Eric Nehrlich, Unrepentant Generalist » Blog Archive » Unfinished books

Unfinished books

Posted: July 23, 2005 at 10:20 am in nonfiction

Two books last week I started and quickly gave up on that I figured I’d document for the sake of completeness. I gave it a few days because I thought I might go back and give them another chance, but then my new Amazon order came in, so it’s pretty much a lost cause.

One was Wacky Chicks, subtitled “Life Lessons from Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women”, by Simon Doonan. I picked it up at the library because it looked amusing. I brought it on BART one day last week, because I was almost done with What should I do with my life?, and needed something that would sustain a couple hours of reading time . It was awful. The writing was terrible, and the stories of “wacky chicks” were not interesting. I finished my Economist instead on my way to work.

Then I needed some reading material for the BART ride home, so I picked up Fundamentals of Venture Capital, by Joseph Bartlett, from the office bookshelf, in case I ever decide to get around to starting my own company. This book wasn’t very well written either. The prose is very dense and technical, and, as a lawyer, Bartlett gets into the down and dirty details of how to write contracts and the like. And, while I think all of this is important if I were starting a company right now, I wasn’t interested enough to wade through it. So I skimmed through bits of personal interest, but didn’t even try to read it cover to cover. I’m recording it mostly so that if I ever do decide I need venture capital, this looks like it would be a good, concise summary of what one needs to know.

And just so that this entry isn’t completely about books that suck, this week I started reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs. I’ve wanted to read it for a while, but never got around to it. Lilia had a copy, though, being a city planner and all, so I borrowed it from her before she left. It’s excellent. It’s mostly a paean to New York City, and how wonderful it is, but I think she identifies a lot of key features that make cities work. Furthermore, the features she identifies don’t just make cities work; I’ve been mentally checking to see if her recommendations make sense in the context of virtual communities, and they do for the most part, with some translation. Lots of good ideas. I should have read it a long time ago. Oh, and this one I’ll probably finish.

3 Responses to “Unfinished books”

  1. Beemer Says:

    Y’know, if we ever develop a technology that lets you just download information from other people’s brains, I’m putting you on my whitelist. You keep reading all these books that I’ve heard of and thought “hunh, that sounds interesting”.

  2. jopesche Says:

    when you’re done with jacobs, go read ‘how buildings learn’ by stewart brand. it’ll make you very happy.

  3. Kohta Ueno Says:

    I second Jofish’s recommendation; I have a copy of Brand if you want to borrow it, and we end up in the same city sometime. He makes fun of the Media Lab (the building, not the institution) (not that the latter doesn’t deserve being made fun of). I’ve heard of the Jacobs book; now I really want to read it. -Bats

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