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Reading

Books I've read. This is not Uber — three stars is normal. Consider four stars very good, and five stars exceptionally so. One paragraph reviews.

    Chris Broad
    ★ ★ ★ 

    A nice travelogue about Japan. There are many books in this category, and this one isn’t above and beyond exceptional, but the writing is solid and it has a couple laugh out loud moments. It was also written in 2023, so it’s a little more current with the recent developments in Japan of the last few years.

    Antonio Garcia Martinez
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Written in a bombastic, Gonzo style which often falls flat from most authors, Antonio’s a good enough writer and has an interesting enough story that it works for Chaos Monkeys. I was impressed at how well it maintained a high bar of carefully chosen prose throughout all 500+ pages, although by the end I couldn’t help but dislike product managers even more than when I started.

    Clem Martini

    An eclectic art book telling the story of a family with an aging parent and mental illness in a brother led to a complex interpersonal situation and interaction with the health care system. A sobering tale, it will remind its reader of their own morality, and how precipitous the health of our minds and bodies really are.

    Paul Rosolie
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Excellent book, containing many fascinating stories from Paul’s time in the Amazon. Covers encounters with everything from caimans to anteaters to poachers to anacondas, and slips in some natural history and needed championship for the area’s conservation.

    Lene Gammelgaard
    ★ ★ 

    Nominally interesting read given it’s a perspective on the most famous Everest tragedy of all time, but suffers from quality problems: uneven stream of consciousness journal-style entries don’t produce a cohesive narrative, author is self-centered to the exclusion of almost everything else, and the prose is quite disjointed and not fluid to read (translation problem?). The pacing is uneven — all the action takes place in the last 50 pages, so those can be skimmed to efficiently extract the majority of the book’s worthwhile content quickly.

    Micaiah Johnson
    ★ 

    I don’t abandon books often, but called it quits on this one at 40%. The plot’s interesting in the abstract, but it doesn’t take long after starting to realize that the world shifting premise is poorly thought out (the mechanism of it, but also why they even bother – like, why the data downloads are important at all?), the setting not interesting, the characters (including but certainly not limited to the narrator) not compelling, and most importantly, that it’s quite boring to read. Layered on that are ham-fisted attempts at underlying thematic currents, which in a wholly unforeseeable twist, turn out to be exactly the same as the usual favorites from the coastal bourgeoisie like neo-Identitarianism (“They needed trash people. Poor black and brown people.”) and migration/deportation.

    Anthony Bourdain
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Good stuff. You get a sense throughout of dramaticized exaggeration (normal for this kind of book), but Bourdain’s perspective is unique and interesting, and there are many passages that are nigh perfectly wordsmithed.

    Russell Davies
    ★ ★ 

    A tiny pocket book that’s the perfect format for carrying about and skimming in a session or two. It’s quite short, and no tips in here will change your life, but I found the book a helpful reminder to get out and do things and to publish what you did.

    There’s a couple sequences where he (or someone being quoted) glorifies lockdowns (and how they were so conducive to being interesting), which drives me up the wall, but the content is reasonably good beyond that.

    Jordan Mechner
    ★ ★ ★ 

    The idea of reading republished journals sounds like a tiresome concept, but it works with editing and attention to detail. Jordan’s journal entries are succinct and offer a fascinating window into the early era of game development, with his well-traveled life acting as seasoning for the story. Beautifully curated media assets and other accompanying materials are sprinkled througout to keep it even more engaging.

    I’d never played the original game when I was young so after finishing the book I went to try it on a DOS emulator. Games have come a long way and you have to grade them according to their time, but still, wow, absolutely terrible. Stick to the book.

    Michael Crichton
    ★ ★ 

    As a big Crichton fan, I was surprised not to have found this book before. The title is a bit of a misnomer – travelogues make up maybe a third of the book with the rest of it being able Crichton’s couple years practicing medicine, thoughts on paranormal phenomena, and vignettes from his life in LA.

    The psychic stuff feels quite odd to read today, but makes sense in context as it would’ve been very en vogue during the 80s when the book was written. Crichton’s obviously a thoughtful guy, so there are a few stories that really make you wonder. For example, like when Crichton attended a spoon bending party (in the style of Uri Geller) and claimed that everyone there was able to bend spoons with their minds by the end of the night. He wasn’t lying about it, but rather had managed to convince himself that it was real, and a contemporary reader is left wondering simply: what happened there?

    The stories are entertaining enough and it’s worth a quick read, but it’s not a heavy hitter like a lot of Crichton’s other work.

    Robert Galbraith
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Rowling’s an obnoxiously talented writer. I rarely read mysteries, but keep finding myself gravitating back to these Cormoran Strike books. They’re long, but the length gives the story time to examine the mystery in play from all angles, and develop characters into believable people. Like other series entries, the resolution is an epic crescendo of converging clues and storylines, magically orchestrated. Running Grave’s subject is a cult, and anyone passingly familiar with like organizations in real life recognizes its background and practices as highly believable.

    Moby
    ★ ★ ★ 

    I see from other reviews that this book gets a lot of hate, but I enjoyed it. Moby doesn’t pull any punches and describes in excruciating detail his problems with alcohol, his problems with relationships, and how to came to realize the hard way that money and assets aren’t an automatic lock on happiness.

    Michael Lewis
    ★ 

    This was easily my most anticipated book of 2023. Lewis had been embedded with SBF throughout the entire duration of the fraud, and putting those observations to work after his arrest could lead to the greatest rollercoaster tell all in a generation.

    Instead, we got the hardest PR spin of the generation. The entire book builds up Sam as a misunderstood genius whose intelligence is head and shoulders above his peers, and so smart that his actions appear inscrutable to us mere mortals. His arrest and the ironclad criminal case brought against him are functionally a footnote brought up in the book’s last few pages. Not a word is wasted in contemplation of the victims of his fraud, $8 billion of whose savings disappeared.

    Instead of waiting for a more complete picture after Sam’s trial had concluded, Lewis opted to release the book as it was just getting underway, which is hard to interpret as anything other than a last ditch Hail Mary to sway the opinion of the jury pool.

