Tag Archives: Douglas Coupland

2 Sentence Book Reviews: Fiction

i’m overdue for some book reviews, and will be posting reviews of 24 books this week. as i’ve done in the past, i’m posting two sentence book reviews. in each case, the first sentence is a summary of the book; and the second sentence is my thoughts on the book. i include a 1 – 5 star rating also. and occasionally, i’ll have an additional note.

today, five Fiction books:

one more thingOne More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by B.J. Novak
5 stars
a collection of mostly humorous essays–mostly fiction, but not all–from The Office writer and exec producer (and ryan, on the show). i found these wonderfully entertaining even when they weren’t laugh-out-loud funny.

serpent of veniceThe Serpent of Venice: A Novel, by Christopher Moore
5 stars
a hilarious, lusty, and fantastical mash-up of The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and The Cask of Amontillado (yes, you read that correctly). moore is my favorite comedic writer, and this one is absurdly over-the-top in the best possible way.

worst person everWorst. Person. Ever., by Douglas Coupland
4 stars
dirtbag TV cameraman gets an assignment on a tropical island for a ribald Survivor-type show, where nothing more could go wrong, and nothing can spare him from his a-hole self. reads more like chuck palahniuk than douglas coupland, but is biting commentary on our cultural obsessions.

brutal youthBrutal Youth: A Novel, by Anthony Breznican
5 stars
4.5 stars
a lowly freshman makes his way through his first year at a parochial school full of systemic (even endorsed) bullying. great characters and wonderful honesty, with development and insight into teenagers.
*note: this is not a young adult fiction book, but a fiction book about teenagers. in my observation, one difference is that these teenagers talk like real teenagers.

your fathers, where are theyYour Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, by Dave Eggers
4 stars
a lonely and disturbed man shackles a series of captives on an abandoned military base in order to question them, to make sense of his life. more light-hearted (sort of dark comedy) that my summary would lead you to believe, this isn’t eggers’ best work (i believe eggers to be one of the 20 best living fiction writers), but it’s interesting and insightful.

on deck for tomorrow: six nonfiction books

2 sentence book reviews, part 1 (general nonfiction, general fiction, and leadership)

time for another wad of 2-sentence book reviews! my format: i allow myself one sentence for summary, and one sentence for opinion (easy for some, really hard for others!).

General Nonfiction

Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks, by Ken Jennings
5 stars
jennings (that guy who won forever on the tv show jeopardy) takes us a romp through the world of maps and those who love them. you don’t have to be a ‘maphead’ to love this book, as it’s fantastically witty and fun, while being surprisingly interesting.

Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!, by Douglas Coupland
3 stars
off-beat fiction writer coupland takes a serious left turn and writes a non-fiction biography of the father of media studies. i had no idea what i was buying, and the book is well written, found myself getting extremely bored with this mcluhan love-fest.


Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
4.5 stars
the wild tale of a boy lost at sea, drifting in a lifeboat with a massive bengal tiger. this one’s been around for years, but i finally read it and loved everything but the ending.


From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership, by Harry M. Kraemer
4 stars
basic principles of what it means to lead from values rather than goals. some fantastic points, but dry and too targeted to a CEO reader.

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, by Yvon Chouinard
5 stars
the founder and owner of patagonia tells his life and company story and how patagonia ruthlessly works to embody their corporate values, even when it means a loss of potential profit. my third read of this fantastic book (and assigned reading in my coaching program), this is an amazing case study of allowing values to be your organization’s decision-making matrix.

Anything You Want, by Derek Sivers
3.5 stars
the founder of cd baby lays out his story and the values his rocketship of a company tried to embrace. a decent case study, but–as with most books in the domino line–rambling and long on words for the points made (which is saying something, since it’s only 88 pages!).

4 books i read in the desert

bookthiefThe Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

theoretically a young adult fiction, but i can’t see why it’s not an amazing book for adults also. set in nazi germany, it’s the story of an orphan girl, into a family who hides a jew in their basement. part coming-of-age story, part adoption story, part holocaust history. oh, and it’s narrated by death. seriously. truly an amazing book, worthy of the accolades and awards it’s received.

succeedAre You Ready to Succeed?: Unconventional Strategies to Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life, by Srikumar Rao

i had big-time mixed feelings about this book. a friend suggested i read it on my trip to the desert as i wrestle with some issues about where i am and where i’m headed. there was some massively helpful stuff (especially in the first 1/3 of the book), particularly the parts about mental models. i found several tools and exercises that will impact me, and journalled quite a bit in response. but other parts of the book were too “buddhism veiled in positive thinking business language” (or maybe hinduism — not sure) for me. some parts i could swap out my own language and make them work, but others i just flat didn’t agree with.

jungModern Man in Search of a Soul, by Carl G. Jung

a collection of Jung’s essays, first translated into english in 1933. interesting from a historical “point of view”. some of the essays had great insights for me and my current situation. other were interesting, but didn’t “speak to me”, per se. and some were just boring. particularly, i found some help in one particular essay where he wrote about the suppression of emotions, which is how i have lived my whole life. it had some great insights that made me think in some new ways.

genAGeneration A: A Novel, by Douglas Coupland

i love coupland’s writing, and have read every single one of his many books over the years. i enjoyed this one, but liked the concept of it better than the actual experience of it. it’s about a 5 young singles from around the world who are stung by bees after the supposed extinction of bees, and the weirdness that brings them all together. the final climax is a bit over the edge, and not coupland’s usual subtlety. but it was still a fun read, and — as an aside — an interesting commentary on the power and role of stories in our lives.