recommended book – The Golden Compass

Northern Lights, published in 1995, is the first novel in the His Dark Materials trilogy by British novelist Philip Pullman.

In the USA the book was retitled The Golden Compass.

His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)

His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)

As usual, I listened to it as an audio book. It was brilliant to have professional actors reading the parts of the many characters. Audio is so, so much better than reading.

In many ways the plot is far better and more fantastical than Harry Potter. It’s the coming of age story of Lyra Belacqua (later Lyra Silvertongue) — an orphaned, eleven-year-old girl growing up at Jordan College, Oxford.

The most interesting angle of this very adult story are the dæmons (animal-formed, shape-shifting manifestation of each human’s soul).

I haven’t seen the movie, yet. It was terrific. Especially the casting!

love libraries

More Americans have library cards than at any time since 1990, according to the American Library Association. …

… the 2 billion items checked out from U.S. libraries this year is 10 percent more than during the economic downturn in 2001. But books, DVDs and other material are only part of the story …

SF Gate – More people using libraries in tough times

In tough financial times more folks take advantage of libraries.

In fact, I think libraries could be a growth industry in the future. If only they could make going to the library “cool” for young people.

Vancouver Public Library
Vancouver Public Library

Calgary is planning a new central library. I really hope they do as well as Vancouver or Salt Lake City.

Our current downtown library is pretty crappy, a hangout for the homeless during the winter.

McNew Year prediction

Life is a continuum. Each morning you awake assuming it is your last. There is no difference between Dec. 31st and Jan 1st to me.

But a young buddy pressed for some sort of pronouncement to mark the changing of the calendar. (I eschew resolutions so as not to tinker with perfection.)

Spontaneously I predicted that Rick McCharles would listen to even more audiocasts in 2008. Watch even more online video than in 2007. And “read” even more audio books.

I’m off to a good start. Waiting on my digital bookshelf are:

  • The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time – Vise & Malseed
  • New Europe – Michael Palin
  • Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II – Robert Kurson
  • The Golden Compass, His Dark Materials, Book 1 – Philip Pullman
  • Deep Black: Payback – Stephen Coonts
  • The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel – Leeb & Strathy
  • The Honourable Schoolboy – John Le Carré
  • The Light That Failed – Kipling
  • Middlesex: A Novel – Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Prestige – Christopher Priest
  • And I’m currently listening to A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash. (Not a great book, but a fantastic true story.)

    The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash

    Actually, I finally dropped my monthly subscription to as the Calgary Public Library seems to offer more good books on MP3 than I could possibly need.

    (I can still buy books one-at-a-time on Audible or iTunes.)

    Digital on demand infotainment rocks in 2008.

    Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    Super book, especially for anyone with a fondness for old comics. Kavalier & Clay are a “Czech artist named Joe Kavalier and a Brooklyn-born writer named Sam Clay—both Jewish—before, during, and after World War II.”

    The writing is clean. Simple.

    The plot fascinating and never predictable. I swear I could believe it was a true story.

    Author Michael Chabon is widely considered one of the best working today. Though this book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001, that meant nothing to me. I got it as an MP3 from the library on recommendation from Downtown Ronnie. (Yes, he’s still alive, though almost 50 now.)

    Unfortunately the audio was abridged. I want it all, so I plan to get the dead tree version as well.

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    Highly recommended as a Christmas Festivus gift.

    The most famous super hero of the fictional Kavalier & Clay was called “The Escapist”. In 2004 Chabon collaborated on turning the character into a real comic. Life imitated art.

    Big-Idea Book Generator

    Downtown Ronnie is already a Canadian Best Selling Author (over 60 copies sold). Now he’s considering using Wired Magazine’s Big-Idea Book Generator to decide his next title.

    It’s a sure fire Web 2.0 authoring system. Tips like this:

    Hint: Before taking it to a publisher, pitch your Big Idea to Robert Scoble over an online telelunch. If he’s blogged 16 entries and started four businesses based on it by dinner, you’ve got a winner.

    On the internet people can only scan a maximum of 3 steps:

    1. Create a title-as-theory
    2. Subtitle it!
    3. Pick a premise.


    Concoct a Best-Seller With Wired’s Patent-Pending Big-Idea Book Generator

    book – A Piano in the Pyrenees

    I am on a reading listening binge. (Thanks to and hours each day on my bike with a Nano.)

    The Ups and Downs of an Englishman in the French Mountains

    A Piano in the Pyrenees: The Ups and Downs of an Englishman in the French Mountains

    What? He’s not the world’s most famous skateboarder.

    He’s Antony Gordon Hawksworth, better known as Tony Hawks, English comedian, author and philanthropist.

    I loved his first book — Round Ireland with a Fridge and somewhat liked his second book — Playing the Moldovans at Tennis.

    Piano is his fourth book. And it is excellent. I love the amusing, understated British humour.

    A Brit out of his element in rural France after impetuously buying a house. Brilliant.


    A guy named Dave Nicoll also liked Round Ireland with a Fridge. Inspired, he decided to travel round the WORLD with a fridge.

    book – All the Pretty Horses

    For some reason I thought I’d like All the Pretty Horses, the award winning novel by Cormac Mccarthy.

    That would be wrong.

    … The plot is simple enough. John Grady Cole, a 16-year-old dispossessed Texan, crosses the Rio Grande into Mexico in 1949, accompanied by his pal Lacey Rawlins. The two precocious horsemen pick up a sidekick–a laughable but deadly marksman named Jimmy Blevins–encounter various adventures on their way south and finally arrive at a paradisiacal hacienda where Cole falls into an ill-fated romance. …

    The writing is excellent. But the plot plods and has nothing more to redeem it than tired “folk wisdom of uneducated cowboys” cuteness. The last time that engaged me, Clint Eastwood was a young man.

    Thumbs down.

    All the Pretty Horses

    All the Pretty Horses

    I bought it as an audio book. But since no one has (yet) come up with a convincing enough neologism to claim the prize, I cannot VERBalize what I did with Pretty Horses.

    … “ristened” … GAK.