Do you have a guilty pleasure book?
Short stories from old 1920s-1930’s pulp magazines. Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian stands out. I also love The Shadow and Doc Savage. I’ve also always loved comic books, and I am prepared to argue DC over Marvel any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
What book is currently sitting on your nightstand?
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I’m about halfway through it, and so far, it has been a fun, light read on the history of, well, everything, through the lens of the sciences. I’ve read a few of Bryson’s books and enjoyed all of them. At Home: A Short History of Private Life dives into how our homes have evolved over the years, and I think it’s worth a read as well. They’re great airplane books!
What’s the last book you recommended to everyone you know?
I love just about everything John Scalzi has written, but I’ve told many of my friends that they should read Old Man’s War. “What happens when you reach your twilight years? You join the army!!” Old Man’s War is an absolute blast of a science fiction novel that could be described as an absurd take on Starship Troopers, but it also has a lot of depth as it explores individuality, mortality, and the implications of life extension. Even when I’ve re-read it it’s a “once you start you can’t put it down” book.
Do you have a favorite book no one else has heard of?
You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney. It’s a fun and informative book on logical fallacies such as confirmation bias, the availability heuristic, the bystander effect, and the normalcy bias that changed the way I think about a lot of situations. It’s an easy read with chapters that are only a few pages long. I think it’s perfect for people new to some of these concepts.
Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?
Drifting over into comic books, I love Batman. My grandparents had old issues of Detective Comics and Action Comics, so I’ve been a fan since I was a child. I’ve always loved the idea that Batman is just a person, albeit ultra-rich, in a world full of people with superpowers. The best villain of all time is Lex Luthor. I’m always ready to argue that Superman is the most boring hero ever created because he can do just about everything. It’s only his nemeses and how they test him that make for good stories. I love that the campus library has a large selection of trades if I feel like catching up on comics.
Have your reading tastes changed over time?
Growing up I generally read lots of fiction. In junior high I’d beg my parents to take me to Barnes & Noble whenever I found out they had a Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler book I didn’t have on their shelves. I’ve gone from exclusively reading fiction to incorporating non-fiction in the last ten years or so to learn about topics I find interesting.
What do you plan to read next?
I’m about to start The Power of Conflict by Jon Taffer, better known as the host of Bar Rescue. I subscribe heavily to his Reaction Management concept in my daily work. He summarizes it like this: "A plate of food hits the table, lands right in front of you, and one of two things happens. Either you sit up and look at it and react to it, or nothing happens. If nothing happens then that restaurant is stuck in mediocrity forever. The cook in the kitchen might think he's making an entrée. He's not. That's not the product. He's making a human reaction. The product is the reaction."
This applies to what we do in OTS just as well. In our daily operations we don't just help our customers with their technology issues, we also have to make sure our customer is happy with the result. If we don't then we aren't going to get a positive reaction. If we don't get those reactions, then we're not going to succeed.
What book would you most like to see turned into a movie or TV series that hasn’t already been adapted?
Dune is hands-down my favorite book. There isn’t a close second. I’ve spouted off hundreds of “What would I do for a Klondike Bar”-like lengths I would go to for a decent film adaptation. I’d always believed Dune is such a challenge to adapt that I could never be completely happy with it, but then Denis Villeneuve cracked the code last year. Dune: Part One is simply perfect. So, what book do I need to see turned into a movie? I need Denis to keep his momentum for the second half of Dune. They’re about to start filming in Jordan soon!
What’s the last book you read that made you furious?
My Philosophy 1301 textbook. Don’t get me wrong. It was my favorite course I took at LSC. I loved it, but I wasn’t prepared to tackle questions that don’t necessarily have answers from an academic perspective. I joke that I needed therapy afterwards, but they wouldn’t have the answers either. Thanks Professor Watts!