{February 2, 2015}   2015 Reading Challenge

I know I have yet to update my other ongoing “101 Books in 1001 Days” reading challenge, but I’ve knocked my first book off of my 2015 Reading Challenge list, and I wanted to note that here. 🙂 In the “Non-Fiction” Category, I knocked off Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake Harris.

It was a fun book, one clearly more “based on a true story” than literally non-fiction – it was told in a narrative style, complete with private conversations and all that the author acknowledged in his prologue might be paraphrased, mashed together, placed in a different place temporally, without being meant to interfere with the “spirit of the story”. So if you’re looking to write an academic paper on this particular time in video game history, this is probably not your most reliable source in that sense. However, for a humanizing and fascinating look behind the scenes in a key time in North American pop culture – think what “The Social Network” was to social media, or “Moneyball” was to baseball – this is a worthy read for all that. Definitely glad I read this.

Do you want to join me on the 2015 reading challenge? The list of categories is provided below. I will scratch out each category, providing the book title, for each one that I complete.


Anyone want to join me? It’s simple. Read one book that matches each of the below descriptions. (Hey! I said it was SIMPLE, I didn’t say EASY!)

A book with more than 500 pages

A classic romance

A book that became a movie

A book published this year

A book with a number in the title

A book written by someone under 30

A book with nonhuman characters

A funny book

A book by a female author

A mystery or a thriller

A book with a one-word title

A book of short stories

A book set in a different country

A nonfiction book – Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation (Blake Harris)

A popular author’s first book

A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet

A book a friend recommended

A Pulitzer Prize-winning book

A book based on a true story

A book at the bottom of your to-read list

A book your mom loves

A book that scares you

A book more than 100 years old

A book based entirely on its cover

A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t

A memoir

A book you can read in a day

A book with antonyms in the title

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

A book that came out the year you were born

A book with bad reviews

A trilogy

A book from your childhood

A book with a love triangle

A book set in the future

A book set in high school

A book with a colour in the title

A book that made you cry

A book with magic

A graphic novel

A book by an author you’ve never read before

A book you own but you’ve never read

A book that takes place in your hometown

A book that was originally written in another language

A book set during Christmas

A book written by an author with your same initials

A play

A banned book

A book based on or turned into a TV show

A book you started but never finished

{June 16, 2013}   Book Reviews

So over the last couple of weeks I’ve read two books that weren’t on my 101 books list, and I don’t so much want to ‘cheat’ and replace books on the list with these two books, as I’m really a fan of all the books I’ve got lined up and didn’t know which ones to knock off. So OK – I will have read one hundred and THREE books by the end of 1001 days, hopefully! 🙂 But these were so good, and I have to recommend them as I enjoyed them so much.

The first is ‘Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World’ by David Schiff. A previous iteration of this book was ‘Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children’, and a later version is entitled ‘Game Over: Press Start to Continue’. But I read the second edition.

Now what I liked about this book is … well I won’t quite go so far as to say there’s something in it for everyone, but it covers a lot of ground. It has a lot of savvy about video games, but it’s not just a ‘video game book’. So if you’re looking for a book about the genius behind the development of Mario, or Link and Zelda, or Donkey Kong, that’s not necessarily what you’re going to get here, although there are certainly aspects of that creative process. It introduces you to big names in the entire industry – particularly at Nintendo but Atari, Sega, etc. as well, and talks about some of the creativity and process that goes into creating a great video game. But it’s more than that. It’s a book about business and industry, featuring some international politics and economics, particularly in terms of US-Japanese relations economically and politically in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as providing an interesting character study of the big names at Nintendo … and there were/are definitely some characters!

All this and yet it’s incredibly accessible … at no point is the book hard to read or ‘over one’s head’ or boring. It tends to follow threads rather than chronology so it CAN jump back and forth in time a bit, but other than that it takes some large macro- and micro-economic and business concepts and parses them down to make them understandable, laced with intrigue and personalities enough that it never feels like some boring business studies textbook. It’s a fun and interesting read and a glimpse into an industry that took the world – and particularly North America – by storm in the 1980s. And interesting to see the perspective even as this book was written in the early-mid 1990s (around 1993), predicting that electronic consoles (think Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Play Station) would be the predominant electronic communication and entertainment tool, surpassing the personal computer … the predictions about the importance of multimedia were right on, albeit obviously from 20 years on we have a different perspective of how it will be provided.

The second book I read was ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown – the fourth of his Robert Langdon novels. The treatment Brown’s earlier work – “Angels and Demons”, “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Lost Symbol” give to the Roman Catholic Church, the historical Jesus and Freemasonry, respectively, this book gives to Dante’s famous Divine Comedy in general, but the Inferno in particular.

I know Dan Brown isn’t exactly seen as high brow so perhaps I should be embarrassed at just how much I enjoy his work … but he does the pulp thriller better than anyone else I know, while making some fancy concepts, literature etc. accessible to all readers. His books are digestible, fun and intelligent, quick and easy to read … and this one was at least slightly less formulaic than its predecessors (albeit yes … turns and double-turns, not being sure who the ‘bad’ or ‘good’ guys are, travel and suspense a-plenty are of course the order of the day). For anyone who has read a Dan Brown novel, to say he gave ‘Inferno’ the Dan Brown treatment is sufficient; for those who haven’t, while this was a fun and excellent example of his work and style, I’d suggest starting with ‘Angels and Demons’ or ‘The Da Vinci Code’, as I feel like the first two Robert Langdon novels were significantly better than the last two – which is more praise for them than a knock on this one or ‘The Lost Symbol’, but there you have it. 🙂

Happy reading!

{January 31, 2013}   Random Thoughts
  • There are definitely some parallels between the Lion King story and the Christian story. Simba=Jesus, Mufasa=God, etc.? Timon and Pumba the well-intentioned but somewhat dimwitted disciples who ultimately stood up for the right and the good?
  • My son loves villains. Shredder from Ninja Turtles, Cruella de Ville from 101 Dalmations, Scar from the Lion King … yeah. He’s going to be one of those kids, when he becomes a wrestling fan, who finds it cool to cheer the bad guy.
  • I have learned a lot about compassion and turning the other cheek as a Christian. I can still get angry … and it can still feel oddly good at times lol.
  • I recommend “Hyrule Historia” as a must have for all and any Legend of Zelda fans. A beautiful and interesting inside look at one of – if not THE – most successful video game franchises ever.
  • I congratulate Ontario’s new premiere, Kathleen Wynne, on her win of the Liberal party leadership, and wish her all the best as she tries to set right some of the issues set in motion by her predecessor.
  • Best wishes to my mom, step-dad and grandmother for a fabulous Florida vacation as they drive south for a few weeks! 🙂 Should be fun … and I regret not stowing away in their suitcase.

{November 12, 2012}   A Link to the Future

et cetera