Jay Baer: Hug Your Haters

Baer’s take on customer service: response to every complaint in social media and online forums. The book simply states the obvious and provides examples of companies that do well in customer experience. In today’s business, providing an excellent experience for your customers is not a choice, but a requirement. If you haven’t done that already in your organization, you should definitely pick up this book. Otherwise, it is not that helpful. In addition, the writing tends to be dried with all the business figures.

Graham Holliday: Eating Việt Nam

I didn’t realize the author of Eating Việt Nam is the same guy behind Noodlepie—a blog on Vietnamese food I frequented many years ago—until I read the foreword by Anthony Bourdain. I am glad that Graham Holliday recounted his experiences in a book, which offers mouth-watering introduction to the vibrant Vietnamese street food including bún chả, bún mắn, bánh mì, and mì hoành thánh. Furthermore, Holliday’s observation on Vietnamese culture is intriguing. I didn’t even know about the story behind the boiled chicken in the north.

For the food that Holliday didn’t like, I understand his sentiment about hột vịt lộn. Most Westerners feel the same way. I even heard the comparison of eating an aborted baby duck. On bánh mì phá lấu (pig’s organ), however, I beg to differ. The sauce that came from phá lấu is the secret ingredient for bánh mì. Without that sauce, bánh mì thịt would never taste superb. That’s why bánh mì thịt in the U.S. is nowhere near the one in Việt Nam. As for tiết canh, Holliday compares it to eating a nosebleed. What the fuck? I only had tiết canh once many years ago when I was in high school. Although I was a bit reluctant at first, I found it to be quite tantalizing and it tasted nothing like nosebleed. I would eat it again if I get the opportunity.

Nevertheless, Eating Việt Nam is a good read for people who are not familiar with Vietnamese authentic cuisine. Holliday’s detailed explanations, like his love for the the herbs, will draw you in. I am happy to see that he uses Vietnamese words with diacritics even though I spotted a handful of errors including “phổ” (in the foreword) instead of phở and chí (page 178) instead of chị. His editors obviously don’t know Vietnamese and didn’t bother to check.

For the design of the book, the text face is Myriad Pro. Even though I am not fond of a san serif typeface for reading—Minion Pro would be my preference—Myriad Pro holds up quite well. I didn’t mind it at all.

Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic

I have yet to read Gilbert’s biggest-selling Eat, Pray, Love, which is mentioned constantly in her latest book. Big Magic is Gilbert’s guide on creative living—or bringing out your hidden treasures. Her advice is simply to do what you enjoy. For Gilbert, writing is what she does, but you can do anything as long as you enjoy doing it. Your enjoyment doesn’t have to do with making a living, although it wouldn’t hurt. Big Magic is an inspiring book for anyone who is looking for a creative journey, but is it a helpful guide to students and newcomers in the field of design.

Daniel Willingham: Raising Kids Who Read

I didn’t discover the value of reading until I finished my my four-year college. Since I was a kid, I was always told that I should read, but no one explained to me why. When I arrived in the States, I had trouble reading in English. As a result, I got bored and gave up after reading one page.

These days, I read every opportunity I have. I read books to stay informed and stay offline. Now that I understand the value of reading, I want to help my kids to start reading as well. Daniel Willingham’s Raising Kids Who Read offers research and guides to help kids to read. The key goal to take away from this book is to show kids that reading is pleasurable. Once they find the joy in reading, they will read themselves.

I don’t read or recommend parenting books, but this one is an exception. It is a great resource for parents who want to introduce reading to their kids.

Typography for Lawyers

Glad to see a copy of Matthew Butterick’s second edition of Typography for Lawyers on the reference shelf in the Law Library. Every law student should be required to read this book in their first year because “Good typography is part of good lawyering.” Butterick is dead on.