Roger von Oech

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Randy Bosch

Just finished second of two Italo Calvino in a row:
o Baron in the Trees
o Invisible Cities


"The Damnation Game," by Clive Barker. Excellent book and truly horrific! I agree with you Roger: it's easy to get sucked in to all the stuff out there on the Web. Much of it is superficial garbage, so there exist opportunities out there for people that want to get a bit deeper and put in non-Web time -- into whatever they're doing. My wife is actually doing this with a food product ( She's innovating at the level of the product and minimizing all the "branding" guff. People love it! I'd argue that Apple is a strong brand not because of clever branding, but simple product excellence.



Just lost a really long comment.

I read about 30-35 books a year. I'm in a book group that's been going for more than 10 years, with some supersmart folks in it. I always learn from the book group conversations, which often include vigorous disagreements about a book's merits or even what it's about.

I take reading pretty seriously. And I still don't know how to talk about books, or who to talk about books with.

After 10 years of talking monthly about books with the smart women in my book group, I still can't predict well which books someone else will find valuable, nor which recommendations from others I will really appreciate. It's wildly unpredictable, even with a group of people I know well.

And books have so many social implications that conversations about books can be loaded. e.g. people talk about certain books in order to appear more intellectual, more connected to popular culture, more quirky and eccentric, etc. I can never be sure my own motives are pure when I talk about books -- I just read Michael Connelly's The Poet and Thackery's Vanity Fair. I have a lot to say about both of those books, but when talking to a stranger they convey different things about what kind of a person I am. People name-drop about books sometimes. (It's why I love my Kindle so much, and also why I don't love it -- nobody can see what I'm reading.)

So I'm really curious about what value you see in a 140 character conversation about books with strangers. I'm skeptical that those conversations have meaning or depth, but I'd like to know what you think you'd learn from it. This comment isn't as nuanced as the one that was deleted, and I think I must sound like a real curmudgeon or blowhard. That's not my intention. I guess it is part of my genuine curiosity about how to be a better reader.

Roger von Oech

Randy: Which Calvino book would you recommend for someone who has never read him?

Gordon: Thanks. And good luck to your wife with your dog food!

Roger von Oech

Hi Sherry: Many thanks for your thoughtful comment. You're quite a reader!

And you're right that one person's "great read" is another person's "ho-hum."

You said: "So I'm really curious about what value you see in a 140 character conversation about books with strangers."

In my original Tweet, I wasn't so interested in hearing about specific books people were reading, as much as lamenting that with all of the personal stuff people share on Twitter (weight, political biases, their airplane seats, etc.), how few of them shared what novels they were reading.

Like Sherlock Holmes' dog "that didn't bark in the night," I took this as a sign that perhaps people weren't reading fiction at all. Perhaps I over-generalize! But I do know that social media can suck one in.

I'm an advocate for doing things that stimulate the creative process, and I've found that reading — especially fiction — helps. Of course, there are many ways to get the juices going.

No, I don't see you as a curmudgeon or blowhard. More like a kindred spirit. I'm glad to have met you!

Randy Bosch

I "previewed" many Calvino books before deciding on these two - results may vary for others:
"Invisible Cities": A fable about Kublai Kahn conversing with visiting Marco Polo about the cities Polo observed on his journeys. I read this in preparation for re-visiting one of those "invisible" cities in Fall '09. Are Marco Polo's stories accurate? parables? I know now!

"Baron in the Trees": A fable about a young Italian demi-nobleman who, upon being insulted by his sister at the dinner table, takes to the trees and vows never to come down. How is life "lived in the trees", especially when you crave what you see below? What brings you "down to earth" again? What are "our trees and earth?

Both are extremely creative and fascinating, with reasonable translations from the original Italian available here.


For what it's worth, in my Twitter circles one finds far more tweets about the fiction people are writing. The reading appears to be assumed.


The most interesting books I've read recently are "Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama and "Blood Memory" by Greg Iles. I think and [and I'm sure there are others] are better choices than Twitter to track what you and your friends read. You can find short fiction posted every week under the #fridayflash tag on Twitter. [Again, I'm sure there are others; this is the only one I have experience with.]

Jane Norrington

by the way for the updates, twitter has just been hacked but twitter is now working fine.

hmm.. can we exchange links?

thanks, pls let me know if its ok with you.. Looking forward to hear from you soon.

Commercial Space for Lease

Hi! I'm curios and excited to read more about your works! do you have any products available in our country's national bookstore?

Rachel Ray

The most interesting books I've read recently are "Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama and "Blood Memory" by Greg I Les.


Some time ago, I really needed to buy a car for my firm but I did not have enough money and could not buy anything. Thank heaven my brother suggested to take the mortgage loans from banks. Thus, I did that and used to be happy with my commercial loan.

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