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books Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Brent Logan

Category: books

  • Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch — 2 Week Review

    After much hinting on my part,1And apparently some confusion on Santa’s part; he confused me with someone who’d been good. Santa brought me a Nook Simple Touch from Barnes & Noble for Christmas.2Thanks, Suzi! Here are my impressions after using it for two weeks.

    First, let’s clear up a couple of questions:

    Why did I want an e-reader instead of a cheap tablet like the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet? I have many reasons,3I think it makes sense to have both an e-reader and a tablet. They fill different needs. but the major ones are:

    • Cost: The Simple Touch was only $90 compared to around $200 to $250 for the color tablets.
    • Weight: The Simple Touch is only 7.5 ounces compared to 14.1 ounces for the Nook Tablet.
    • Clarity: The E-Ink display is much clearer than an LCD for extended reading.

    Why did I want Barnes & Noble’s Nook instead of Amazon’s Kindle? This is a philosophical decision for me. Although I like Amazon and its offerings, I don’t want Amazon to be the only game in town. That means buying from Amazon’s competitors to keep them viable. I’d also read a couple of reviews that claimed the Nook Simple Touch was a little easier to use than the Kindle Touch. I don’t know. The Simple Touch has some issues, as I’ll discuss below.

    On with the review.

    My Experience

    I’ve used the Nook quite a bit in the last two weeks. I have 50 items in my Nook library, most of them downloaded from the Nook store. I also downloaded 10 free ePub books from another source and a couple of technical PDFs.4I use Calibre to manage any file conversions (none needed so far) and transfer files to my Nook. Calibre works easily and sets up folders on the Nook, arranged by authors. Nice! I haven’t yet tried borrowing ebooks from the library, though it’s apparently possible for both Nooks and Kindles.

    I have arranged all my books on shelves by topic (business and management, literature and fiction, science, religion, Bibles, etc.). I also created a custom screen saver I hope will help someone return my Nook, should I misplace it.

    Finally, I’ve read quite a bit on the reader — 723 pages. That’s two complete books plus a few book samples.

    The Good Stuff

    Cost. The Christmas special price of $90 puts the Nook Simple Touch in the “impulse buy” category for a lot of people. Its normal price of $100 shouldn’t change that (though don’t expect to be saving money on books; more below).

    Screen. The Nook’s screen is marvelous, especially in normal to bright light. Its resolution is good enough that I rarely notice pixels (and then, only in bed, when it’s way too close to my eyes). At normal reading distances, the resolution is incredible.

    Weight. I hefted a Nook Tablet and was surprised how heavy it felt. In contrast, the Nook Simple Touch feels light. And it should. At 7.5 ounces, it’s lighter than the average paperback book.5The cover you use might change that, though. I find I remove the cover a lot. Maybe I need to find another one, one without an additional flap that folds over. I do like its magnetic latch.

    Touch screen. The Nook’s touch screen makes navigation easy. Page turns are accomplished with a swipe of a finger or a tap along the edge of the screen. The reading menu can be summoned by tapping the middle of the screen. For text entry (searching and writing notes), a touch keyboard appears at the bottom of the screen. The screen is amazingly responsive, never requiring an additional tap to register a key “press.”

    Purchasing. Barnes & Noble makes it easy to purchase books for your Nook. As long as you have WiFi, you can search for books, download samples, and purchase and download complete books — right from your Nook.

    The Bad Stuff

    Cost. E-book pricing is not what you’d expect. Digital books are not significantly cheaper than physical books. Considering that I can go to Powell’s and buy used physical books for much cheaper than new, the Nook likely won’t save me any money on books. In fact, with the ease of finding books I want to read, I expect to pay more for books this year than last.

    Organization. Organizing books on shelves is much harder than it needs to be. The Nook allows shelves to be created and then edited to add books to a specific shelf. In edit mode, all of the books on the Nook are listed in alphabetical order (screen after screen) with checkboxes next to the titles to add books to the shelf you’re editing. This is cumbersome with only fifty books. It’s going to get ugly when I get more books on my Nook. Worse, if I want to place a book on multiple shelves, I need to go through the edit shelf process for each shelf.

    What would be better is upon viewing a book, being presented with a list of my shelves with boxes to tap for the shelves. That way, when I buy a book, it’s simple to add it to the appropriate shelves.

    Free Books. Finding free books is difficult, more difficult than it needs to be. To be fair, I’ve found some, and low-priced books are easy to find, so I’m not hurting. After seeing the Kindle/Nook comparisons listing the vast numbers of free books, I expected to be able to find them easily. Nope!

    LendMe. The Nook lets you lend books (if enabled by the book’s publisher), but only once per book. I don’t understand the need for that limitation other than greed. I can buy a physical book and lend it to whomever I want, for as long as I want. I can sell it. I can give it away. Placing all these restrictions on e-books is wrong.

    Navigation. The touch screen can be too responsive, turning the page when that isn’t your intent. It would be nice to be able to turn the touch capability off and use just the page turn buttons.

    Also, it’s important to realize that the Nook is set up to read a book from beginning to end, not skipping around. This can be an important limitation for reference books or Bibles, which are typically not read straight through. I’ve downloaded multiple Bibles, and they handle this issue with varying degrees of success. This is a use case where a Bible app on a tablet might be a better option.

