Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Read these books. Please.

A few months ago, my friend Paul, who founded http://www.GreatDad.com, told me that the money I would make from blogging would "barely pay for a latte habit." Oh Paul, how right you were: I just checked my "Ad sense" account, and the money I've made from readers checking out the advertising on this blog comes to...$.80 for the three months ending March 31. Yes, you read that right, eighty cents. Clearly, I'm not getting rich off writing for the blogosphere, so I'm just going to shamelessly shill for my writer friends right now.

Two of my very good, old friends have really good, exciting, new books out. Linda Himelstein, the former San Francisco bureau chief for Business Week, just published The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire. I would like to tell you that if you like to drink vodka, you will love this book, but what is closer to the truth is that if you like a beautifully written, riveting book about a flawed but brilliant liquor-monger who pulled himself up by his boot-straps, then you should read this book. Linda and I worked together at Business Week back in our twenties, when we were both newlyweds and not yet mothers. Linda is brilliant, thoughtful, delightful and funny, and her book is all those things---plus, it's a fascinating look at life among serfs, czars, vodka lovers, liquor salesmen, capitalists, Communists, social climbers, and Russian revolutionaries. What could be better?

My old friend Andy Raskin, who I met back in college, is the author of a new book, The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life. Andy is a commentator for NPR, and has written for The New York Times and Playboy. He is funny, wry and self-deprecating and this book makes me laugh out loud. Somehow, Andy manages to tie the wisdom espoused by Momofuko Ando, the founder of Ramen noodles, to his own romantic and philosophical search for a soul-mate. Yes, noodle knowledge actually helped him reach his goal.

You can get these books on Amazon, and maybe even via Kindle. And you can read about both authors on line: http://lindahimelstein.com, and http://andyraskin.com. Both Andy and Linda hail from Northern California, and they are both touring the country, speaking about and promoting their books, but if you email them via their websites, they are attentive enough and accessible enough that they might actually write back.

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