So many great books, so little time! Like most of us, I read a number of blogs to stay on top of what is going on in the world, but there is no substitute for enjoying a real book, whether in print, Kindle, or Audible. Every once in a while in the past, I posted a list of books I have been reading. They all have reviews at Amazon that are much better than I could write so my comments about the books are brief. Following is a list from my database of some of the books I have read during the past few years. I had planed to keep the database up to date moving forward, but it turned out to be too time consuming. There are so many great sites that review books. I like Goodreads. You can get great book recommendations from people you know and keep track of what you’ve read and what you’d like to read. You can also form a book club, answer book trivia, and collect your favorite quotes. I will keep the database here on the site, but I do not expect to be adding to it. The web will take care of things better than I could.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Rating: 5. It was his way of leaving a legacy for his young children so they would know who their father was and what he was about. The lessons of the book hold a lot of value for all of us. I highly recommend this touching book.
The Last Patriot by Brad Thor
Rating: 5. If you like terrorist plots linked with history — Thomas Jefferson and Islam in this case — you will love this one. It is hardly a light book. In fact the gripping intrigue won’t let you put it down until you finish it.
Rating: 5. Gives many insights about social networking. I had heard Clay speak at Supernova. We have been kindred spirits over the past fifteen years.
Man of the People: The Life of John McCain by Paul Alexander
Rating: 5. Not one of the book McCain wrote but rather a biography by Paul Alexander written four years before the current campaign got underway. I found it fascinating. Whatever you may think of his political views, he is quite an extraordinary human being.
A Prisoner of Birth by Jefferey Archer
Rating: 5. The imaginative is classic Archer. I have enjoyed all of his books and found this probably the best ever. A young man at a bar with his girlfriend and her brother is framed for murdering the brother and goes to prison. The life he lives there and the people he becomes close to is a great story itself but nothing compared to what happens when he escapes in an identity swap. The new life he then lives focuses on revenge at a very creative level. Great book.
Odd Hours by Dean Koontz
Rating: 5. I don’t know how he does it. This is one of Koontz’s best ever. I have liked all his books but this one is great. The intrigue and the personalities are hard to imagine. The Psychic Odd gets in the middle of a plot to plant four nuclear bombs in American cities and takes on the solution single handedly with a bit of help from Frank Sinatra’s ghost. You gotta read this one.
Rating: 5. This is a really great book. Steve Coll digs back to the beginnings of the Bin Laden family and describes their history in great detail. From private aviation hobbies to all sorts of extravagant spending. Osam Bin Laden is one of 54 children of Mohammed Bin Laden. The history reveals his motivations and how he got to be the way he is.
Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West by Anthony Pagden
Rating: 5. Amazing story of how the east and west have been fighting for thousands of years. After reading this book everything you read in the press rings a tone from history. A long difficult read but wothwhile.
World Without End by Ken Follett
Rating: 5. Sequel to The Pillars of the Earth. Fanstastic book but a lot to read
Rating: 4. Very interesting account of an Iraqi who escaped from the country. The author became an actor and was a star in Fight 93. Hard to believe a government can be as bas as he described.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Rating: 5. 1,000 pages of very interesting reading. The story has multiple plots and centers on life in England in the 12th century.
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
Rating: 5. This book opened my eyes to many things I was not aware of. Of all the wars over the decades the Indian wars killed a higher percentage of the population. The book also debunks the popular perspective about Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. Worthwhile read.
Rating: 2. Ambassador Bolton was incredibly candid. The world’s bureaucrats should not be proud of what goes on behind the scenes of foreign and defense policies. The book was tedious and is somewhat vane about the day to day and minute by minute happenings from his diary of recent years. Not an easy read.
The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz
Rating: 5. Dean Koontz never ceases to amaze me. If you like dogs you will really appreciate this new novel.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Rating: 4. Prepare yourself for 944 pages. I learned many things I did not know about the civil war and about Abraham Lincoln. He was quite the political strategist and a superb manager. A very long read but worth it.
The Iranian Time Bomb by Michael a. Ledeen
Rating: 5. A wake up call to what has been going on for thirty years. Good investigative reporting went into this.
Indian Summer by Alex von Tunzelmann
Rating: 3. Excellent history of India, Pakistan, Kashmir, and Bagladesh
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Rating: 5. A story about working life in the circus during the depression. Something for everyone.
Memory by Stephen King
Rating: 4. This is an add-on to Blaze. A very creative and touching story of a wealthy executive who is in a horrible accident and how he deals with it.
The Good Guy by Dean Koontz
Rating: 5. He keeps cranking out great novels. This one is a chiller and keeps you on the edge of your chair. It is classic Koontz.
Spook Country by William Gibson
Rating: 3. I got this new book because I had read Neuromancer some years ago. Spook Country is quite different but equally challenging to imagine. It is about some mysterious shadowy intelligence veterans who take on a small crime family. The details are intricate and you are kept in suspense until the near the end to figure out what the actual crime was.
