Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis

I have been searching for a copy of this book for a long time. You can't find it in the bookstores and I don't think any more editions have been published. Fortunately my good friend Mr. Caldwell had a yellowing paperback copy that he lent me.

Colonel Sun is a James Bond (007) novel that was published in 1968, shortly after Ian Fleming's death. Amis wrote very closely in the style of Fleming and captured the James Bond character very well.

Colonel Sun is a villain who captures M (Bond's boss) with the goal of killing high level Soviet officials and making it look like a British Secret Service operation.

The story moves a bit slowly at times but incorporates the usual Bond themes: a beautiful damsel in distress, violence, a dangerous and seemingly invincible thug that Bond must overcome, exotic locales and sex.

This was the only Bond novel by Amis. Seems a shame as he would have been a fitting successor to Fleming.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Wish I Followed This Bit of Business Advice....

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi doesn't offer anything that you have not hear from most successful businesspeople and self help authors.

What is a bit different is that Ferrazzi offers some strategies, tips and stories to help you along. It's easy to be told that you should network and build up a group of collegaues and business associates. Ferrazzi provides some direction and motivation in doing so.

I wish I did a better job of following Ferrazzi's advice. Today there are countless and painless ways of networking (Facebook, Linked-In).

Easy read. I skimmed much of the book as this is a good book for those just starting out in the business world or are looking to start a business.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What I Talk About When I Haruki Murakawi

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a memoir by an author who is a runner, er maybe a runner who is an author. I had read some decent reviews and since the author is about my age I was seeking some motivation for running in my mid 50s.

This short book will not make you a better runner or a better writer. My takeaway from this book is Murakawi's discipline when training and racing. He describes a marathon run through Greece that was part of a publicity piece about him. Murakawi felt duty bound to run the entire 26.2 grueling miles.

It's a decent book to offer as a gift to any long distance runners that you may know. They'll be able to appreciate the stories and dedication as told by Murakawi.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Every NJ Voter Should Read This Book

I highly recommend The Soprano State: New Jersey's Culture of Corruption by Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure.

If you have been a resident of New Jersey for any period of time, there is not a lot in this book that will surprise you. Our taxes are too high. Our schools are performing poorly. The state government is really run by a number of county bosses. The state unions are out of control. Politicians do not only double dip, but triple and quadruple dip. Too many state workers earn pensions and benefits with very little work or time on the job.

The authors do a great job at describing some of the lamest people and the lamest things done to "help" The City of Camden.

You'll read about a number of very dumb ideas for legislation. You'll gasp about the performance (or lack of) by various politicians. The coverage of the rise and fall of Jim McGreevey alone is reason to read this book. This book skewers both Democrats and Republicans.

This is a very well written book that does not pull many punches. If you're a New Jersey resident, read this book with a strong drink in your hand.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Newspapers: Dying on Write Support

I can remember when it took me a half hour or so to read the local papers like the Philadelphia Inquirer or Courier Post. Each paper used to be four or five columnists that I always wanted to read. Not anymore! I’m not sure I can name more than one or two columnists in either paper.

And geez, the sports coverage is so anemic...

The content has thinned out considerably, like Valerie Bertinelli on Jenny Craig. There’s no heft even in Sunday editions!

The New York Times, Wall St Journal and the Washington Post still publish decent newspapers though I read their content almost exclusively online. I can’t remember the last time I bought a USA Today.

Newspapers have lost the battle with cable news shows, online news websites and blogs for subscribers and viewers. Newspapers present stale news. Cable shows and the Internet promote immediate access and continual updates.

Newspapers used to do a very good job of investigative reporting but with limited staff, resources and will, haven’t done much of that lately.