Me and books

JD book tagged me. Who am I to refuse a cool and useful meme like that?

Total number of books I own: Err, a lot… mostly from my younger days. There’s quite a bit of fantasy in there, a number of computer books (doubtless including quite a few that are marvelously out of date) and your random Grisham or Crichton.

Last book I read: Lately, I’ve been listening to some audiobooks and reading others in their typical dead-tree form. The last audiobook I completed was The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved the movies so much, I figured it was finally time for me to get through the entire set of books. Rob Inglis does a fantastic job reading these books, and they are unabridged.

My unfinished books: I’m not sure if this part is supposed to be books that I never finished and never will, or books that I’m in the middle of now. I’ve got three books in play right now: The Last Juror by John Grisham (audio book), Call To Action by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg, and Negotiating Your Salary by Jack Chapman. I bought Call To Action based on Seth Godin’s recommendation, given that I need to build a persuasive site for Zesty News before the full version is released. So far, it’s interesting but not earth-shattering. I’m only 70 pages in, so I hope that changes.

Books that mean a lot to me: (in no particular order)

Getting Things Done – I’m with JD on this one. This book presents a simple mindset to follow to be able to get things done and not be overwhelmed.

Dragonlance (the first 6 books) – One of my favorite fantasy stories ever. This is responsible for the “tazzzzz” moniker that you see on me at times (which is a multi-year bastardization of Tasslehoff Burrfoot). This eventually lead to the name “Kendermedia”, which was the previous business I started. Dragonlance is also the source of my daughter’s name, Crysania. The series has expanded to some gigantic number of books. If you like fantasy, give Dragonlance Chronicles and Dragonlance Legends a whirl.

A number of first three Piers Anthony books – In the same sci-fi/fantasy vein, I’ve enjoyed a number of books by the prolific Piers Anthony. It’s been a few years since I’ve read anything new by him. I’d recommend sticking to the first three books in his series, because he tends to fall off mightily after that. Choice picks (in order): Split Infinity (first in Apprentice Adept series), On A Pale Horse (first in the Incarnations of Immortality series), and A Spell For Chameleon (first in his silly, pun-filled and entertaining Xanth series).

Bull’s Eye Investing by John Mauldin – Have you noticed that the stock market as a whole hasn’t increased at all since 2000? Five years with a 0% return. Ick. Want to know why? Read this book. While you’re at it, you can sign up for John’s free newsletter for an ongoing look at the econonomy.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – Every now and then, an author appears who has a truly unique and entertaining style. Dr. Seuss comes to mind… and Douglas Adams does, too. “Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea”. Lots of people try, but no one captures things in quite the same way as Douglas. Don’t let the movie influence your decision to read the book… just read it.

Purple Cow by Seth Godin – If you’re starting a business today, you need to read this book. Or listen to the Purple Cow/Free Prize Inside combined audio book as I did. The main premise is that you have to be different to get attention and that it’s less risky to do things in ways other than established convention. Seth Godin doesn’t just say that, though. He hammers the idea home with lots of great examples and gets you consciously thinking about how you’re going to make yourself stand out. I reviewed the audio book back in January.

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan – This book gives you a real appreciation for the scientific method. People invariably get things wrong the first time around, but the scientific method ensures that eventually things will get worked out. This book has a great look at “pseudoscience”.

For software developers, I’d recommend Joel On Software… by Joel Spolsky, which I read in web-form as it was being written. I’d also recommend Extreme Programming Explained by Kent Beck. Even if you’ve never done XP and have no desire to do so, grokking the ideas can only make you a better programmer.

I have no doubt that there are others that I’m neglecting, but these certainly made an impression since they came to mind without even looking at our bookshelves.

I’m passing the tag to:

I would have tagged Ian, but he’s already been tagged. Similarly, Joel has already written book reviews that likely suffice for a book tag.