Dave's Recently Read Book List
Last update January 2000

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This is a list of the books I have read over the past few years, most recent at the top, older down below. For most of them, I have included reviews or info or some comments from the time that I finished the book and had it fresh in my mind. I have certainly changed my mind on some of these after thinking about it longer, reading other things, and learning more, but I have really not updated the reviews.

So, if you are intested, these are my opinions. If you are looking for something to read, there are certainly some on my list worth reading.

  • Some All-time favorites: John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, the late John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Really Good Reading: Jerry Kaplan's Startup, Caleb Carr's Alienist and Angel of Darkness.
  • Still waiting to be read...
  • All book-cover images are directly linked from Amazon.com without permission.
    Click on the cover images to jump directly to Amazon for purchase information.

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    Any questions or comments or suggestions, please feel free to e-mail me. Otherwise, enjoy my reviews.

    Let No Guilty Man Escape
    Roger H. Tuller
    (to Amazon)
    Let No Guilty Man Escape Hooray for Roger!
    Let No Guilty Man Escape : A Judicial Biography of 'Hanging Judge' Isaac C. Parker (Legal History of North America, V. 9)
    The Green Mile
    Stephen King
    (to Amazon)
    The Green Mile I used to read all Stephen King's stuff back in the early 80s and then I got out of the habit; too much formula, I thought. And this might indeed be some of his formula, but I still loved the story. It has likable heartfelt characters, mixed in around a fantasy tale with some awful evil villans. I never saw the six-part release of this story; I got to read it all in one paperback and it is quite an easy read, conversational/narrative tone, never too dense. The movie, noted for being 3 hours long, follow the book almost verbatim. Most of the lines and scenes are literally straight out of the book. Some details are lost of course, but they are relatively minor details. (The only other time I saw this was with Silence of the Lambs.)
    Tuesdays With

    Mitch Albom
    (to Amazon)
    Tuesdays With Morrie Such a rocket-ride this book has had. From a sports guy no less. Oprah has that effect, I guess. I got the book and taped the movie (after a very late Patriots game) but I have not finished the book nor watched the movie. I got out of the mood, I guess.
    Digital Darwinism
    Evan I. Schwartz
    (to Amazon)
    Digital Darwinism This is a fun book to read if only for the "inside" scoop on some of the most talked about Internet ventures to date. Mr. Schwartz gives the reader plenty of entertainment, some surprises (would you consider PeaPod a failure already, did you know that Merrill-Lynch spent a lot of time and money bashing online trading and have you seen how many ads they're running now for it?) and plenty of opinions to launch your own ideas. Considering how far we are from knowing just where the Internet will go next, he did a good job of telling a complete story. Well, except that he left his explanation of the title until the last couple of pages of the book and while it made sense then, I don't think it was consistent throughout the book. Doesn't matter much, it is still fascinating reading about many of the web sites, technologies, commercials, etc., that we have all seen, but few know the details about.
    Finding a Way To Win
    Bill Parcells
    (to Amazon)
     Finding A Way To Win We have to hate the Tuna because he brought our New England Patriots all the way to the big game, but then he abandoned us. For New York, too boot. But I've had this book for a while now and I figured it was time to read it and I'm glad I did because it is extremely enjoyable. The book sounds like Parcells talks, with that New Jersey kind of thing going on, but he tells lots of stories, he has praised and abused all sorts of players and coaches and he has a constant stream of sound-bite quality bullets suitable for everyone. I have not finished the book yet, so maybe I won't like it by the end...
    What Dreams May Come
    Richard Matheson
    (to PeanutPress)
    (to Amazon)
    What Dreams May Come

    The movie is different than the book; big surprise. But the movie captured enough of the intentions of the book to make it a reasonable parallel. And although the endings are similar, they are arrived at in very different ways.

    The real story has layer upon layer, depth upon depth of the sadness and the drama and the heart-wrenching tragedy that the movie shows you a glimpse of. Overall, I thought they were both tremendously depressing, but fortunately, the book delivers a complete enough picture of what the afterlife could be to make it interesting. You cannot quite just dismiss it as wanton fiction, although many things are difficult to digest. And if you do believe or are curious, the author included a bibliography, which is very extensive and contains many titles on the afterlife.

      The most interesting thing about my reading of What Dreams May Come is that I read it entirely on my Palm Pilot--I do not even own a bound copy of this story. PeanutPress is a new electronic publishing company in Sudbury, MA with a very decent reader application. They are properly publishing and securing the rights to many books now, not just public-domain classics. And yes, the author (or at least the author's original publishing company) still gets money for every book sold in this fashion, too. As a matter of fact, some Peanut's newest books cost just as much for the electronic version as they do on Amazon. But there are some good deals on the web site, too, just like any bookstore.
    A Boy's Life
    Robert R. McCammon
    (to Amazon)
    A Boy's Life

    These last two stories were both about young boy; their growing up and some adventures along the way. Sincethis is fiction and Rocket Boys is a memoir, I was really surprised to see some remarkable coincidences in the adventures.

