Put-down-able books

When your day job is trying to help Google organize the world’s information, you need as much sleep as you can get. If you get started on some book that you can’t put down, you’ll be bleary the next day. That has led me to seek out “put-down-able” books. I’m not talking about bad books, but tomes that you can stop reading at any time.

Without further ado, here is my list of put-down-able books, in case other webmasters or search engine reps need their sleep:

  • The Big Show: High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards. I normally don’t care for celebrity stuff, but a friend was reading this and I nicked it from them. 400+ pages and you can read the chapters in any order.
  • The Other Hollywood : The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry. A great record of the history of pornographic films, and another Hollywood-ish book I enjoyed. You can literally hop anywhere into this book and just start reading. (By the way, does anyone have recommendations to learn more about the online porn industry? Ynot? Netpond? Luke Ford? Where should I be reading to improve my understanding?)
  • The Baroque Cycle, by Neal Stephenson. I love Stephenson’s early work, and his In the Beginning was the Command Line was fantastic. Cryptonomicon was good reading, but it was pretty dense and intricate. The Baroque Cycle consist of three books: Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World, making for 960+832+912 = 2704 pages that you can pick up and put down at will.
  • Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT. A fun little read with no tension or drama, so it’s easy to interrupt at any point.
  • Anything by Amy Tan. I’ve read most of her books and I’m about to start Saving Fish from Drowning. I love Tan’s deliberate pacing.
  • The “Stealing the Network” series (How to Own the Box, How to Own a Continent, and How to Own an Identity). I love fiction that teaches me something. For example, I had no idea how to use Nmap until I watched The Matrix ;). This series of computer security books is steeped in real-world facts. The books are easy to put down because each chapter is an independent little story that stands on its own, but the chapters still form a larger story.

Those are the ones that I can think of right now. What non-stressy or put-down-able books have you read recently?

(Yes, yes, comment approval will start again tomorrow. Or maybe Friday.)

41 Responses to Put-down-able books (Leave a comment)

  1. Harith

    Good morning Matt

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Mrs. Cutts and the cat wouldn’t like to read that Inigo is asking his audience about assistance in this one:

    “By the way, does anyone have recommendations to learn more about the online porn industry?” :-)

    Have a great day.

  2. Spike

    I quite enjoyed Jasper Fforde’s ‘Something Rotten’. Very put-downable, but an excellent novel :)

  3. Patrick

    Matt Cutts looking to do research on the online porn industry or on the online porn industry seo tactics ?

    Odd were one ends up going to investigate seo, butI guess some that work in that industry are real black hat kings.

  4. cornwall

    Try a subscription to Scientific American…

    … good articles, learn something outside your own field, the whole monthly magazine will take ages to read and you can put it down anytime. And it makes you sleepy as well.

  5. My current read of this type is “Does Anything Eat Wasps?: And 101 Other Questions” by ‘New Scientist’. It’s a collection of reader-submitted answers from the Last Word pages of the New Scientist magazine, often answered by experts in that field.

    You can just open a page at random, read a question such as “How fat do you have to be until you become bullet proof?”, “Does beheading hurt?” and “If I had to save myself by surfing down a lava flow, what could I stand on to protect myself from the heat of the molten lava?”.

    As one newspaper review put it, “it’s amazing how fascinating things you never knew you wanted to know really are…”. Well worth a read.

  6. I am reading “Conversations with God” – no its not to try and figure out Google. Seriously its by Neale Donald Walsch – really quite wacky but gives a good insight at looking at life from a COMPLETELY different perspective – its not religious by the way – at best you could call it spiritual. Its definitely put-down-able – it takes you on so many different tangents so its only possible to digest small parts at a time.

  7. Stephen

    Ahhh – Trying to move away from the Terry Pratchetts that can be read in one or two sittings hey ?

  8. Séan

    I have been reading the new book by KJParker.. Devices and Desires I think.

    It is put-down able, but mainly because after every chapter I read… I spend most of the next hour thinking about the content… Sleep is eluding me!

    Still recommended reading though.

  9. rob

    The Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme Edition

    Things like how to escape from a sinking car, fend off a mountain lion, and survive a non opening parachute event.