    Regardless of Lewis’ motivation behind writing such a single dimensional, extraordinarily biased account, I suspect he’s going to find that credibility is hard to build, but easy to burn. I thoroughly enjoyed The Big Short and Boomerang, but will never look at a Michael Lewis book the same way again.

    Hugh Howey
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Thoroughly enjoyed this finale to the Silo series, and would recommend the whole set to almost anyone given that it packs so many great ideas per page and is reasonably succinct. Dust has the same problems as previous entries – characterization is a little shallow, and the books never quite succeed in portraying a living, believable world – but the strengths considerably outweigh any weaknesses. The series conclusion is satisfying, but leaves some threads hanging that many readers like myself would’ve expected to be integrated before the end.

    Hugh Howey
    ★ ★ ★ 

    After witnessing the creation of a world in a book as in Wool, it’s always nice to dive into its origins, and Shift goes deep. Good book and one that I found easy to plow through. Slight critiques on how long it puts the main storyline on pause for, and that the rationale behind how and why the dystopian world came about was disappointingly hard to believe.

    Charles Cumming
    ★ ★ 

    Page after page this book declares how amazing and how secretive and how great Lachlan Kite and Box 88 are. Not shows – declares, reading in its entirety like a high effort wish fulfillment fantasy. There’s a proximate plot, but with a lead character who’s infallible in every way, there’s no doubt throughout how it’ll end.

    Hugh Howey
    ★ ★ ★ 

    This whole series is well worth the read. Reasonably short with a lot of interesting ideas, I tore through the trilogy almost one after the other. It’s far from perfect – the characters in particular feel quite one dimensional, and for once I was glad to have watched the first season of the TV series first so I had something concrete to help imagine them – but well worth it overall.

    Tim Urban
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    I don’t love how we’re at the point where our attention spans are so fractured that we need comic aids to help readers get through a book, but Urban’s writing is the closest thing to a real shot at getting the west out of its self-destructive civilizational funk. Careful to stay meticulously nonpartisan, he describes the trouble we have in careful detail, and articulates a framework to help pull out of it.

    Marco Rubio
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Fyodor Dostoevsky
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Brixton Key
    ★ ★ 
    Aldous Huxley
    ★ ★ 
    Adrian Tchaikovsky
    ★ ★ 
    Moby
    ★ ★ 
    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Batya Ungar-Sargon
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Jaron Lanier
    ★ ★ 
    Aldous Huxley
    ★ ★ 
    Quentin Tarantino
    ★ ★ 
    Robert Galbraith
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    W. David Marx
    ★ ★ 

    I was a huge fan of the author’s last book Ametora and dove into this one with zeal, but to my great surprise, almost didn’t finish. Even by the end, I still didn’t really understand what this book is about. It’s the world’s most preeminent collection of little anecdotes of music, movies, and culture, weaved together into an encyclopedic canvas of impressive breadth, but despite the litany of factoids, there’s no purpose to the whole thing. No conclusion, no thesis, no raison d’être, just cultural references ad nauseam with an implication that there’s some great wisdom below the surface.

    Recommendation: try Ametora instead.

    John E. Sarno
    ★ ★ 

    I got a strong recommendation on this book that I found credible, but came out finding the claims pretty hard to believe. Lots of anonymous anecdotes included, but it strongly defies sense and intuition. Also a surprising lack of actionable content given the title of the book.

    James Rickards
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Philip K. Dick
    ★ ★ 

    Lots of interesting ideas, but not one of Philip K. Dick’s better works. Inconsistent pacing, lacks a fully coherent plot, and resolves poorly.

    Ezra Klein
    ★ 

    Klein’s thesis around polarization and some of its roots is generally correct, but if you stop to think about what’s being written, some of the disingenuity comes into closer focus. For example, the book starts out talking about Trump (what else), but immediately lays down the premise that the reason for Trump’s rise is that the electorate is bad. Not touched upon at all is the Democratic Party putting its thumb on the scale to jam their favored candidate in place, a person with decades worth of dubious behavior in DC that practically nobody in America likes. Klein is obsessed with identity politics, or rather the idea that it doesn’t exist, and if it did, it’s something that everybody is doing, gaslighting by fiat that there isn’t something quite toxic that the modern left has made a major part of their core platform. The book tries to appear mostly unbiased throughout, but by the back third Klein is into overt theses of “the Democratic Party is fundamentally good and the Republic Party is fundamentally bad”, which he “proves” by showing that more of the mainstream media favors the Democratic Party. Just amazing.

    Ross Douthat
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    One of the scariest, and most important books of the contemporary age — Douthat makes the case that rich societies have entered a plateau similar to one seen at the end of the Roman Empire, wherein they stay quite rich, but have lost their edge in innovation, creativity, and even the ability to sustain themselves biologically. He argues these points very convincingly, and indeed, I find it hard to believe that anyone could read this book with something akin to an open mind and not have to acknowledge that Douthat’s analysis is correct, even if reluctantly. Its review bombing is telling — if the book’s thesis is indeed right, then we as a civilization are in serious crisis, and without a lot of compelling options for extricating ourselves from it. That is absolutely terrifying. Hitting the book with a two-star review over sentiment rather than content is one of the few forms of cope that’s readily available.

    Jack Kerouac
    ★ ★ 

    Read this as I was trying to understand this whole “Beat Generation” phenomena, but am still having a lot of trouble getting it. In a nutshell, it’s a travel/life memoir rewritten as fiction apparently to avoid legal problems, which has the side effect that there’s not much in the way of overaching story to speak of, and although the travel experiences are a window into a period of American history that isn’t coming back, they’re not exactly enthralling either. I’d contend that although this was a shocking and memorable book for its age, it wouldn’t stand up to basic scrutiny if rewritten in a more contemporary age.

    Peter Hook
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    I’m not a total die-hard Joy Division fan, but still found this history quite enjoyable. It gives you a glimpse into just how gritty the punk/post-unk scene of the 70s was, and makes you think about how different society by comparison is today, and not necessarily in a good way. The Audible version is narrated by the author himself (Peter Hook), and his working class Manchester accent makes the book.

