright white paper?
  • I finished a re-read of The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and while there's a whole overly weird Free Love section that reeks of the 70s, the message is clear and while it was a thinly veiled Vietnam War protest novel, it could be read as a thinly veiled Iraq War protest novel. The Time Dilation stuff is always fun, with a great ending to get you thinking.
  • I'm about done with Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiler that explores the relationship that Islam, Judaism and Christianity have with Abraham, and how things seem to hinge on their differing views of him as a biblical and possibly historical figure.
  • I'm really enjoying A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It is clearly a history book more than it's a Popular Science book, but the author's zest of the topic(s) and the huge breadth of the book really put a human face on the discoveries (unfortunately largely Western) of the last few hundred years and how they relate to the fullness of time.
  • I've got Mo reading Kindred (Bluestreak Black Women Writers) by Octavia E. Butler. This is an alternate history book, but more a Time Travel book where the time travel itself is both glossed over from a technical point of view, but also fundamental to the point. A modern Black woman is pulled back into the late 19th century Baltimore and is enslaved by her Great-Great-Great-Grandfather. Another alternate-universe book by way of racial allegory is The Intuitionist about the theoretical first Black female Elevator Inspector. Also recommended.
  • You can never go wrong with anything Philip K. Dick writes, so I fall asleep with a re-reading of any of his great short stories like those in  The Eye of The Sibyl and Other Classic Stories (The Collected Short Stories of Philip K. Dick, Vol. 5) by Philip K. Dick.
  • I thoroughly enjoy Ursula Le Guin's work, and I was particularly pulled into Rocannon's World in this compilation of three novels in one: Worlds of Exile and Illusion: Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile, City of Illusions by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Philip Dick writes a lot of alternative history - what if Hitler won the war?-type stuff. In The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick Americans live under Japanese occupation and explores the relationship between German and Japanese culture.
  • I loved Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman. I'm only halfway through American Gods, but so far Neverwhere is my favorite Gaiman book. It's set in the world of London Below, a parallel world in the sewers where those we've forgotten go. I won't ruin it for you, just check it out.

Well, the wife and I are off to dinner, it's our 6th wedding anniversary! (We eloped a year before the white-dress-wedding)

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 25, 2006 4:34
Happy Anniversary! My wife and I did something similar, for immigration reasons.
October 25, 2006 6:11
I remember a while back someone wondered if you ever slept. Well, I think this post sure answers that question :-) Happy Anniversary!
October 25, 2006 6:46
I'm sure it will com as no surprise, but if you liked American Gods, you will really like Anansi Boys (which I just finished reading a few weeks ago), now available in paper back. :)
October 25, 2006 13:02
Gaiman is a supercool writer. His talent to mix day-to-day stories with the fantastic, holding a peculiar way to look at things, and doing it so wonderfully funny on the way, is just awesome. I also like the anti-heros that lead all his stories. Kinda reminding me Roger Zelazny's work in that manner.

He also look like a famous comedian from Israel named Asi Cohen while doing one of his best characters (Koko the toffy-addicted-singer), what makes it even more funny.

In my opinion, Neverwhere is his best novel, (Haben't read Anansy Boys yet ...) however the best thing he published imho is "Smoke And Mirrors" which is made of short stories and poems, some good, some great, and some are just sheer geniusity.

And a little recommendation, if youre into Gaiman's writing, I'd also go for Tim Powers who does the real-life/fantasy mix even better. Also "The Word and The Void" series by Terry Brooks, which is also mixed.
October 25, 2006 13:05
Happy Anniversary! And holy cow how do find time for reading books?
Btw, your blog looks awesome. I wanna switch to dasBlog now.
October 25, 2006 15:06
OK, so clue me in here...
You have a real job, a wife and child to spend time with, you blog almost every day (sometime more than once), we record a weekly podcast...

Firstly how do you find time to read ??
Secondly how can you be currently reading six (by my counting) books ??

Plate spinner in a previous life ...??

.. Ken
October 25, 2006 15:15
If you like Gaiman's books, definitely check out his graphical novels in a series called The Sandmand. They follow the adventures of the personification of Dream. It's quite dark stuff but the story telling is wonderful and the stories themselves are always interesting:

Neverwhere is a little bit special for me because I read it in the first week I lived in London. :)
October 25, 2006 15:16
First of all, Mr. Hanselman - get thee to a library! :) I just started going again, and it is fantastic. I should have known that, of course, but it's one of those things you have to experience for yourself - the idea that you can pick up any book and it's no big deal if you don't read it, or it sucks, or you don't get to it.

Second of all, you should check out "Lady of Mazes" by Kurt Schroeder. Just finished reading it, and loved it. Hard-core sci-fi (without the 50s overtones that plague so much of the genre). Set in a future world where technology is so advanced as to be indistinguishable from nature. But keeps focus on humanity. Quite good. Got it at the library, of course. :)
October 25, 2006 17:10
Neverwhere was made into a BBC mini series awhile back. See

When it was shown here in the UK, I recall it being entertaining.
October 25, 2006 21:26
I love how Neil Gaiman always makes it seem like the story is happening to the main character. They're just along for the ride and have as much control over everything as the reader. American Gods especially made me feel this way.
October 25, 2006 22:18
With all the Gaiman fans weighing in, I'm a little surprised (and yes, a little disappointed too) that nobody mentioned Good Omens, co-written with T. Pratchett.
October 26, 2006 2:37
Hrmm, I like the comments about Anansi Boys - I picked it up in LAX the other day, but havn't had a chance to read it yet.

If you like his books, try Mirrormask - it's a "kids" film, kinda, but done by Gaiman and co.

Well worth a look for adults and kids :)
October 26, 2006 4:10
"...A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson....the discoveries (unfortunately largely Western) of the last few hundred years..."

Why do you use the word "unfortunately"?

What does this have anything to do with being unfortunate or not?

The reality is that the vast majority of innovations and discoveries in world history has come from the western world. That stems from the foundation western civilization is based on.

If you want to read about some non-western innovations read The Genius of China.

October 26, 2006 16:58
On Basilisk Station definitely shows its age and position in the writer's learning process. Possible solution:

Legitimately a@ a large chunk of Baen's library for free, including the Honor Harrington series through the most-recent-but-one. As in any long-running series, the books vary in quality, and On Basilisk has one of the worst examples of what's come to be known as a Weber info-dump in the midst of the resolution of the Big Climactic Battle (no spoiler to admit there's one of those...)

I'm in the midst of re-reading the series as part of my get-used-to-MSReader on my Cingular 8125 instead of a Palm, and I skipped straight past On Basilisk this time...
October 27, 2006 5:07
You'll want to stick it out with On Basilisk Station; it gets good about half-way through and then the next 5 in the series are really great.
October 28, 2006 2:09
Great reading your blog. I wonder if you have some tips for better, faster, more effective reading?

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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.