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Books for Law Talking Guys 31-35

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[Books for Law Talking Guys 26-30]

31. The PDT Cocktail Book, Jim Meehan

Please Don't Tell is a small bar in Manhattan, accessible only through a fake phone booth inside the Crif Dogs hotdog joint. It's where, in the winter of 2007, Don Lee invented bacon infused bourbon and the subsequent bacon old fashioned. This book is the definitive cocktail guide, with every recipe used at PDT. What it's not is an exhaustive guide. The Bartender's Black Book has nearly 3,000 recipes, while PDT has only 304. The difference is that every single recipe in PDT is not only great, but it's the best version of that recipe. PDT is The America's Test Kitchen of bars, and all the recipes have been refined to get just the right ratios and brand choices. A Manhattan is made with Wild Turkey Rye, a Margarita with El Tesoro Platinum, and a Moscow Mule gets Smirnoff Black and home made ginger beer (there's a recipe). As icing on the cake, each drink is accompanied by an origin and a little bit of trivia.

 

32. Imagine, Jonah Lehrer

Imagine delves in to the science (and a lot of anecdotes) about how creativity works. At first glance, it's an bit airy-fairy topic for law talking guys, but when you think about creativity as the ability to have an insight and to implement it effectively, it's really something lawyers need to understand. Adderall might be great for improving focus and banging out rote memorization, but it hinders your ability to comprehend the big picture; you can't make connections between ideas because your mind never wanders to them. Putting Corporate and Litigation on separate floors seems practical, but it reduces how much the attorneys in those departments interact; there might just be something to gain from an attorney writing contracts chatting for a few minutes with a litigator doing contract disputes. A first year associate might know shit about shit, but he brings and outsider's perspective; Don Lee from Please Don't Tell was working as a computer programmer at an insurance firm when he began bartending; someone using the same form will for 20 years isn't likely to have any insights.

While Imagine does discuss a lot of what we typically consider creative endeavors, like poetry and music, it also spends a good deal of time on things your coworkers might consider worthy of study, like why Silicon Valley outperformed Route 128, or why doubling the population of a city increases its patent per capita production by 15%.

 

33. Capitol Punishment, Jack Abramoff

If you want to know the details about how corruption on Capitol Hill really goes down, the nuts and bolts of buying Congressional votes, this is the book for you. But, that's actually only a very small part of the book, and the scandal that brought down Jack Abramoff, America's most notorious lobbyist, is far from the most interesting thing. Capitol Punishment is more about the life of Abramoff than about Capitol Hill. It starts with him applying to college, and you get to watch his descent into the political underbelly. He transforms the College Republicans from a disorganized bunch of misfits into one of the largest and most organized political forces in the country, and from there it's all down hill. It's the sort of tale the Star Wars prequels would have been if George Lucas had written a character study rather than a toy commercial.

 

34. Different Seasons, Stephen King

You probably associate Stephen King with horror, and Different Seasons won't disappoint, but it's so much more. Specifically, it's three stories more. Different Seasons is a collection of four short stories, with Breathing Lessons satisfying the craving for classic Stephen King horror. The other three stories you may already be familiar with. Apt Pupil became a film by the same name, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption became Shawshank Redemption, and The Body was turned into the film Stand By Me. They're all great stories, and it's not like Stephen King really needs any more endorsements. What Different Seasons does though is give you ammunition to fire at people who like to shit on movies, you know, the guy who says that the movies are never as good as the book. Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me were every bit as good as the source material, and possibly even a bit better given the quality of the actors. There's no way your internal monologue delivers lines half as good as Morgan Freeman.

 

35. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov

This is another collection of short stories, though with a very clear theme running through them. They are each in a sense mystery stories, not whodunits but howdeydoits. Robots are hardwired to obey the three laws of robotics:

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The mystery is how robots perform actions that appear to conflict with the laws while actually still following them (the first story actually kinds bends the rules a bit, but the others remain very true to them). They're mysteries about obeying laws, perfect for your nerdy legal self.


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