    David Duchovny
    ★ 

    I think this would’ve had a chance had it been rebuilt around a theme that wasn’t Covid, but Duchovny’s very coastal and very partisan lockdown perspectives ruined this one, and without going to heavy on spoilers, is especially ironic given where he goes with the ending.

    Hugh Thomson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Witty. Funny. Adventurous (and even somewhat educational). Top tier travel book.

    Dan Simmons
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Epic like the first three books in the series, but definitely the weakest entry amongst them. All the Hyperion books indulge in some amount of deus ex machina, but here it’s cranked up to 11, with the characters divining themselves out of every problem throughout. I’m generally a fan of “slice of life” storytelling where you have some free moments to get to know characters better, but at 700+ pages, it overstays its welcome, and it took me a couple extra weeks to get through the whole thing. All that said, the ending is still great as all the story threads come to a head, so it’s certainly still worth the read.

    Tamara Shopsin
    ★ ★ 

    Very fast little read — 200 pages, but most of them are partially filled and with a lot of whitespace. An accounting of a fictional repair shop full of quirky characters passionate about Apple products in particular, and with a few sprinkles of Apple history thrown in. A neat experiment in the format, but not hugely substantive.

    Peter Zeihan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Wow, what a read — let me just say that if Zeihan is right, we’re all in a whole lot of trouble (or at least the kids we’re not having are). To really boil things all the way down, Zeihan’s two core theses are that (1) having failed to sustain healthy demographic distributions (largely thanks to industrialization), almost every country on Earth is facing impending demographic collapse as there are not nearly enough young to support the old, and we’re well passed the point that anything could be done about the problem; and (2) the US will withdraw as the protector of the world’s waterways, which will sharply curb world trade. This will leave countries more inward facing to source the resources and production they need to sustain their 21st century lifestyles, but most countries don’t have anything close to there wherewithal to do so, with the result being that the quality of live they got used to under under globalism will become sharply diminished.

    He’s bullish on the United States and a couple other countries like France, and notably extremely bearish on China, who he believes is in for a reckoning as the aftereffects of decades worth of one-child policy come due in the form of a catastrophic demographic implosion (along with a host of other problems they’re facing). I have to say that even six months ago I would’ve been highly dubious as China’s trajectory didn’t seem be moving in any direction except up, but between the trouble they’ve had in their financial and housing markets over the last few months, combined with a truly insane Covid Zero policy that seems to indicate that Xi’s fired every smart person who might’ve contradicted him, these days I’m inclined to believe Zeihan’s claims.

    The whole thing is meticulously researched, and there aren’t any obvious holes to be poked in the vast majority of suppositions (as concerning as that is). The one big one that smelled a little off to me is the claim that America’s navy is what acts as essentially the sole guarantor for global shipping safety, a macro thesis on which many of the other claims in the book are contingent. He does cite a lot of information about the naval fleets of other countries including China aren’t up to job, but I’ll still be looking for some second opinions. But other than that, I suspect all the references check out.

    Johann Hari
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Certainly a worthwhile read — the author makes a strong argument that our attention economy has been objectively shrinking over time (it’s not just perception), and a big part of that is how the apps we’re using are a central caused as they’re designed to maximize time-on-app. This is of course true, and it’s nice to see the someone make the case to show it as objectively as possible. Also interesting is that he presents a somewhat nihilist take in some parts where he admits to not having an easy one-size-fits-all solution to the problem as we’re in the position of having to try and fight off our own bad instincts. The book’s weakness is that it very likely could’ve been an essay instead of a book — by the end of it he’s wandered pretty far off track (for example, he finishes with a long segment on climate change), which you get the feeling is there to flesh out the page numbers.

    Christopher Leonard
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Excellent — Leonard’s writing is easily digestible without an advanced econ degree, while also tackling and unwinding the fanciful Fed language that’s often used to obscure their decision-making. The book sticks to the facts and manages to stay quite neutral, but you come out of it with a strong impression that the Fed’s been the most important contributor to practically every economic crisis in the past thirty years, and like many federal institutions, has fallen victim to short-term wishful thinking over planning for longer term, well-distributed prosperity and stability. For example, while the Fed wasn’t any of the directly precipitating factors that led to the 2008 financial crisis (e.g. they weren’t selling risky repackaged ARMs), by keeping interest rates close to zero and providing cheap money for so long, they were the major reason that banks were pushed so far down the risk curve in search of higher returns. My one missive is that the book was written too early to cover our latest 2022 developments of high inflation and the Fed finally engaging in non-trivial rate hikes (0.75) for the first time in modern history — wouldn’t been interesting to get Leonard’s take on this.

    Dan Simmons
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Epic story that has you on the edge of your seat throughout. I love how the latter two books are a completely different breed of story compared to the first two, and yet work just as well in their own right. For technophiles, excellent thought-provoking ideas of future and far-future conceptual technology throughout. I first read this book over a decade ago, and without spoilers, the high-cost way the Raphael and its passengers uses to travel between stars is something that’s stuck with me throughout and which I still think about every so often.

    Dan Simmons
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Builds to an absolute crescendo — about as epic as it gets — and still leaves room for further exploration of the Hyperion universe.

    Dan Simmons
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Having read what must be a hundred plus sci-fi novels in my life, I keep coming back to Dan Simmons for some of the most masterful examples of the genre in existence. The Hyperion series may be unparalleled in its imagination, expanse, and mystery, with this first book being an anthology of sorts, containing a variety of stories from a cast of characters whose backstories are progressively revealed. A favorite aspect of this book is how Simmons drops you in hot with minimal explanation, and you’re left to build up a comprehensive view of the universe over the course of the novel — it’s easy to get this wrong by over-explaining or not explaining enough, but Hyperion strikes a perfect balance.

    Douglas Murray
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Reading this book is absolutely crazy-making in that it shines stark light on just how unhinged, malicious, and unfortunately, widespread, the modern illiberal activist movement has become, but there’s no better person to document it than Murray. As with his other books, incredibly articulate, witty, well-constructed, and immaculately sourced.