    Highlighting and Notes. While reading, you can highlight a word and attach notes. These are later for returning to specific passages. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear possible to highlight more than a single word at a time. So, rather than being able to highlight the phrase “one doesn’t simply walk into Mordor,” you’re stuck trying to choose a single word that will remind you of the phrase. Good luck! Update: Thanks to Nathan, who comments below, I now know how to highlight more than one word.

    There are free downloadable Nook apps. I’ve downloaded the PC version and was surprised to see that the highlights, notes, and shelves do not transfer from my Nook to the PC app.

    Speed. Believe it or not, large books are sluggish. For example, this is an issue with the ESV Study Bible.

    My Wish List

    Fonts. The Nook has six fonts (three serif and three sans serif) which can be displayed in seven sizes. There are also three line spacings and three margin settings. It was pretty easy to find a setting I like. I’d love to be able to transfer a font to the nook to completely personalize the reading experience.


    I love my Nook Simple Touch! I much prefer reading on it than reading a physical book. Most of the issues I’ve noted will be resolved as readers continue to get better. I’ll be able to move my library to the next piece of hardware.

    Do you have an e-reader? What have your experiences been?

    • 1
      And apparently some confusion on Santa’s part; he confused me with someone who’d been good.
    • 2
      Thanks, Suzi!
    • 3
      I think it makes sense to have both an e-reader and a tablet. They fill different needs.
    • 4
      I use Calibre to manage any file conversions (none needed so far) and transfer files to my Nook. Calibre works easily and sets up folders on the Nook, arranged by authors. Nice!
    • 5
      The cover you use might change that, though. I find I remove the cover a lot. Maybe I need to find another one, one without an additional flap that folds over. I do like its magnetic latch.
  • The Books I Read in 2011

    These are the books I finished, started, put on my shelf, and found interesting in 2011.

    Read Books

    These are the books I finished reading in 2011.

    ISBN is 047092764X 33 David Brown recommended a video by Chris Martenson. Because of that, I found Martenson’s book, The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy, And Environment — it was the first book I bought after getting a Nook for Christmas.

    This is an eye-opening book, discussing how our economy is based on exponential growth, soon to collide with decreasing energy and resources. Let’s hope Martenson is overly-pessimistic while preparing for tougher times.

    ISBN is 0385336675 32 I bought The Enemy by Lee Child after swearing off Child’s books a few of his books ago. It’s always a crapshoot whether the ending is going to be a ridiculous machofest. I looked inside a checked the copyright date. Huh? It says 2011 but it’s not the latest Lee Child book. How did I get two books behind? Oops! That wasn’t the copyright notice. This book is seven years old and I was 50 pages in or so before before I started remembering bits and pieces. Oh well. People watch movies more than once. I guess I can read a novel more than once.

    Finished December 6.

    ISBN is 0061236225 31 Flying to Sacramento, I read an inflight magazine article about three northwest authors. Stopping by a brick and mortar store later that same day (until I get my e-ink reader), I bought Executive Privilege by Phillip Margolin, one of the authors mentioned. Living near Portland, it was fun to read a plot that occurs partially in Stumptown.

    Finished November 30.

    ISBN is 0375703160 30 I re-read Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels — apparently the second time reading it this year. Huh.

    Finished November 14.

    ISBN is 1416595198 29 I bought American Assassin: A Thriller by Vince Flynn on the way to Folsom. Assassin tells the story of the recruiting of Mitch Rapp.

    Finished November 4.

    ISBN is 0060816155 28 I re-read If God Is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. This is the “sequel” to If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person. Both are great reads, and this one focuses on living a graceful life, full of humility, openness, and compassion.

    Finished October 28.

    ISBN is 0767914252 27 I found Raid on the Sun: Inside Israel’s Secret Campaign that Denied Saddam the Bomb by Rodger Claire in my library/closet. Judging by the name on the inside flap, I borrowed it from brother Bob some time ago, long enough ago to have forgotten the borrowing. Oops!

    Although this book documents Israel’s Operation Babylon, which occurred in 1981, it continues to be relevant today in understanding Israel’s attack on Syria’s nuclear reaction and the difficulties Israel would face in attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    Started October 16 or so and finished October 21.

    ISBN is 0062517058 26 I read If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person near the end of last year and read it again this year. I like the graceful view of God that Gulley’s and Mulholland’s books on Universalism portray (though you might disagree with the basic premise).

    Finished October 15.

    ISBN is 0812578546 26 I found Reflex (Jumper) by Steven Gould in a used bookstore. I wanted to read it after reading Jumper a few years back.

    Finished October 3.

    ISBN is 1555849245 25 I re-read The Bible: A Biography by Karen Armstrong after having another Bart Ehrman book recommended to me. Armstrong goes through the origins, authorship, and manners the Bible has been interpreted through the ages. And where Ehrman might advocate throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or even arguing that there is no baby to begin with, Armstrong might argue that you’re looking for the wrong baby, or even that the bathwater is what’s of value. “Midrash and exegesis were always supposed to relate directly to the burning issues of the day, and the fundamentalists should not be the only people who attempt this.” “What would it mean to interpret the whole of the Bibles as a ‘commentary’ on the Golden Rule?” “Today we see too much strident certainty in both the religious and the secular spheres. Instead of quoting the Bible in order to denigrate homosexuals, liberals or women priests, we could recall Augustine’s rule of faith: an exegete must always seek the most charitable interpretation of a text.” And the closing sentence: “The development of a more compassionate hermeneutics could provide an important counter-narrative in our discordant world.”

