The Core Dump

The Core Dump is the personal blog of Nic Lindh, a Swedish-American pixel-pusher living in Phoenix, Arizona.

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[By Nic Lindh on Thursday, 27 September 2012]

Book roundup, part eight

From the heights of athletic excellence to the depths of depravity, this roundup includes The First 20 Minutes, Double Cross, The Heroin Diaries, Tattoos and Tequila, Dodger, Farthing, and Devil Said Bang.
Devil Said Bang cover

Non-fiction

The First 20 Minutes, by Gretchen Reynolds ★★★★★

The subtitle tells the story: “Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer.”

Reynolds has done a great service with this book, collating recent scientific studies on exercise into an eminently readable whole.

As anybody who has spent any time around a gym knows, exercise is fraught with myths, disinformation and “truths” disseminated by your high school coach lo those many years ago.

The First 20 Minutes covers things like, Should you stretch before working out? What’s the best way to prevent soreness? How long should you work out for? What effects does exercise have?

It’s a highly enjoyable deep-dive into peer-reviewed research on those questions and many others and deserves a place on your Kindle. Highly recommended.

The First 20 Minutes is also exceptionally motivational, showing the mass of scientific evidence about just how ridiculously good for you it is to exercise.

If you have a body, you should read this book.

Double Cross, by Ben Macintyre ★★★★☆

This is the story of the people behind the World War II operation to convince the Germans the D-Day Normandy landings were only a feint and that the real invasion would take place near Calais, thus forcing the Germans to hold back crucial reinforcements during the critical first few days of the invasion.

If Double Cross had been fiction, I would have found it preposterous, but it’s a true story, populated with people John Le Carré couldn’t have dreamed up.

Fascinating.

The Heroin Diaries, by Nikki Sixx ★★★★☆

During the late ’80s while struggling with an addiction to, well, pretty much anything he could get his hands on, but especially heroin and cocaine, Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx kept a diary. The Heroin Diaries is that diary amended with present-time updates from the people involved, who are now mostly sober and seem understandably flabbergasted by their past behavior.

It’s fascinating, engrossing reading. While it’s very, very hard indeed to like any of the people involved, it’s a window into a world I’m very happy to never have been a part of and offers chilling insight into the psychology of addiction.

Tattoos and Tequila, by Vince Neil and Mike Sager ★★★☆☆

In this autobiography, Mötley Crüe lead singer Vince Neil comes across as a profoundly damaged individual, spending most of his life in a thoughtless haze of hedonism, drugs, alcohol and sex. It’s fascinating reading, in a train wreck sort of way, and paints a deeply unflattering portrait of Neil himself as well as the rest of the members of Mötley Crüe, who are portrayed as as a group of sad wretches driven by pure, thoughtless id.

After reading Tattoos and Tequila and The Heroin Diaries, the main question in my mind is how any of these people are still alive? Followed by, how did they manage to create any music or go on tour? Really, it’s debauchery and addiction on a level that would make Emperor Nero ask for a time-out.

Fiction

Dodger, by Terry Pratchett ★★★★☆

A rare non-Discworld novel by Pratchett, Dodger is set in Victorian London and is the story of the eponymous Dodger, a 17-year-old tosher scraping out a living in horrific squalor. The novel is, as you’d expect from Pratchett, very clever, but the humor is more of the little smile than the laugh-out-loud quality of the best Discworld novels, and above all Pratchett has infused the novel with pathos and genuine caring for his characters.

It is also compulsively readable with a break-neck plot.

If you haven’t been able to get past the fantasy elements of the Discworld series, Dodger is a great way to get acquainted with the genius of Pratchett.

Farthing, by Jo Walton ★★★★☆

Powerful alternate history novel that starts out as Agatha Christie with a strange murder at a rural British estate and then becomes increasingly dystopian in its depiction of a country descending into fascism and hate.

Farthing takes place in 1947 in an alternate England that made peace with Germany after the Blitz, an England growing ever more fascist as Nazi Germany continues its stranglehold on the continent.

Walton’s writing is period-perfect and the way she at first lulls you into a genteel English murder mystery only to expand on the darker, true, theme of the novel is nothing short of brilliant—it begins as Agatha Christie and ends as George Orwell.

Highly recommended.

Devil Said Bang, by Richard Kadrey ★★★★☆

The best in Kadrey’s very good Sandman Slim series, Devil Said Bang continues Slim’s travails in Hell. If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, this one’s a no-brainer.

But it is not the place to start—if you haven’t already experienced the irreverent, in-your-face brilliance of Slim’s journey to—literally—Hell and back, you want to begin at the beginning with Sandman Slim.

(DISCLOSURE: All links go to the Amazon Kindle store and are affiliate links. If you buy one of the books through a link here I get a tiny kickback from Amazon. Tiny kickbacks make me happy and allow me to buy more books to review.)

You have thoughts? I’m @niclindh on Twitter and I want to know what you think.


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