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Friday, July 24, 2015

Ruminate On These Four Books


You would think after a day of working with authors and publishers, to promote and market their books, that I would want to do anything but continue to read, write, and think about books.  But I love books and live for the written word.  My curiosity is insatiable.  So where do I gravitate to?  The bookstore, of course.

One night this past week, I let my eyes wander across the fully stacked tables and shelves of featured books at a super, super store, the Union Square Barnes & Noble.  Four books captured my attention.  Well, really, dozens did, but these four are the ones I want to highlight:

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100.  It has a lot of potential.  The book is a bestseller, written by Michio Kaku, a renowned theoretical physicist.  The back cover says it all: “Kaku forecasts a century of earthshaking advances in technology that could make even the last centuries leaps and bounds seem insignificant.”

Another book that looks brilliant is Who Owns The Future?, by Jaron Lanier, the father of virtual reality.  The back cover copy is illuminating: “Lanier has predicted how technology will transform our humanity for decades, and his insight has never been more urgently needed. He shows how Siren Servers, which exploit big data and the free sharing of information, led our economy into recession, imperiled personal privacy, and hollowed out the middle class. The networks that define our world—including social media, financial institutions, and intelligence agencies—now threaten to destroy it.

“But there is an alternative. In this provocative, poetic, and deeply humane book, Lanier charts a path toward a brighter future: an information economy that rewards ordinary people for what they do and share on the web.”

Another book that looks engrossing is called The Fuck-Up, a novel by Arthur Nersesian.  The provocative title draws you in.  The book cover says the book is an “underground literary treasure and an unforgettable slice of gritty New York City life...and the darkly hilarious odyssey of an anonymous slacker. He's a perennial couch-surfer, an aspiring writer searching for himself in spite of himself, and he's just trying to survive.”

The last of the final four to stir excitement in me is Assholes: A Theory, a bestseller by Aaron James.

I imagine the author knows a lot firsthand about being an ass, but it is hard to ignore such a witty book.  The back cover copy does a good job of sucking you in:

“What does it mean for someone to be an asshole? The answer is not obvious, despite the fact that we are often stuck dealing with people for whom there is no better name. We try to avoid them, but assholes are everywhere—at work, at home, on the road, in the public sphere—and we struggle to comprehend why exactly someone should be acting like that.

“Asshole management begins with asshole understanding. Finally giving us the concepts to discern why assholes disturb us so, philosopher Aaron James presents a provocative theory of the asshole to explain why such people exist, especially in an age of raging narcissism and unbridled capitalism. We get a better sense of when the asshole is best resisted and best ignored—a better sense of what is, and what is not, worth fighting for.”

Why did I gravitate towards these books?  Well, though I can appreciate all kinds of books, from poetry and children’s picture board books to fiction and short story collections, I am partial to nonfiction books that make me pause and think and question.  Or make me laugh.

The very act of surveying the bookstore’s offering is enjoyable and purposeful, but once I found the books that I wanted to explore further, my research went deeper.  Unfortunately I couldn’t finish any of the books.  There just isn’t enough time in the day!  But I like to know such books existed. I was comforted to know they hold promise.  Reading them wouldn’t be as much fun or as rewarding as contemplating how good such books have the chance to be.

The art of browsing books is probably similar to shopaholics who like to try on items they can’t afford to buy.  They get a momentary satisfaction by envisioning how something would fit them – and then move on to the next thing.  I like to escape in knowing there are many paths my mind could travel down, even if I take none of them.

I love books and going to bookstores.  Even at the end of a full day where all I do is think about, talk about, and read books, the visit to a bookstore makes for a delicious sunrise of the mind.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015



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