It’s still January, so I can still sneak in a quick overview of the years reading. Being an avid bibliophile, this amounts to a sizable amount of dead cellulose since I believe that traditional flipping of dried pulp, earmarking and general coffee staining is the way to go when it comes to the #LongRead. Thats how I roll – or flip if you will
The Art of Immersion, Frank Rose
Having read Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture back in the day, this seemed like a natural progression. A good read on all things transmedia and UGC (user generated content) which spurred a brief flurry of interest in harnessing Otaku fan culture for content makers and steeled my belief in content production from below.
Nudge – improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness, Thaler & Sunstein
Probably should have read this when it was getting a lot of hype, but simply didn’t get around to it. One of the books that started the “persuasive design” wave and an interesting, though slightly dated read. Worth it so you can chin stroke with confidence whenever someone starts ranting about the value of default settings and such.
Game Frame – Using Games as a Strategy For Success, Aaron Dignan
I picked this up because I saw Aaron Dignan’s PSFK talk and thought “what a delightful, humorous and non-gushy young man”, who seems to have a balanced and nuanced opinion on the G-word. Somehow he comes across a lot less nuanced in the book. It has a framework though. I like frameworks.
Content, Cory Doctorow
More of Cory’s crusade against copyright. Nothing new but always a good read and a peak into the mechanics of DRM and the general intellectual property debate. Link takes you to a free download of the book over on Cory’s site.
The Brand Gap, Martin Neumeier
Hailed as the “designers guide to branding” because (and I kid you not, this is a direct quote from the person who recommended it to me) “it is a really short read” (because as we all know designers can’t read, right?). I decided to read it to see what the ruckus was all about. Honestly, in my opinion Mr. Neumeier sacrificed nuance and functionality for simplicity, which makes it more or less useless as anything but the briefest of introductions and doesn’t capture the intricacies of working with brands in as complex an environment as we have today.
Noise Music – A History, Paul Hegarty
I like noise music, so this was kind of a no-brainer when it came up on Amazon’s recommendations. Weirdly conflicted on this one. On one hand, there are some interesting points about breaking with classical form and mastery as a prerequisite to performing music, some good musings on what noise is and how it is a prerequisite of order and such… but in between the dense theoretical musings, I could have done with a raunchy anecdote from behind the scenes.
Exposing the Magic of Design, John Kolko
Terrible title aside, this is a straight up “from observations to insights to ideation to implementation” handbook from a man who obviously sipped the multicolored process-juice. I tend to agree with him on most counts.
This is Service Design Thinking, Stickdorn & Shneider
The epic service design tome, bound in black with nifty design details and all. It is supposed to be an attempt at a textbook for aspiring service designers, which it seems to do quite well. Did feel they went through the methods/tools bit slightly quick and I am still looking for an insightful and interesting book with service design cases, where touch points are explored in detail, brand and strategy discussed, process unveiled and deliverables analyzed etc.
Business Model Generation, Osterwalder & Pigneur
Wow, this is useful and is quickly becoming a bit of a must-read in the service design community. Used the framework with quite some success for a BBC project and find it is really useful for breaking things into chunks and allowing people to deliberate on the small bits that make up the whole. Recommended!
Drawing the Head and Hands + Figure Drawing for all it’s Worth, Andrew Loomis
I started drawing again. It’s hard. These are supposed to be the definitive books on drawing. They are hard. I haven’t technically read them cover to cover – rather I have flicked through picked up a tip here and there, and failed miserably when trying to apply them. They are also quite fun and it’s nice to be drawing again – even though I just like doodling silly cartoons on post-its while on the phone.
Animation 1, Preston Blair
How to draw silly cartoons! Yay!
From Hell, Alan Moore & Eddie Campell
I am getting heavily into graphic novels again, after a roughly 20 year hiatus. This one is cramped, dense, claustrophobic and just plain amazing. Deals with Jack the Ripper, who used to haunt my current ‘hood. The part where the Doctor rides around London explaining the significance of the Masonic/druidic origins and meanings of the architecture had me riveted and now I can’t walk past anything Hawksmoore built without looking for hidden symbols and feeling slightly creeped out.
The Quantity Theory of Insanity, Will Self
As a newcomer to the country, I feel it is my obligation to study my host nation. People splutter into their beer when I proclaim that I am reading Will Self as a result.
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delaney
Simultaneously one of the most confusing and most heart-achingly beautiful books I have ever read – my copy is now earmarked with a thousand different quotes that had me slack-jawed with awe. The style, the denseness, the schizoid incomprehensibility and the stark yet wonderful dives into self reflection are simply stunning. I have had dreams about the book ever since.
Cyclonopedia – Complicity with Anonymous Materials, Reza Negarestani
A so called “theoretical novel”, this book is as obscure as it is oddly cinematic. Detailing the role of the Middle East and “petro-politics” as a narrative baseline for world history, the author mixes in arabic occultism, syrian demonology, diverse conspiracy theories and mathematics - plus a slew of other concepts which I am still struggling to digest, into what is one of the hardest reads I have ever undertaken, paling even to Nicholas Luhman’s thoughts on discursive theory (which my proffessor confided to me “Nobody actually gets it – academics just say they do. It might all be nonsense for all we know”) that I plowed through in Uni. However, it invokes images of vast arid desertscapes and cavernous putrid secrets – and for that alone, it’s still worth a read.
Teatro Grottesco, Thomas Ligotti
Apparently popular with the whole Boyd Rice crowd, I think this just reads like a poor mans Lovecraft. Meh…
Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
Recommended to me by the guy who started the NO2ID movement in the UK and a mix between a James Clavell novel and a beginners guide to cryptography – this was one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year in terms of pure pleasure (with a bit of learning thrown in for kicks.)
A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R Martin
Yep I saw the Game of Thrones series and then proceeded to hoover up every book available so far. All roughly 4500 pages. In what amounted to two months. I am not afraid to admit it – this was two months of plain getting my geek on. If you haven’t read it, rip out a couple of months of your social life and start reading. Who needs friends when you can have epic things like murder, conspiracy, dragons, bloodshed and even a bit of sordid incest.
Honorable mention: The Paris Reviews interview with William Gibson, by David Wallace-Wells.
Not a book so it technically doesn’t count, but this is just a great long form interview. Keep returning to it, so it should go on here too.
Honorable mention 2: Who killed Video Games, Tim Rogers
Brilliantly written and highly entertaining piece on the evils of social gaming (yes, that means you Zynga).