    I dare say I’ll be lending this book to the person who recommended Ehrman to me. ;-)

    I finished re-reading The Bible: A Biography on September 27.

    ISBN is 0787995312 24 I read The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni as I re-read Lencioni’s books. They’re all quick reads with easily understood points.

    Finished September 23.

    ISBN is 030745455X 23 I read The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson to continue to series I recently started. One more book in the series to go.

    Finished September 22.

    ISBN is 0446556122 22 I bought Star Island by Carl Hiaasen in the airport on the way back from IDF and finished it the next day. Preposterous! And I mean it in the best way. Hiaasen’s books are always a bunch of stupid fun. :-)

    ISBN is 0307454541 21 I borrowed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson months ago and finally got to reading it while traveling for business to IDF.

    Finished September 14.

    ISBN is 0385341881 20 I bought Damaged Goods by Heather Sharfeddin while on vacation in Sunriver. It’s not the style of book I’d typically read, but I’m a sucker for a book that takes place where I live. It was fun to read about Scholls, Dundee, Newberg, Hillsboro, etc. (Who knew Amazon has a list of movies filmed in Oregon?) I should have read this on vacation instead of trying to read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A Novel by John le Carre by the pool.

    Finished September 8.

    ISBN is 9780787954031 19 I decided to read The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni after finishing his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Like all Lencioni’s “leadership fables,” Four Obsessions uses a story to illustrate the points to be learned. In this case, although the story is interesting, I don’t think it teaches the points as well as Lencioni’s other books do. Fortunately, there is an appendix summarizing the points for reviewing later without re-reading the entire book.

    Finished September 2.

    ISBN is 014311512X 18 I re-read What the Gospels Meant by Garry Wills. It’s an interesting book describing the different emphases and purposes of the four gospels.

    Read from mid-July to the end of August.

    ISBN is 0679763309 17 I read An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison because Melissa finished it on her way to college and recommended it to me. It is an open, honest, and interesting look at manic-depressive illness from the inside. I wish I’d read it years ago. I will read other books by the same author.

    I devoured the book, reading it from August 25 through 27.

    ISBN is 0307745260 16 I bought Fragile by Lisa Unger in Portland’s airport on the way to Sacramento.

    I finished it August 24, a couple days later, in the wee hours of the morning.

    ISBN is 0143119788 15 I bought Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A Novel by John le Carre in preparation for our vacation in Sunriver. I’m not convinced it was entirely the right choice. I’ve sworn off reading a certain author because his characters are shallow and the plots are predictable. Yet, his books are billed as good “beach reads.” After attempting to read Tinker at the Sunriver pool, I think I understand the value of a beach read. John le Carre’s books are the opposite of beach reads. I found myself re-reading pages multiple times to keep the story in mind.

    I finished the book August 10, after returning from vacation. Even then, I think I would catch more by re-reading the book. Yet, I don’t think I will. The payoff’s not worth it.

    I think it’s time to return to non-fiction books (he says after buying a sci-fi book yesterday…

    ISBN is 0446571415 14 I bought Hell’s Corner by David Baldacci in the Sacramento airport July 21 in preparation for my flight home. Thanks to a friendly seatmate, I didn’t even open the book on the plane.

    Hell’s Corner is an entertaining book with a lot of twists, but in my opinion, one twist too many near its end. It was clumsily introduced, ignored, and then reintroduced in an unbelievable fashion at the end. Sad. It wasn’t even necessary.

    Finished July 26.

    ISBN is 9780787960759 13 I re-read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni Zornberg while on a quick day trip to Folsom. It’s probably worth re-reading the entire series. Which one will be next?

    Started and finished on June 15.

    ISBN is 0156904365 12 Melissa lent me Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis. It’s a book she read at college this past year. It’s an entertaining story, but I’m not sure I really understood it. I either need to re-read it or find an online discussion of it (or both).

    Finished early June.

    ISBN is 0765344157 11 I bought Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card at the Sacramento airport on May 20 and finished it May 24. Ender in Exile is the direct sequel to Ender’s Game, or as Card calls it, a “midquel” to the Ender series of books. If you liked Ender’s Game, you’ll enjoy Ender in Exile. If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, don’t read Ender in Exile (and go read Ender’s Game).

    ISBN is 0440246296 10 I bought Worth Dying For: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child at Costco, and finished it the next day. It’s not literature, but it is a page turner.

    Lee Child must be reading my book reviews, because we weren’t blessed with details of Jack Reacher buying clothes, taking showers, carrying only a toothbrush, and throwing down his gun so he can fight man-to-man with a bad guy. Actually, the last one occurred in this Worth Dying For. Maybe it won’t in the next.

    Finished mid-May.

    ISBN is 1591024854 9 Suzi asked me to preview Mortal Evidence: The Forensics Behind Nine Shocking Cases by Cyril H. Wecht. This is an interesting book, but I’d like more detail.

    ISBN is 9781601422217 8 Suzi asked me to preview Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. Started near the beginning of April.

    It was a hard read, for a couple of reasons. First, Platt applies the Great Commission to everyone, specifically going on foreign missions. I know that’s not an uncommon interpretation, but Platt interprets it to mean foreign missions to be the role for all Christians. Second, Radical is a convicting book. That’s not an easy message.

    There’s more info at radicalthebook.com, the book’s website.

    ISBN is 9780062049643 7 Relevant Magazine interviews Rob Bell about Universalism in response to the “trailer” for his new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. I want to read this. Added to my shelf April 5, finished two days later.

