The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[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.)

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You like books? So do I!

Book roundup, part 27

Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.

Book roundup, part 26

Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.

Book roundup, part 25

Mostly excellent non-fiction in this installment. Includes Fantasyland, The Miracle of Dunkirk, Das Reich, The Undoing Project, Waiting for the Punch, Vacationland and Points of Impact.

Book roundup, part 24

Lots of sci-fi in this installment. Includes Retribution, Boomerang, The Collapsing Empire, All Systems Red, and Ninefox Gambit.

Review: Novels of the Malazan Empire

A worthy inclusion to the Malazan canon and great high fantasy to disappear into in troubled times.

Book roundup, part 23

Includes a mea culpa, Hillbilly Elegy, Gulp, The Stars are Legion, and The Kill Society.

Book roundup, part 22

Lots of fiction series in this one. Includes Grunt, 1177 B.C., Louder Than Hell, Smarter Faster Better, The Hanging Tree, Death’s End, Chains of Command, and Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?.

Malazan Book of the Fallen

Hey kids, you like epic fantasy? ’Cause I've got some epic fantasy for you.

Book roundup, part 21

This installment features grimdark fantasy, peppy astronauts and the Roman Empire. Includes SPQR, And On That Bombshell, The Code Book, Schiit Happened, Beyond Redemption, The Severed Streets, The Martian and Veiled.

Book roundup, part 20

Includes The Antidote, One Nation, Under Gods, Losing the Signal, The Todd Glass Situation, The Last Policeman, The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Beacon 23, Killing Pretty and Queen of Fire.

Book roundup, part 19

Lots of fantasy and sci-fi in this installment plus a book about sports! Includes Boy on Ice, Difficult Men, Restaurant Man, The Red Line, Cunning Plans, Seveneves, Nemesis Games, Bitter Seeds, The Mechanical, Angles of Attack, and City of Stairs.

Book roundup, part 18

Nic is sad about Terry Pratchett's passing. Includes No Land’s Man, Idiot America, Something Coming Through, The Burning Room, Foxglove Summer, and The Dark Defiles.

Book roundup, part 17

Things go dark and magical in this installment. Includes So, Anyway…, Yes Please, The Mirror Empire, London Falling, Broken Homes, Perfidia, The Peripheral, Burning Chrome, and the Bel Dame Apocrypha Omnibus.

Book roundup, part 16

Lots of good reads in this installment. Includes All Hell Let Loose, Metallica: This Monster Lives, 10% Happier, Onward, Echopraxia, Cibola Burn, The Getaway God, Lock In, The Red: First Light, Terms of Enlistment, and Lines of Departure.

Book roundup, part 15

Solid reads abound in this installment of the roundup. Includes Console Wars, Your Inner Fish, Flash Boys, Digital Wars, The Perfect Storm, Tower Lord, By Blood We Live, I am Pilgrim and Lexicon.

Book roundup, part 14

Some great reads and a huge disappointment in this installment. Includes The Loudest Voice in the Room, Hatching Twitter, Dogfight, Ancillary Justice, KOP Killer, The Circle, Working God’s Mischief and Where Eagles Dare.

Book roundup, part 13

Some solid reading awaits you in this installment. Includes The Outpost, Masters of Doom, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, The Everything Store, Bomber Command, Gods of Guilt, and Low Town.

Book roundup, part twelve

A slimmer-than-usual book roundup is heavy on the non-fiction, including several must-read titles.

Book roundup, part eleven

Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.

Book roundup, part ten

The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.

Book roundup, part nine

From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.

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.

Book roundup, part seven

Includes Wabi-Sabi, Making Things Happen, D-Day, Tallula Rising, Blood Song, The Americans and Amped. All in all, a happy romp through the meadows of literature.

Book roundup, part six

Includes Search Inside Yourself, The Information Diet, Redshirts, The Gone-Away World, Wool, Leviathan Wakes, and Prince of Thorns. One of these may very well change your life.

Book roundup, part five

Includes Shadow Ops: Control Point, The Night Circus, The Hunger Games, Quiet, The Science of Yoga, and Kitchen Confidential. Lots of good stuff in this one.

Book roundup, part four

Includes Angelmaker, The Magicians, Magician King, Iron Council, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Distrust That Particular Flavor, and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. One of these is the most important book of 2011.

Book roundup, part three

Includes The Drop, Ready Player One, Moon Called, Among Others, Excession, Inferno, The Paleo Solution and I am Ozzy.

Book roundup, part two

Includes Sandman Slim, Snuff, The Cold Commands, Reamde, Goodbye Darkness, Steve Jobs and The Psychopath Test.

Book roundup, part one

Some books you might enjoy reading.