  10. David

    “The Other Hollywood ” hmmm….
    does that mean we can expect ‘the other google’ any time soon? ;-)

  11. ” Where should I be reading to improve my understanding?) ”

    I generally use Google to find out where to get information,.. ;)

    Experts often have the problem that they´re blind to the obvious and simple solutions. They´re so used to figuring out the difficult stuff that when something simple comes along, they still use the difficult methods.

    So Matt, where to find out about things,.. try Google at http://www.google.com (in case you forgot ;) )

  12. Smoke2Much

    I wonder if they got “The Other Hollywood” in a film version. Worth checking out. The easiest place that I usually find out about the online porn industry IS online. It’s huge and is credited with jump starting the internet as well as home videos. Theres so much of it and people still can’t get enough……unbelievable.

  13. both of kevin mitnick’s books are pretty good. Just stories about “social engineers” or hackers… each chapter is different.

    if you like poker, phil gordon’s little green book is great. small chapters can read one at a time.

    Smoke2Much, I’ll quote Ron White for you… “you know how it is with boobies, once you’ve seen one pair….. you wanna see em all.”

  14. I tend not to read put-downable books, which is REALLY bad, because a good book can take ALL priority in life. But, if you sit in traffic a lot, I fully recommend Audible.com for listening while driving (can you call it “reading while driving”?), and then try listening to Stephen King’s “Blood and Smoke”. 3 short stories, about an hour each. Half in the morning, and the other half on the way home.

  15. Second to Rob’s suggestion

    “The Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme Edition”

    Also
    “Freakonomics” is another goodie – wait, did i read about that here first?

  16. LB

    GFY or GoFuckYourself.com – excuse the dirty words but that is the name of an adult webmaster forum.

    Hope that helps

  17. I’m reading The Google Story at the moment by David Vise. I keep putting it down because I am annoyed with myself that I didn’t come up with the idea first !

  18. Michael Weir

    I have A.D.D – every book is put-down-able

  19. Rats

    Following a day’s hard work of organizing clients’ information, there’s nothing like a good western to tie up the day. Louis L’amour & Max Brand are available for $1 at any used book store. Falling asleep is never an issue.

  20. Some thought-provoking writing, e.g. Hofstadter’s “Gödel, Escher, Bach” – you aren’t able to, you need to put it down after some pages :)

  21. I can relate Michael Weir and I blame Google for my low attention span…kidding. :)

    So Matt is going to bed early? Ah yes, noticed this…

    Matt – Milk, cheddar cheese and a few tech mags.

    Anyone know of a book for people who do not like to fly? How does one fall asleep in the air? :(

  22. Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People
    Publisher: Harpercollins

    This is a great read on one of America’s best known gamblers. Every chapter is its own little story which lends itself to shorter reading sessions. Check it out.

  23. Steve

    The Rehnquist Choice, by John Dean. Interesting look at history and the politics of choosing a supreme court justice. Eminently put-downable.

  24. nuevojefe

    The Great American Bathroom Book. Really cool summaries of classic novels, famous people throughout histories lives, and even quick and dirty explanation of sports rules, etc.

    It’s just a great way to touch up your basic knowledge on a plethora of subjects.

  25. nuevojefe

    ugh, sorry “famous people’s lives throughout history”. That sounded awful the first time…

  26. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

  27. raisdbywolvz

    The Collected Writings of Thomas Jefferson. About 1600 pages of official papers and personal letters — all presented with his unique spellings and atrocious inattention to the rules of sentence structure. Interesting and educational, but extremely put-down-able.

  28. Matt why don’t you try Audiobooks? This will save on your eyes and you always seem to drift off to sleep when listening to them. I’d highly recommend them :-)

  29. TMK

    Books you can easily put down but still enjoy would be anything by Raymond Feist, Michael Stackpole, or RA Salvatore. All SF pulp, but they can kill time when you need too or you can just leave them and get back to them another time.

    AVN.com would be a good place to start for information about the online porn industry. I believe you already missed the largest event of the year also hosted by AVN in Las Vegas. But there are a number of good webmaster / adult conventions worth attending and they can all be found at the AVN site as well.