Blaze by Richard Bachman (Author), Stephen King (foreward)
Rating: 5. The story is about a life of crime and murder. Hard to imagine that there are people that are treated so badly in their childhood and grow up with no values. Turns out Clayton Blaisdell has develops a soft spot near the end.
Killing Che by Chuck Pfarrer
Rating: 5. Certainly a controversial figure. This is a novel but likely close to the real story. Pfarrer has an amazing command of the landscape and the life of the people. He portrays a lifelong struggle that does not turn out well for the star of the book.
Rating: 5. This is a true story by an American heroe. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Luttrell offers a lot of insight into what is going on in Afghanistan and is not bashful about his opinion of the impact that politicians and the media are having on the troops.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Rating: 5. This one was every bit as good as his first book, The Kite Runner. Like his first book, it is based on life in Afghanistan. Life for many women in this country is incredibly difficult and keeps you on edge reading about it. The author grew up in Kabul. His writing style is different and a great pleasure to read.
The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor by William Langewiesche
Rating: 4. This one could keep one awake at night. It describes what is required to build an atom bomb and where it can be found.
The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World by Paul Roberts
Rating: 4. This interesting book contains a history of how America has interacted with oil producing countries over the years and what the various motivations have been. It also makes surprising forecasts about the supply of oil and of the alternatives. It is not a novel to put it mildly — maybe more like a text book but very informative. Glad I read it.
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins
Rating: 5. This is a really good book. Collins is a pioneering medical geneticist who once headed the Human Genome Project. Whether you are a believer, an agnostic, or an atheist, there is something in this book for everyone.
Rating: 4. You either like Newt or you don’t. This book is not deep but presents an interesting view of last two hundred years and raises important questions about the years ahead.
Rating: 2. A friend gave this to me. Interesting approach to the piano. One of these days when I grow up and find the time I am going to learn how to play.
Understanding Careers: The Metaphors of Working Lives by Kerr Inkson
Rating: 3. Professor Inkson interviewed me for this book and included some things about my career at IBM
Benjamin Franklin – An American Life by Walter Isaacson
Rating: 3. This one is a hard read. Interesting but tedious. I still haven’t finished it.
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
Rating: 5. I have read all his books and I liked this one the best.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Rating: 5. If you have a curious mind you will love this book.
The Husband by Dean Koontz
Rating: 5. Classic Koontz
The Only King Who Died On The Battlefield: An Historical Novel Based on Truth by Mohammed Faisal Iftikhar
Rating: 2. I met the author one day in a taxi in Danbury, Connecticut. He was the driver, a student at a local college, and as it turns out a young author. Difficult to read.
Forever Odd by Dean Koontz
Rating: 5. Koontz has an incredible imagination. I have enjoyed many of his books. This one doesn’t dissappoint.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Rating: 5. Awesome book about life in Afghanistran. Adds tremendous perspective on what things are like in that part of the world.
Genome by Matt Ridley
Rating: 5. Genome is organized into twenty-two chapters as a convenient way to tell the incredible unfolding story of what we are all about. Each chapter is like a story unto itself describing the characteristics of some of the more important genes that are part of that chromosome. The twenty-third chromosome pair is what we learned in high school — two large X chromosomes in women and , one X and one small Y in men.
Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
Rating: 5. To call it a techno-o call it a techno-thriller is an understatement. It is riveting and chilling from the first page to the last. I could not put it down. Like The Da Vince Code, you will question how plausible some of the happenings are and you may question the validity of the details of the inner workings of the NSA. The core theme of the book has to do with one of my favorite topics, cryptography. After designing a computer that could break any encryption, the NSA found itself hostage to the technology. Highly recommended read.
Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel
Rating: 3. Very timely with all that is going on in the world of blogging. I know Robert from Microsoft. He has been active in evangelizing the potential of blogging and very much practices what he preaches, even when his postings may at times not be consistent with company practices. The book explores how blogging has changed the rules of communication and competition and gives business owners the tools to launch an effective blogging strategy. Robert and Shel interviewed many business leaders including Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, Bob Lutz from General Motors and Johanthan Schwartz of Sun Microsystems.
Let Go to Grow: Escaping the Commodity Trap by Linda Sanford with Dave Taylor
Rating: 3. About strategy and management practices. Normally pretty boring stuff, but Linda and Dave have organized the book in a way that makes it flow very nicely. It is all about driving innovation and gaining productivity — both urgent topics for anyone in a leadership position today. The book explains the concepts of componentization, outsourcing, and off-shoring in a clear but strategic way and then lays out an approach for leveraging the concepts across an enterprise. Practical case studies about Dell, eBay, GE, Procter & Gamble, and Toyota bring it all home. I have known Linda for quite a few years. She has had a number of top-level executive positions in systems, storage, and global sales and is now Senior Vice President of IBM’s internal On Demand Transformation and Information Technology initiatives. In addition to being one of IBM’s highest-ranking women, she also serves as a member of the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame and the National Association of Engineers. She was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Business by Fortune magazine, one of the Top Ten Innovators in the Technology Industry by Information Week, and one of the Ten Most Influential Women in Technology by Working Woman. She is also a nice lady!
