Reading is pretty important, at least for me. It’s the one way I can absorb information and not be a massive underdog to remember it later on. So I figured I’d keep a list of books I’ve read recently, perhaps with small blurbs or reviews. Maybe with large reviews! But probably tiny reviews. I should probably update this more often, with dates. We’ll see if that happens.
But first, I’m going to fool you into looking at…
Books I’ve (Helped) Written
Thinking Tournament Poker by Nate Meyvis et al. When Nate invited me to read through all the hands he vpipped on Day 1 of the WSOP Main Event, I jumped at the opportunity. Nate lays out his thoughts for each decision he makes, and receives feedback on those thoughts and decisions from Andrew Brokos, Gareth Chantler, and me. Definitely worth a read and I would say that even if I didn’t help write it!
And now, on to…
Books I’ve Finished Reading Recently (in roughly reverse chronological order)
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler. I actually listened to this on Audible over the course of several long drives. Aside from the usual difficulties of audiobooks (zoning out and not remembering the last several minutes of spoken prose), I was a bit put off by some weird editorial choices. First, the narrator said “coupe” like it rhymes with “toupee.” Did they talk like that in 1930s LA? Second, they censored the word “fuck.” I don’t know if it was censored in the written version, but removing “fuck” from the phrase “go fuck yourself” really breaks the verbal flow. This is a novel that doesn’t shy away from the woman-punching and homophobia that I assume was normal back then, I don’t think hearing “fuck” will be the straw that snaps the don’t-take-offense-camel’s back. Anyway, still an entertaining yarn.
A Gambler’s Anatomy, Jonathan Lethem. People apparently sweat this author hard, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with this novel. I probably would’ve preferred to read a novel about some of the exposition elements (eg a novel about a clairvoyant child growing up in some sort of Berkeley commune sounds pretty sweet). Might give another one of Lethem’s novels a try though.
The Broom of the System, David Foster Wallace. Like Infinite Jest it took a while to get into. Fortunately I did not lose steam and abandon it, and found it pretty clever and rewarding. Love DFW’s knack for memorable names (eg I can’t stop thinking “Biff Diggerence”; also, I thought Ann Perkins on Parks and Recreation was named Ann Kittenplan until Rob Lowe’s character repeated her last name over and over).
Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff. Interesting how the headlines of all the reviews of this book I’ve read seem like effusive praise, but the reviews themselves are lukewarm. Almost quit a quarter of the way through but glad I read the whole thing.
The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler. My only exposure to hard-boiled detective fiction is parody (Deja Vu: Nightmare Come True, or Tracer Bullet) so it was edifying to read the real thing. Criminals sure were dolty in the 50s!
Misbehaving: the Making of Behavioral Economics, Richard Thaler. Enjoyable anecdotes and hot takes from Thaler. The “Beauty Pageant” game he discusses is a great reminder that from poker to the marketplace to everywhere else, 99.9% of people are irrational, innumerate, or some delightful combo of the two. Also, that last sentence has been sitting incomplete for literally years. I am quite the webmaster over here.
Oblivion, David Foster Wallace. OK, I really only read “Good Old Neon” on a flight. Mildly disturbing how much I relate to the feeling of fraudulence experienced by the narrator. Don’t worry, not going to drive my car into an overpass though (at least not on purpose).
Poker Tilt, Dutch Boyd. Autobiographical account of Dutch Boyd’s poker career. As someone who had read so many negative things about Dutch on the internet before meeting him in person (and he’s always been cool in person) it was enlightening to read his side of the story with regard to Pokerspot, the Crew, dealing with bipolar disorder, etc. Also contains several amusing poker anecdotes.
The Sense of Style, Steven Pinker. Clearly this book is the reason why my blog is so amazingly written. Thorough, understandable guide to communicating more clearly in writing and avoiding errors that drive people nuts.
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Almost like reading a sermon, especially when Coates breaks into the familiar rhythm of enumerating one thing, then another, then another in listlets. Important message to America, deeply felt and eloquently delivered.
A Rage in Harlem, Chester Himes. Scandalous women? Hearse-chases? Cross-dressing nuns? Gravedigger Jones? This not-at-all-true crime romp has it all. You’ll probably get even more out of this if you’re intimately familiar with Manhattan geography.