  30. DavidW

    I agree with your choice of Neal Stephenson – took me about 6 months to get through Quicksilver – just starting The Confusion – great discriptions of how to make money in 17th century – very enlightening.

    Also in the – put downable but very good category – try The Algebraist by Iain Banks – SF on the grand scale – if you ever wanted to know what life is like on a gas giant – this is the book for you. Very relevant on the day the Pluto mission launched!

    regards David

  31. Julie

    Aaron Pratt – Pop a valium, that’ll put you out for the flight! haha.

    Matt- Try some short story books, if you like fiction. Like the “Best American Short Stories” collections….

    Someone mentioned audiobooks….. there’s a new kind of audiobook that’s just come out. They’re called Playaway books, and they’re made by FindawayWorld LLC. They are self-playing, meaning you don’t need a cd or cassette player to listen to them….everything’s included, headphones, battery, and the self-playing audiobook. It’s sorta neat, and based out of my hometown – Cleveland, OH. I work at Cleveland Public Library, and we just purchased a bunch of these for our collection.

  32. Matt: it’s not an online resource, but the DVD The Making of Deep Throat is a fascinating look at the movie that broke the mainstream barriers of the adult film industry down.

    Deep Throat is supposedly the highest-profiting movie of all time (sales of $600 million vs. production costs of $25,000, including allegedly not paying the female lead.) And it has what has to be the greatest line ever uttered in a porn movie ever:

    “Do you mind if I smoke while you eat?”

    If you’re looking to get a better idea of the porn industry online, why not just start at the big thumbnail gallery post players?

    http://www.thehun.net
    http://www.persiankitty.com
    http://www.tommysbookmarks.com
    http://www.richardsrealm.com
    (The Green Guy, but I forget his site).

    Just start at those and branch out from there.

    (And for those wondering, I use the porn industry as a technical and business reference only. They’re light years ahead in terms of online business. On a personal level, I find porn funny as hell on a lame B-movie level.)

  33. Sys Admn

    Matt -
    If you’re into history or food, take a look at “Salt, A World History” by Mark Kurlansky. It’s a very readable discussion of the ways that the salt trade has shaped world history. It’s along the lines of Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, but an easier read.

  34. Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information – Edward Tufte SEO Book – Aaron Wall.

  35. Lee

    to learn more about online adult industry you May want to check out some of the webmaster communitys such as

    http://www.gfyboard.com (biggest adult community alot of nonsense threads but its where all the biggest people are)
    http://www.askdamagex.com (very business related board)
    http://www.cozycampus.com (mostly tutorials etc)
    http://www.klixxx.com (online publication)
    http://www.xbiz.com (news etc regarding the adult industry online)
    as you said Ynot etc have some great info.

    and greenyguys site is http://www.link-o-rama.com

    must say i really like this blog

  36. Matt I second GFY (www.gofuckyourself.com) as a good place to learn about the world as an adult webmaster…I would say it is as helpful as webmasterworld.com is for the non PRON webmaster. Also check out http://www.theadultwebmaster.com which basically will give you walk throughs of the various ways of setting up adult specific sites, as well as giving you specific info on the components of a site. The site is hard to navigate but this is their top level map: http://www.theadultwebmaster.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=Topics&file=taw_main_ea

  37. Sys Admn

    The Collected Works of H.L. Mencken. By today’s standards, he was a anti-semite and a bigot, but he took delight in standing up for the common man and exposing “the establishment’s” follies. He was also probably one of the greatest English language essayists of his time.

  38. Matt;

    If you like Amy Tan, you might also like Anne Tyler’s books. Her sense of pacing and storytelling is very unhurried, but at the same time keeps you interested.

    If you havn’t read any Raymond Carver, his short story collections make great bite-sized bedside reading.

  39. The “Stealing the Network”. That book is very helpful you should read it.

  40. Sam

    Guns, Germs and Steel> one of the better books written during our time.

  41. I find Angels and Demons by Dan Brown very put-down-able. Mainly because each chapter is about 2 or 3 pages, so for only 10 minutes-worth of reading effort you can walk away with a great sense of accomplishment because you’ve breezed through about 5 chapters. I’m a philistine.

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