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author's profile photo Jerry Janda

[Status Update] The Community Book Club

Thanks to Veselina, I recently finished Terry Pratchett's "Going Postal." She mentioned it in a Coffee Corner comment back in July, and while the overall topic of the conversation was a bit depressing (well...for me, anyway), it did get me interested in the book...

Since I couldn't use @mentions to thank Veselina here (although I have on good authority the @mentions feature is coming soon...but, hey, I wouldn't believe me either by this point), I did send her a message to let her know that I really enjoyed the book.

I also bounced the idea of starting a Coffee Corner conversation where members could share what they're reading. Since Veselina's mention of "Going Postal" turned me on to a good book, I'd love to get more recommendations. And I figured other members might feel the same.

Veselina suggested that I resurrect an older Coffee Corner discussion where members talked about books they were reading, but, once again, the overall topic was a bit depressing (well...for me, anyway), so I hope you'll forgive me for wanting to start a fresh thread.

With "Going Postal" completed, I've moved on to Andy Weir's "The Martian." I can't recommend it yet -- I just started it -- but I saw the film. So we'll see how it stands up...

(The funny thing about the film...I watched it on a plane. For some reason, I tend to watch films about high-altitude disasters while I'm flying. "Gravity" is another example. It's like I enjoy freaking myself out while trapped in the air.)

Anyway...what are you reading? What's the last good book you read? I'd love to see some new titles...

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  • Sep 08, 2017 at 03:14 AM

    Just as I was to post a "blog-promotion" here in the coffee corner (as advertised to me by Jelena earlier), there's this interesting side-culture post of yours.

    So, here we go, being super efficient and doing two things at once: shamelessly plugging my own blog post HANA backtrace 36/2017 and promoting the two books mentioned there.
    Both are non-fiction, which is what I mostly read these days but I found them interesting, relevant and felt a bit more educated after reading them.
    What more is there to hope for from books about data science and product experience design?

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 07:33 AM


    I still have to get an 8 track player to come up with all those music references made here:)

    • Sep 08, 2017 at 01:10 PM

      I like listening to 8 tracks and reading books written on papyrus. I'm old school like that. :)

      • Sep 08, 2017 at 01:28 PM

        Ah, do you happen to borrow them from the Library of Alexandria, too?

        I guess I forgot to return a few scrolls:)

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 08:34 AM

    I find it strange you can read one book of Pratchett and then read something else. After reading the first time a Pratchett book, i bought them all and read all these books without much pause :)

    Currently reading Stephen King's The Dark Tower series again.

    • Sep 08, 2017 at 01:15 PM

      Oh, I intend to dive deep into Pratchett's bibliography, believe me. But I had checked out "Going Postal" from the library, and since I won't be able to stop back for a few days, I grabbed the closest book on my pile at home. That just happened to be "The Martian."

      I really liked the first book in The Dark Tower series, but never picked up the others. Have you seen the film? I was excited when it was announced, but it didn't fare so well in theaters (or with critics).

      "It" comes out today. Maybe that will be more solid (although Tim Curry left some pretty big (clown) shoes to fill with Pennywise). :)

      • Sep 08, 2017 at 01:32 PM

        didn't see the Dark Tower film yet, but the release is what made me read the series again. Want to have everything refreshed again. And i would encourage you to continue reading the series as it is really some of the best things King has written (personal opinion).

        King's books are often almost as good as ready scenario's so a film based on a book is rarely a disapointment....

        • Sep 15, 2017 at 01:51 AM

          I agree with Mario, I'm a slow and tedious reader and the Dark Tower series is voluminous but I made it through them all. I haven't seen the film, somehow I worry it'll let me down (probably).

    • Sep 21, 2017 at 05:55 PM

      Same.....I'm a complete Pratchett fangirl. I've even bought them all on audiobook too (Audible has great recordings for Pratchett's books. Nigel Planer does the books justice as a narrator!)

