Some Good New Year's Reading

I was on a roll with my reading over Christmas, but hit a bump in the road when the power went out where we were staying near Santa Cruz and then a lot of basketball and meetings. But – I have gotten through a bunch of books, some good, some not-so-good.

First, I read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience which opened my eyes to new ways to think about happiness and fulfillment. If you want to better explore that feeling of “being in the flow” and when time flies, I reccomend this book.

Next up was the best book I’ve read in a long time – Clinton & Me was a hilarious romp through the life of Clinton’s humor speechwriter. I laughed out loud many times at both the jokes and the process through which Clinton and Al Gore wrote their humor speeches. Highly reccomended for people who like laughing and politics.

After reading a positive review of Hackers & Painters I grabbed a copy. I read and loved Paul Graham’s essay on essays (and blogged about it here). His compilation of essays is pretty good, some more interesting than others. If you like his online stuff, you’ll probably like this book.

Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct only slightly scratched my itch of curiosity on the wonders of language and how our mind processes language. I decided to pass on the 400 pages in btwn the intro and conclusion because the writing was boring.

Keith Yamashita’s Unstuck is a quick read that had some useful tips for trying to get “unstuck” from a tricky business situation. I’ve always been intrigued about the attention this guy has gotten vis-a-vis his work with HP. Unstuck doesn’t tell that story as much as present a workbook that you can use in a very practical manner.

My most recent read has been one of the best – How Would You Move Mount Fuju? Microsoft’s Cult of the Puzzle. I’ve heard about Microsoft’s interviews and brain teasers and this book sheds light on this increasingly popular practice. In addition to outlining some fun (but hard!) puzzles and answers, it had some great tips in interviewing candidates, being the interviewee, and also some random bits on problem solving in general.

Now, time to get to the periodical reading stacked on my bedside table. David Brooks recently published his top non-NYTimes articles from 2004 a few of which I have printed out and will read. Among the more interesting articles include Faculty Clubs and the Pews, The Global Baby Bust, World War IV, High Prices: How to Think About Prescription Drugs, and An Argument for New Liberalism. They’re sure to be thought-provoking.

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