What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I think I’ve got three –

First, in the non-fiction category, is Where Good Ideas Come From: The Seven Patterns of Innovation by Steven Johnson. There are two MASSIVE things about this book. The first is its title, obviously. The second, is the way that the author draws out just so many different examples of how innovation works that makes you completely reassess how you can mesh ideas together.

This book has inspired me.

It’s true. I think I’ve manged to blog about this book on four separate occasions this year (this makes five) as it has consistently made me think about not only how I collect and consume information (from new and myriad sources) but also the way in which I look at the world around me; ‘how does this work, why is that that way, what’s this actually for?’ – without doubt, the biggest brain-stretcher of the year for me.

Eg: this, on serendipity, kick-started my brain into all sorts of directions


Creative? Want to know how the brain connects data to innovate? What about how your very surroundings can define how you do (or do not) think about ideas? Get this book.

Next, in the fiction category, is Gateway by Frederik Pohl.


First, a bit of background: I’ve been working my way through the SF Masterworks collection now for several years and, if you’re a fan of sci-fi (and actually, even if you’re not) I can’t recommend diving into this set enough. Every book is amazing. From Philip K. Dick through to H.G.Wells, there are so many award-winning classics for you to get your teeth into, you could honestly pick any one of them at random* and have a fantastic book in your hands. So yeah, you should do that.

Recently I picked up a couple more when I was visiting my favourite bookshop and, as I’ve just mentioned, I tend to pick ones that I know I haven’t read before (my original idea to read them all in numerical order was silly really) and this time around Gateway jumped out at me.  It is brilliant. Read it.

Finally, in the newcomer category, is The Girl Who Would be King, by Kelly Thompson.

Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 13.56.36

I honestly can’t remember how I came by Kelly Thompson originally. Actually no, wait. That’s a lie. I’m fairly certain I found my way to her blog after following a few comic book Tumblrs back to their original source(s) and finding her quite brilliant ‘drunk cover solicits in three sentences or less‘ series of comic book cover reviews.

She gets drunk, and then reviews comic book covers in three sentences (or less). I know, right?. It sounds so simple, but it’s oh so hilarious – and equally bang on the money.

That aside, Miss Thompson is also a budding comicbook writer and her most recent effort, which first started out as a screenplay, actually ended up being a book. A proper one. Without any pictures or anything. Not only that, but when it was finished, Thompson managed to get it funded through Kickstarter too!

Oh and hey, guess what, the book turned out to be effing amazing.

If you’re a comic book fan – and even if you’re not – go and get this book. It’s less than £2 on Kindle right now (!!) and it’s just great.

In fact, I’m going to use a word to describe that I haven’t used before, ready? TGWWBK is, to my mind, the most Tarantinoesque book I’ve ever read. And I don’t mean Taratinoesque in the traditional sense, I mean that it – its characters, the world they live in – occupies a world so close to the one we live in that you wonder why all works of fiction aren’t written in such a way. It makes pop-culture references, it knows how cool it is; it makes jokes, it thinks of stupid things when it shouldn’t be – it’s just so real in that you can imagine these characters doing these things and making these silly remarks about themselves just like normal people do. That’s not exactly the most highbrow of reviews, I know. But you can see the point I’m making, right?

I digress. I’m waffling even.

There we have it.

Three amazing book recommendations, for you, for less than £15. Amazing.

I ask you again:

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?



*but if you were to pick any one of them first, pick The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I read it many years ago and it stays with you. So powerful. So so powerful.

5 things on Friday #10

Five things of note from the seven days preceding March 9th, 2012

1. Baked Sprouts
I love brussell sprouts. Always have, always will. But I have never, ever had them baked. Until now –

Baked sprouts? Lovely stuff.

The girl served these up last weekend and well.. all I can say is: wowsers!
Give them a go, definitely (and some other things too).

2. The Seven Patterns of Innovation
I’m reading ‘Where Good Ideas Come From‘ at the moment [it’s great, you should read it], and this passage

– speaks to me on a number of levels.

First and foremost, when you think about the semantic web, the intelligent web, the personal web, web 3.0 if you will, one is tempted to consider how ‘intelligent search’ (results served up to you based upon previous searches, conversations and location) could well be an adversary to information serendipity.

Google is probably the most guilty of all parties in this particular area [how often have you clicked past page one of the search results – really?] and this ‘feature’ will only improve with the arrival of Google+ (constantly tracking our every move across Google-related services). Of course, there are services that can aid the accidental discovery; StumbleUpon springs to mind, although even that requires a certain amount of input around your interests…

My issue is, as William McKeen, whose quote sits above this text, quite rightly points out – sometimes the joy is in the looking, the surprising finding, the enrichment of serendipity. And it is escaping us all. How does one fight to retain this disappearing pleasure? Read more books, more magazines… seek out the unknown and be endlessly curious.

At least, that’s what I’m going to do.

3. Is Google+ a ghost town?
Speaking of the big G, a huge conversation kicked off about numbers and usage last week when I asked my friends if they had an opinion on the above question. Even if you have only a passing interest in all things Google+, its users and/or its potential usage – I would recommend you take a look. You might be surprised at what you find.

4. Adele vs Daft Punk
Nuff said.

5. Snickers
Back in January the above chocolate bar ran a ‘campaign’ on Twitter that involved celebrities such as Katie Price and Rio Ferdinand tweeting about said snack [but without really letting people know they were being paid for it until the very last minute]. Five tweets were sent by each, but only on the fifth tweet did the celebs let their followers know that they were sponsored – via the esoteric hashtag ‘#spon’.

People complained.

You can read more about the complaint itself when it happened, however the key parts are as follows:

“Since they got paid for sending these tweets, the ASA is investigating whether the celebrities’ first ‘teaser’ tweets should have indicated that they were part of an advert, and if the ‘#spon’ in the last tweet made it clear enough that it was advertising”
The Drum

With me so far? Good. Well, there are (new) regulations to help monitor this sort of thing but, it turns out that post-investigation, the ASA found Mars not in breach of the code. Make of that what you will, but if you do any kind of brand work on or via social media, then the whole case is worth reading up on. The media are watching.

Bonuses: CDs, yes or no? Free coffee for being the Mayor on Foursquare at Taylor St Baristas; an amazing hidden track from M83 aaaaand a cupcake vending machine. 





1000heads: the book

As the blurb says –

1000heads is an imaginative collection of illustrations in which the human head experiments the strangest transformations, actions and variations.
Let this video guide you in this imaginative, fascinating and mesmerizing trip through the world of symbols, associations and memories.”

No no, we’ve not decided to change our business model (word of mouth is still our favourite thing) but rather an interesting find when our Google Alerts went off this morning.

It’s all about the jazz…

While this book of madness is three and a bit minutes of your life you’ll never get back, it has got us thinking; if 1000heads did have their own book, what would it consist of?

  • Case studies?
  • Advice?
  • Photos of our pets?

Perhaps the medium of print is too old and staid and we should instead get our very own iPad publication…

Answers/opinions/comments on a postcard please!

Inspired by Spider Jerusalem

As most of you know, it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and – amongst a whole host of other things – these arrived from my good friend Tarek

– The first two books of Transmetropolitan, Woo! –

I started book one yesterday morning and had finished book two by the afternoon… There’s ten books in total, (eleven if you count Vol. Zero), and I am a fan.

There’s more to come on this – just as there’s more to come about my birthday – but I just wanted to share something with you that I read a few pages into ‘Lust for Life’…
(Transmetropolitan: Vol. 2).

In the image to the right, Spider – the er… ‘hero’ of said work, is talking to his new assistant. The reason he’s making this request of her?

Well, she wants to be a Journalist. Spider’s response to the question asked is:

“If you’re going to be a real journalist, you’re going to need to learn how to look.”

Upon the assistant’s return, Spider elaborates on this further…


This exchange, as I mentioned, comes quite early into book two… but upon reading it, I closed the pages together and stopped reading.

“You need to learn how to look…”

“You need to learn how to look…”

“You need to learn how to look…”

Over and over these words reverberated around my head and, as I was scheduled to be leaving the house within the minutes that followed, I decided that I would try and capture and/or record whatever I could. Observing that around me that I’d normally idly pass by.

Thing is, I thoroughly enjoy taking in the world around me most of the time and yet I’ve never really felt the urge to try and capture it, live and as it happens…

I walked out of my house this afternoon and set off to the train station. As soon as I stepped outside I started walking and I started talking… and – thanks to the wonders of SpinVox Memo*…

(*I speak in one end and an email pops out the other… and Yeah, I know I work there Dudes, but the service is actually bloody handy and the Memo part is FREE!)

This what I said/saw:

Walking out of my front door. The light is blinding, the air is cold and the trees are dark. The Sun is setting and yet still so bright. The ground is muddy. I can hear hammering in the distance and yet there is not a soul in sight. Two cars sprinkle the road like forgotten toys while a plane soars through the sky leaving a trail like a scar across deep blue skin. No clouds, not a single one. A couple of people appear but nothing to report. Life in constant transit. This is what I do…

It must be noted at this point that it’s not that I ever didn’t know how to look… it was more, as I said, never having the urge to capture it in actual words. The words spoken above aren’t about to win me any awards, nor are they ever going to. The point is; just reading one snippet from a comic book that a friend bought me for my birthday has changed how I now look at the world… if only slightly.

I’m going to start capturing more of what I see around me… and no doubt use whatever I end up with in future blog posts.

In the mean time however, I need to locate Transmetropolitan: Book 3.