Barbarian Book Club: November 2017

Another month of reading has come and gone, this one a particularly busy one due to our trip to California for my brother’s wedding. Surprisingly I managed to finish three books in what little time I had.

thecoffeetraderThe Coffee Trader by David Liss was my airplane read on the way back from California. Somehow I managed to finish the whole novel while we crossed the Pacific on what felt like a nonstop tornado of turbulence. I was in the mood for some Historical Fiction and randomly picked this one due to the plot being about Coffee and commerce in 17th century Amsterdam. The novel followed Miguel a Portuguese Jew involved in a plot with a Dutch Widow to make a fortune on the newly popular commodity Coffee. The characters and setting were well developed, unfortunately, the plot spent too much time focused on the esoteric and uninteresting machinations of the Portuguese Jews instead of coffee and commerce I was expecting. I’m not a big fan of plots that use religious limitations as the conflict so this one was a bit of a let down due to my expectations for something else.

Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg.smarter This was my self-improvement nonfiction for the month. I read Duhigg’s The Power of Habit last year and enjoyed it, sadly this follow-up was a bit of letdown. It was mostly a series of unconnected anecdotes and business stories that had nothing to do with the title. The titular theme of productivity was lost somewhere between cognitive tunneling and Toyota manufacturing plants. Interesting but not what I wanted. I was looking for some good advice to fix my disgusting procrastination instead I kind of wasted more time.

witcherThe Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski was the highlight of this months reading. I decided to return to Fantasy with this short story collection that I purchased a while ago but never got around to reading. The Witcher books are famous in Poland and in the English speaking world due to the popularity of the video game. The stories were exactly what I wanted, outstanding Sword and Sorcery with a lot of depth and detail. My favorite Witcher character, Dandelion, features in my favorite stories of the bunch and the collection answers a few questions I had about Geralt’s background I always wondered about when playing The Wild Hunt.  Even if you haven’t played the outstanding game go ahead and pick this collection up. It’s some of the best fantasy I’ve read in awhile.

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