Friday, November 21, 2014

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan


Brian K. Vaughan, currently publishing Saga, wrote this series of comics - now a series of ten graphic novel volumes - about a man name Yorick. Actually, he's not just a man... he's the man. The only man left alive after something mysteriously killed off every other male primate in the world. Well, besides his companion monkey.

The series follows Yorick as he tries to hide his identity - can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if everyone knew there was one man left alive? - and try to find answers to the mystery of what killed off the men, or at the very least, another male survivor.

This is not a graphic novel series for young teens; there are adult themes and behavior throughout. If you like Brian K. Vaughan's other work, such as Saga and Runaways, you'll enjoy Y: The Last Man.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling


Best known for her role on "The Office" and her new TV show, "The Mindy Project," Mindy Kaling published this autobiographical collection of essays in 2011.

She asks questions the average, non-famous person in their mid-20s to mid-30s might ask. It's like having a conversation with her. There's a chapter about the photos that were in her Blackberry at the time of writing. There's another that details what she would want her funeral to be like. She also has a chapter (if you can call it that) that is nothing but a list of suggested alternate titles for the book.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) not as "put-together" as, for example, Tina Fey's Bossypants, but if you like Mindy Kaling or just like reading books by comediennes, this is a lovely quick read.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What If? by Randall Munroe


"What if?" It's one of mankind's favorite questions. What would happen in certain circumstances that may or may not be ridiculous?

In this book, What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, Randall Munroe, creator of the highly popular webcomic xkcd, decided to answer some silly "what if" questions... with not-so-silly answers. He uses very real - sometimes very complex - mathematical and scientific concepts to answer questions like, "What if you pitched a baseball at the speed of light?" and "What if you started floating into the sky at a steady one meter per second?"

The answers may be serious and well-reasoned, but that doesn't mean they aren't funny. Munroe's smart and witty humor is ever-present, along with his trademark stick-figure illustrations.

If you appreciate Munroe's writing, you might also want to check out xkcd: Volume Zero.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman

The day I swapped my dad for two goldfish

Writer Neil Gaiman and illustrator Dave McKean have teamed up on several works, and every time, they create something amazing. This picture book, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, is one fine example.

In it, a young boy trades his dad - who just sits around reading the paper, so boring - to a friend in exchange for his two goldfish. When his mother finds out, he has to trade back... but his friend has made another exchange, and that friend made another exchange... the boy has to run all over town un-exchanging people's possessions to get his dad back.

If you enjoy this book, you might want to look into some of Neil Gaiman's other children's books, including Crazy Hair, The Wolves in the Walls, and Fortunately the Milk.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Employing multiple diverse perspectives to tell one large cohesive story, Daniel H. Wilson's Robopocalypse is the story of the robot uprising, when artificial intelligence gets too intelligent and realizes that humans are a problem that needs to be eradicated. Smart cars, phones, and other advanced technology turns on humanity, starting a worldwide war.

Wilson uses the voices of an American commander, the ten-year-old daughter of a Congresswoman, a Japanese repairman, a teenage hacker, and a humanoid robot sympathetic to the human side of the war to tell many small stories that connect in a huge way. It's like Max Brooks's World War Z with robots, instead of zombies.

With a Ph.D. in robotics, Wilson integrates plausible technological advances with fiction, creating a very real world. If you enjoy Robopocalypse, you may also want to read the sequel, Robogenesis.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Good Advice from Bad People by Zac Bissonnette

"If you are given a chance to be a role model, I think you should always take it because you can influence a person's life in a positive light, and that's what I want to do. That's what it's all about." - Tiger Woods

I appreciate a strong sense of irony and seeing people get caught teetering on the moral high ground that they have staked their claim to. So, when Tiger Woods tells you it is important to be a role model, Rush Limbaugh becomes a relentless moral crusader for tougher drug laws and family values, and Jose Canseco says only a fool would use steroids, I have to appreciate it when the foundation of the moral high ground becomes a bit unstable. If you too enjoy a good sense of Schadenfreude, you'll love the book Good Advice from Bad People: selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong by Zac Bissonnette.

 Each two page spread in the book starts with a quote of wisdom and the next page explains why that just doesn't work for the person saying it. So, for example, after you read a quote from Rush Limbaugh saying how drug using is destroying the country, you then learn how he was investigated for illegally obtaining prescriptions, he paid thirty thousand dollars and agreed to complete an 18-month therapy program if the charges were dropped against him. All the famous names are there: OJ Simpson talking on the importance of being accountable for your actions, Donald Trump talking about the importance of not being cocky, and even advice from Jim Bakker. And, really, it's all good advice. And I'm sure they all wish they'd not only said the words of wisdom but put them into action as well.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Make Space

Read the title of the book and make sure you put the emphasis on "make" and not "space." If you're looking for ideas on creating an area where you are inspired to make things and collaborate and not clear things out, then Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration by Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft is definitely for you.

I'm sure you can certainly recognize that some spaces that we are in are more inspiring than others. If you sit all day in a gray cubicle with nothing on your desk or walls, I'm betting you're feeling pretty worn out and depressed at the end of the day. But, if you bring in a picture of your wife it makes you feel better, if you take one of your drab cubicle walls and add in a white board to write on you've got a place to put ideas, and if you add in a sculpture of  a skeleton riding a bike, you're grinning even more. (Maybe that last one is just me.)

This book is all about creating furniture, walls, and spaces that encourage people to think out of the box, brainstorm, and do things differently. It's about creating areas where furniture serves multiple purposes and can be reconfigured to be a completely different space. If you want ideas on ways to give people permission to fail as they figure out the best way to do something, this book can help. Ideas for prototyping rooms, places to play as a means to productivity, and simply places to talk together are the main focus. Many of the projects in the book come with plans on how to create the items, so you'll be able to make space even if you are on a budget.