    Bill Gates
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Read this 25+ years after publication, and this was admittedly largely a intellectual exercise since there’s not a whole lot of practical information in here anymore, but I was shocked how prescient many of Gates’ predictions were — he got everything from smartphones, video streaming like Netflix, digital wallets/contactless payment, the growth of online marketplaces, biometrics-driven device protection, all the way to personalized media echo chambers (although he thought this would be a good thing on the whole). A good track record, although as a radical optimist, he was about 0 for 100 on any the bad stuff.

    Dan Lyons
    ★ ★ 

    An early example of the genre of “tech journalist hates industry he reports on” (but isn’t beyond taking a paycheck from it) which would become especially widespread in the later 2010s. I’m sure there are some legitimate complaints in here and there’s no question that some tech cultural practices got pretty absurd, but the whole book reeks of exaggeration and oversimplification for dramatic effect, and doesn’t spend even a moment pandering to anything even resembling objectivity.

    James S.A. Corey
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Very in-line with the first two books. I like how The Expanse’s universe keeps expanding, and neat how many new characters are introduced in each book. I’m sort of glad I watched the TV season first because many of the characters would’ve landed flat (especially Holden) if I hadn’t, but also sort of disappointed I did because it would’ve been neat to imagine things like The Behemoth without having seen them already.

    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Excellent.

    Emily St. John Mandel
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Quite good, and the overall premise is interesting, but didn’t quite feel as cohesive as Mandel’s other books. The ambient, low-key narration is great when applied to more informal narratives found in other novels, but doesn’t fit as well when talking about a massive time-traveling organization that controls the flow of history.

    Kirsten Grind
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Good insight into Tony Hsieh’s meteoric rise and even more sudden crash. Although Tony’s later year projects may have been more questionable, I’d contend that his work to revitalize downtown Vegas as to produce a vital urban community may be one of the better things a billionaire (or near billionaire in his case) has ever spent their money on. There’s the obvious story of substance abuse, but there’s a subplot here of how Covid-related lockdowns were extremely harmful to people prone to abuse — Hsieh’s case is one that’ll have a book written about it, but it makes you wonder of the untold millions for whom nothing will ever be said.

    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Another one that’s right in that set of the very best The Wheel of Time books, and in re-reading all these years later, just head and shoulders of other fantasy series.

    Bernard Moitessier
    ★ ★ ★ 

    A chronicle by Bernard Moitessier, most notable for almost certainly having been the undisputed winner of the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race (the first non-stop round-the-world solo yacht race) … had he not decided to just keep sailing around the world instead of finishing. As far as the book is concerned — it’s a great historical artifact, but is largely made up of freeform entries from Moitessier’s journal, and is pretty long-winded and undirected. Still interesting as it reveals the purity of his spirit, and the post-book material on the technical specifics of his boat set up / sail diagrams / knot details / supply list / food recipes is pretty neat.

    James S.A. Corey
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Overall, good follow up to the first book — one of the major things to appreciate about The Expanse is how each book can take things in completely new directions. Two major things that occurred to me while reading this: (1) the TV series follows the book very closely — I already had all the high points even having watched this season years ago, and (2) in a rare turnaround, the TV series might actually be the better version of the media. The crew in the book come off as a little too campy — Captain Holden and his Rogue Squad of solar system-spelunking mavericks aboard the rough-and-tough Rocinante. Watching the TV version on the other hand, you get more of an impression of a realistic and capable flight squad surviving in a hostile environment. The show also makes some of the characters really come alive compared to the book — especially Wes Chatham as Amos and Frankie Adams as Bobbie. Still, nice to get the extra detail that prose conveys. e.g. Watching the show, I don’t think I bothered to look up what a “PDC” was until about season five.

    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Wow. I read most of this series when I was a kid, and although I liked it at the time, I never fully appreciated just how much better Wheel of Time is compared to almost every other comparable fantasy series (or even beyond those too) — the writing, world-building, and characterization are just incredible, and don’t fall into any of the pulp tropes that you find in so many other places. The Great Hunt in particular is one of the early-series book that packs in lots of action, lots of cool One Power stuff, and lots of new exploration of WoT’s expansive world.

    Twyla Tharp
    ★ ★ 

    Large collection of anecdotes about creativity, but the overall message is abstract and so non-specific as to be mostly non-actionable. The best couple entries were at the beginning, on forming habits and building a conducive working environment.

    James S.A. Corey
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Well-imagined sci-fi. In retrospect, made me realize how good of a job of realizing the book the TV creators have done (or at least for season 1/book 1) compared to many interpretations of book series.

    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ 

    A couple nice little Murakami narratives. There’s not much of an overarching theme, but it’s a great short little book to knock out over a couple holiday evenings.

    Rekka Bellum

    Nice little travelogue of a journey across the Pacific. Potential readers may want to keep in mind that it’s quite a raw journal feed collated into book format, but fairly succinct and enjoyable.

    Michael Shellenberger
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Well-researched and written from a very centrist/non-ideological perspective. Once all laid out, Schellenberger’s arguments for what cities like San Francisco are doing wrong when it comes to homelessness and drug use are very convincing.

    Alan Booth
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    An older perspective on Japan than you get from most travelogues, which were written much more recently. Thorough and a unique brand of humor.

    Matt Goulding
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Very much of the Japan travel food genre which is its own trope nowadays, but solid writing and well built.

    Jon Krakauer
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Good stuff — a number of collected essays on a wide array of subjects including Mavericks (the wave), Mount Rainier, lawsuits and the demise of Chouinard Equipment (Patagonia’s sister company), and cave spelunking. Krakauer does a nice job of opening his pieces with an interesting personal story (whether one of his own or told from another’s person’s point of view) to get you hooked, and then zooming out to a broader view of the topic at hand and getting into detail. Keep in mind that the collection is phoning it in a little bit — there’s not much of a common theme here, but rather a bunch of loose work smashed together.