    Bell is accused of being a universalist because of this book. From his interview, it’s clear he’d disagree. Instead, he quotes the many texts in the Bible stating that Jesus has saved all. I particularly like his interpretation of the Prodigal Son parable. It was a quick read, worth a re-read.

    ISBN is 9780441172719 6 I originally read Dune by Frank Herbert in 1979. I can’t hear “Fantasy” or, for that matter, any song by Earth, Wind & Fire, without thinking of this book, they played so often while I was reading it.

    Dune is as good as I remembered it. Now to find the rest of Frank Herbert’s “Dune trilogy.”

    Read March 6-10.

    ISBN is 0375703160 5 I read Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels a couple of years ago. It was time for a quick re-read before I pull a book off the shelf.

    ISBN is 007162502X 4 Time to change the topic. I ordered Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage, and Influence by Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann last year but didn’t read it.

    I finished with it on the plane to Sacramento. Wow! This book is great. I’m going to have to read it more than once.

    ISBN is 1555849245 3 I purchased The Bible: A Biography by Karen Armstrong after discovering it in a brick and mortar bookstore in Roseville, Calif. I read The Case for God by the same author last year. I started reading The Bible: A Biography on January 29.

    I have two complaints, but first, a positive: The Bible: A Biography has lots of endnotes. There’s a lot of information to explore while reading it. Now for the complaints. (1) The book has endnotes. I wish publishers would use footnotes instead of endnotes. Yeah, the book will look more “scholarly” but those who actually want to read the notes could then do so without flipping back and forth to the end of the book and having to use two bookmarks. (2) Many times, the notes are just a Bible text citation. Why not take the extra effort to quote the Bible text?

    I really enjoyed this book. Karen Armstrong writes with such loving understanding of her subject. She also increased my vocabulary (thankfully, there’s a helpful glossary in the back of the book).

    I finished reading The Bible: A Biography on February 7.

    ISBN is 006180035X 2 I purchased Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography by John Dominic Crossan sometime in late 2010, while reading a couple of Marcus Borg books on historical Jesus. Borg cites Crossan often. I finished reading Jesus on February 6.

    Crossan’s method for determining which events regarding Jesus are historical takes two steps: (1) nothing’s true unless it has at least two independent sources; and (2) even those that do aren’t true if Crossan doesn’t believe they could happen. You’d be right in assuming that Crossan doesn’t believe anything miraculous is historical. You might be surprised to learn that Crossan doesn’t believe Jesus was buried — maybe because Crossan would consider that miraculous as well.

    Even under these extremely narrow definitions of history, there is a lot to learn.

    ISBN is 0061285544 1 Brandie Kajino recommended reading something by Marcus Borg. I bought The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions and Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith during the same trip to the book store and started Meeting Jesus first. I ended up starting Meaning December 10, before finishing Meeting Jesus. I didn’t finish the book until a business trip to Anaheim January 23rd.

    Reading Now

    These are the books I was reading at the end of the year. I don’t know why I often try to read more than one book at a time. I guess because different moods or places call for different types of books. Some books just sit in this status until I decide I’m not going to finish the book.

    This year was especially crazy as I visited Powell’s mid-December and bought a bunch of books (and started a couple of them) and also got a Barnes & Noble Nook for Christmas (and downloaded a bunch of free samples, starting many of them, and not including any of them in the list below0>

    ISBN is 006204964X This must be the year of the re-read for me. I started re-reading Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell on December 17.

    ISBN is 0345391691 During a lunchtime visit to Powell’s books (the same as for the book below), I bought a used copy of The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong. I love reading books by Karen Armstrong. She is able to describe religious movements with such understanding and compassion. Highly recommended.

    Started early December.

    ISBN is 0385508638 During a lunchtime visit to Powell’s books, I bought a used copy of Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography by Bruce Chilton. Started December 6.

    ISBN is 0805212396 I discovered The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg while wandering through my local Barnes and Noble.

    Started April 19.

    ISBN is 0375411852 I received Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman as a present from Heather. She bought it for me when she was on a history trip to England. So far, it’s very interesting.

    Started March 15.

    ISBN is 0061583251 I received The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin for my birthday. I had mentioned the book to Ashley. :-)

    Started February 22.

    On the Shelf

    These books just sit while I continue to buy newer, more exciting books that push ahead of these. But I’ll get around to these … maybe. With an e-reader, this might just get worse.

    ISBN is 0060778415 During a lunchtime visit to Powell’s books, I bought Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography by Bruce Chilton, Jesus for the Non-Religious by John Shelby Spong, and The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong. All of the books were used so it wasn’t an expensive lunch. I would have paid much more to get electronic editions.

    ISBN is 1594480001 Cube neighbor Pam is cleaning out her cube in preparation for moving to HF. In the process, she gave me The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This book has been recommended to me by multiple people. I’m glad to have it in my library. :-)

    ISBN is 0062508342 I bought The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: The Spiritual Classic & International Bestseller; Revised and Updated Edition by Sogyal Rinpoche while shopping at Barnes & Noble with Ashley on February 13.

    I know very little about Eastern religions. This book looks interesting.

    Interesting Books

    These are books I’ve read about, that I’ve been told about, or that I’ve run across in the bookstore and don’t want to forget about. I use this list when perusing book stores and the local public library.

    ISBN is 0316016411 Brother Bob recommended The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics by Leonard Susskind while dropping off a bunch of other books for me to read. Looks like I’m going to be busy.

