What MeetMe is reading this month…

The lost post for September…



The Golem and the Jinni (Google eBook)

by Helene Wecker

“This is a beautifully-written debut novel by Helene Wecker set in New York City of 1899.  It features a great mix of richly-developed characters, a vividly rendered turn-of-the-century setting, a plot that is both well-imagined and well-executed, with just the right amount of mysticism, action, and humor mixed in.  This is one of those rare books that is welcome in literary circles that was also nominated for a Nebula Award (from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America).”

Drew DeNardo

by Christian Rudder (available on Audible)
“This was the first book I ever pre-ordered. Working in a social media company, Christian Rudder’s okCupid blog posts (all 3 of them) are relevant, surprising, and interesting to read, so I was eager to get more. I tried really hard to love the book, but ended up barely liking it. The author just cannot decide if he wants to be an academic data analyst, a social scientist full of entertaining trivium for dinner parties, or that professor who is profane and mocking just so students think he’s cool. From the blog posts, Christian manages to come across as a colorful scientist informed by rigorous study; in the book, he jumps between interesting demographic stats (what common phrases white guys tweet, men think 21 is the ideal age for a woman, aesthetically), then spends twice as much time explaining that he’s not racist or sexist or ageist or a mathematical hack. And on the Kindle, the book ends at 57%. A whopping 43% of the book is notes and references! Christian tries to be clinical with his whimsical observations, then occasionally tries to point them in the direction of social statements (why are black men less desirable to black women than they should be on okCupid), but in the same breath takes jabs at low IQ demographics. He makes a mess for himself by creating charts that could be presented neutrally, but he also wants to be a witty and cutting guy, so now the charts look like flamebait. So he has to explain his motives at every step, and then he explains himself again for the last half of the book. If you’re in the social media business, or if you want fuel for conversations that are incredibly dicey and questionably helpful, slog through it. As a side note, Christian writes with exactly the same style and obtuseness as Tycho (Jerry Holkins) from Penny-Arcade.”
Brian Herbert


A History of the World in 6 Glasses

by Tom Standage  (available on Audible)

“A History of the World in 6 Glasses takes a reader through the history of 6 of the world’s favorite beverages: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca Cola.  This makes for both an interesting history lesson in the drinks themselves, and also an interesting dive into the lives of people of the times.  The story of each drink not only details the history of the drink, but also its importance and influence on people of the times — such as beer being used as a form of payment in BC times.  Even if you have no strong interest in the drinks’ histories, you may still find the book compelling for the larger insights into past civilizations and their stories.”
Matt Kemmerer


The Maze Runner: Maze Runner, Book 1

by James Dashner (available on Audible)

“It’s young adult fiction, akin to the Hunger Games.  Since the movie is coming out, I figured I’d give the series a shot.  It’s an enjoyable book.  It is young adult, and you can tell but the phrasing and points of view, but it’s also an easy listen.  If you are looking for something a bit different, and are on a “young adult dystopian future” kick, check it out.”
Jason Lotito


What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

by Randall Munroe  (available on Audible)

“If you already read XKCD, or Randall’s “What If” posts, then this book contains exactly what you would expect. For those who do not, the subtitle gives it away. This collection of questions and answers explores some imaginative ideas, while attempting to stay grounded in what we know from science. Each is short and fun enough to enjoy sharing with your children, though the reality of some may be a bit gruesome, so it may be best to read ahead first.”
Bryan Emmanuel


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

by Patrick Lencioni  (available on Audible)

“I wish this book had a different name, since reading it is like an indictment on my workplace. This is a short lesson on teamwork best-practices delivered in a story. At first I thought it was kind of silly to author a play rather than just lay out the dysfunctions, but late in the book, the author switches from a narrative to a lecture, and it was way harder for me to pay attention. So the first thing I got out of this book was that the power of story telling applies to me, at least with an audiobook. The rest of it felt like common sense, but a couple good lessons that stuck out were the need to have open, productive debates and the importance of identifying and leveraging strengths and weaknesses on a team. I’m just not sure how to go about making debates more mainstream without endangering my job. A lot of the practical advice, and even the story, is targeted at top leaders.”
Brian Herbert



The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

by Brad Stone (Audible)

“I listened to this book after Brian gave it a favorable review last month.  As an Amazon junkie, I found the book incredibly interesting and insightful.  It’s amazing to consider the breadth of Amazon’s endeavors and the often cut-throat approaches it takes to help achieve its vision.  The audiobook weighs in at 13 hours, which is probably a few hours longer than the average book I listen to, but the story remained fresh and engaging throughout.”
Matt Kemmerer


“The Amazon story gave a teaser into Zappos’ origins, so I took the bait. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, narrates the book and shows his brilliance even in leveraging the audio format. There are several sections of the book that defer to the experience of other employees, and many quoted emails. For those sections, the actual author or authority on the subject reads the passage. It creates a very sincere, engaging effect. Like many stories about the rise of a company, this one contains some great nuggets of advice on being humble, focusing on the customer, etc., but the overpowering lesson on Zappos’ success is that Tony Hsieh is a superfreak genius with the additional powers of extreme emotional intelligence and business daring. His ACM (programming competition) team at Harvard took 1st place in the world in ’93, a fact that he doesn’t even plainly state. I was inspired by the incredible focus on company culture and disregard for industry status quo, but the real first step to fast-tracking a billion dollar startup is to be Tony. There were some great stories on the ups and downs of Zappos and Tony’s earlier business adventures, and pep talks on reaching for the stars. There’s also a strong spiritual theme. By the final chapters, there were so many new agey references and discussions of oneness and ultimate happiness that I couldn’t help but think of Siddhartha, and that comparison was brought home when the book ended with a quote from Buddha. In all, it was a very fun read, and provided a ton of practical advice for businesses. I just think Tony’s attempt to stay humble and personable detracts from role his anomalous intellect plays in Zappos’ business success.”
Brian Herbert

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