what I am reading now

(in animated suspension)


what I have read
(I love to read)



  • Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - J. R. R. Tolkien
    Yes, I  re-read the trilogy because of the movie just like the publishers hoped I would. I enjoyed the series more than when I had first read the books in grade 6 (8?) when I skipped over the pages of needless detail - like everything not directly dealing with Frodo. It's a good read and a fun read but I can't get myself to call it a Great Read. Be sure to check out the lengthy appendix at the end of the series - it's the real book that Tolkien wanted to write. 

  • Deschooling Society - Ivan Illich

  • Don't make me think - Steve Krug
    My favourite book on web design. One of my co-workers picked my copy up, opened it up the chapter "Happy Talk Must Die" and on that merit alone, decided to buy it. While not for the experienced coder, this is the best book I've seen for those who have a say in designing a website.  

  • Sources of Power - Gary Klien
    It has an awful title - constructed I suppose, to attract the insecure. Could you guess from the title alone that the book is about decision making? The first three chapters are amazing. Klein uses stories from firefighters and other emergency personnel to drive home the point that people generally don't make decisions by optimization (that is, determine all the courses of action, evaluate each, and then determine which is best) but by sufficing - taking the first option that should work. But then the author assumes that the reader is hooked and starts replacing the narratives with references to scholarly literature. So I suggest to read until you think it suffices.

  • The Real World of Democracy - C. B. Macpherson
    (Massey Lecture number 4, 1965)
    One of the reasons why I have begun to systematically read all the Massey Lectures is simply because the books are very short. Case in point, the Real World of Democracy is a wee 67 pages of text. The reading is a little dry as, presumably for the sake of brevity, Macpherson does not back up his theories with evidence and antidote. That being said, if have you already have given the matter some thought, you may find as I did, that his evaluation of what is meant by "democracy" is succinct and thought-provoking.

  • The Educated Imagination - Northrop Frye
    (Massey Lecture 2, 1962)

  • Reinventing Comics - Scott McCloud
    This was good, but I liked his Coins of the Realm more. 

  • The Real World of Technology - Ursula Franklin
    (Massey Lecture 26, 1989)
    When I first read this book some years ago, I thought it was amazing. But when I re-read the book, I wasn't nearly as impressed. Thus, I recommend the first reading of the book, but not the second.

  • 1001 Extra/Ordinary Things
    I started my subscription to COLORS just after the magazine's glory days when designer and provocateur Tibor Kalman was at the helm. And now with the recent departure of photographer Oliviero Toscani, COLORS will never be what it once was. But there's good news: recent issues of COLORS do not try to imitate the past but in its stead presents some of the most compelling photojournalism that I know of. And for those who would rather the COLORS of the past, there's 1001 Extra/Ordinary Things. It's a thick and rich book - a stew of humanity. I got a copy on my birthday - it makes a great gift.

  • Why I Hate Canadians - Will Ferguson
    Will writes for those people who loves Canada, but hates Canadians. Well, he doesn't hate all Canadians. Separatists, people who think that Canadians own the word "nice", and the folks who cancelled his beloved Katima especially raise his ire. But this book really isn't about Canadians that piss our Will off. This is actually a history book! But its an opinionated history book and funny in bits, so that's okay. Frank Magazine thinks he's too soft on the Liberal Party and Jan Wong just skewered him in a recent "Lunch With Jan Wong" column alleging that the man is a shameless self-promoter. .

  • Larry's Party - Carol Shields
    How do you tell an extraordinary story about an ordinary person? Carol Shields knows and does so in such a gentle manner that you don't realize that you are being skillfully guided through a maze of an everyman's experience until the novel is finished.

  • The Game - Ken Dryden
    Do I recommend it? Hell yeah! Ken Dryden writes really well and brings real insight to the people, business, and game of hockey. Note I did not say, "Ken Dryden writes really well for a hockey player". I said, Ken Dryden writes really well.

  • Cyberselfish - Paulina Borsook
    Do I recommend it? No, it was too sloppy. 

  • How Insensitive - Russell Smith
    Do I recommend it? Only if the Toronto "Scene" presses heavily on your mind.


what I have given up reading
(Hurts my brain)


The lives of a cell: notes of a biology watcher - Lewis Thomas
I hate poncy science writing.


A Short History of the Printed Word - Warren Chappell
I like books but I don't like books that much to read about their history.

Growing up Absurd - Paul Goodman
I kept stumbling upon references to this book in my magazine and non-fiction travels, so I thought I'd give it a go. The book was written in 1956 and is currently out of print (but available at the library - I mention this as a plug for libraries in general). 

I think I can understand why the book is out of print. While the absurdities of post-war society that Paul points out sadly still the same (the meaningless of work, class structure and struggle) the backdrop of his arguments has changed significantly. It's hard to read sentences like, "Nevertheless, we see groups of boys and young men disaffected from the dominant society. The young men are Angry and Beat" without giggling. Kerouac just doesn't seem scary anymore. He wore khakis that you can buy at the Gap. 

The Prize - Daniel Yergin
Why did I give up? 
The history of petroleum industry is a long and sordid one. 
It deserves our attention as oil rules the world. But I am weak.