    Erin Morgenstern
    ★ ★ 

    Love all the themes that this book is going for — old libraries, masquerade parties, ancient harbors, and appreciated the nods to gaming, blogging, and pop culture, but this is very pulp-y stuff. The characters are so single-dimensional that it was hard to care about what happened to any of them, and almost every last one a trope — OP female friend, old librarian, refined high society new lover, etc. The protagonist sleepwalks through a story that doesn’t offer much by way of conflict or plot — the characters meander through Alice In Wonderland environments until eventually it resolves, but not by virtue of anything that anyone did. A lot of the prose is genuinely clever, and the conceit of alternative chapters that tell fables is intriguing (although overplayed), but not enough so to redeem it.

    William Least Heat-Moon
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Reread this book and bumping my original three up to a four. Very comprehensive travelogue that provides a glimpse into a window of a broad slice of America that’s probably already disappeared. The humor is very (VERY) mild, but a lot of the wordplay and turns of phrase are inspired.

    Hannah Kirshner
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Excellent. Most “foreigner in Japan” books largely involve around pointing out the idiosyncrasies of Japanese society along with the odd ways foreigners are treated. There’s some of that here too, but the lion’s share of the book involves rare glimpses into active involvement in ancient Japanese crafts — charcoal firing, duck netting, woodworking, sake brewing, and more. Getting access to these relatively closed groups isn’t easy, so this sort of account of these experiences is far from common.

    Nicholas Tomalin
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    The Donald Crowhurst story simultaneously quite mundane (a man who after being forced into a tough situation, starts cheating) and incredibly fantastic (just how elaborate the scheme turns out to be, some of the downright strange coincidences that forced the final outcome). The effort and research that went into reconstructing Crowhurt’s voyage based on misleading radio messages and a combination of partially complete and doctored ship logs is amazing. The book is not only thorough, but also very objective — Crowhurst’s ultimate fate can’t be known with perfect certainty, but the authors establish what they think is the most reasonable conclusion and exhaustively list the supporting evidence for it. Other possibilities are considered as well, with each one dismissed with sound reasoning. The one negative I’ll say is that the book might be a little too thorough — I found myself wishing that they’d packed the story into half the length or so.

    Alan Booth
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Travelogues as a genre are a series of mildly amusing personal anecdotes exaggerated to the maximum possible extent for dramatic effect. One can think of Looking for the Lost as the most travelogue of travelogues — many, many anecdotes, very mildly amusing, and very exaggerated. That said, the book does paint a vivid picture of rural Japan at a very particular moment in history that no longer exists — quite interesting, and worth reading for that alone.

    Quentin Tarantino
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Surprisingly great given that Tarantino doesn’t have much of a history of a book author. A lot of the same ground from the film is retread, but there’s enough new material to stand on its own. It’s also interesting having some of the scenes augmented by hearing the internal monologue of various characters, and fills in some important ambiguities in the film.

    Ernest Hemingway
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Interesting perspective on Paris in an earlier age that includes a number of stories told in Hemingway’s signature prose. A great book for imagining another era.

    Andy Weir
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Fast and entertaining read — I could barely put it down. Great hard sci-fi concepts and excellent ending. I didn’t spoil myself beyond the basics going in, and was pleasantly surprising at the twists and turns throughout. Like with The Martian, I had the reaction that there’s no way any one person could pull all this stuff off, but the various feats are all well-explained, well-reasoned, and grounded enough in reality that they’re believable, thus avoiding the Mary/Marty Sue territory where a lot of popular fiction authors find themselves. In my mind, the book’s only major weakness is that a lot of the characters are a little trope-y, especially the ones on Earth. I also hope the 2nd edition comes with a schematic of the Hail Mary ship, which would be a wonderful addition, and help to illustrate how the centrifuge works, the description of which didn’t quite make it through to me.

    Will Ferguson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Entertaining travelogue about a journey hitchhiking through Japan. Like most other books in the genre, you get the feeling throughout that every scene is highly embellished, but it’s not a big deal, and this one is funnier than most — I had a few moments of chuckling out loud, reading in a room, by myself. Well done.

    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Solid Murakami, as weird as ever. This one’s a little shorter than some of his heavy hitters and makes for a good introductory read.

    Robert Whiting
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    A nice memoir of an interesting life spent in Japan. For those of us a little younger than Whiting, it’s also a historical record, as many of the scenes described are set squarely in a Tokyo of the past that are hardly imaginable today. I have little interest in baseball, and so lost the thread a little in those sections, but even for a non-enthusiast understanding the country’s relationship with this particular sport is interesting.

    Dan Simmons
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Interesting premise, and Simmons once again shows his range as a writer as he writes the period very well. The most notable part of the book is Wilkie Collins, who by virtue of being a drug addict and with other personality problems, is shown over time to be an unreliable narrator, and as you have that realization, you start to reevaluate assertions that were made before. This is certainly not Simmons best work though, and the characters being real people from history makes their portrayal oddly personal in some cases.

    James Clear
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Most of the ideas in the book are what you just call just common sense, but they’re all examined thoughtfully, and it’s helpful to hear someone articulate them well, then boil them down to specific actionable items. I’m planning on trying a few of the suggested techniques to see if I can build new, healthy practices.

    John le Carré
    ★ ★ 

    I’m not sure what I’m missing with le Carré — I spent six months reading this one off and on hoping that it would eventually pick up, but it never did. Prose that’s dense to the point of obfuscation, spy craft as riveting as organizing your W-2s in April, and the most pinnacle moments of the book compressed to short paragraphs barely worthy of note. I watched the Alec Guinness series and read the Wikipedia summary while I was reading and still had a very hard time understanding what was going on.

    Dan Simmons
    ★ ★ ★ 

    A tough one to rate because it’s got a lot of ups and a lot downs. The good: interesting mountaineering, compelling characters, good overall story arc with a satisfying conclusion. The bad: a little run on, the mixture of real/fake people and events comes off as a little disingenuous, and it just seems like a bad trope at this point that Nazis are involved in a book about climbing a mountain just so there are convenient black-and-white bad guys. Still, the Goodreads ratings for this one are misleading — there are thousands of far worse books with much higher ratings. Check out Simmons’ other books first, but not a bad read.

    Max Brooks
    ★ ★ 

    It’s fine, and not a bad read, but Max didn’t do much with the concept. Ends up following a very typical monster story arc without too much that’s terribly interesting going on.