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 09:15 AM

    As I read with my ears while commuting to and from work or when I am reduced to a taxi driver for my teeny daughter I actually have a high turnover on books, so I could probably update this discussion every week. Scrolling through my Groove database takes already 17 minutes, I produced a video yesterday for my sister as she wants borrow some.

    Based on your experience with my activity here you might think that I even read SAP tutorials in my spare time, but far from it. I read to get distance from the job.

    Recent great readings were

    The great zoo of China by Matthew Reilly - a variation of Jurassic Park

    Marco Polo by Oliver Plaschka (probably not available in English)

    the Force by Don Winslow - if you think it can't get worse for the main character Don Winslow was able to let him suffer many times more from Murphie's law

    and just finished as preparation for my next vacation

    Long walk to freedom by Nelson Mandela

    • Sep 08, 2017 at 01:20 PM

      "The Force" sounds really interesting. Putting that on my Goodreads to-read list.

      And feel free to update every week. Always looking for recommendations. :)

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 12:03 PM

    I read Sci-fi mostly. Maybe bit of fantasy....
    Last one was The Dark Defiles by Richard K. Morgan. I find his English very tasty.

    • Sep 08, 2017 at 01:23 PM

      I really, really loved "Altered Carbon," but I found the sequels lacking. I thought "Woken Furies" was downright crass and felt out of place in the series.

      Maybe I'll give that fantasy series a shot...

      • Sep 08, 2017 at 03:16 PM

        I liked the whole set. Not sure what could be in Woken furies that warrant such description.
        I think the first book of the fantasy series was the best. But I had to get closure.

    • Sep 08, 2017 at 03:23 PM

      I just discovered Richard K Morgan last year, with "Altered Carbon," and I devoured that trilogy. I enjoyed "Woken Furies" myself. I haven't read his fantasy books, only the science fiction so far. I found "Thirteen" to be a good read, but "Market Forces" was a bit too... I don't know, just out there. The concept that high-end corporate executives jockey for position by literally dueling to the death in "Mad Max" style cars on the highways of London was... Ok, Morgan admitted it was an idea he was exploring just for fun, but I couldn't quite believe in that particular future.

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 01:25 PM
    I came into the office, looked at my calendar, and discovered it's International Literacy Day. So a busy thread about reading feels like good karma today.

    Not that that equals Karma Credits. :)

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 02:02 PM

    I'm not a huge Sci-Fi fan, my top books are more mystery/fiction. So maybe someone will enjoy a change of pace...

    I read 'A Little Life' by Hanya Yanagihara and it was amazing. And clocking in at 720 pages meant that it kept me going for a good while.

    Peter May writes a series of books that take place in the Outer Hebrides which I've really enjoyed.

    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley was interesting and not mentally taxing.

    • Oct 05, 2017 at 01:07 PM

      I just got an Amazon Gift Card for my birthday, and used part of it to get the new Dan Brown book. I'm flying to my company's home office in Germany in two weeks. I figure that's the right amount of time :)

      • Oct 06, 2017 at 12:11 AM

        Happy belated birthday (or, as we say in Philly, "birfday"). Enjoy your book and your trip!

        • Oct 06, 2017 at 01:03 PM

          Thanks, not much beats coming home from TechEd and having your Birthday the day after, except maybe your birthday during TechEd :)

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 03:33 PM

    I'm currently in the middle of the third book of a science fiction trilogy, "The Night's Dawn" by Peter F Hamilton. Classic space opera, huge cast of characters, each of the three books clocks in well over 1000 pages. Some of the editing is sub-standard, unfortunately, but otherwise the writing is good, and overall I'm really enjoying it as something of a "guilty pleasure" read. The topic is an odd one for space opera, though.

    Before this, I read "Sand" by Hugh Howie, and that book was amazingly good. I had read Howie's "Silo" trilogy, which was ok but not great, but still I found them good enough to go on to another book by him. The "Silo" trilogy is his first published work, and like "The Martian" is a classic example of a self-published ebook going viral and making the author famously rich before being picked up by a traditional publisher. "Sand," on the other hand, is a much more polished work, and Howie demonstrates mastery of his craft with this post-apocalyptic vision of North America buried under thousands of feet of Sahara-like desert, where the denizens fight a constant battle against the wind-blown drifting sand, and the top echelon are the "divers" who delve hundreds of feet down to retrieve artifacts from the lost cities below (a bit like the opening scene of "Waterworld" in that sense).

