Friday, February 3, 2017

Books Read-January, 2017

*Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Glide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration by Thomas L. Friedman is a big book with some excellent insights and analysis.  But like the title, the books is too long, a bit confusing and also included too much cut and paste from interviews, columns and conversations.  Still, there is gold if you have the patience for the search.  Friedman believes that the year 2007 was a major inflection point with the release of the iPhone, together with advances in silicon chips, software, storage, sensors, and networking, creating a new technology platform that opened unbounded opportunities and challenges. Despite his obvious wisdom, Friedman could have benefited from a tough editor, yet I thought the discussion of “Mother Nature’s Political Party” was worth the slog.

*The End of your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe is true story of a literary son and his activist mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as they try to make her battle with pancreatic cancer more humane. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne have conversations that are wide-ranging and  personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual but ultimately focuses on relationships and life.

*Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joichi Ito and Jeff Howe of MIT’s Media Lab tries to describe how everything digital is getting faster, cheaper, and smaller at an exponential rate.  This and the growing power/impact of the Internet have created an explosive force that has changed the process and prospect for continued innovation and how we live. There are some excellent insights, but too much breathless, journalistic retelling of familiar stories with less about the future than I had hoped.

*Books for Living continues Will Schwalbe’ s journey through his voracious, eclectic reading addiction. Each of the 26 short chapters is about a favorite book ranging from Stuart Little, David Copperfield, Song of Solomon, Bird by Bird and is a candid and personal essay with special recognition to  lost friends and his boarding-school librarian who shaped his reading habits by introducing  him to James Baldwin. I agree with Schwlbe that, “Good books often answer questions you didn’t even know you wanted to ask.”

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