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<title>Book Reviews for August 2009 | Divya Manian</title>
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<meta name="description" content="I regret to say, I spent most of my &ldquo;reading hours&rdquo; reading trivial Agatha Christies. I have no idea why I have such a fascination for &hellip;">
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<time datetime="2009-08-09T00:00:00-07:00" pubdate><span class='month'>Aug</span> <span class='day'>09</span> <span class='year'>2009</span></time>
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href="/book-reviews-for-august-2009.html">Book Reviews for August 2009</a></h1>
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<div class="entry-content"><p>I regret to say, I spent most of my &ldquo;reading hours&rdquo; reading trivial Agatha Christies. I have no idea why I have such a fascination for her writing (even though it is racist, sexist, and what not). So, I have only 4 books to review here.</p>
<p></p>
<ul>
<li>
<h3>Death was the other woman</h3>
<p>I picked this book randomly. I don&rsquo;t have much success with randomly picked books, but my intuition never stops me from doing so. Yes, this book was one of those miserable failures. But, on the bright side, it seems like I can finally discern how to tell a good story.</p>
<p>Alarm bells rang when the author wrote this in her acknowledgements:</p>
<blockquote><p>&ldquo;Most women consider themselves lucky to have a strong, sensitive, caring man in their lives. I&#x27;m more than lucky, I have three.&rdquo;
</p></blockquote>
<p>Yeah, it gets no better. Even though it is supposed to be a murder mystery set in the 50s. I would read <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fentity%2FErle-Stanley-Gardner%2FB000AQ3ZTC%3Fie%3DUTF8%26ref%255F%3Dntt%255Fathr%255Fdp%255Fpel%255F1&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=390957">Erle Stanley Gardner</a> any day compared to this one.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Famished Road</h3>
<p>I typically don&rsquo;t read books that are sad or depressing. I really get involved and feel depressed all day. But, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385425139?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0385425139">The Famished Road</a> was in my book list of books about Africa, so I had to read it. It is depressing, but oddly fascinating. There are a lot of Nigerian legends referenced. The book is about Azaro who is a spirit child determined to live with his parents instead of typically trying to return to the happy spirit world. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/review/R2NYSF2YXH7XEF/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm">This review on Amazon</a> has a great explanation of the legends of the Yoruba of Nigeria.</p>
<p>One thing that grated was the repeated usage of &ldquo;urine&rdquo;, &ldquo;feces&rdquo;, &ldquo;sweat&rdquo;. It seems to be a pattern with all &ldquo;exotic&rdquo; novels &ndash; to describe as much of bodily fluids as possible. I do admit, it revolts me. But, I don&rsquo;t think it added anything to the story &ndash; maybe I am biased.</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307394654?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0307394654">Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics, and Professional Hedonism</a> is a book that was in the news for <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7346101.stm">claiming Lonely Planet authors fabricate facts about places they vist</a>. After reading that book, you will never look at a Lonely Planet (or any other guide book) the same way again. The author&rsquo;s claims seem reasonable and common in all industries with freelancers (not just travel) &ndash; low fixed price project, no insurance, unreasonable deadlines. It is quite sad that Lonely Planet has evolved from a guidebook for those who &ldquo;rough it out&rdquo; to 5-star-loving-resort-hopping tourists. The author claims the budget travellers have shifted their royalties to Footprint publications.</p>
<p>It is a very well written book, almost reads like fiction!</p>
</li>
<li>
<h3>The Whuffie Factor</h3>
<p>&ldquo;Whuffie&rdquo; is a word that appears in Cory Doctorow&rsquo;s book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/076530953X?ie=UTF8&tag=nimbupani-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=076530953X">Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom</a>, but, in this book, is almost equivalent to &ldquo;fluff&rdquo;. I first heard Tara Hunt speak at <a href="http://aneventapart.com">An Event Apart</a> and was dismayed. It was mostly a summary of this book and a plug for it. I decided to read this book before I criticized the contents of her talk.</p>
<p>If you read techcrunch, twitter, and subscribe to feeds, this book is not for you &ndash; definitely was&rsquo;t for me! It reads like a &ldquo;Who&rsquo;s Who&rdquo; of the &ldquo;social media&rdquo; world (how I hate that word!) And about 100 pages of the book are dedicated to how she created communities for <a href="http://www.barcamp.org/TransitCampBayArea">Transit Camp Bay Area</a>, and Co&ndash;Working.</p>
<p>More than these, I was horrified with how casually the book was written. I gulped as I read this &ndash; &ldquo;As one who has launched a company using the power of online communities&hellip;&rdquo; &ndash; in her profile blurb on the book and sentences like &ldquo;&hellip;real cool factor of Moo cards is the self-design aspect the company gives you on its website.&rdquo; Thankfully, I had not bought this book. If I did, I would want my money back for sloppy writing!</p>
<p>And frankly, I don’t think she has said anything new or innovative that has not been written about before – online. I would have been happier if this book was a blog.</p>
<p><em>Side Note:</em> Why were they trying to sell this book at Bar Camp Seattle? Obviously the attendees are the wrong audience for this book!</p>
</li>
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<p></p>
<p>I feel bad for trashing a book. But I felt so annoyed after reading it! Any books you recommend?</p>
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