    Lara Prior-Palmer
    ★ ★ ★ 

    First hand account of the Mongol Derby, the longest horse race in the world, occurring across the Mongol steppes, some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain, and a region producing the greatest riders in world history. The race itself is a little odd in its apparent informality and big random x-factors, and the book’s race year’s finish a little anti-climactic, but this is a well-written account that had me laugh out loud at various points. Had never even heard of the Derby’s existence before starting the book, but found it quite fascinating by the end.

    Bianca Bosker
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Well written and entertaining, Cork Dork does a great job of simultaneously highlighting some of the really neat things about wine, while also being willing to poke fun at how ridiculous and pseudo-scientific the sommelier community is. The book won’t teach you as much about wine itself as it will about the people and practices that surround it.

    Robert Galbraith
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Not really my genre, but read out of curiosity to see if there was any merit to the death threats the left is throwing Rowling’s way. There isn’t. Troubled Blood is a solid mystery that’s much more procedural than your traditional “genius” detective genre, with a lot of it being through-the-paces talking to people, studying material, and trying at length to connect dots. It’s also about the detectives themselves, and their relationship with each other. It comes together well at the end, but I found it a little more prolonged than it had to be.

    Andy Greenberg
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Good overview of the recent history of cyber espionage. I was surprised to learn that we’ve actually had good success in understanding the origins of previously mysterious groups and malware like Fancy Bear and Stuxnet by way of detailed technological forensics. Covers broad territory while staying succinct enough to get through quickly — recommended.

    Adrian Tchaikovsky
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    The generation ship at the book’s core, traveling across vast expanses of space and time, is a pretty classic sci-fi element, but there’s a whole lot of fresh ideas mixed in around it, and Tchaikovsky’s insights on what the thought and society of a divergent biology might look like are profound and convincing. The stakes feel high throughout, and the ending is satisfying. Rock solid science-fiction.

    Stephen King
    ★ ★ 

    The premise (a virus kills 99%+ of humanity as the book opens and what remains of humanity has to pick itself up) is good and King writes characters quite well, but a lot of the appeal of the book seems to be based on selling his brand of pseudo-religious world-building to religious Americans who will eat it up in a “God works in mysterious ways”, while not being so irredeemably theological as to become niche fiction for Christians (God and the devil are not quite characters in the story, but their presence and actions are heavily implied). Unfortunately, those overtones impact the story in negative ways. e.g. How convenient that every surviving human being fits so cleanly in the good camp or the evil camp. e.g. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that none of the protagonists actually do much of anything to resolve the plot, especially in the back half of the book. They’re just along for the ride as God makes things happen around them.

    Italo Calvino
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    The book’s premise is very good: each chapter is a single page description of a wondrous city as described by Marco Polo in the court of Kublai Khan. Sections are interspersed with dialog between Polo and the Khan. I had a hard time rating this one because while the prose is wonderful, the writing suggests a profundity of hidden depth (in the themes of the cities of each section, or the relationship between the different “categories” of city), but it’s not clear whether that depth actually exists. It’s either a 3 or 4 star book, and worth reading not only because it’s good, but also because it’s short and to the point.

    William Gibson
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Between invented terminology that’s not explained until hundreds of pages later (the record by my casual read being “homes”, defined on page 350), dense prose, and dialog that seems to suggest that the characters are deliberately trying to confuse each other, this book is quite difficult to read. The first 100 pages are practically incomprehensible, although it gets somewhat easier to understand after. Everyone inexplicably loves the novel’s heroine despite the fact that the majority of her phrases are 1-3 words long, and mostly just her swearing at people/things. She coasts through every situation not really doing much of anything, but with convenient ease thanks to gears being greased behind the scenes by improbably powerful and competent people on her side. All that said, the core premise is interesting, and with lots of novel Gibson-esque concepts mixed in around it.

    Simon Stålenhag
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Very interesting mini-story built around Simon’s incredible artwork. It gives us a window into a techno-dystopian future and a young girl’s travels through it. It hits the sweet spot between good narrative and mystery — the entire time you’re reading, you’re racking your brain trying to figure out what’s going on as the text segments never quite convey enough information. By the end, you’re constructed a view of the story and the world that’s partially complete, but with gaps that are purposely left unknown and up to the reader’s interpretation. As with other works by Stålenhag, I’m rating this one well because it’s excellent for what it is, but keep in mind it’s a fairly short work, with a reading time of ~1 hour.

    Simon Stålenhag
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    A compilation of Stålenhag’s artwork with a few paragraphs of back story applied to much of the imagery. This is class A inspirational material — staring at the pictures of beautiful Swedish countryside with a sci-fi twist, the mind can’t help but wander to other places. Rating a 4 because the art is amazing and the prose is disproportionately impactful given that it’s all told in just a few paragraphs, but bear in mind there isn’t a huge amount of content here (~100 pages all in; I finished in ~an hour).

    Hermann Hesse
    ★ ★ ★ 

    The story of a spiritual man’s path through life in search of enlightenment. An interesting read, and Siddartha’s journey certainly feels varied, challenging, and complete, but as far as I can tell, there’s not very much in terms of useful/actionable that a reader can apply back onto their own life. The meta story of the book’s writing is in some ways better than the story itself as Hesse reportedly became a semi-recluse studying Hindu and Buddhist scripture during the lengthy writing process.

    Hermann Hesse
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Really enjoyed the themes around loneliness and isolation — the mere idea of such would be extremely unusual by today’s standards. The last third of the book gets truly David Lynch-ian, although unfortunately like Lynch, there is far more implied meaning than there is actual meaning. Still, interesting read.

    John McPhee
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Nice write up on New Jersey’s Pine Barrens that interleaves hard facts with encounters with the area’s colourful characters. It was a little too obviously hyper-romanticized to be taken seriously, but McPhee’s razor sharp writing makes for nice reading, and is great material to learn from.

    Neil Gaiman
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Another draft from Gaiman’s seemingly bottomless well of creativity. Novel premise and great characterization in a thoroughly spooky world. Quite an enjoyable tale.