    Anyway, in Rocket Boys, the goal was to make a rocket fly--a lofty and all-consuming goal, especially in 1964. In A Boy's Life, the goal is far less important, the adventures along the way make the story. Especially when the adventures involve just a little bit of fantasy. But it is not really fantasy, it is the magical imagination of an 11-year-old boy, woven into this story in a way that I really enjoyed. I really do remember some of the things that made this story magical. They are the thoughts that only a young person could have--before adult logic and understanding eliminate the joy and fear of the unknown or the not-yet-understood.

    Not everyone remembers why their best bike was their best bike, or how you ever thought that house or that person in the neighborhood might be haunted, but if you do, this can be a really enjoyable story, especially since the magic is properly understated and only makes the pure story better.

    Rocket Boys
    (aka October Sky)
    Homer H. Hickam Jr.
    (to Amazon)
    Rocket Boys This is the book based on the true coal-town childhood of Homer Hickam, ex-NASA engineer and forever a real rocket-scientist. This story was made into a movie that appears only to have grazed theatres early in 1998. It seemed to have a lot of Stand By Me-type potential (an excellent movie), but apparently this just was not a money-making movie. But it was an extremely enjoyable book. Very down-to-earth, but with enough details about rockets and people and coal-minging to satisfy anyone's curiosity. Enough real-life people and drama to keep it alive as an interesting and believable tale. Really a timeless adventure. Personally, I am too young to know the fear and excitement the Sputnik sattelite caused in America--especially in kids--but now I have a much better idea what it was like. I just really don't understand how the movie could have flopped, I'll have to go rent it and find out.
    Apple Confidential:
    The Real Story of
    Apple Computer
    Owen W. Linzmayer
    (to Amazon)

    From the author of the Mac Bathroom Reader, this is definitely the most complete (and enjoyable) tale of Apple's many ups and downs that I have read. (At least a few on this book list.) It follows Steve Jobs a little through NeXT and Pixar and back--information usually omitted from "Apple" stories. And since Jobs has shown he really is Apple, that is good stuff to read.

    The funny part is that I mixed this up with another book that sounded depressing and rude that I was going to fan on. I actually told this to this author when I saw him signing books at MacWorld NY99, but he explained I had mixed up his book with Infinite Loop. So I bought his and really enjoyed it and I'm glad I talked to him.

    The Testament
    John Grisham
    (to Amazon)
    Ahh, another enjoyable classic-Grisham tale of excitement, mystery and surprise with some exotic travel mixed in. Like the early stories, it is not particularly deep or long or overly clever, but it is a fun read and I'm sure it will make yet-another entertaining movie. I think this is much better than The Street Lawyer.
    The White Bone
    Barbara Gowdy
    (to Amazon)
    The cover caught my eye, the jacket caught my curiosity: it is a story from the perspective of elephants. I found that aspect very entertaining, but also extremely irritating in two main ways: much of the way the elephants speak is essentially "silly-talk" and it gets really irritating. The other is that it is not a normal and realistic story that just happens to be told by elephants, but instead the elephants have huge superstitions, excessive rules and outrageous supernatural powers that magically allow for the big swings of success and failure throughout the story. I almost quit with irritation half-way through, but I stuck with it because the story focussed in on just a few elephants, but I was still disappointed. (If anyone wants to try it, I'll gladly give you the book.)
    Orbiting the Giant Hairball:
    A Corporate Fool's Guide
    to Surviving With Grace
    Gordon MacKenzie
    (to Amazon)
    Another book for reading on and off when the mood strikes me. Fabulous silly illustrations mixed in with some good and sensible lessons for dealing with the corporate world. Again, I haven't exactly sat down and read it and therefore have not finished it, but I like what I have read so far.
    The CDNow Story
    Jason Olim,
    Matthew Olim,
    Peter Kent
    (to Amazon)

    I am a very early shopper of CDNow (I think my first purchase was back in late 1994 and I have some archived email from Matt, one of the TWIBs) and so I certainly enjoyed reading the story. It is peppered with interesting little business lessons, retailer wishes, and Internet predictions. And it reads quickly and easily.

    The only bad thing is that they did not include a summary of the URLs mentioned in the book. I guess I'll have to make one myself.