    ISBN is 0060736607 I discovered The Evolution of Faith: How God Is Creating a Better Christianity by Philip Gulley while looking up Philip Gulley’s (other?) books on Universalism to recommend. Looks like this is more of the same, which in my opinion, is a high compliment.

    ISBN is 0446576433 I learned about Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It by Lawrence Lessig while watching his talk on how money corrupts politics.

    ISBN is 0374275637 I discovered Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman while wandering through Barnes & Noble one evening. It will be one of the first books I get on my eReader.

    ISBN is 1936719169 Michael Hyatt recommends Read This Before Our Next Meeting by Al Pittampalli.

    ISBN is 142219857X Daniel H. Pink recommends The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.

    ISBN is 1594033803 In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity by David Brog.

    ISBN is 143918903X Online friend Duane Scott recommends A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran by Reza Kahlili.

    I’m reading A Time to Betray by @Reza_Kahlili http://amzn.to/gzVxBq One of the best nonfiction books I’ve read! Thanks @curtharding! #

    ISBN is 9780061353239 Online friend Charlene Kingston recommends Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.

    It’s not very often that I finish a book and want to start rereading it immediately! But that happened last night with Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. I learned so much about why I choose what I choose, and how to understand why other people choose what they choose! It’s fascinating.


    ISBN is 1591843790 On March 16, I watched a live webcast by Guy Kawasaki talking about his book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. Looks very good.

    ISBN is 9780440351832 Charlene Kingston recommends Man and His Symbols by Carl Gustav Jung.

    ISBN is 1595551387 David Hayward, who blogs at nakedpastor.com recommends Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.

    Stories like Bonhoeffer’s, as Mataxas has written it, should give us pause to consider how we may be inadvertently colluding with that which is evil and destructive to ourselves and others.

    ISBN is 006145205X Art recommended The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley.

    ISBN is 1585421464 Cube neighbor Pam recommends The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. After reading the first chapter on The Morning Pages and The Artist Date, I’m intrigued. I will definitely search this book out.

    ISBN is 0767915828 Cousin Todd’s goodreads notice share a couple of books that look interesting, one which is The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. Allegedly, 4% are sociopaths, so statistically, I should know a couple. Maybe having done criminal defense, I met more than my fair share.

    ISBN is 0313364966 This is the second book from cousin Todd’s goodreads notice. I wonder if my local library has Slaves to Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind by Calvin Mercer.

    ISBN is 0802862926 Frank Viola interviews author Craig Keener about his new book The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. It looks very interesting, though I typically wait for books to come out in paperback before buying them.

    ISBN is 0393338827 Dave Winer describes The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine:

    Just finished The Big Short by Michael Lewis, and it ends with a chilling thought about how f_____ we are. There’s no other way to put it.

    It looks like an interesting book to read to understand credit default swaps.

    ISBN is 0470916222 Justin Tadlock mentions Professional WordPress Plugin Development, a book he cowrote with Brad Williams and Ozh Richard, on his blog. Looks very interesting.

    Do you have any books you’d like to suggest I read?

    Blue Books,” by Vicki’s Pics on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.
  • I Don’t Understand eBook Pricing

    I’m ready to buy an eReader. I don’t want to haul around a bunch of books. I don’t want to keep finding shelf space in my library (or beside my bed). And I tell myself that in the long run, I’ll save money.

    But pricing like this baffles me.

    Can anyone explain why an eBook costs more than either a paperback or a hardcover book?

    In case you’re curious, the book is The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us. Coincidence?

  • Window Shopping Book Stores

    Tonight, we went to Powell’s and Barnes & Noble. I much prefer going to a brick-and-mortar store. When I see a book that looks interesting, I take a picture of it so I can remember it later. These are a few I discovered tonight.

    I was hoping to peruse Rob Bell’s latest book but didn’t realize until I got home that it’s not available for a few more days.

    Have you read any of these? What do you think?

  • The Books I Read in 2010

    Finished Books

    These are the books I finished reading in 2010. Looks like I averaged one book every other week.

    ISBN is 0060609176 26 Brandie Kajino recommended reading something by Marcus Borg. Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith looks like an interesting place to start.

    I bought this book December 12 and finished it three days later. When done, I felt dissatisfied that I didn’t fully catch Borg’s views. I suspect I should re-read the book, having done most of my reading of it in the late, late evening. I’m going to finish the other Borg book I have first. I suspect it will answer any of the questions I still have.

    ISBN is 1594481717 25 I bought A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future on November 11, 2010 and finished it on the 28th. I bought it because I like his later book, Drive. While reading Mind, I found myself reading sections to my kids.

    The heart of Mind is a discussion of six “senses” that are necessary for the Conceptual Age: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. Even better, after each chapter, Pink lists exercises and resources for developing that sense. I recommend this book.

    ISBN is 0062517058 24 I bought If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person on November 17 and finished it on the 20th. I read Gulley’s and Mulholland’s books on Universalism in the opposite order they were written. Actually, I think I’d recommend that order (though I am going back to read the other two).

    ISBN is 0061228788 23 I re-read Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution, also during my trip to Asia. This is a book that young Earth creationists should read.

    ISBN is 0061673730 22 I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values during my trip to Asia. Maybe that’s why I got confused at the end.

    ISBN is 0440243696 21 Yeah, I said I wouldn’t read another Lee Child novel. Yet, I read 61 Hours: A Reacher Novel on the plane ride from Portland to Tokyo. It was a good diversion, and largely avoided the problems of Gone Tomorrow.

