OMG I am spending so much money on Kindle-ized books. Amazon has already made its margin on me twice over, I am 100% sure. Guess I should recommend some, huh?
- A Free Life by Ha Jin. Sublime tone. I just cannot get over the fact that Ha Jin writes this well in his second language, which he learned relatively late in life. It’s a modern immigrant story, full of detail and surprise.
- The Bin Ladens by Steve Coll. I thought this book was going to be 50% Bin Laden family, 50% Osama Bin Laden — something like that. Nope. There’s plenty of OBL, but he’s really just a small piece of the tapestry. You gotta read about Salem Bin Laden, the patriarch of the clan for a big part of the 20th century. He is as strange a character as OBL himself — and couldn’t be more different.
- Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered by Peter S. Wells. Mentioned this already. Makes the Dark Ages seem rich and textured — not just, uh, dark.
- Stealth Democracy: Americans’ Beliefs About How Government Should Work by John Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse. Actually, I think I’ll save this one for a different post. Very counter-intuitive findings.
- Daemon by Daniel Suarez. The Da Vinci Code meets Cryptonomicon meets Advanced Topics in Network Security. Lots of adjectives and adverbs here, but if you’re in it for the ideas, not the crystalline prose, it’s very worthwhile. Embedded in the Clancy-squared plot machinations are solid signals about the future of the internet.
Crucial update: It wasn’t on Kindle, but I read, and loved, Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I haven’t read a ton of his other books, but this slim little volume was a dream. Hard to tell to what degree the translation reflects the original, of course, but the language is wonderfully direct and down-to-earth. Add it to the growing of canon of work that says: It’s not about bright, blinding genius; it’s about hard work — where “it” is the creative, technical, or athletic endeavor of your choice.