Books I recently enjoyed: Malcolm Gladwell, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, and Haruki Murakami

Here are books I finished in October and November. It was a less productive book-reading period, due to a recent obsession with video games and with reading about bitcoin.

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Having read his previous books (Tipping Point, Blink, What The Dog Saw, and Outliers), this one shot to the front of my queue when it was released. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Purely a nitpick: the insights are not as foundations-shaking as Tipping Point, for example, but like a great piece of fiction, you’re totally absorbed in his stories even when he’s teaching you fairly academic topics. All educational writing should be like this. It would make school, and learning, a helluva lot more fun. Here’s a great piece on why Gladwell might be underrated, and another that analyzes his writing.

Sidenote: I’d always thought of it as David VERSUS Goliath, not AND. Interesting, the difference one word makes

Neuromancer by William Gibson (audiobook)

Recommended by a friend after I told her how much I enjoyed Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. William Gibson is like a godfather of the cyberpunk and steampunk genres. Wikipedia editors even believe he coined the term “cyberspace”.

Honestly, I stopped about 3/5 of the way in. I was having a hard time following the story and figuring out who did what to whom and when where why. It reminds me, obliquely, of David Foster Wallace; reading their work is like taking your cerebral cortex to the gym.

But, I’m glad I made the attempt. It’s the sort of writing that expands your universe of what is possible in science and fiction and story-telling.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (audiobook)

This is my 3rd Neil Gaiman written-and-narrated audiobook. The first, and most enjoyable, was The Graveyard Book (thanks to Tim Ferriss’ glowing recommendation). The second, and least-enjoyable-but-still-entertaining, was The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

It’s easy to be jealous of Neil. If good writing were a recreational drug, then Neil’s would be the purest form of cocaine you could buy on the street. Not only that, he has the perfect storytelling voice, which is why I’ve only bought and listened to his audiobooks when they were self-narrated. This is because I was perfectly spoiled by The Graveyard Book, still the best audiobook I’ve chanced upon. I associate audiobooks with reading bedtime stories to kids. This is the purest form of bedtime story-telling. At least, I imagine so, since my immigrant parents didn’t do this :)

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

Murakami is at his best, or rather I enjoy Murakami’s writing the best, when he’s telling stories best described as a sad sort of love. You know, like nostalgic love, heartbreak, regret in love, longing for love. As I read SOTB, I felt like I was riding a similar wave to Norwegian Wood. I didn’t feel this way with Kafka and Hard-Boiled.

I’m disappointed Murakami didn’t win the Nobel Prize this year, but after reading Alice Munro’s The Bear Came Over The Mountain, it’s hard to begrudge her victory. And Murakami is still young, in a particular type of writer’s years, and still very productive.

That’s it for the past few months. What books have you enjoyed reading? Not that I need to send Amazon more money, but I will.

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