Monday, August 20, 2012

Books! (And: help me decide what to read next!)

I just finished Walter Isaacson's 600-plus-page biography of Steve Jobs—appropriately titled, um, Steve Jobs—and hoo boy, what a read that was. I'd been wanting to read the book for awhile but hadn't gotten around to purchasing it—and then A Certain Someone got it for me for my birthday and I dove right into reading it and barely came up for air.

When Steve Jobs passed away last year, I was surprised by how hard his death hit me—I think it's because I've been a loyal Apple fan since childhood and because every single Apple product I've owned has had an element of surprise and delight for me, from my family's green iMac to my first-generation iPod to my MacBook, iPhone and iPad. Materialistic? Maybe. True? Absolutely. (And by the way, if you haven't watched Jobs' 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, you'll want to do that. Like, right now. I've even made it easy for you: Here's the link.)

Anyway, Isaacson's biography was really good—straightforward in tone, easy to read if a little slow at first, and a true testament to Jobs' incredible, unique genius. It didn't shy away from shining a light on Jobs' notoriously difficult personality, either, which I appreciated and which gave the book its “spice,” so to speak. I also loved reading about Jobs' involvement with Pixar, which I knew sadly little about, and the chapters leading up to the end of the book—and the end of Jobs' life—are genuinely poignant. Jon Stewart was right when he said in a tribute that it felt like Jobs had so much more left to give; there is not a doubt in my mind that he would have continued to amaze and revolutionize the world for years to come. If you're an Apple fan—or even if you're not—you should read this book. I came away so inspired and am trying to figure out how to channel that into something productive.

So now I'm in that interesting predicament of wanting to start a new book but also wanting to read something equally good. I downloaded a couple of samples the other night and can't choose, so I need you to help me (pretty please?). Here's what I'm considering (feel free to add suggestions!):
  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. It seems like everyone has been reading this lately, and I have to admit that even the 30-something sample pages I read sucked me in. If you've read it, is it as good as everyone says?  
  • Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Again, have heard lots of good things about this from both coworkers and the Internet, and I'm a sucker for a good "I went to the woods to live deliberately"-esque tale. 
  • The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. Like a man-goes-into-nature story, I am also a sucker for a good coming-of-age story, and this seems to have that wrapped up. A coworker read this and raved about it, as did my blog-friend Mary, but I've heard it's helpful to have some knowledge about baseball going in or you'll miss some of the story's nuances/references—true or no? (As we are aware, I know very little about baseball, but I still enjoy it.) 
What would you pick? And what great books have you read lately?

Photo of Jobs via Door Sixteen


  1. I have read both Wild and the Art of Fielding and like them both. Didn't fall head over heels in love with either one, but I think they are both worth reading. They both offer a little something to take away (which I think might be different for different people, even within the same story.) So...I say read them both for sure. xoxo

    1. Thanks, Steph! Yay for good books. :)

  2. I would say to read Wild (I read it a few months ago, then I also read Torch. I am planning on also reading Tiny Beautiful Things soon.) But really, it sounds like you can't go wrong with any of these books. : )

    1. Glad to hear you liked Wild! I think you're right--will probably read all of these; now just have to decide in what order!

  3. Based on some books I've read recently, I have a few recommendations:

    -Birdsong and Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks. I recently read both again, and remembered what a great writer he is.

    -The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor.

    -The Book Of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa.

    -And for a lighter read: Poet's Cottage by Josephine Pennicott.

    And I'd go for Wild from your own list!

    1. Oh, thanks, Hila! I've heard good things about The Story of Lucy Gault and I'm excited to check out the others on your list, as well. Yay, books.

  4. Loved the Art of Fielding, and no, I don't think you need to know a lot about baseball, but it helps to have an appreciation for it. Gone Girl is a fast and addicting read - I was a little disappointed with the ending, but it will make a good movie one day. Let us know what you choose!