Friday, September 11, 2009

Freight & Fark

A Thousand Miles from Nowhere: Trucking Two Continents by Graham Coster - The English author rides along with a truck driver from the U.K. to Moscow and back, and then he comes to the U.S. to make a couple of cross-country runs. The first half about Europe was pretty interesting, especially the hard luck stories such as drivers waiting in line for days at border crossings and a guy making a run from the U.K. to Iran only to discover that his employer has gone out of business and can't give him money to get home (he carried freight locally in Iran until he could afford the return trip). In one chapter, Coster takes driving lessons. Like many would-be truckers, he struggles with backing up. I found his solution ingenious -- he buys a toy truck and watches what happens to the trailer as the tractor makes various maneuvers. Part Two about U.S. trucking is less interesting mainly because I already know a fair amount about the industry here, but the foreigner's perspective is sometimes illuminating. All in all, this book is okay, maybe good but not great. Anyone interested in trucking culture would probably enjoy it, but it's not engrossing enough to recommend to a general audience.

It's Not News, It's Fark: How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap As News by Drew Curtis - Based on the popular Web site, this book combines media criticism with a sort of "best of Fark.com." Parts are hilarious; I cheered up my wife on several occasions by reading this to her. As media criticism, however, the book overstays its welcome. Most readers will get the gist of what Curtis is saying long before he finishes saying it. More Fark examples (plus the snarky Farker comments) and less explanation would have made this book much better. Still, any book that trains the mind to look more critically at mass media is worthwhile.

Current tally: 70 books finished, 62 books acquired

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