Category Archives: Great books for Guys

Just because it says for guys doesn’t mean it’s only for girls (after all many were recommended to me by girls)

The Eleventh Hour

Just whipped up a quick book trailer for Jeff Hirsch’s debut novel, The Eleventh Plague.

It was agreat read and I really wanted to do another book trailer… try out some different flava’s, y’know!

The song in the background is Stem/Long Stem/Transmission 2 off of DJ Shadow’s AMAZING album, Endtroducing. Check out the full song here on the Youtubes.

Hope you like my latest creation:

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Hacking Timbuktu

Davies, S. (2010). Hacking Timbuktu: A novel. Boston [Mass.: Clarion Books.

Does this code make sense to you?

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
{
list *1, *new;
CLIENT *cl;
int *result;

if (argc next = 1; 1 = new
new = mk_list (“3, available ips);
new->next = 1; 1 = new

cl = clnt_create(argv[1], “tcp”);
{
result = tunnel1_1(1, cl);
if (result == NULL) {
printf (“error: Timbuktu tunnel blocked!\n”);
return 1;
}
printf (“client: Timbuktu tunnel open!\n”, *result);

return 0;
}

If the code does make sense to you I‘m pretty sure you’ll like this book… if it doesn’t make any sense you’re in the same boat I am, but don’t worry I loved this book!

By chance our protagonist Danny Temple a burgeoning parkour expert and master hacker along with his best friend Omar “Grimps” Dupont a francophone and master at parkour (see videos at the bottom of this post), find themselves in possession of a magic square which contains the map to two million mithqals of gold.

It takes a Dogon to recognize a Nommo

FYI
1 mithqal ≈ 3.6 grams ∴ 2 000 000 mithqals = 7 200 000 grams
1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams ∴ 7 200 000 grams = 231 511.25 troy ounces

Now here’s the juicy part!

As of 09/17/2011 gold was trading at $1771.32 per troy ounce
231 511.25 troy ounces x $1771.32/oz = $410 080 507.35 !!!

Not too shabby, eh.

Now all Danny and Omar have to do to get the money is decipher the map, avoid capture from various security guards, the London police, and crazed treasure hunters from the Facebook group: the Knights of Akonio Dolo. Oh ya, and they also have to fly from England to Mali without any money, avoid being killed by the manuscript mugger, and figure out how to carry two thousand mithqals of gold from the middle of nowhere back to the Bank of Africa. Simple, right? Well, if you disagree, I’d like to see you try (you can start by at least reading the book :p )

I’m not an especially fast reader but I have been plowing through this book. The chapters mostly flip between Danny and Omar’s journey towards decoding the map and the Manuscript muggers similar journey in Mali. This keeps the action fresher, IMHO. The scenes where the author is describing events of hacking and parkour move at a similar pace as a movie quick, action-packed and thrilling!

About Parkour:

Parkour (sometimes abbreviated to PK), AKA; Free Running AKA l’art du déplacement (the art of movement) is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment. I’m particularly interested in it as when i was young, growing up in an urban center I loved climbing around on buildings and seeing the city from above. Assuming trespassing laws aren’t broken to blatantly I feel this is a great exercise for kids, a touch of danger, the thrill of independence and the benefits of physical activity. After all kids traditionally are supposed to monkey around in trees. Buildings replaced trees, so naturally kids gotta monkey around on building now. That being said, i never tried anything as fancy as parkouring so don’t be an idiot and try out the parkour moves you see in the following videos. As Omar says in the book: “those who parkour practice not just until they get something right, they practice until they can’t get something wrong.” Words to LIVE by if you catch my drift.

Here’s a video of some sick looking moves:

And here’s a video explaining the philosophy of parkour: The Art of Motion

Notes from a Totally Lame Vampire

Collins, T., & Pinder, A. (2010). Notes from a totally lame vampire: Because the undead have feelings too!. New York: Aladdin.

  • Emo Vampires
  • Killer squirrels
  • Mortal love

… this book’s got it all!

Nigel wants his vampire nickname to be “Nightwalker” it instead becomes cutesy ol’ “Fangy.” This is typical luck for Nigel. He was turned into a vampire, but never received a vampire’s superhuman speed & strength nor their mesmerizing good looks. Worst of all he is about to turn 100 yrs old and he still hasn’t ever had a girlfriend! FML, indeed!

Tim Collins does well to capture the usually obstacles and insecurities that teenagers face in this diary. When I find myself both laughing and relating to a fictional vampire teen/centenarian I feel I’ve found a good book.

Andrew Pinders drawings go perfectly with the diary medium and the lanky awkwardness that is Nigel’s life.

PS- Apparently there’s a sequel diary out called Prince of Dorkness : more notes from a totally lame vampire

Sentences: The life of M.F. Grimm

Carey, P., & Wimberly, R. (2007). Sentences: [the life of M.F. Grimm]. New York: DC Comics.

In an earlier post I’d kinda trashed Word Up! magazine for providing incomplete coverage of questionable role models. This book by Percy Carey, aka MF Grimm, is a great example of success in the areas that Word Up!’s coverage of Lil’Wayne fell short.

MF Grimm has a story comparable to Lil’Wayne he unapologetically talks about getting in fights, shoot-outs, dealing drugs, and the “glory” of the gangsta life. The main difference in MF Grimm’s story is that he doesn’t just share the glory, he shares, his pain, his regret, and the consequences of his actions as well. He never blames anyone else for his paralysis nor for his several incarcerations (well, okay he does blame a snitch as the reason the cops pinned him, but admits that if he wasn’t dealing drugs he wouldn’t have been in the situation in the first place).

The graphics are engaging; not too explicit, but not watered down. The dialogue is rough, but real. The story is captivating, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Even in the roughest of situations, Percy Carey is sure to remind readers that good influences are always around. True, Carey’s fighting spirit is what got him into a lot of trouble but, after he smartened up, it was that same fighting spirit that got him out of trouble.

This story is a rollercoaster ride of a black man’s life growing up in NYC in the 80’s and trying to break out of the gang life and into the hip-hop industry. From Sesame Street to being jailed and paralyzed, Carey’s story alterates between down to earth and boastful, but that’s an element of hip-hop regardless. Also, one final shout-out is to the credit that Carey gives the strong female role models he’s had in his life; his Mom, grandmother and sisters. It is nice to see women of colour represented as people rather than objects, a mistake made far too often in the rap world.

Anywho, here’s MF Grimm stats on AllMusic.Com and here’s a track that keeps it real off of his album American Hunger, “I Rather Be Wrong”

Columbine

Cullen, D. (2009). Columbine. London: Old Street.

I found out about this book while reading a YA Library journal, it was in the recommended new release section and the write up grabbed my attention.

Columbine a single word, a verb, a proper noun, one school and an event of massive historic influence. The author, David Cullen was a reporter at the time of the shootings and this 360 page book (Plus notes, timeline, and fifteen page bibliography) details the ten years that Mr. Cullen has spent investigating the events of the shootings, what led up to them, what ensued afterwards, and the powerful draw that April 20, 1999 has on the North american psyche.

What I liked about this book:

  • David Cullen has extensive research citing interviews, victim impact statements, police reports, the killers journals. While he does make some assumptions they seem reasonably grounded in the evidence at hand.
  • Bullying, teen ostracism, and the devastating effects have increased since 1999. It is crucial to understand why people bully, what the effects of bullying can be, and what the warning signs of disaster are.
  • The book doesn’t have to be read from cover to cover, one can pick it up at a random page and start reading (see following comment about what I DIDN’T like about this book)

What I didn’t like about this book:

  • This book jumps around like House of Pain! Reading it straight through is the same as reading it by randomly picking pages.  It’s like he took his 10 years of notes and just bound them up into a book without bothering to organize them into sections.
  • The book is for OLDER teens, or at least mature and morbid teens. Though I saw this book in a YA Library journal it was cataloged as Adult Non-Fiction in my local library.
  • The writing is… average. Short and to the point, but lacking in artistic flavour.

All in all though I’m glad I read this book. For all the coverage this story got in the news at the time. It takes the extensive documentation that David Cullen has collected here to really start to understand what happened at Columbine and why.

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic incident

Colfer, E., & Parker, N. (2004). Artemis Fowl: The Arctic incident. New York: Listening Library.

Listening to this audio book was my first dip in to the ocean of the Artemis Fowl empire and I am glad that I finally got my feet wet! I think a lot of guys will especially enjoy rooting for Artemis Fowl because he’s a good guy, for the most part, but is forced by the circumstances of his life to play that bad guy… until the REALbad guys show up! Action, emotion, a whole lot more action, some gripping characters, and then even more action is what one should expect from reading/hearing this book (and, I suspect, others in the series).

Nathaniel Parker’s narrate’s in a good range of character voices which is a bonus to the fact that he has a great speaking voice in general. So, I was pleased to see that he narrates other Artemis Fowl audio books.

However, when I do get another Artemis Fowl book (which I will be doing soon!) I will be getting a paper copy…unless I am going on a road trip, or out to a cabin in the woods. Why? Well, personally, I am very easily distracted. I listened to most of this book on my computer which means that after about 30 minutes I was listening to the book and playing Euchre or poker online, checking my e-mails, Facebook, and Twitter, and surfing around the web. The parts I listened to on a CD player lead to me sweeping the floor, folding my laundry and cooking. The story was interesting, but the format was the gateway to distraction… which means if I might want to reconsider using it as road trip material 😛

For a taste of the story and of Nathaniel Parker’s narration go to Youtube

The Gunslinger Born

David, P., King, S., Eliopoulos, C., Isanove, R., Furth, R., & Lee, J. (2007). Stephen King : The dark tower: The gunslinger born. New York: Marvel Pub.

The Dark Tower Series : The Gunslinger Born
Never forget the face of your Father. As well if you’re going to embark on an endless journey through a futuristic western wasteland forever chasing the man in black…  do so as a reader, rather than a gunslinger.

I think that this series of graphic novels is PERFECT for reluctant readers for the following reasons:

1) The Lee and Isanove work excellently together respectively drawing the ink and laying the colour. Visual appeal is 10/10!
2) It is what we call a Hi/Lo book: high interest, low reading level
3) The subject matter is very guy friendly (sorry to single us out guys, but it’s a fact: Guys read way less than girls)
4) The graphic novel is in a series so there’s another book waiting for you if you like this one
5) The graphic novel is based on a series of print novels by Stephen King. Want to know the story with more detail, can’t find the next graphic novel, well then by all means, please go pick up the real deal: Stephen King’s Dark Tower series!

Those are the reasons these graphic novels are great. However,  I do have a bone to pick with the one-dimensional women characters in this book. Come on guys! Girls are awesome too and it bugs me seeing worlds in which they barely exist! Not my kinda place, thank you very much. I have not yet read the full length novels so I’m not sure if the sexism is inherent in the story, or just crept in during the abbreviation from novel to comic. 

So far I believe only three graphic novels have been published, so if you’re still keen on the story by book three be prepared for a bit of reading… an activity you may find surprisingly enjoyable.