What I’m Reading
Eleanor Roosevelt : Volume 2 , The Defining Years, 1933-1938 by Blanche Wiesen Cook (blown away by ER. she deserved a better biographer. it feels like the writer died in the middle and someone put it together from her notes without bothering to proofread)
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin (good. lame that this is already overplayed)
The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (Modern Library Classics) by Giorgio Vasari (amazing. much better than Plutarch’s Lives. Michaelangelo’s and Titians are the best. the translation is very readable)
The Tower Menagerie: The Amazing 600-Year History of the Royal Collection of Wild and Ferocious Beasts Kept at the Tower of London by Daniel Hahn (an example of an author ruining an otherwise fascinating book by interrupting themselves with too many footnotes, parentheses and tangents. I learned more his style mistakes than the subject)
How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq by Matthew Alexander (for some reason he annoyingly refers to himself and colleagues as ‘gators and it makes the whole thing seem ridiculous. Mark Bowden’s foreword a marketing ploy, it’s only 3 pages)
Also, I think Seth Godin is wrong in this post about advertising or at the very least, not being totally forthcoming. I guarantee when he does ads he doesn’t judge their success on math or conversions. It’s a tyrannous, poor set of incentives. Acquisition driven advertising unintentionally favors the short term of the long term and rips the life out of brands. They should be evaluated on whether they say something, otherwise it’s just arbitrage.
Hey Ryan – Pizzamancer here. I totally agree with your call on Seth Godin. His blog posts of late have really been off. I actually blogged about one here :http://tinyurl.com/aysnxa
What I didn’t mention there was that his other conclusions are 100% off the mark. Like Miley Cyrus making it big on any account of her own merit. (12/29 post).
He seems to be coming up with more misses than hits lately. It does surprise me, from the Amazon reviews, that you even picked up that book though.
Tribes could have been a good book. Its a great topic, and it is, in my opinion, a book that should be written. But all Godin does in the book is talk about that it is important, and that it is happening (social networking, using such things to make your on communities and what not) But it was complete garbage. Basically just repeats himself about the importance of it, and the whole thing is really repetitive IMO. There was like one or two pages where he actually offers steps to creating tribes, but overall, most of the book is just repetition on the fact there are these tribes out there, as he coins it, and they are all over the place, and that it is a good idea, and thats it. Some advice on how to create these tribes or something besides repetition would have made the book a lot better.
And the Amazon reviews are Garbage as well. Clearly, his tribe just five stared it. Look at the three star reviews and you will see what I am talking about. Godin mailed it in for this book.
What you said about the footnoting in Hahn’s book really struck a chord with me. While I haven’t read it, I did check out John Sellers’ Perfect From Now On, and he has a footnote that spans well over two or three pages. It really adds to the book’s conversational style.
I think it’s unfair to say that an author interrupting themselves with footnotes/tangents is necessarily a bad thing. Sellers’ voice in PFNO is incredible. Though it may still be (and probably still is) the case with Tower Menagerie…
Footnotes are wonderful. The problem is when an author can’t say no to themselves and feels the need to included everything that pops into their head.