Friday, July 30, 2010

What I Read on Vacation

In a process similar to the NCAA bracket, I narrowed down a pile of books and picked a few to take with me on vacation. Curiously enough, of the seven books I took with me on vacation, none of them was fiction. I ended up reading four from start to finish, kicking off the week by reading the last few chapters of a fifth. Here's what I read in chronological order:

"The Big Short," by Michael Lewis. I had hoped to finish this one on the trip that preceded by vacation, but that didn't happen. So I read the final eighty pages or so the first night I arrived at the beach cottage in Connecticut. I like the way Michael Lewis writes, and it's not simply because he's married to Tabitha Soren, or because I had the chance to meet him (following an industry event when he was promoting an earlier book, "The New New Thing.") Lewis translates very complicated topics and presents them in a way that makes you wonder why you had problems understanding them in the first place. His break down of the financial crash in 2008 is top-notch.

"The Last Lecture," by Randy Pausch. At times a tear-jerker, I brought this book since it's been on my reading list forever. It's tough to argue with a man who passed after suffering from cancer, but there are some things Pausch believed that I disagree with. He argues that life is black and white; not sure how that's even close to the case. Still, his verdict in the final chapter is right on: If you live your life the right way, good karma will take care of the rest. Your dreams will come to you. Randy's kids should be very proud of their dad.

"Bicycle Diaries," by David Byrne. Yes, you read the author's name right-- It's David Byrne from The Talking Heads. I saw him in concert in Boston in 2001. Byrne chronicles his many trekks, on his bike, through cities around the globe. Like Byrne, I am a city person (I think, anyway), and his extolls on the benefits of cities strike home to me. The first section of the book, which follows Byrne through several second-tier U.S. cities, is a must read. One also must love how he speaks in striking and disparaging terms about his hometown of Baltimore. This was the book, above all the others, that I was definitely looking forward to read on vacation.

"The Five People You Meet in Heaven," by Mitch Albom. I wasn't expecting this book to be fiction, given Albom's first book. However, this was a surprisingly touching read. We are all connected on this planet. Not sure if anyone reading this has seen "The Sliding Doors," but the interconnectedness of who we meet and see each and every day can have significant consequences. And many the afterlife is when we actually figure that out.

"Bringing Down the House," by Ben Mezrich. This book had been on my reading list since I went to Las Vegas something like five years ago. The pages are even starting to yellow. The only problem with this book is it will give you the consistent urge to drop everything and go to a casino. I resisted the temptation, even though the two Connecticut casinos were mere minutes away from where I was staying.

No comments: