Category: Books

1987, Books, Non-Fiction

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (1987) by Susan Jeffers

This self-help book is only 34 years old, yet it feels like it was written some time earlier, perhaps in the ’60s even. Reading this book, especially after you’ve read more recent self-help books, is like going back in time. It’s incredible how sophisticated self-help and “wellness” has gotten in the interim. (That is both …

2020, Books

The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values (2020) by Brian Christian

The Alignment Problem is just an excellent book about the state of AI philosophy and ethics at the beginning of the 2020s. Because it’s more about ethical and philosophical problems, than technological ones, it’s much more in my wheelhouse. But I think that these questions are extremely important. And Christian just does an excellent job …

2004, Books, Fiction

All That Matters (2004) by Wayson Choy

This is an excellent and affecting portrait of growing up Chinese in Vancouver in the 1920s, through the Great Depression and into World War II. It’s one of those books I didn’t know I wanted to read until I read it, having only picked it up because I was aware he won the Order of …

2016, Books, Non-Fiction

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions (2016) by Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths

This is a pretty excellent overview of computer science theories relevant to our daily lives. As someone who took computer science only once, in high school, I didn’t know so much of this and found most of it (accept the game theory chapter) basically entirely new. Every chapter contains new discoveries and new, provocative ideas.

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business and Life (2019) by Rory Sutherland

Reading this book, I can’t help but wonder “who is this for?” It’s like a Greatest Hits or Best of for evolutionary psychology and behavioural economics but filtered through the mind of someone with no attention span (or who strongly believes his readers don’t have one). It’s utterly bizarre and works only as a very …

2020, Books, Non-Fiction

American Madness (2020) by Tea Krulos

(Way) Before Pizzagate there was the Phantom Patriot’s raid on Bohemian Grove. I had never heard of this before I read this book and completely missed any news coverage of the story, if there was any. So I’m glad I read this alternately hilarious and saddening story of one man’s obsession with conspiracies and his …

1955, Books, Non-Fiction

The Age of Reform (1955) by Richard Hofstadter

When I picked this up I wondered, “Why the hell am I reading a history book written in 1955?” My experience with much older history is that it is incomplete, lacking more modern insights that have since become general knowledge. But I knew of Hofstadter’s reputation, I’d read his most famous article at some point …

1989, Books, Fiction

And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) by Nick Cave

Nick Cave is both one of my favourite songwriters and, I think, one of the great songwriters of the era. (He is in my 20th century songwriting canon.) But I don’t think too many would argue that he has greatly improved as a songwriter from when he first started out in the Boys Next Door …

2017, Books

Canadian Whisky, Second Edition: The New Portable Expert (2017) by Davin de Kergommeaux

I’m Canadian but I know every little about Canadian whisky. For most of my adult life I’ve definitely conflated “rye” and “Canadian” and only knew that some whiskies were Canadian through osmosis. Aside from a period of drinking “CC & G” as my go-to cocktail and another period of always having Wiser’s at home (usually …

2020, Basketball, Books, Non-Fiction, Sports

The Victory Machine (2020) by Ethan Sherwood Strauss

This is a portrait of the Warriors that is both fascinating and maddening. I am not super familiar with Strauss beyond his podcast guest appearances on the Lowe Post and maybe the odd article I’ve stumbled across but I don’t know how much I’ll be seeking out his writing after this.

1984, 1994, 2007, Books, Non-Fiction

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1984, 1994, 2007) by Robert Cialdini

When this book was published in 1984, it was probably one-of-a-kind, and an absolute must-read. A pop psychology treatment on how businesses (and con men) manipulate us into buying things we don’t want, there was probably not much else out there like it. It’s a landmark and it was likely essential reading pre-internet.

1992, Books, Non-Fiction

A Practical Study of Argument (1992) by Trudy Govier

I’m still not quite sure this textbook found its way into my reading pile. My best guess is that it came from the trove from my former boss. (I can almost hear him quoting the book.) Regardless of where it came from, I really didn’t know what I was in for. I didn’t know, for …

2020, Books, Non-Fiction

10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less (2020) by Garrrett Jones

This is a frustrating book. I agree with some of what he says and he inspired me to come up with some additional ideas. But I find the presentation ill-thought out, and I find his perspective limited, and rather traditional.

2006, Books, Non-Fiction

War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires (2006) by Peter Truchin

This is a provocative and ambitious (and lay) summary of an attempt to create a science of history by an evolutionary biologist. It is compelling and well-written. (Though my copy isn’t so well edited…) It is also flawed, which it basically must be given what he is trying to achieve. It’s absolutely worth your time, …

2004, Books, Non-Fiction

Out of Gas (2004) by David Goodstein

Note: I read this book in 2020. It was published in 2004. It’s not that wise to read a book about energy reserves and climate change 16 years later, when the situation is continuously evolving. This is a book by a physicist about the energy crisis caused by “peak oil” with some discussion of climate …

1936, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1952, 1953, 1956, Books, Fiction

Ficciones (1941, 1944, 1956) by Jorge Luis Borges

I read “The Aleph” possibly in university or, if not, then a few years later. I thought it was pretty crazy and incredible and resolved to read more Borges. And then I just didn’t for 15 years or so. (Not entirely true: I stumbled upon one other story – a late one – at some …

2010, Books, Non-Fiction

At Home: A Short History of Private Life (2010) by Bill Bryson

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Bryson’s writing style and eat-up everything I’ve read by him. So i’m predisposed to like this book. But I must say that this is one of his lesser books and it feels like it’s a book at which a concept was created to fit content that was …

2009, Books, Fiction

John Dies at the End (2009) by David Wong

Full disclosure: I didn’t read this when it was on the web, before it was published. But I saw the film at Midnight Madness TIFF in 2012. I don’t really remember the movie much any more but my review suggested I enjoyed it except for two things: 1) the CGI (which I remember being awful) …

1980, 2012, Books, Non-Fiction

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So kids Will Talk (1980, 2012)

Full disclosure: I have no children, I am not a teacher and I spent virtually no time around children. So I am not the book’s audience. Why did I read it? Because my father recommended it me for as a good tool for communicating better.

1948, Books, Fiction

The Loved One (1948) by Evelyn Waugh

This is a mildly amusing pitch black comedy about the American funeral industry and the British in Hollywood. (And American advice columnists.) It’s pretty slight and it feels like Waugh didn’t exactly know what kind of story he wanted to tell for this. (There are three or four main topics in a book that is …

2013, Books, Non-Fiction, Travel

The Great Canadian Bucket List (2013) by Robin Esrock

I’m of two minds about this book, which was a gift to me who knows when. (And, weirdly, many years after I drove across Canada.) On the one hand, it feels like a bit of a affiliate marketing gimmick, and some of the places and things on the list appear to be here to make …

2006, Basketball, Books, Non-Fiction, Sports

Seven Seconds or Less (2006) by Jack McCallum

For many people this is the definitive basketball book since The Breaks of the Game. It has been written and talked about so much that it was unavoidable that I would have preconceived notions about it and that it would inevitably not live up to those notions. Shock of all shocks, it is different than I …

2015, Books, Non-Fiction

All Who Go Do Not Return (2015) by Shulem Deen

This is an excellent, heartbreaking and infuriating memoir of a man’s loss of faith and subsequent expulsion from an extremist religious sect. I stumbled upon this book due to a Reply All episode (which I would also recommend) and I’m so happy that happened. This is not a world I know anything about so I am happy …