Wordcraft: The Art of Turning Little Words into Big Business by Alex Frankel
Rating: 4. The subject of the book is “About Naming””, a topic I have always been interested in. Frankel did a good job of getting behind the scenes at some of the top consulting companies that focus exclusively on coining brand names. A winning name often makes the difference between success or failure of a product. Frankel says it is not unheard of for large companies to spend as much as half a million dollars to come up with the perfect name. Wordcraft describes the entire process including marketing campaigns and public relations activities that surround a product name. Some of the examples he discusses include FedEx, BlackBerry, Accenture, Viagra, and IBM’s e-business. The book is a quick and interesting read.”
The Holy Ranger by Lore and ancestry of Harley-Davidson motorcycles
Dreamweaver MX: PHP Web Development by Gareth Downes-Powell, Tim Green, Bruno Mairlot
Rating: 3. It can never be simple enough but this book does a great job of explaining what MX, PHP, and MySQL are and how they work together. A comprehensive example makes it all real.
At Work At Home by Neal Zimmerman
Rating: 5. This is a really excellent piece of work. Design Ideas for Your Home Workplace. It covers Shared and Niche Spaces, Storage Solutions, Dedicated Workplaces, and A Place of Your Own. Loaded with great color pictures. I highly recommend this book for anyone thinking about building or remodeling a home office.
Book of Ki: Co-ordinating Mind and Body in Daily Life by Koichi Tohei
Rating: 4. Excellent insight about Eastern medicine and philosophy. Adds practical reasons for importance.
When Things Start to Think by Neil Gershenfeld
Rating: 4. Mostly about things but also about MIT Media Lab and how it operates plus views on Research in general. Very interesting.
VOTE.com by Dick Morris
Rating: 3. Excellent discussion about how the Internet is changing politics and the political process.
The Healing Promise of Qi – Creating Extraordinary Wellness Through Qigong and Tai Chi by Roger Jahnke, O.M.D.
Rating: 3. A very tedious reading (303 pages). Comprehensive but highly repetitive. Like reading an encylopedia but good way to gain total perspective on the subject.
Rating: 3. Nobody but a Harley rider would be interested in this book. It is a very nice chronology showing how the bikes have evolved.
Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy
Rating: 4. Classic Clancy. 618 pages but it goes fast. Hard to put down.
Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold
Rating: 3. A really clear view of the possibilities resulting from WiFi and other disruptive technologies.
Step by Step Tai Chi by Master Lam Kam Chuen
Rating: 3. I am getting convinced that tai chi and chi kuong are the natual way to strength and health
The Armchair Conductor by Dan Carlinksy and Ed Goodgold
Rating: 3. How to Lead a Symphony Orchestra in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Foreward by Victor Borge.
The Biker Code – Wisdom For The Ride by Stuart Miller and Geoggrey Moss
Rating: 3. A ten minute read with pictures and quotes from motorcycle riders. A lot of interesting perspective — from the heart and from the road.
Business, The Universe & Everything: Conversations with the World’s Greatest Management Thinkers by Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove
Rating: 3. Stuart Crainer interviewed me for this. My chapter is called John Patrick: The Attitude Thing”””
The Face by Dean Koontz
Rating: 5. Dean Koontz has written more than forty novels and many have been #1 bestsellers. In addition to being prolific, he is incredibly creative and imaginative. HIs most recent novel, The Face, is incredibly imaginative, exciting, and at times gripping. It is about a deranged professor who is seeking anarchy. Part of his plan is to kidnap and torture the son of a famous movie star. The intricacies of the plot would be hard to imagine, but not for Dean Koontz. One of the characters in the story gets killed but then disappears from the morgue and reappears in various scenarios.
Path Of The Assassin by Brad Thor
Rating: 3. Thrilling at times but not quite the depth of Tom Clancy or Dean Koontz. The interesting part was that much of the book sounded similar to what we read in the news about various parts of the Middle East, terrorist plots, etc.
Rating: 5. The book is a biography of Thomas Watson, Sr. and explores what was behind the making of IBM. It is being promoted as a way to discover the visionary behind Big Blue””. Knowing Kevin, and what an excellent writer he is, I suspect this is going to be a really good book”
Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change by Louis V. Gerstner
Rating: 5. He was a great leader for IBM when it really needed one. This book explains how he turned it around.
Net Attitude by John R Patrick
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