    ISBN is 1617230014 20 I started reading The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships early September at the local Barnes & Noble. It’s an interesting book, and one worth a re-read.

    ISBN is 081297381X 19 I started reading The Black Swan on August 27 at the local Barnes & Noble. I sat down in an over-padded chair and read about four chapters. I returned the following Monday and bought it. I finished the book a couple of weeks later, on September 13. I’m looking forward to NNT’s next book: it will be about tinkering.

    ISBN is 0307476340 18 I read Die for You.

    ISBN is 0060816155 17 I read If God Is Love : Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World, by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Finished it August 6 on a flight home from Sacramento. The passenger in the next seat asked what I was reading. When I told him what it’s about, he asked, “If everyone goes to heaven, what’s the point of being good?” I think he’s a prime candidate to read the book.

    I seem to be reading Philip’s books in the opposite order he wrote them. Just one more to go in this series (if only I could find it in a store).

    ISBN is 0061698768 16 I read If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus, by Philip Gulley. I discovered this book wandering the stacks of Barnes & Noble. I liked it enough that I had to read another book by the same author.

    ISBN is 1400072433 15 I read The Next Level: A Parable of Finding Your Place in Life in just a couple of days. A very quick read.

    ISBN is 0321344758 14 I discovered Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition from a post on Usability Post. It’s a quick read with solid, practical advice on making and testing web sites.

    Now excuse me while go make a few changes to my site. ;-)

    ISBN is 0671004107 13 I reread Contact by Carl Sagan, I think for the third time. Finished it May 26. Now I want to watch the movie to see the differences. A couple of favorite quotes:

    “Any faith that admires truth, that strives to know God, must be brave enough to accommodate the universe.” Palmer Joss

    For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

    ISBN is 1439180822 12 I found Protect and Defend: A Thriller in terminal B in the Sacramento airport on the way home. I finished it the next day on May 20.

    Protect and Defend is your type of novel if you believe: (1) that the CIA lives up to its middle name; (2) that often, someone needs to be killed, and (3) that this killing is best done without the permission, indeed without even the knowledge of any elected official. On the other hand, if you remember the CIA’s incompetence, if you believe America’s actions have consequences beyond the immediate and believe accountability in government is mandatory, especially when laws are being broken, then this book will be at best escapist pulp, and at worst, offensive.

    ISBN is 073820675X 11 I started re-reading Flatterland: Like Flatland, Only More So on May 15 or so and finished it May 18. Just what I needed: another book in my computer bag. Maybe it’s time to make the move to an e-book reader.

    ISBN is 1594488843 10 Alan Webber recommends Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us in the same breath that he recommends Seth Godin’s Linchpin (which I *loved().

    I bought this book April 26, started it May 5, and finished it May 12. If you don’t have time to read, or just want to know what Drive is about before you read it, watch this RSAnimate video on Drive.

    This is the best book I’ve read so far this year.

    ISBN is 0307269183 9 I asked for and received The Case for God for Christmas 2009. I started reading it the following New Year’s Day. The book is packed with endnotes, a pet peeve of mine. It’s not that I dislike notes; I love notes. I just like them as footnotes so I can easily read them in parallel with the content. The author, Karen Armstrong, is on TED talking about the golden rule.

    I finished this book May 7.

    ISBN is 1591843162 8 Michael Hyatt recommended Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

    I just finished Seth Godin’s Linchpin. A game-changer. One of the most important books I’ve read in 12 months: http://bit.ly/6stlFm

    I placed a hold request for this book at the Hillsboro Public Library on January 25, 2010. They e-mailed me to say it was ready and I picked it up February 14, 2010. Looks like I better boogie through it; they’re not going to let me renew it. So much for finishing it before I had to return it. I decided to buy it instead. That way, I could mark it up. And mark it up I did.

    I’ll be re-reading Linchpin book soon. Highly recommended.

    ISBN is 0787960756 7 I read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team last year, but it’s worth a re-read. I started reading it April 27 and finished it May 2. I’ll be adding this book to our team’s library.

    ISBN is 0385528752 6 Michael Hyatt recommends Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard:

    I have already begun to use many of the Switch principles in my own life and in my company. It is amazing how simple and effective they are. The book was an easy read and one that I will be going back to again and again. I have now added it to my list of top ten business books.

    I couldn’t resist. I bought it March 30, started reading it April 24, and finished it three days later.

    ISBN is 0787976393 5 Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni is one of books I bought March 30. I read a bunch of his books last year. They’re quick reads with good, practical info. To emphasize the quick read point, I both started and finished this book on April 22. Like all of Lencioni’s books, Getting Naked has an interesting plot that made me want to keep reading. I took the book to Jamison’s science fair and had to explain the title. Executive summary: I like the book enough to give to the person who lent me the first Lencioni book I read and got me hooked. Thanks, Dave!

    ISBN is 0440243688 4 Every once in a while, I read an action-mystery novel and I’m reminded why I don’t read them much anymore. Lee Child’s Gone Tomorrow: A Reacher Novel is the latest, bought and finished April 4. My book review is here.

    ISBN is 0195154649 3 I bought a bunch of Bart Erhman books after reading his Misquoting Jesus, including The New Testament, which is intended as a textbook for a introductory college New Testament studies class. So far, it’s been a good survey of the history, competing forms of Christianity, and various methods for analyzing texts. I finally finished the book on March 29. This book will be worthy of another read and to serve as a reference for an unorthodox (though scholarly) summary of New Testament texts in their historical contexts.

