Three Books: Divisadero, The 4-Hour Workweek and Wintersmith

I found some time to read some books over the holidays, and here are some very brief reviews:

Divisadero: Michael Ondaatje is the most elegant contemporary writer I know. With the exception of Anil’s Ghost, I’ve read all of his books (I took a class on him in university) and I’m a huge admirer of his craftsmanship. The Collected Work of Billy the Kid remains my favourite book of poetry (though I, admittedly, don’t read much poetry). The plot of Divisadero isn’t as compelling as, say, The English Patient, but reading Ondaatje is a bit like watching Gretzky. They’re a joy because they do so many things right.

The 4-Hour Workweek: This book’s subtitle is “Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”. He’s preaching to the choir in my case, but it’s still a fairly inspirational read. He’s got quite a bit of wisdom to deliver on streamlining your work, generating passive income and so forth. That said, the author Tim Ferriss comes off as a bit of a self-important douche bag. Some of the strategies he recommends are ethically dubious, and though he’s living an exotic life, it seems strangely unexamined. To put it another way, The 4-Hour Workweek is one of the least mindful books I’ve ever read. That said, I did finally join Amazon’s Associates affiliate program, to try and make some extra cash off Amazon sales. Wanted: a WP plugin that scans my blog for links to Amazon and replaces them with appropriate affiliate links.

Wintersmith: I grabbed this young adult novel off the shelf for a quick read at the resort in Marrakech. I’d never read a Terry Pratchett (he’s sadly got Alzheimer’s, at 59!) book before, and I enjoyed this one. Much like the Harry Potter books, Wintersmith derives from and builds upon a bunch of existing myths and fairy tales. However Pratchett seems to have a much better sense of humour than J. K. Rowling, for Wintersmith was a more enjoyable (and not to mention concise) read. Judging by this reading order chart, I started on Pratchett’s Discworld books in the wrong spot.


  1. I signed up for an Amazon Associate account to see if I could make a little bit of money off my new blog. I’m fairly sure they have a script ( most likely javascript ) that looks for any links in the form of <a name=’wintersmith’&gt>Wintersmith<a> and then would create a link to the search results for Wintersmith. I think you can also create the links so that they link to the first result of the search ( like the “I’m Feeling Lucky” of Google ), or that it only does the search within a particular category, such as books or movies.

    As for Terry Pratchett, I’m very saddened by the fact that he’s gotten Alzheimer’s. I think he’s a terrific author, I absolutely love his sense of humor. Fortunately, he seems up to the task of fighting the disease as long as possible. It’ll be a shame to loose him though, especially so soon after we lost Robert Jordan.

  2. Don’t worry about reading the Discworld novels in order – just dive right in and start with the ones that interest you. It’s a great series for not needing to know what happened in the past because all that really matters is what’s happening in the present.

  3. Bz: Thanks, but that’s a bit of overkill for me. All I want is to retroactively find all the links to on my site, and modify them to include my affiliate info.

    I think a little SQL magic will do it.

  4. I think 4 Hour Work Week has to be read in the right context. I agree he can come across as self-important, but he does point out that one can use the free time and money earned for things other than exotic vacations such as to help good causes, etc. It’s not the be all end all book but is an interesting read.

  5. Amen to Ferriss – lots of useful stuff, but the shaky online business suggestions (etc.) are off-putting.

    And as Rebecca said above, don’t worry about where you are on Discworld. It’s all good.

    Oh, and saying “Pratchett seems to have a much better sense of humour than J. K. Rowling” is a little like saying that Maurice Richard was a good hockey player. 😉 For humor, Pratchett is on par with P. G. Wodehouse or Richard Pryor.

  6. I’m glad you like Divisadero!

    And their is an Amazon widget that will scan new content and auto add the affiliate link. It is located in the Build Links section of the Associate login under Context Links.

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