The David Bowie Book Club

Back in 2013, David Bowie released a list of his top 100 must-read books. It is no secret that the late music icon had an insatiable appetite for learning and enlightenment through reading. As a result, there are some real gems on his list. Duncan Jones, David Bowie’s son, announced on Twitter that he’d like to start up an impromptu book club focused on the list. The first choice is Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

For those of you playing along at home, a deadline of February 1st means you had better get crackin’. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an English copy of Hawksmoore on Amazon for less than $200. Reviews of the book are VERY mixed. It will be interesting to see what the David Bowie Book Club thinks of it. You can follow along on Duncan Jones’ twitter page.


Why Did Pirates Wear Eye Patches?

This Wall Street Journal article from back in 2013 answers some important questions about whether reading in dimly lit conditions or reading on a device like an iPad or phone can actually cause damage to your eyes. It turns out there is no evidence of long-term damage or change in the physiology to the eyes but it may cause discomfort or fatigue.

However, the lead is buried in the last paragraph of the article and explains why pirates wore eye patches:

“Ever wonder why a pirate wears patches? It’s not because he was wounded in a sword fight,” says Dr. Sheedy. Seamen must constantly move between the pitch black of below decks and the bright sunshine above.

Smart pirates “wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted outside.” Should a battle break out and the pirate had to shimmy below, he would simply switch the patch to the outdoor eye and he could see in the dark right away—saving him 25 minutes of flailing his cutlass about in near blindness

Mad Men Reading List

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has created a Mad Men Reading List, a collection of 25 titles read by the main characters during the course of the series. These titles are a great way to gain insight into the social and cultural eras in which the series takes place.





  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
    (Episode 108 “The Hobo Code”)






Billy Parrott has also written a more comprehensive blogpost that lists books seen on shelves and lying around on tables during the show.

2012: My Year In Books

I did a little more reading this year than last but still not a lot. Books finished in 2012 include:

No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)
Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Here are my lists for 2011 and 2010. I keep track of my reading on Library Thing and Goodreads so be sure to go over there and mark me as a friend if your interested.

2010: My Year In Books

I read a lot more in 2010 than I did during the last few years. Here are my top five:

1. The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures
2. Saguaro; The Life & Adventures of Bobby Allen Bird
3. The Glass Castle: A Memoir
4. Whalestoe Letters
5. Hello, I’m Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity

I keep track of my reading on Library Thing and Goodreads so be sure to go over there and mark me as a friend if your interested.

A Modern Day Literary Canon

Yesterday I posted about an article in the Guardian in which author Rick Gekoski expressed grief in the lack of a modern-day literary canon. He said:

Not that young people don’t read, but they don’t read together. They haven’t got, as we had, a common culture: books to devour and discuss and be formed by… I wish that the pleasure of reading, across the whole spectrum of literature, in all its variety, were part of a shared culture amongst young people today. But it isn’t…

I stated that I thought author Rick Gekoski was mistaken. I believe that today we do actually have a modern literary canon that we draw on for conversation, inspiration, education and culture. So I used Gekoski’s “rules” to create my canon: 1) A list of 21 books 2) All published within the last 21 years 3) cross the whole spectrum of literature 4) Are part of a shared culture amongst young people today. Here is my list:

A prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving (1989)
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (1989)
Maus by Art Spiegelman (1991)
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray (1992)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1993)
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1996)
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (1996)
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (1997 – 2007)
Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins (1997)
God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1998)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (2000)
Life Of Pi by Yann Martel (2001)
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser (2001)
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (2002)
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003)
Freakonomics Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2005)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2005)
The Secret by Rhonda Byrn (2006)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (2008)

These books could have made the list but were just a little too old (all less than 5 years too old)
Skinny Legs And All by Tom Robbins (1984)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)
White Noise by Don Delillo (1985)
Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988)
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco (1988)

So What do you think? What are the books that I’m missing? Which don’t belong? Am I right, do we have a modern literary canon in this day and age? Or does Rick Gekoski have it right, do we not read together anymore?

Below is a list of books that I short listed but that didn’t quite make the 21 book cut.

Deep Reading

In a recent interview with Foreign Policy, Google CEO Eric Smit had an interesting answer when asked if there is a downside to hyper-information access?

I am worried about the decline of what I call deep reading. In other words, the sort of “here I am on the airplane, there’s no Internet connection, I am reading a book thoroughly” reading. You do less of that in a world where everything is a snippet, everything is an instant message, everything is an alert.

What is Eric Smit currently “deep” reading? Ghost Wars. If you have any interest in this subject you should read Nicolas Carr’s book: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

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