    ISBN is 0525950796 2 Suzi gave me The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith for Christmas. I started it Super Bowl night and got half way through. I finished it the next day. It’s (obviously) a quick read, essentially a lengthened sermon on the story of the prodigal son, but spending more time on the elder son, than the younger.

    My only disappointment with the book is that it didn’t follow through on being about the prodigal God, not the prodigal son(s).

    ISBN is 0385504225 1 Nearly a month into 2010 reading lengthy textbooks (and restarting books after already having read part way through), I hadn’t yet finished a book. It was time for a quick read: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

    I was able to check out a “non-holdable” copy of the book from the Hillsboro Public Library on January 25, 2010, and finished it within 48 hours. The Lost Symbol is a typical Dan Brown symbol-fest novel, with his religious views thrown in. To make the story more entertaining, I followed the action on Google Maps. Dan Brown makes it easy by giving the street addresses for important locations. Symbol has a few interesting plot twists, but when I reached the end, my reaction was merely, “Yeah, whatever.” And the book is misnamed. Meh.

    On the Shelf

    These are the books that were on my shelf to read at the end of 2010.

    ISBN is 006180035X I purchased Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography sometime in late 2010, while reading a couple of Marcus Borg books on historical Jesus.

    Interesting Books

    These are the books I discovered in 2010 and thought they looked interesting.

    ISBN is 0385516118 Michael J. Totten recommends reading The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations.

    ISBN is 0143038257 Art King and brother Bob both have recommended that I read Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time.

    ISBN is 034543529X Roy Gardner recommends Dragon’s Egg, by Robert Forward.

    ISBN is 1578517087 ISBN is 0465019358 Confused of Calcutta recommends The Social Life of Information and The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion.

    ISBN is 0787963852 I found Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices from Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge. Unfortunately, I can’t remember how I got there; Working Knowledge is not something I’ve read before.

    ISBN is 0307275175 I ran across The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives while cruising a brick and mortar book store. I read a chapter or two and put it on the shelf. I will finish it later.

    ISBN is 0849946018 Bill Colburn recommends Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ:

    If I were ever to write a book – which my friends keep encouraging me to do – it has already been written. This would have been my book. I loved it from beginning to end.

    ISBN is 1439101191 Hugh Hewitt interviewed Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One on May 18. Hewitt disagreed many times with Alter. Alter said he was trying to be fair, writing neither a puff piece nor a hatchet job. Hewitt recommends Promise.

    ISBN is 0393072223 Robert N Lee ridicules The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. I tried to read the referenced Salon piece, but the ads on the side kept distracting me.

    ISBN is 0849947006 Oregon Faith Report notes that The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World won the 2010 Christian Book of the Year award. Even better: All royalties from the book benefit World Vision.

    Brother Bob says his mens’ group is studying this book.

    ISBN is 0262162563 Seth Godin references Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World in Linchpin. Author Alex Pentland talks about Honest Signals on YouTube.

    ISBN is 0743254236 Gary Walter referenced Calculated Risks: How to Know When Numbers Deceive You. Who can pass up a riveting book on conditional probabilities? Not me. ;-)

    ISBN is 0976682222 Jack Ganselle recommends An Arduino Workshop:

    If you remember those Heathkit and Radio Shack introduction to electronics kits, this book will tickle your memories. It’s really an intro to embedded systems, and I do mean a basic start-from-square-one sort of work. The writing is crystal-clear and just irreverent enough to be fun.

    Of course, I’d be getting it for Jamison. ;-)

    ISBN is 0300151926 Brother Bob recommends Judaism: A Way of Being by David Hillel Gelernter with a pithy statement: “Heavy reading.” He included a link to a Jay Lefkowitz review published in the Wall Street Journal on March 29:

    Throughout “Judaism,” Mr. Gelernter uses imagery to amplify understanding. He notes that Judaism is filled with powerful images—the seven-branched Temple menorah, the Star of David, the tablets of the Ten Commandments. To grasp the essence of Judaism is to read the messages of these images or at least to contemplate their potential meaning. When Moses, upon first encountering God, sees a burning bush that is not consumed, Mr. Gelernter infers a metaphor for all of Jewish history: “Jews are slaughtered yet Israel is not consumed.”

    Heavy, indeed.

    ISBN is 0310520207 While wandering a book store March 30 (I love brick and mortar book stores!), I ran across The Christian Atheist. When my to-read stack gets a little lower, I’ll look for it again.

    ISBN is 0374531773 Convictions: A Prosecutor’s Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves

    ISBN is 0143116770 Seth Godin recommends a bunch of books, of which Krista Tippet’s Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit is only one.

    ISBN is 0812973992 On a Horizon Air flight 2632 from SMF to PDX February 27, 2010, the man in seat 8E next to me was reading Let the Great World Spin: A Novel. Although he was only about half way through, he recommended the book. Looks interesting. :-)

    ISBN is 066423285X From Oregon Faith Report comes the recommendation to read Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and the Drama of Life .

    Haught believes Christians who find evolution contrary to faith often do so because they are focusing mainly on the issue of life’s adaptive design and the notion of the gradual descent of all life from a common ancestry. In doing so, he argues, they overlook the significance of the dramatic narrative going on beneath the surface of life and the entire universe. Haught offers a compelling focus on evolution as an ongoing drama and accepts the possibility that we simply cannot—perhaps need not—make complete sense of it all until it has fully played out.