    I could go on and on about the science fiction authors I love. In the fantasy genre, my latest favorite is without question Joe Abercrombie. He writes "gritty realism" fantasy, a bit like George R R Martin, but with more humor while being equally dark. Some of them read more like westerns than fantasy, and with titles like "Best Served Cold" and "Before They Are Hanged" or "Last Argument of Kings"... well, how can you go wrong?

    • Sep 08, 2017 at 03:47 PM

      I liked "Sand" very much... Silo trilogy was not bad as well, raw - but enjoyable. Also scary close to some of our current political characters/policies.

      I can't read "magic" fantasy. I feel magic means there are no rules, and when anything is possible - most plots become unbelievable and illogical.

      • Sep 08, 2017 at 04:03 PM

        Denis, then you might enjoy Abercrombie. "Magic" appears in a few instances, but it's vary rare, far and few between. Mostly it's swords and political intrigue. Oh, and characters who trip over their own scabbards as they advance into combat...

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 05:06 PM

    I read 'Interesting Times' from Prachett's Discworld series a few year ago but didnt find it very interesting. May be I will try 'Going Postal' based on your recommendation.

    I am a big fan of Ken Follett and I recently finished Ken Follett's Century Trilogy and cant wait to read the third book of the Kingsbridge series.

    • Sep 11, 2017 at 11:31 AM

      As to Ken Follett: Recently I read the German book "Hiobs Brüder" by Rebecca Gablé (unfortunately not (yet?) available in English, methinks), which takes another view on "The Anarchy" period and the "White ship" drama than "The Pillars of the Earth". (And without wanting to start another gender debate, IMHO, she writes from a more female perspective, resulting in, well, not necessarily less violence and rape but less emphasis on those...) I also like her earlier works like the Waringham series.

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 06:19 PM

    Hm, funny thing - I came here, too, to check if we should start some kind of a general "suggested reading" post. Great minds think alike! (I very much prefer the English version of this proverb as in Russian it's the other way around - only fools have the same thoughts. :) )

    The other day, thanks to Jarret Pazahanick, I somehow ended up reading a blog Gartner's HR Magic Quadrant: A (Strong) Rebuttal. Don't even care much about the subject but I thought the blog was a hoot! Ended up reading more on the same site afterwards until got rudely interrupted by the family members asking about dinner.

    Outside of the SAP/IT world, I feel a bit inferior here since I haven't read any full size books in quite a while. My reading is mostly limited to the magazines and The Atlantic is as close to the "real" book as magazine writing gets. Recently they ran a long article Welcome to Pleistocene Park that I thought was quite fascinating.

  • Sep 08, 2017 at 06:35 PM

    Lest everyone think I only read science fiction and fantasy, in the fiction sphere I'm also big into spy thrillers. Beside the classics, my new favorite author in this genre is Olen Steinhauer. His Milo Weaver trilogy, which starts with The Tourist, is perhaps the best I've ever read in this genre. Yes, that's right, I put The Tourist right up there alongside Len Deighton, John Le Carre, and the other greats. And his equally good novel All the Old Knives is soon to become a movie.

  • Sep 11, 2017 at 07:27 AM

    Apart Pratchett, which was a real genius and even his kids' operas have more than a reading level, i suggest Lukyanenko with his Guard series (just the first 3 books, as per his words, the others were pushed by his published) and the sci-fi ones.

    At the moment i'm reading The Dark Tower series and i've in plan to restart and finish The Wheel of Time from Robert Jordan.

    • Sep 11, 2017 at 08:50 AM

      I'm absolutely a big fan of the wheel of time series. But stopped at chapter 8 and never started it again. I always doubted if the level of writing is still the same after Robert Jordan passed away. Did you read the books written by Brandon Sanderson already?