    Emily St. John Mandel
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Tremendously good fiction. In all honesty, I didn’t find the premise (cantering around a Madoff-like financier) super interesting when it was briefly described to me, but upon reading, found that the novel builds a very compelling character-driven narrative. Emily has a unique writing style that’s fluid and artfully elegant. The final chapter is especially beautiful.

    Alex Kerr
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Although a little meandering at times, I found the context in this book incredibly compelling as Kerr lived in Japan decades before it became more popular/possible to do so. Many of the things that most of us have come to see as the cornerstones and charm of Japan — neon lights, exposed power lines, cultivated forests — he explicitly dislikes, arguing that the country’s traditional beauty and practices are being lost. There are many, many books written about Japan these days, but this one offers rare, contrarian, and refreshing history and perspective.

    Vernor Vinge
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Some of the best science fiction I’ve read in a while. Very innovative premise, incredibly imaginative alien species, and compelling characters (good and bad). It even has a universal interplanetary communication medium that looks like Usenet — can’t go wrong!

    Paul Barach
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    Thoroughly enjoyed this account of a guy hiking solo to every temple on Shikoku. Most travel adventure books are a mixed bag of mildly amusing anecdotes or situations that have been exaggerated to the point of fiction for dramatic effect, but Paul’s narrative is light on that, and his quirky encounters are legitimately funny. There’s enough books about travel in Japan that for all intents and purpose they’re their own genre at this point, and if that’s the case, this is one of the best I’ve read therein.

    Sam Baldwin
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Exactly as advertised in the title — Sam spends two years teaching English in small town Japan, and describes the minor adventures and idiosyncrasies that he finds along the way. If you like the genre of travel adventure in Japan, you’ll probably enjoy this too.

    J.K. Rowling
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

    My first re-read since the book’s release and it’s just gotten better if anything. Rowling proves just how good popular fiction can be — at the risk of sounding dramatic, a society where the mainstream admires book like these with intricate storylines, three dimension characters, and creativity in droves is the best version of humanity that we can hope for. The Deathly Hallows also prove against the grain that it’s possible to produce a strong end to a series even where expectations are higher than the moon — something that’s easy to forget with recent, popular fumbles like Game of Thrones. Its pacing is great (read: not all just a long action scene), it provides a new level of lore for the world (the idiosyncrasies of wand ownership), and the story reads like it was planned out from the beginning (a much higher bar than it appears to be).

    Andrzej Sapkowski
    ★ ★ ★ 

    I’m not feeling the same level of ecstasy from the series that most readers are getting, but admire Sapkowski for breaking the traditional narrative tropes so common to contemporary fantasy. The world of The Witcher is dangerous and fleshed out. Characters aren’t the know-it-all eminently competent Mary/Gary Sues so common in other popular novels of the genre. The Nilgaardian Empire is a fearfully plausible menace. I’m still taken aback by how little witching there appears to be in The Witcher series though — being through two books now I would’ve expected a few more monsters/lore for stage setting if nothing else.

    Erskine Childers
    ★ ★ ★ 

    Although the prose (and heavy nautical jargon) is a little difficult to follow at times, The Riddle of the Sands is interesting for its premise, but far more interesting for its historical context — not only is it one of the earliest written spy thrillers that booted John Le Carre et all, but it turns out to have been extraordinarily prescient of WWI. Compared to modern entries in the same genre, I found it amazing how little there was in the way of direct action/explosions/overwrought drama, and how much deals with the collection of facts and good old fashioned reasoning .

