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Light reading

Posted by joeabbott on July 26, 2015

Our home has enough books to fill a small library; a small library of decidedly eclectic tastes. And, every night before dozing off I enjoy cracking the nearest volume and doing a bit of reading. Many of these books are small, slim volumes and most have been appreciated. I gathered up my collection of recently-read and am sharing them here.


In no particular order, here’s what was on the reading list:

The Unofficial Hobbit Handbook

I asked for this book for Christmas or, rather, it was on my Amazon wish list and received it. Well, it made it to the list because I collect all-things-Tolkien but I’d rather I hadn’t asked for it: the book is rather a dull affair. It pains me to be negative about a book: the effort involved in making one is hefty, as a work of creativity I applaud it, and I’m sure someone’s feelings would be hurt if I had to say this to the author’s face … but the book just wasn’t for me.

From my read, the authors took a number of traits about Tolkien’s hobbits either as-written or deduced, and built a book around holding these virtues up as life-lessons. And, for the most part, it came off as forced and rather dull. Apologies to fans; this book wasn’t for me.

Throw me the Bottom Line … I’m Drowning in Email

An old book that a manager years ago gave me to help me with my email style. I love writing and realize that I decorate even simple passages with color and drama; the tickle at producing a well-turned sentence compels me. But, at work, this style interferes with getting to the point and moving the business along. And we use an awful lot of email where I work. So, it’s good for me to reread this slim work every once in a while to beat into my skull the main point.

Or, as that manager would say, “I’m OK; the bull is dead”.

Poker for Dummies

I’m not sure how this came into my collection but as a one-time, nickel ante, playing with family sorta guy, I found these pages interesting. There’s a lot of pure mathematics, a bit about reading your opponents, and more about understanding your limits in terms of winning and losing. If you play poker, and particularly Texas Hold ‘em, you should spend a little time with a small book like this.

Outdoor Navigation with GPS

I like being outdoors and I love being so far from others you need to have your own skills and gear buttoned up. So, when I started relying more and more on GPS units, I wanted to better understand what they did and how they did it. It became especially important when I would bring out my GPS after having traveled many many miles (or brought it out of a long sleep) and it didn’t seem to be able to find satellites. What was going on?

This book explains it. Well written and easily read.

Rules of Civility and Other Writings & Speeches

My mother game me this book; it’s the collected writings of George Washington … our first president (assuming only people living in the USA are reading this). While I wanted to love the book and eagerly read it, the style was remote and complex; it certainly didn’t match my vision or expectations of General Washington. But, that made it all the more compelling to understand.

While reading the work itself was a chore, I found a number of analyses of the writings that explained why he wrote what and how he did. And that was fascinating.

The Essential Marcus Aurelius

Don’t read this book if you feel you’ll never measure up; or, perhaps, especially read it in that situation but be prepared to put some work into yourself. Take this short example:

People seek retreats for themselves in the country, by the sea, and near the mountains; and you too are especially prone to desire such things. But this is a sign of ignorance, since you have the power to retire within yourself whenever you wish.

Aurelius was a Roman emperor and kind of an all-around badass: he held a high bar and let you know exactly where it was. If you can work through the book and either feel good about yourself or successfully apply his lessons, well, you may be emperor material yourself!

The Very Secret Order of Creatives Understanding

Now, I’m not sure at all where this “book” came from … it’s more of a pamphlet … but I see that Amazon lists it for ~$14. For those without an interest in buying a copy from Amazon, you can download the PDF from Veer; the publishing company.

The only reason this book made my list is because I found it entertaining. It’s comprised of several puzzles or brainteasers that are easy enough to get but hard enough that you feel mighty clever when you do get them.

Don’t hurry off to print this book but, if you have time and are looking for a diversion, it’s easy enough to click the above link and read along at your computer.


And that’s it. I’m currently working through Douglas Stone’s Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian; a fascinating account of Einstein’s contribution to the development of quantum mechanics. I hope to write more on this later … good book!

Thanks for dropping in.


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