I work at Powells Technical Books by day and play, write,
and sing music at night. I also have two sons to raise and a couple of dogs
to keep happy. My reading interests vary as much as my personal life does.
Here are some of the books I like best.
To Make and Sell Your Own Recording: (revised) 5th Edition by Diane
I lead a double life: one as a bookseller and assistant manager at the Tech
store, and the other as a songwriter, guitar playin' honky tonk musician.
Well, the great thing about my job is that my two lives can collide on occasion
and often enough it's because of a great book. Independent recording
is a challenge, and Rapaport offers up useful information on how to prepare
before actually hitting the studio floor (including the costs).
She also tackles
the hows and wherefores of graphics, packaging, manufacturing, copyrights,
publishing, marketing, taxes, and financial planning. (You'll even find worksheets
in the back to help you figure out your financial woes.) How to Make and
Sell presents guidelines for finding distribution, understanding a recording
contract, sampling laws, and so much more. I found it useful in so many ways.
I've recorded two CDs on my own and have learned that there is so much more
to the process than just the recording of the music. You need to plot your
next steps, have the money to promote your work, and understand your rights.
I strongly suggest this book for anyone in, or aspiring to be in, the business
of music. Yee haw!
In Alabama by Mark
Playing in a band there's a lot of "hurry up and wait." When the club owner
wants the sound check at 7pm and you don't go on until 11pm, there's plenty
of time to read. Playing honky tonk music leans me toward books that take
place in the South. One of my recent favorites is Crazy In Alabama.
The story of P-Joe and his Southern family during the beginnings of the Civil
Rights movement (P-Joe's loony aunt has decapitated her husband, put his head
in a Tupperware bowl for freshness, and is headed to L.A. to audition for
Beverly Hillbillies) is both hilarious and moving. Mark Childress
is a great writer. He takes you into the mind of the young P-Joe, a witness
to his aunt's wrongdoing. He also allows you the privilege of listening in
on the rants and raves of P-Joe's crazy aunt, who has a special talent for
narrowly escaping danger and the law while continuing an ongoing
dialogue with her dead husband's head.
Jesus and Coca Cola by Kinky
I love Elvis. Actually, I love people who love Elvis. They fascinate me. Especially
those who stand in line for hours to visit Graceland. And those who have shrines
to the King. They are my people. (When I was a kid I really wanted my middle
name to be Marie rather than Margaret so I could be Lisa Marie. One of the
first songs I ever learned to play on guitar was "Heartbreak Hotel.") I also
love Kinky Friedman and his always entertaining, twisted, alcohol and drug
induced mystery novels. Elvis, Jesus and Coca Cola is a great Kinky
Friedman tale. It includes all his best characters: his cat, and a whole lotta
Elvis impersonators. The puns are endless and the mystery is as intriguing
as always. It's only when you read a Kinky Friedman book that you have the
pleasure of seeing things from a radical Texas Jew's point of view. And he
loves Elvis and his followers as much as I do.
Guides that Don't Suck
Killer Web Sites by David
Okay, I admit, I have a web
site (for my band), and I also admit that I did not build the web site
myself. I had lots and lots of help from many different sources, including
this great book. I highly recommend it for anyone planning on building a web
site for a business. The illustrations alone are enough to keep you turning
pages. The examples are helpful, and the text is very readable. The chapter
on form versus function is incredibly useful. I don't know about you, but
I've been to many poor web sites with too much pointless animation, cumbersome
scrolling, and frustrating links that take you nowhere. If only they'd used
this book! Check it out.
Pages That Really Suck: Learn Good Design by Looking at Bad Design by
Flanders and Michael
Speaking of really bad web sites, you won't find a better guide to what makes
a bad web site than this. It's based on the award winning site, WebPagesThatSuck.com.
I'm a visual learner; I sponge up information best when I'm given good visual
examples of what I need to know. This book is perfect for me. It's a lot of
fun to check out some of the really putrid sites like our Mayor Vera
Katz's or the Pepsi site that has so many plug-ins it's close to impossible
for the average Joe to even access. It's helpful to read why the authors feel
these web sites suck (although you'll formulate your own opinions). The book
offers a great way to learn what mistakes you don't want to make when building
your own web site and, conversely, what you want to include in order to make
your site a successful one. In the age of e-commerce and home-based business,
this book is a must-have.
The Lost Inventions by George
"Electric power is everywhere, present in unlimited
quantities and can drive the world's machinery without the need of coal, oil,
gas or any other fuels." Nikola Tesla
I never was great at science in school (in fact, I think I
often fell asleep during the slide projector presentations on mold and frog
dissecting), but I remember getting more involved when we witnessed the wonders
of the Tesla Coil. I tried to find out more about Tesla, but there didn't
seem to be anything available. Well, many years later, after being hired here
at the Tech store, I was very pleased to find several books on Tesla, as well
as a series of books on his patents and inventions.
High Voltage Press, a tiny little publisher here in the Northwest,
publishes several of these Tesla pamphlets. The information included in these
little gems is hard to come by. Tesla's work and research was suppressed for
many years; much of his work was quite revolutionary. This nice little publication
not only includes his patents but also interesting little tidbits about Tesla
himself (and some of the trouble he got himself into). Tesla was fascinated
by the power of resonance and built mechanical vibrators to induce man-made
earthquakes. He was quite successful. During an evening walk through Manhattan,
he attached one of his battery-operated, alarm clock-sized vibrators to the
steel beam of a building under construction. He adjusted the vibrator to a
suitable frequency and set the building shaking and quaking, as well as the
ground beneath his feet. He later boasted that he could shake down the Empire
State Building and that a larger-scale resonant vibrator could split the earth
in half! The more you read about this guy, the more you can see why his work
Other related titles of interest would be: Tesla:
Man Out Of Time by Margaret
Cheney and Dr.
Nikola Tesla Bibliography by John
Ratzlaff and Leland
Lives: Stories Of Mystery & Romance From The Hidden World edited
Hoyt and Ted
I'm not really big on bugs (too many of them in one place give me the creeps),
but I believe in facing what you fear, so I read Insect Lives. What
a great book, chock full of entertaining factoids, illustrations, fascinating
and humorous tidbits, and poetic writing on insects from sources as diverse
as the Bible
Far Side. One of my favorites: May Berenbaum comparing the sex lives
of insects and humans. It's not much of a stretch. In a sick kind of way,
I enjoyed the pain chart for bites from wasps, bees and ants. The scale goes
from the paper wasps bite (no pain) all the way to the traumatically painful
spider wasp sting ... ouch!! Yup, stay away from those spider wasps! I was
also sickly fascinated by insect cuisine. Brazed Beef with Caterpillar. How
about Stag Beetle Larvae on Toast? Mmmmmm, yummy! Even if you're not a bug
enthusiast, the book is quite entertaining and chock full of bugs!