    ISBN is 0761134220 How can you pass up a book that describes itself as:

    No more boring parties! No more dull meetings! No more getting stuck with a little kid and not knowing how to make her laugh. Perfect for extroverts, office cutups, actors and storytellers, practical jokers, and the unsung clowns who brighten all our days, MouthSounds is the book for people who would give anything to imitate a Toilet Plunger. Or a Sports Car Smash and Crash (with debris and rolling hubcap). Sound like Gollum while reading Lord of the Rings to a favorite nephew. Have meaningful dialogue with your dog. Hold the table spellbound by acting out “Titanic: The Movie” in ten seconds.

    ISBN is 0061730327 My uncle recommends reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope“:

    This book will inspire anyone who cares to read his incredible story of pursuing your dreams.

    ISBN is 0765304961 Flashlight Worthy Books tweeted a recommendation of Ender in Exile:

    I’ve read most (all?) of the Ender series, so I’m looking forward to reading this one as well.

    ISBN is 1590525825 Bob Potter recommended Violent Prayer: Engaging Your Emotions Against Evil in a couple of tweets. Maybe not a ringing endorsement (at least, not for the first 50 pages), but Violent Prayer sounds interesting.

    ISBN is 0143036556 Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

    ISBN is 0321657292 I discovered Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems and Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition from a post on Usability Post.

    I wish they were about software UI in general instead of web design, but they should still be interesting.

  • I Recommend: A Reunion Bibliography

    I Recommend: A Reunion Bibliography

    Every other Thanksgiving weekend, the Logan clan gets together to eat and talk, talk and eat. I’m not sure which we do more. It doesn’t really matter: we love both.

    We talk about everything, including religion and politics — even church politics. It can get interesting because we don’t agree on much everything. Hopefully, we do it without offending each other. (If I offended you this last weekend, please accept my apologies…)

    As part of our discussions, I recommended quite a few books, web sites, and videos. Rather than send individual e-mails to remind those I talked to, I’m writing this post, sharing it on Facebook, and tagging those involved.


  • Book Review: Gone Tomorrow

    ISBN is 0440243688 Every once in a while, I read an action-mystery novel. Then I’m reminded why I don’t read them much anymore. Lee Child’s Gone Tomorrow: A Reacher Novel is my latest reminder. I bought it the afternoon of April 4 while waiting for a flight home; I finished it later that evening (or maybe about 15 minutes into the next day).

    Gone Tomorrow follows Child’s typical formula: Jack Reacher, while minding his own business, gets sucked into a situation requiring his unique abilities: telling time without a watch, owning only one set of clothing which he never launders, rarely bathing, and apparently never using deodorant. You might think I’m being unfair but I disagree — Reacher’s clothing and “hygiene” habits are so important that Child’s books document Reacher’s every clothing purchase and shower.

    Reacher possesses nearly superhuman powers of observation, analysis, and combat. Taking on entire teams of baddies singlehandedly is Reacher’s M.O. Of course, Reacher is not the only prime specimen in Child’s books; his villains and helpful cohorts tend to include young, attractive and fit females (yeah, some are even attracted to Reacher, go figure…) and Gone Tomorrow is no exception.

    Even if you can overlook Reacher’s idiosyncrasies and exaggerated capabilities, you’ll have to endure a plot where, [Spoiler alert. Click to read.] at the climax, the villain throws down her gun, choosing instead to fight Reacher with a knife. This, after she saw him take down her entire security force.

    I’ll let you guess whether Child’s franchise ends with this book. It does for me.

  • New Book Day

    Today is a good day. I bought three books and discovered another.

    I started reading Linchpin by Seth Godin, but quit because I was getting frustrated. Not because I didn’t like the book, but because I’d borrowed it from the library. Getting books from the library is a good way to save money, but I don’t think the county would be thrilled if I marked it all up and then “forgot” to return it. Some books you want to own; this is one. I even got another couple for my team in California.

    Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is another no-brainer purchase for a couple reasons. One: their book Made to Stick was excellent. Two: Michael Hyatt recommends it. Good enough for me.

    Last is Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni. I read a bunch of his books last year. They’re quick reads with good, practical info.

    While wandering the store (I love brick and mortar book stores!), I ran across The Christian Atheist. It goes on my interesting books page. When my to-read stack gets a little lower, I’ll look for it again.

    What new books have you bought or read recently?

  • The Books I Read in 2009

    I like to read. I maintain a page of books I’m reading, have read, and just might read. In 2009, I read 29 books, started another 2 books, and found 37 more books I’m interested in reading. This doesn’t count the magazines I read or the technical books I reference.

    The books I read divide quite nicely into just a few categories:

    • Science
      • Science / Technology Histories
      • Evolution
    • Religion
      • Biblical Criticism
      • House Church / First Century Christianity
      • Apologetics / Perception / Issues
    • Business
    • Fiction

    How about you? Do you still read books? Did you have a favorite in ’09? What book do you recommend? (more…)

  • Patrick Lencioni: Death by Meeting and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

    In the past two days, I read two books by Patrick Lencioni: Death by Meeting and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The books are quick reads — obviously. What might not be so obvious is the books are also entertaining, teaching in a form their author calls “a leadership fable.” In case you miss something along the way (not likely), the books include summaries of the points to be learned.

    I’m looking forward to practicing what I learned within my team.



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