      • Sep 11, 2017 at 08:56 AM

        Not yet!

        i've to restart it (i read the first 6 books when i was a kid) but Jordan left all the details to complete the saga so i have little fears about the quality level

  • Sep 11, 2017 at 05:55 PM

    Cleaning house, I found this book: Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee Miller - while I am greatly interested in the topic, the book reads like a college I may find another book

    • Sep 11, 2017 at 06:18 PM

      I recently read (sorry, listened)The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver, and there was a summary of this tale embedded in a murderer case.

    • Sep 12, 2017 at 12:34 PM

      I'm tempted to post "CROATOAN" as a single comment, then never post again... :)

      As you might have gathered, I also find the subject fascinating, so if you find a better book, Tammy, I'd love to get the title.

  • Sep 13, 2017 at 02:56 PM

    Great post Jerry Janda I've been looking for a good historical fiction recommendation.

    • Sep 13, 2017 at 07:47 PM

      How far back has to be historical? Ken Follett's Century trilogy is great.

      • Sep 13, 2017 at 08:25 PM

        This looks so good... entangled across countries and families, how did you know? I just ordered the first book. Thank you for recommending. I read a lot of non-fiction, and my New Year's resolution was to read just one fiction book this year. Maybe I'll get there yet -- even though it's already September.

    • Sep 14, 2017 at 06:33 AM

      If you like Historical book, nothing is better (imho) than Patrick O'Brian' s serie about Jack Aubrey (Maybe you remember the movie Master and Commander, with Russel Crowe... ok, you can forget that movie now).

      O'Brian took real naval events during the war between France and England and used them to put his characters there.

      • Sep 14, 2017 at 01:02 PM

        I haven't seen that movie, but I do usually enjoy Russel Crowe. I'll put it on the list! I love historical fiction that brings history to life via realistic stories and characters, instead of the boring lecture approach most of my history teachers and professors took. Learning the dates and details is so much easier after the period comes to life in my imagination. Thank you for the recommendation.

      • Sep 14, 2017 at 05:37 PM

        The Jack Aubrey series was brilliant.

        • Sep 15, 2017 at 10:01 AM

          Totally agree!

          Even if some moments are slow and somehow tedious, they are there for a reason: they give you the exact idea of how the sailors' life was.

  • Sep 22, 2017 at 02:17 PM

    I see that Capra is working her way through a book too. :)

    For those traveling to TechEd...what books are you packing? I'll want one for the plane, maybe a couple to keep on the nightstand in the hotel (as I'll try to read a little after each long day).

    For now, "Motherless Brooklyn" by Jonathan Lethem is definitely on the list. Trying to pick another one in case I finish that.

    Anybody else planning to stuff books into the travel bag before hitting the road?

    • Sep 22, 2017 at 03:56 PM

      Well, as bedtime story, Capra might like to hear about Peter the Goatherd from the Swiss "Heidi" series:)

    • Oct 02, 2017 at 06:40 PM

      Hi Jerry,
      I pack a Kindle paperwhite which has between 500-600 books on it so far. About 80-100 are unread and probably the same are ones that I reread when I just want some down time for the brain. Lots of science fiction, but a mix of many different subjects as well. Oddest book is probably "The Drunken Botanist" by Amy Stewart on the history of plants and libations.

      Cheers, Mike
      Strategy & Product Management

  • Oct 02, 2017 at 06:35 PM


    The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldblatt "A Process of Ongoing Improvement". Rereading it for the first time in about 30 years. He also authored "It's Not Luck" and co-authored "The Race", all of which are good to read, but prefer the first one.


    The Last Centurion by John Ringo

    Military science fiction and a fine entertaining tale by one of my favorite authors. If you ever hear me use the term Kumbaya, you now know the source.

    Cheers, Mike

  • author's profile photo Former Member
    Former Member
    Oct 06, 2017 at 06:18 AM

    Thank for sharing your insight. It's really helpful.

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