Recent Reading (Books)

Nothing security-related, but for whatever reason I've been able to knock out four (4) books in the last few weeks (on top of my normal reading load). I like to read outside of the industry whenever possible as it provides a good mental break. As such, I polished off two works of fiction and two works of non-fiction. The four are: That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo, The Color of Magic (the first Discworld book) by Terry Pratchett, The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs, and Liberty and Tyranny by Mark R. Levin. Following is a quick summary of my thoughts on each book.

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

I'm a big fan of Richard Russo's work, starting back at Empire Falls and, in particular, his wonderfully amusing novel Straight Man (I grew up in academia, so it struck home). His latest release, That Old Cape Magic is on-par with his other lesser works. A nice story about an aging fellow who's struggling with his own identify and life. Overall, it's an honest story that is, I think, aimed at slightly older guys coming into their own. If you like Russo's other books, then you'll enjoy this one as well.

The Color of Magic (the first Discworld book) by Terry Pratchett

A friend recently mentioned meeting Terry Pratchett at a fiction/scifi convention last month, and given that I'd never heard of him or Discworld, but trust my friend's taste in books, thought I'd give it a shot. And, I'm happy to say this was a good choice. It's a very light read in a traditional scifi genre. Even better, it's the first in a series of close to 20 books. I'm also told that Pratchett's other works beyond the Discworld series are good. If you're looking for some light, fun scifi then this is recommended, and quite affordable ($7.99/book)!

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs

I've been a fan of A.J. Jacobs since reading his first book, Know-It-All. His latest release is essentially a collection of short stories, each covering a different experiment conducted over the span of year. The book, as with his other works, was quite entertaining. If you like non-fiction humorous memoirs, then Jacobs is a good candidate. His quirkiness hits a little close to home for me at times (if he's weird, what does that make me?!:). Beyond that, however, I was quite satisfied with this book and will happily purchase his next one.

Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin

I read this book at the request of my father. And, by "read" I mean I read the first 3-4 chapters and then skimmed the rest when it completely went off the rails. The book started out promising, deriding neo-cons as well as liberals for really being all a bunch of big-government power zealots. However, after starting out sounding libertarian, he quickly falls into the same old tired claptrap that crowds the airwaves these days. Where he lost my attention was when he hit Constitutional Law. As with many so-called "conservatives," Levin seems to think that the Constitution is the only basis for laws in the land. While the Constitution is certainly the originating document for the modern United States, his skewed opinion grossly overlooks the protection of tort law, in particular, granted by the Constitution. He further overlooks that tort law existed, via Common Law, well before the Constitution was drafted, and thus has evolved not out of Constitutional Law, but from fairness doctrine. It's these sorts of oversights and misunderstanding that are rife throughout the remainder of the book, belying the author's ignorance and biases. While the sub-title is to call it a manifesto, it is in fact nothing but another tired rant against a strong central government. While that core principle is fine, it sadly ignores that the modern environment is much different from the environment of 225+ years ago when this country was being founded. Ignoring - and in fact attacking - the ability to evolve government to better meet the needs of the people is willfully ignorant and dangerously aristocratic. I thus do not recommend this book as it really adds nothing to the political discourse.

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