Given the popularity of our week-long What We’re Reading series, we’ve decided to make it a weekly column. Just think of this as your non-committal book club with The FADER and some of your favorite bands. For this installment, Online Editor Naomi Zeichner gives us her top picks.
Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion Dollar Cyber Crime Underground by Kevin Poulsen and Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick: If you haven’t read any books about hackers, you should. The advent of the internet is a remarkably important historical moment but it’s also an elusive one that’s hard to comprehend. Reading the stories of hackers who figured out how to take the internet apart and make it do cool/weird/bad shit is a good way to enter that world and learn about it. Kingpin didn’t sell very well. Its first couple chapters, about how a kid named Max Vision acted out in high school and college are really silly and hard to read. But the book tells a true story—about the FBI trying to figure out what’s criminal and what’s not, how credit card companies totally didn’t understand how to protect their customers and infighting in the hacker scene—and once you arrive at the thick of it, it’s engrossing. Because Ghost in the Wires is an autobiography written in first person, it’s way more annoying. Hackers are addicts who can’t resist showing other people what they can achieve. Kevin Mitnick spends 432 pages talking about how selfish and awesome he is. I didn’t make it halfway through.
“House Perfect” by Lauren Collins: I moved in August, the month the Ikea catalog comes. I love looking at the Ikea catalog because I love global functional minimalism. I think Ikea is not actually hard to find your way around, if you are comfortable with Ikea enough to have memorized its layout. My new apartment has a nice mix of Ikea and not-Ikea things. This week’s New Yorker has a great feature about Ikea, here are some highlights: Ikea refers to rooms as “living situations” occupied by eight categories of people. I think my apartment, according to their taxonomy, is filled mostly with objects in the “living together/starting out” range. The guy who founded Ikea in 1943 used to be a Nazi when he was very young. He blames his grandmother. He’s a celebrity in Sweden and one of the richest guys in the entire world. Still, in the village where he lives, people gossip about how he’s so cheap that he reuses tea bags. At Ikea stores, employees complain they often find trash in the display toilets. In an Ikea in Shanghai, they’ve designated a special “match-making corner” for young singles to hang out on weekends because they were clogging up the dining room. Ikea’s Lack table is actually made out of cardboard. One in ten Europeans are conceived on Ikea beds.
Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior by Phil Jackson: When I left college I decided I had to stop reading essays about art and start reading about sports. Sacred Hoops is about how basketball beautifully demonstrates how putting your ego aside and working towards a common goal produces collective, unstoppable power. It might as well be an essay about art. I bought my copy for $5 in the basement of a big bookstore on a “Sports” table and the typeface in it is huge. It looks like a prayer book printed for a nursing home. Everything in it is true.