Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top 5 recommendations (as suggested by followers on our tweetstream)

List by our twitter followers

"The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful."
– Jonathan Zittrain

Twitter is not everybody's cup of tea, and nor should it be, but neither is it the demon that some people believe it is. Your own personal experience of twitter is all down to you. It is as meaningful as you make it. It is as much a business tool as you want it to be. It is as useful as you allow it to be. It can be as lighthearted or as serious as you are.It's a blank slate just begging to be utilised. And utilised properly. Personally, I find that it provides me with a wide range of curiosities, and I have some of my most interesting conversations there with both colleagues and customers. A few days ago, on our work tweetstream, I asked the following question: "Curious: If you had to recommend only one book (or film or album), what would it be? All answers welcome!" It's a question I love to ask people. Not because I think it tells me anything in particular about the person, or that I feel they could be defined by one book/cd/dvd. Life isn't always that simple, so I certainly don't think people would be. I just love the way it makes people think. I enjoy the way it makes me think and, as ever, it provides new reading/listening suggestions for me to try, and then pay forward by recommending to others. I had no preconceived ideas about the sorts of responses I'd get so, really, anything would have been a delightful surprise. In the end I received 5 answers, all of which were quite varied and hugely interesting, and make up this list.

By the way, if you had to recommend only one book (or film or album), what would it be? Come on, now! You should have *known* that I would ask that question :) Just a reminder that this post is a part of our 12 days of Christmas posts series that, hopefully, you're enjoying.

Answers that came in at 6th and 7th:
  • To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The power of one by Bryce Courtenay

  • Year of wonders : a novel of the plague / Geraldine Brooks
    This is the story of a young woman's struggle to save her family and her soul during the most extraordinary year of 1666, when plague suddenly visited a small Derbyshire village and the villagers, inspired by a charismatic preacher, elected to quarantine themselves to limit the contagion.

    Reviewer comments:
  • "...Brooks keeps readers glued through starkly dramatic episodes and a haunting story of flawed, despairing human beings. This poignant and powerful account carries the pulsing beat of a sensitive imagination and the challenge of moral complexity" (Publishers Weekly)
  • "This is an excellently portrayed study of the wonder of human courage" (School Library Journal)

  • Follower comment: Year of Wonders: a novel of the plague. Geraldine Brooks. any of her work is good.

    A short history of nearly everything / Bill Bryson
    Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely in his own study at home, he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. This book is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization.

  • "...readers in the field will already have studied this information more in-depth in the originals and may find themselves questioning the point of a breakneck tour of the sciences that contributes nothing novel. Nevertheless, to read Bryson is to travel with a memoirist gifted with wry observation and keen insight that shed new light on things we mistake for commonplace" (Publishers Weekly)
  • "Reflecting his gift for making science comprehensible yet fun, he tells the story of the discoveries and the people that have shaped our understanding of the universe. Along the way, we meet some fascinating and eccentric scientists. Although Bryson clearly intends this book for general readers, subject specialists will also enjoy his wry takes" (Library Journal)
  • "It is not a reference book, and to use it as such would be a crime. This wonderful book is highly recommended as an inspiration to budding scientists and those who spend moments wondering about the world around them" (CHOICE Magazine)
  • "To those acquainted with the popular-science writing Bryson has digested, his repackaging is a trip down memory lane, but to his fellow science-phobes, Bryson' s tour has the same eye-opening quality to wonder and amazement as his wildly popular travelogues" (Booklist)

  • Follower comment: Bill Bryson's 'A short history of nearly everything,' illustrated edition. I learnt so much reading it.

    Freakangels series [graphic novel] / story Warren Ellis ; artwork Paul Duffield
    Twenty-three years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. Six years ago, the world ended. Today, eleven strange 23-year-olds live in and defend Whitechapel, maybe the last real settlement in flooded London. When a dazed, gun-toting girl appears on the outskirts with a deadly grudge against the self-proclaimed Freakangels, the kids realize that an old enemy is still alive beyond the safety of their borders... a twelfth psychic child, evil and exiled, who can program human minds to hate, and send his private, pirate armies into Whitechapel for revenge. The first chapter in award-winning author Warren Ellis' post-apocalyptic web comic series!

    Follower comment: Warren Ellis' Freakangels series - not only was it a thing of beauty in the library hardbacks, he released it online weekly.

    Ready player one : a novel / Ernest Cline
    It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune - and remarkable power - to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved - that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt - among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life - and love - in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

    Reviewer comments:
  • "The science fiction, video game, technology, and geeky musical references pile up quickly, sometimes a bit much so, but sweet, self-deprecating Wade, whose universe is an odd mix of the real past and the virtual present, is the perfect lovable/unlikely hero" (Publishers Weekly
  • "Verdict: Despite some flaws, this debut is a great geek beach book, an unapologetic romp with brains and style" (Library Journal)
  • "Mind-twisting settings, nail-biting action, amusing banter, and unabashed sentiment make for a smart and charming Arthurian tale that will score high with gamers, fantasy and sf fans, and everyone else who loves stories of bumbling romance and unexpected valor. With a movie version in the works, Cline's imaginative, rollicking, coming-of-age geek saga has a smash-hit vibe" (Booklist)

  • Follower comment: "ready player one" by Ernie cline (I think) awesome if you're a gamer!!

    Beak of the moon / Philip Temple
    In the remote valley of Kawee, the timeless world of the kea is suddenly disrupted when strange wingless birds appear. The destruction they bring causes hardship and corruption to kea society and forces young Strongbeak to flee the tyrannical boss Highfeather. Inspired by the prophecies of the great yellow kea, Glintamber, Strongbeak leads a group of rebellious young birds in a quest for a new world beyond the mountains. Sequel to Dark of the Moon.

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