I've read or listened to four books so far this year. I enjoyed them all.
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by David and Tom Kelley
This book is by brothers both of the design firm IDEO and one is the creator of Stanford's d.school. The idea behind this book is that it's not just "creative types" that can bring creativity and innovation to their jobs and lives, but that we can all be creative and bring design principles into our everyday situations. I believe what they say, but I'm not sure that it's as easy as they make it sound. They give exercises in the book, but I don't see them being as effective as taking one of the wildly popular classes at the d.school. But we can't all do that, so a book is a good place to start. I particularly enjoyed chapter 5, Seek: From Duty to Passion the best.
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
I read this several years ago, but I didn't remember much about it. I remembered that it was beautifully written, and I loved the language. I remembered one quote.
I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.
So I decided to check the digital audio book out from the library. It was read by Julie Harris. I think I preferred reading it to listening to it, because the complexity of some of the sentences and the difficulty of pronouncing some of the African place names made the audio version not flow quite as well.
I still love it, and it's still beautiful. It is a memoir written by the pilot Beryl Markham. She made the first solo flight across the Atlantic ocean from east to west. She talks about her childhood in Africa raising race horses and hunting wild boar and how she learned to fly and her work as a pilot in Africa and about her flight across the ocean. A wonderful book. I think some time, I'll read it again.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel by Robin Sloan
I read this on the recommendation of a friend who is totally in love with this book. This is the story of Clay who finds himself as an unemployed designer much in need of work. One day he stumbles upon Mr. Penumbra's bookstore and gets a job as the night clerk. He begins to notice strange things. Most of the customers check out books, but don't buy anything. His job is to meticulously track what is happening in a log book. Being a designer, he decides to create a 3D model of the bookstore. After meeting Kat from Google (and starting to date her), they find out that patrons of the bookstore are trying to solve codes and find the key to immortality.
This was a fun book. It's good for people who like both fantasy and the mundane. Perhaps it has something to teach us about our own journeys toward immortality and who we might bring along.
Trash by Andy Mulligan
I listened to the audio version of this book while commuting. This was an interesting, fast-paced story. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I found parts quite disturbing. The book follows the story of three trash boys, Raphael, Gardo and Rat. They live at a dump and spend their days picking through trash hunting for things to sell so they can earn money for themselves and their families. This was the first disturbing thing, because there are children around the world who live like this. One day Raphael finds a bag containing a wallet, a key, an ID card, and 1100 pesos - his unlucky-lucky day. It turns out the police are looking for these items as clues in a robbery case. A houseboy has stolen $6,000,000 from his corrupt (though never caught and convicted boss). The houseboy was caught and killed by the police. The boys follow the trail of clues to solve the mystery and finish what was started and maybe save themselves and the poor people of their city.
As I said, I really enjoyed this book. I had a lot of trouble with the police corruption and the brutality of their treatment of a child. So if you have kids, you might read it first before letting them read it, just to make sure they can handle it. It's a story of empowering the powerless and righting wrongs and doing what is right even when it is difficult or dangerous. It is well worth the read.