Wow. I got home today from our annual company meeting to find a bunch of e-mail and nearly sixty comments on yesterday's post, with what seems like nearly a hundred suggestions (give or take some overlap).
There are two lessons to take from this:
- My readership is far more varied than I thought (at least in terms of reading tastes)
- People care much more about books than, say, the GIMP (sorry, couldn't resist needling the zealots a bit...)
Although I have yet to go through all suggestions, there were a few that were very good indeed and that I can confirm as such - after all, I have already read them (no worries, there was no chance you'd know).
So, in an attempt to give back a bit, here are some of the suggestions I had that I wholeheartedly recommend for your summer vacation:
- Freakonomics was one of the oft-recommended Economics titles. There was no way people would know, but I breezed through it last Saturday, and it is original and inspiring in the way it addresses a bunch of apparently unrelated issues - the only fault I could find is that it is almost completely US-centric, but Steven Levitt strikes me as someone who takes inspiration from his surroundings, and the US does have a lot of easily available demographic and economics data.
- No Logo also got a mention, and I think it deserves one here, too. If you have anything to do with branding and Marketing, give it a whirl - those are nothing without some understanding of how retail and manufacturing works (or shouldn't work).
- Bill Bryson got a few mentions. A Short History of Nearly Everything is, indeed, delightful, and I have Neither Here Nor There on my "to read" shelf (yes, I have an entire shelf of stuff to read, which ought to last me a month or so) and Notes from a Small Island on my wishlist.
- James Herriot is one of those writers whose books I will always cherish - the way he writes about Yorkshire and his work there as a vet is simultaneously endearing, inspiring and pricelessly humorous. I think I have already read everything he's written - the only real trouble is making sure, since his stories have been re-published time and again in several forms. If you want to get started, All Things Great & Small is probably the best way.
- Douglas Coupland was also mentioned several times. I have JPod in my wishlist already, and although I haven't read all of his books yet, any self-assuming geek really ought to read Microserfs - it gives you an entirely new perspective on what Microsoft might have been like prior to the Internet bubble.
- Neil Gaiman was mentioned by way of Good Omens, which I also wholeheartedly recommend (together with Neverwhere and American Gods). He is one of my favorite authors, and falls clearly within the "predictable" range of books I read (so it is a good suggestion, but I'm looking for something else entirely).
And, by all means, if you've never read anything by Douglas Adams, go out and get one now (I've read them all, and blame him for both my peculiar sense of humor and a lot of my writing quirks).
I will be going through the rest of the suggestions over the next couple of days, and following Hugo Carvalho's suggestion, I'll post some comments on how all of this turns out by Summers' end.
In the meantime, keep the suggestions coming. I got some interesting stuff in the medical and general science field, but more links are always welcome. And I can read in English, Spanish and French (as well as Portuguese, obviously, but I abhor translations...), so feel free to toss in non-English stuff as well.