    John McPhee
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Joseph Menn
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Dillon Wallace
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Douglas Murray
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Max Gladstone
    ★ ★ 
    John Steinbeck
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Dan Simmons
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Walter Isaacson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Andrzej Sapkowski
    ★ ★ 
    Dan Simmons
    ★ ★ ★ 
    J.K. Rowling
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Walter Isaacson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Cal Newport
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Edward Snowden
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    J.K. Rowling
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Margaret Atwood
    ★ ★ 
    Margaret Atwood
    ★ ★ 
    Fyodor Dostoevsky
    ★ ★ 
    William Rosen
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ 
    John le Carré
    ★ ★ 
    Larry Niven
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Ian Buruma
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Mikhail Bulgakov
    ★ ★ 
    Terry Pratchett
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Douglas Preston
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Michael Matthews
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Eric Schlosser
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Ling Ma
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Gene Wolfe
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Ken Kocienda
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Mary Doria Russell
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Phil Knight
    ★ ★ ★ 
    John Carreyrou
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Christopher Hitchens
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Philip K. Dick
    ★ 
    Kim Stanley Robinson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Mike Duncan
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Brandon Sanderson
    ★ 
    Kenya Hara
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Walter Isaacson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Jason Fried
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Brandon Sanderson
    ★ ★ 
    J.R.R. Tolkien
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Ben R. Rich
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Brandon Sanderson
    ★ ★ 
    George R.R. Martin
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ 
    David Kushner
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Kōbō Abe
    ★ ★ 
    Frank Herbert
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Hape Kerkeling
    ★ 
    Michael Pollan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Alex Garland
    ★ ★ ★ 
    J.R.R. Tolkien
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Ruth Ozeki
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Kazuo Ishiguro
    ★ ★ 
    Kazuo Ishiguro
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Kenya Hara
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    J.R.R. Tolkien
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Lev Grossman
    ★ ★ 
    Robert A. Caro
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Peter F. Hamilton
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Philip K. Dick
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert M. Pirsig
    ★ ★ 
    Niall Ferguson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Philip K. Dick
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Mark Lilla
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Samuel R. Delany
    ★ 
    Hannu Rajaniemi
    ★ ★ 
    William Finnegan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Hector Garcia Puigcerver
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Christine Mari Inzer
    ★ ★ 
    Liu Cixin
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Ken Mogi
    ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Joseph Goldstein
    ★ ★ 
    Miyamoto Musashi
    ★ ★ 
    Ryan Gravel
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Liu Cixin
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Michael Crichton
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Liu Cixin
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Patrick Modiano
    ★ ★ 
    Sam Harris
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Emily St. John Mandel
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Philip K. Dick
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Cal Newport
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Cory Doctorow
    ★ ★ 
    Brian Jay Jones
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Rick Riordan
    ★ 
    Oliver Sacks
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Jeff Bridges
    ★ ★ 
    Cormac McCarthy
    ★ ★ 
    Neil Gaiman
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Kim Stanley Robinson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    J.D. Vance
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
    ★ ★ 
    Terry Pratchett
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Brandon Sanderson
    ★ ★ 
    Moby
    ★ ★ 
    Henning Mankell
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Sebastian Junger
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Patti Smith
    ★ ★ 
    Robin Sloan
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Justin Pollard
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Ransom Riggs
    ★ ★ 
    Chris J. Anderson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Frances Hodgson Burnett
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Jon Erickson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Akihiko Seki
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Henepola Gunaratana
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Project Itoh
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Michael Pollan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Peter F. Hamilton
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Michael Lewis
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    N.K. Jemisin
    ★ ★ 
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    ★ ★ 
    Peter F. Hamilton
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Iain M. Banks
    ★ ★ 
    Michael Lewis
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Tim Wynne-Jones
    ★ ★ ★ 
    W. David Marx
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Emma Baxter-Wright, Hywel Livingstone, Chris Roberts
    ★ ★ 
    Greg McKeown
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Douglas Rushkoff
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Andy Weir
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Charles Dickens
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Leonard Koren
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Terry Goodkind
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Leonard Koren
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Terry Pratchett
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Franz Kafka
    ★ ★ 
    Felice Benuzzi
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Rob Goodman
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Fredrik Sjöberg
    ★ ★ 
    Philip K. Dick
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Ed Catmull
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Peter Thiel
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Brad Stone
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Guy Kawasaki
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Sun Tzu
    ★ ★ ★ 
    William Gibson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Niccolò Machiavelli
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Harper Lee
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    David Foster Wallace
    ★ ★ 
    John Scalzi
    ★ ★ 
    Mark Z. Danielewski
    ★ ★ 
    Steven Saylor
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Eric S. Raymond
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Brandon Sanderson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Stephen Hunt
    ★ ★ 
    Ilya Grigorik
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    David Graeber
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Henry Petroski
    ★ ★ ★ 
    J.J. Abrams
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Leslie Williamson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Colleen McCullough
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Ernest Cline
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Richard G. Wilkinson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Mike Amundsen
    ★ ★ 
    Robert Galbraith
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Neil Gaiman
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Ayn Rand
    ★ ★ 
    Steven D. Levitt
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Alison Jolly
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Neal Stephenson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Chuck Palahniuk
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Isaac Asimov
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Malcolm Gladwell
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Alison Weir
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Mark Adams
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Jim Rogers
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Edward L. Glaeser
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Cory Doctorow
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    N.K. Jemisin
    ★ ★ 
    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    John R. Hale
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Arnaldur Indriðason
    ★ ★ 
    Haruki Murakami
    ★ 
    China Miéville
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Steven Erikson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Charles Stross
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Neal Stephenson
    ★ ★ 
    Timothy Zahn
    ★ ★ 
    Timothy Zahn
    ★ ★ 
    Neil Gaiman
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Suzanne Collins
    ★ ★ 
    Suzanne Collins
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Suzanne Collins
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Frederick Kempe
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Philip K. Dick
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Colleen McCullough
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Penn Jillette
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Gail Carriger
    ★ 
    David Grann
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Bill Bryson
    ★ ★ 
    J. Maarten Troost
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Ernest Hemingway
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    George Orwell
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Carl Sagan
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Carl Sagan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Dan Brown
    ★ ★ 
    Joe Haldeman
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Ernest Hemingway
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    William Gibson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Max Brooks
    ★ ★ 
    Jason Fried
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Scott Lynch
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Neal Stephenson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert Rankin
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Frank Moss
    ★ ★ ★ 
    William Arthur Bishop
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Brian Cox
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Terry L. Hunt
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    George R.R. Martin
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    George R.R. Martin
    ★ ★ ★ 
    George R.R. Martin
    ★ ★ ★ 
    George R.R. Martin
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Timothy Ferriss
    ★ ★ 
    Michael Crichton
    ★ ★ ★ 
    James Clavell
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Douglas Adams
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Jane Christmas
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Daniel Todd Gilbert
    ★ ★ ★ 
    James Howard Kunstler
    ★ ★ 
    Marcus Aurelius
    ★ ★ 
    Nigel Lawson
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Brandon Sanderson
    ★ ★ 
    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert Bryce
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    J.K. Rowling
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    H.P. Lovecraft
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Cory Doctorow
    ★ ★ 
    Cory Doctorow
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Luis M. Chiappe
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Seymour Schulich
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Chris Palmer
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert Rankin
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert J. Sawyer
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Hesiod
    ★ ★ 
    Desmond Morris
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Stieg Larsson
    ★ ★ 
    Joseph Heller
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Bjørn Lomborg
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Bruce Schneier
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Brandon Sanderson
    ★ ★ 
    Brandon Sanderson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    William Gibson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Christina Sunley
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Brandon Sanderson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert Zubrin
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Jedediah Berry
    ★ ★ ★ 
    H.G. Wells
    ★ ★ ★ 
    John Freeman
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Bernard Beckett
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Scott Lynch
    ★ ★ 
    Felix Dennis
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Charles Dickens
    ★ ★ 
    Cormac McCarthy
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Charles Seife
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Homer
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Jules Verne
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Hunter S. Thompson
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Jay Lake
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Jay Lake
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Guy Gavriel Kay
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Robert Jordan
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Michael Flynn
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Sean Russell
    ★ ★ ★ 
    George R.R. Martin
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Philip K. Dick
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Philip K. Dick
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Ed Regis
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Ray Kurzweil
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Guy Gavriel Kay
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Dale Carnegie
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Oliver Sacks
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Neil Shubin
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Nicholas Wade
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Vincent Bugliosi
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Clay Shirky
    ★ ★ 
    Douglas Coupland
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Simon May
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Neil Strauss
    ★ ★ ★ ★ 
    Margaret Weis
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Michael Crichton
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Alexandre Dumas
    ★ ★ ★ 
    Yann Martel
    ★ ★ ★