I found some time to read some books over the holidays, and here are some very brief reviews:
Divisadero: Michael Ondaatje is the most elegant contemporary writer I know. With the exception of Anil’s Ghost, I’ve read all of his books (I took a class on him in university) and I’m a huge admirer of his craftsmanship. The Collected Work of Billy the Kid remains my favourite book of poetry (though I, admittedly, don’t read much poetry). The plot of Divisadero isn’t as compelling as, say, The English Patient, but reading Ondaatje is a bit like watching Gretzky. They’re a joy because they do so many things right.
The 4-Hour Workweek: This book’s subtitle is “Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”. He’s preaching to the choir in my case, but it’s still a fairly inspirational read. He’s got quite a bit of wisdom to deliver on streamlining your work, generating passive income and so forth. That said, the author Tim Ferriss comes off as a bit of a self-important douche bag. Some of the strategies he recommends are ethically dubious, and though he’s living an exotic life, it seems strangely unexamined. To put it another way, The 4-Hour Workweek is one of the least mindful books I’ve ever read. That said, I did finally join Amazon’s Associates affiliate program, to try and make some extra cash off Amazon sales. Wanted: a WP plugin that scans my blog for links to Amazon and replaces them with appropriate affiliate links.
Wintersmith: I grabbed this young adult novel off the shelf for a quick read at the resort in Marrakech. I’d never read a Terry Pratchett (he’s sadly got Alzheimer’s, at 59!) book before, and I enjoyed this one. Much like the Harry Potter books, Wintersmith derives from and builds upon a bunch of existing myths and fairy tales. However Pratchett seems to have a much better sense of humour than J. K. Rowling, for Wintersmith was a more enjoyable (and not to mention concise) read. Judging by this reading order chart, I started on Pratchett’s Discworld books in the wrong spot.