February Book Log

It’s Valentine’s Day 2013 and since January 2013 I’ve read the following books.

Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day - Dave Evans

The first third of the book does a good job establishing the value proposition of social marketing in terms marketers really care about. Pros and cons are gone over and there are some good actionable exercises but they lack relevance to more techy people. The middle third is pretty boring and ends up becoming a social app tutorial. Last third does a good job circling around and helping establish how to achieve specific marketing goals with social tools. The first third and last third cover for the weak middle section. This is incidentally one of those books where you can learn about an industry (marketing) by just reading about the exception to the rule (social marketing). The coverage of marketing fundamentals and how they connect with social marketing is very well done and I found it useful as a non-marketer.

The Pirate Organization - Rodolphe Durand, Jean-Philippe Vergne

This book could have had a lot more depth than it did. It’s still interesting in that it traces some commonalities across western history in various divergences from the political and economic main of those time periods, but it doesn’t go far enough in talking about any one of those subjects.

Lean Startup - Eric Ries

One of the most useful books I’ve read in a long time. Potentially a life-saver for anybody that works on products in an organization of any size. I cannot recommend this enough to programmers, consultants, and leadership.

The Launch Pad - Randall Stross

Some of the stitching together of events isn’t very representative of what happened “on the ground” but still a neat and interesting book. A worthwhile read for anybody interested in the inner workings of YC.

Siddhartha - Herman Hesse

The book really hit me. Everyone should read this. Pretty simple and straight-forward, I’d highly recommend it for a precocious young teen reader. I find that people describe this book as “bildungsroman” as way of dismissal, but it merits a read by everybody.

The Etymologicon - Mark Forsyth

Excessively kitschy and patterned, but a worthwhile read for anybody that professes to love words. I should re-read it just so I memorize more of the trivia.

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

Simple entertainment. I now understand why people describe this as a children’s book. Enjoyable though.

Predictable Revenue - Aaron Ross

Great book, a little too much selling of the consultancy towards the end. A great book for somebody already managing a sales organization but not as useful for bootstrappers.

Why Does the World Exist? - Jim Holt

Pop-culture navel-gazing until the very end. The ending half pays for those sins by being interesting and satisfying. The book is 98% fluff tuned to accommodate the philosophically unschooled. G.E.B. is more interesting for people of the same taste seeking more substance. No thought seemed to be given as to whether or not the meta-selection processes described were recursive or not.

Wittgenstein - Robert J. Fogelin

Author comes from a western analytical philosophy perspective. I came out of this survey of Wittgenstein’s work feeling like I understood why he abandoned the Tractatus but not feeling sure-footed in any of his later work. I’m disappointed more attention wasn’t paid to his lesser known, more promising works. I read this partly because somebody told me Wittgenstein’s later work was a real treasure.

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway

Struck me in a way not dissimilar from Siddhartha, but with a slower build-up. Had the impression Hemingway had written this book especially for me due to the main character’s temperament and aesthetic. I experienced more pathos on the part of the characters because of Hemingway’s very human and real-feeling writing. The aesthetic is to the point and avoids “meta” modalities but shows a very real artfulness that tickled me.

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