Arts Desk

Five Books I’d Read

in which the author discusses five books he'd read, if time permitted.

1. Distrust That Particular Flavor, by William Gibson.
I'm not sure who William Gibson is, but he seems to write syfy-ish novels that appeal to the Philip K. Dick, Boing Boing set. He's written this book of essays—his first, I think—that imagine a cyber-friendly future, I think, or maybe a cyber-dystopia. Real Matrix-type stuff. He's also reading at Politics and Prose on Monday, Jan 9. Let's meet in the cafe, order same Tazo teas, then find out what this dude is all about.

2. The Zen of Steve Jobs, by Caleb Melby.

Another paean to the man in gray jeans who single-handedly destroyed the music, newspaper and book-publishing industries. This one has pictures.

3. Hack's 191: Hack Wilson and His Incredible 1930 Season, by Bill Chastain.
I don't know much about sports, but I do know if a guy named "Hack" had an incredible season in 1930, I want to know a little more about it. Just like I want to know more about The Legend of Bagger Vance because Bagger Vance's name is "Bagger." If that movie, in which Will Smith plays a magical golfing Negro who saves Matt Damon on the links, had been called "The Legend of Steve Vance," I never would have paid to see it in a movie theater in Beloit, Wisc., in 2000.

4. The Complete Walt Disney World 2012, by Julie and Mike Neal.
Maybe you think I'm blithely recommending this book in an ironic way. I'm not—this book is f*cking serious about Walt Disney World in a way that is captivating, terrifying and, if you're planning a visit, actually helpful. This insane couple has written these guides for some time now that describe and rate every ride—yes, every single ride—at Walt Disney World and offer relevant recommendations on what to avoid and what not to miss. The previous edition I read was a revelation—like reading an obsessive-compulsive serial killer's diary, but then realizing that the obsessive-compulsive serial killer's diary was a smart, useful life-hack, or at least better than most books by Paul Auster.

5. The Map and the Territory, by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Gavin Bowd.
I don't know what this novel's about, but it's by a French author who is a major alcoholic Bukowski figure, so that seems fun, especially for all of you out there who stopped drinking on Jan. 1 and haven't yet broken your New Year's resolutions. However, if you made a resolution not to read books by French novelists, this book is definitely not for you.

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