    Rules for Revolutionaries:

    The Capitalist Manifesto for

    Creating and Marketing New

    Products and Services
    Guy Kawasaki
    (to Amazon)
    I've been reading this on and off for months now. I haven't sat down and studied, I haven't quite finished it, but I haven't shelved it either. It takes a mood, I guess.
    A Man In Full

    Tom Wolfe
    (to Amazon)

    With Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe is widely credited with writing the most surprising and insightful tale of 1980s society. This book seems to be telling a mixed-up tale of some unpopular, unsavory, and unlikable characters using popular fads to make it appear very timely. If you have seen a late-night infomercial in the past year (or if you watch er on TV) then you have heard of Tae-Bo, yet Tom Wolfe spends an inordinate amount of time describing how a lonely, middle-aged, divorcee is suffering Tae-Bo. It is just depressing. But not as depressing as the jail-stint the poor unlucky kid with the gargantuan hands has to suffer. The 90s have not been depressing--a book that is trying to characterize them does not need to be.

    Oh, yeah, with the conditioning of the story and the development of the characters, I simply do not believe the ending. And that pretty much guarantees I will not like a book. Oh, well.

    A Civil Action
    Jonathan Harr
    (to Amazon)
    A Civil Action I really enjoyed this book. It was a very gripping story (this is the tale about the contaminated East-Woburn drinking water causing leukemia) even though I knew some of the eventual outcome I was going to get to. It is a Grisham-like tale of massive legal excitement, but this story was all based on truth. I think the author did a great job of emotionally dragging the reader up and down throughout the story. (You certainly cannot miss the author's slant to the plaintiff and really start hating the lawyers for "the other side.")

    Update: I enjoyed the movie, too, but it lacked much of the detail that explained the motivations that made the written story so interesting. I caught Schlictmann on Tom Snyder's show and while not saying anything exactly new, he made it clear that he feels that he is owed all this recognition.
    The Street Lawyer
    by John Grisham
    (to Amazon)
    The Street Lawyer This book was super-hyped before it was released--I even got the first chapter emailed to me from www.jgrisham.com before the book was released--but it was not worth the hype. The concept and the story are great...but Mr. Grisham seemed not to put much effort into developing the story. The print is huge (more pages, more money, right?) and there is barely a detail in the story: no descriptions of the scene, no warm-ups, no introductions, no *depth*--and barely a description of any of the people--and there were really only two people to worry about! Oh, well, maybe they'll make enough money off of this book to spend some real time on the next one?
    Startup: A Silicon
    Valley Adventure

    Jerry Kaplan
    (to Amazon)
    Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure This was a great tale of starting and growing a company. (The company was GO, which joined with ATT and split into EO later. The technology is pen computing.) It is a terribly depressing tale of people stealing ideas, people succeeding with other's ideas, and great ideas fizzling out into not such great things. It is a shocking tale of how you can spend five million dollars and five years and not make any real money and not have a lot to show at the end of it all. But it sure was a lot of fun to read!
    The Angel of Darkness
    Caleb Carr
    (to Amazon)
    The Angel of Darkness I loved the first book that I read by Caleb Carr (The Alienist, see below) and I loved this one, too. I think the mystery of this story is a little less grisly and more puzzling, the first-person account of this character is much more interesting--more raw and truthful, and the involvement in the problem solving of the story is still a lot of fun. This is another story set in the late 1800s and still conveys a truly involving "feel" of the time.
    The Macintosh Way
    Guy Kawasaki
    (to Amazon)
    This was written as a pseudo text-book and it there is not much to comment on. The content was interesting, but the reading was irritating. Maybe because there was no homework?
    Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's
    Story of Life in the Mafia

    Peter Maas
    (to Amazon)
    Underboss: Sammy The Bull's Life I do not want to make Sammy the Bull mad, so I can't say anything too critical here. Naw, this was a mediocre to poor mafia story. I think Sammy probably bounces around when he speaks (classic Hollywood mobster, right?) but for some reason Peter Maas decided to just be note-taker and not use his writing skills to make it any easier to read. The result is a haphazard, random, irritating collection of stories from Sammy. Nothing really very new.

    I missed the TV version of this story, but I suspect it was not much better.
    Insanely Great:
    The Life and Times
    of Macintosh, the Computer
    That Changed Everything

    Steven Levy
    (to Amazon)
    Insanely Great This was a fun tale of the early days of Macintosh and Apple. I should have written something when I first read it because now I forget a lot of it...damn!
    The Horse Whisperer
    Nicholas Evans
    (to Amazon)
    The Horse Whisperer One one hand, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. On the other hand, my inexperience with love stories made me feel like the author was leading us readers around on emotional reins: first the girl is an angel and the mother is bad, then the mother is ultra-compassionate and the girl is a shit, the guy is aloof then he is an old softie. It should be pretty much the perfect role for Robert "Mr. Sundance" Redford, though. (He'll be a natural. :-)
    Lucky You
    Carl Hiaasen
    (to Amazon)
    Lucky You Hiaasen's stories came highly recommended and now I can see why: this was a very amusing story. Clearly, the whole thing is designed to be silly, but that makes for easy reading and burst-out-loud chuckling! I would read more of his stuff, especially since the rest of it is supposed to be much funnier.
    The Perfect Storm
    Sebastian Junger
    (to Amazon)
    The Perfect Storm This book (about a real ship that vanished) started off kind of slow and laden with fishing anecdotes and stories about fisherman that I don't know and don't really understand. But the second half of the book was full of very exciting tales of high-seas danger and some excellent speculation as to what must have happened to the Andrea Gail.
    Midnight In The Garden
    of Good and Evil:
    A Savannah Story

