Category Archives: books

Book reviews, book commentary, books to read, bookstores, Web book resources

Keep Austin Weird: A Guide to the Odd Side of Town

By now you’ve heard the saying “Keep Austin Weird”. What you might not have known is who coined the phrase and how it just might actually relate to Austin, Texas.

All those questions (and more) can now be (mostly) answered by the man himself, Red Wassenich, who did in fact come up with the saying as an offhand remark when he called in to a local radio station.

Now Red has a book chock full of Austin and Weirdness: Keep Austin Weird: A Guide to the Odd Side of Town, by Schiffer Publishing.

Keep Austin Weird: A Guide to the Odd Side of Town

Some friends had a signing party for Red’s book and I got to attend. Here’s a picture of Red in action:

Red Wassenrich signing his book

The Power to Predict

This looks like an interesting book from the Harvard Press: The Power to Predict.

What I hope to find upon reading it is that a business can be more competitive by being more data driven than their competitors, be it from extending Knowledge Management ideas to fully forming a company around leveraging knowledge or from using data to help establish a conversation with customers about expectations and higher levels of service.

The Art of Computer Programming, not online at Amazon

Oddly enough, the ultimate CS classic – Donald Knuth’s The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1 (or any of the other volumes) aren’t available via Amazon’s “Look inside this Book” feature.

I thought it would be a quick way to look up just one thing when I don’t have the book at hand, but has missed scanning and OCR-ing this one. Even more strangeness – a google search reveals a product search result (i.e. an ad) for the book at

Am I the only person who cares about this book any longer?

Shelby Foote: crosses over the river, and rests under the shade of the trees…

Shelby Foote, novelist, narrative historian, PBS personality (and perceived Foghorn Leghorn inspiration) died this monday, June 27, 2005. The New York Times has a fine obit, with at least one good quip by the author, which we are want to expect and enjoy. NPR also just re-ran an interview with him made in 1994.

I can make the claim that I’m one of many who have read all 1.5 million words of his Civil War, a Narrative three volume set. Not only are they essential to getting an understanding of how the South and North (note the capitalization) are similar and different from each other even today, it’s also a great read into the management styles of the various military leaders as well as one of the best (threaded throughout the set) Lincoln biographies in context of this series of battles.

I also enjoyed a series of letters between Foote and his friend Walker Percy (author of most famously The Moviegoer).

I remember savoring an interview with Mr. Foote in September 2001 where we got to hear him talk about his work and life, as well as tour his home office and get a look at his favorite books. Memorably, he was a devotee of Proust and had read his Remembrance of Things Past many times, from the same set and each time and wrote the dates of his readings in the back of one volume. That is something we all might want to do with our favorites. Perhaps I’ll do that with my own editions of Mr. Foote’s works.

Note: the phrase “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees” is said to be Civil War general Stonewall Jackson’s final words before dying in 1863, which some say was a major turning point in the Civil War.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Over at Futurismic: Blog, there is a claim that Google is trying to become the “modern equivalent” to the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This brings two thoughts to mind:

  • The use of the word “modern” to describe Google now, when HHGG is (as far as I can tell) isn’t set in the past, but perhaps grounded in its original publication date. Either way, Google is better than when the book(s) were written, but certainly not as great as the Guide described in the books.
  • I don’t know if that’s Google’s goal, but I think that Wikipedia is more in the spirit of the Guide.


Texas Book Festival

Of course, tomorrow is the beginning of the Texas Book Festival, if anything else – to prove that some of us here in Texas do in fact read.

Here’s what events look good to me:

  • Saturday
    1. 11:45 – 12:30: H.W. Brands, Lone Star Nation
      Reading and Q&A introduced by Greg Curtis
      Location: Auditorium

    2. 12:30 – 1:30:
      James Ellroy: Destination: Morgue!
      Jessee Sublett: Never the Same Again
      Reading and Q&A introduced by Kip Stratton
      Location: Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum Main Hall

    3. 12:45 – 1:30: Dayton Duncan, Lewis and Clark
      Reading and Q&A introduced by Regan Gammon
      Location: Capitol Extension Room E2.028

    4. 2:00 – 3:00: What’s So Funny About Politics?
      Jim Hightower, Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush
      Andy Borowitz, The Borowitz Report
      Panel discussion by Evan Smith
      Location: House Chamber

    5. 2:15 – 3:00: Men Behaving Badly:
      Adam Johnson, Parasites Like Us
      Kyle Smith, Love Monkey
      Jonathan Ames, Wake Up, Sir
      Reading and panel discussion moderated by Neal Pollack
      Location: Capitol Extension Room E2.010

    6. 7:00 – 9:45: Texas Book Festival After Hours: Movies
      Location: Alamo Drafthouse–Downtown
      Oscar-winner Peter Bogdanovich will introduce two of his favorite films: 7 p.m.: Targets & 9:45 p.m.: Saint Jack.
  • Sunday
    1. What’s Cooking in Texas
      John DeMers, Houston: Culinary Capital
      Fernando Saralegui, Our Latin Table
      Linda Bauer, Historic Recipes from Texas and American Sampler Cookbook
      Panel discussion moderated by Virginia Wood
      Location: Capitol Extension Room E2.014

    2. 12:30 – 1:15: Meghan Daum, The Quality of Life Report
      Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Queen of Dreams
      Reading and Q&A introduced by Mary Margaret Farabee
      Location: Senate Chamber

    3. 2:00 – 2:45: Mind of a Killer
      Michael McGarrity, Slow Kill
      David Lindsey, The Face of the Assassin
      Reading and panel discussion moderated by Gary Lavergne
      Location: House Chamber