    John Berendt
    (to Amazon)
    Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil Wow, Savannah sounds really cool. There was not so much mystery in this story, but there was a murder and it is a true story and the first half of the book is one of the most interesting 'character development' tales I've ever seen. (Usually I find the formula of character development, then the real story kind of boring.)
    Apple: The Inside Story
    of Intrigue, Egomania,
    and Business Blunders

    Jim Carlton
    (to Amazon)
    Apple: The Inside Story I am a die-hard Apple fan and despite the sadness and tragedy of this story, I really enjoyed it. I thought I knew a lot about Apple, but this book has a bunch of never-before-published information.
    Gayle Lynds
    (to Amazon)
    Masquerade The plot of this was far too contrived with drug-induced forced amnesia and personality manipulation of high powered French officials. Feh.
    AppleDesign: The Work of the
    Apple Industrial Design Group

    Apple Design Group
    (to Amazon)
    AppleDesign This is not a story--it is a beautiful book full of photos and stories of prototypes and designs that chronicle the complete history of Apple from day one. I found this at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
    Total Control
    David Baldacci
    (to Amazon)
    Total Control I enjoyed the first book (Absolute Power) better, but this was still a Grisham-style exciting read and the story was not nearly as ridiculous as Masquerade.
    Car: A Drama
    of the American Workplace

    Mary Walton
    (to Amazon)
    Car This was an extremely interesting story, although occasionally overrun with boring names and details. I like cars and I enjoyed learning about the design and manufacturing process. The goal of the book was achieved in showing how good intentions and smart people can still get massively misdirected. (I heard of this book in a Teradyne management seminar on Leading Product Development.)
    Into the Wild
    Jon Krakauer
    Amazon link This is that story about the kid who wandered off into the depths of Alaska and never came back. (This is author of the currently popular story of the recent tale of death from Mount Everest, Into Thin Air, currently on my to-read list.) The author does a good job of pitting man's call to nature against stupidity in the technology age. It would be easy to finish this book and not be certain whether he was a classic adventurer or just stupid.
    The Alienist
    Caleb Carr
    Amazon link The entire story is set in the 1800s and the dialog and the apparent accuracy of this period's history is conveyed really well. The tale is a classic serial killer story, with a small number of interesting characters. The story is long (~500 pages) and is filled with psycological analyses that practically convince you that you can understand the psyche of a serial killer. Caleb Carr's (even-longer) sequel, Angel of Darkness, was also excellent.
    Miller's Bolt:
    A Modern Business Parable

    Thomas Stirr
    Amazon link This is a great story of professional and business effectiveness, but written in novel-form which makes it really easy, but still educational, reading.
    Pride and Loyalty
    Kenneth Del Vecchio
    Amazon link I got this book in the autographed-books section of a huge Barnes and Noble for something like $5. The story summary sounded interesting, but it was another well-meaning but extremely contrived story and therefore too irritating to enjoy.

    All-time Favorites

    A Prayer for Owen Meany
    John Irving
    (to Amazon)
    A Prayer for Owen Meany This is one of my absolute favorite books ever. I have read it completely at least twice so far--and I guarantee that I will read it again. It is practically impossible to describe the story or even Owen Meany. I recommend just getting this book and reading it. Ignore all of Amazon's reviews and even the book jacket--just dive right in with a fresh, open mind.
    A Confederacy of Dunces
    John Kennedy Toole
    (to Amazon)
    A Prayer for Owen Meany Hysterical book. Brilliant writing. Spectacular book. A must-read.

    Still on the To-Read List

    Sick Puppy
    Carl Hiassen
    (to Amazon)
    Hearts In Atlantis  
    Evan I. Schwartz
    (to Amazon)
    Hearts In Atlantis  
    by Thomas Harris
    (to Amazon)
    Hearts In Atlantis  
    Hearts in Atlantis
    by Stephen King
    (to Amazon)
    Hearts In Atlantis  
    Big Blues:
    The Unmaking of IBM

    by Paul Carroll
    (to Amazon)
    Big Blues  
    Into Thin Air:
    A Personal Account
    of the Mount Everest

    by Jon Krakauer
    (to Amazon)
    Into Thin Air