Doug Edwards, the author of I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 12, 2011), was the director of consumer marketing and brand management at Google from 1999 to 2005. He was responsible for setting the tone and direction of the company's communication with its users. Before he joined Google, Edwards was online brand group manager for the San Jose Mercury News. Edwards will be donating his share of the profits from the book to local food banks.
On your nightstand now:
American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips has been gathering dust, bookmarked at page 49, for several months. My wife is reading The Formation of Muscovy 1304-1613 by Robert O. Crummey, and I felt the need to balance her weighty tome with one addressing an equally serious subject. Meanwhile I've been hiding Dark Star by Alan Furst under the covers and reading it by flashlight.
Favorite book when you were a child:
I was irresistibly drawn to McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss. The idea that all the world's wonders could be accessed from one's own backyard enthralled me and, I believe, predisposed me to sympathetically embrace the Internet when I first encountered it in 1993. I envisioned accessing all the world's knowledge as easily as Marco caught exotic Eskimo fish.
Your top five authors:
If you dropped me on a desert island, I'd probably pick the Riverside Shakespeare, the collected Dashiell Hammett, the unabridged works of Mark Twain, the Martin Cruz Smith Arkady Renko anthology and Crime and Punishment for sentimental reasons (I named my epileptic dog Raskolnikov, but we called him Rascal for short).
Book you've faked reading:
Ulysses by James Joyce. The irony of an English major who has read War and Peace but not Joyce and being married to a Ph.D. in Russian History who has read Ulysses but not War and Peace never ceases to amuse me.
Book you're an evangelist for:
On Writing Well by William Zinsser. If I had known about this book earlier in my life, I would have required everyone who communicated with me via the written word to read it before sending me as much as an e-mail or an overdue library book notice.
Book you've bought for the cover:
John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise. How could you not once you started reading the brilliant copy on the cover that continues as the text of the book itself?
Book that changed your life:
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Until I read Eliot's poem in high school, I had no idea that poetry could be as compelling as prose. It opened a new world for me.
Favorite line from a book:
"I am haunted by waters." --from A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. It's the perfect coda. You feel the whole story settle into place with that final line, as if he has quietly and methodically tucked in the edges of a blanket carefully laid upon a sleeping child.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Shane by Jack Schaefer. I read it when I was 12 and still remember how I whipped through the pages to find out how it would end. I've enjoyed better books since then, filled with suspense and passion and complex human emotions, but reading that story was like losing my virginity. It was fast and furious and left me struggling for breath. I surrendered to the narrative and let it have its way with me.
Book you selflessly read so that no one else will ever have to read it again:
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. I read all of it. All 1,248 pages of Elizabethan court poesy. I'm warning you, don't wade in there. It will curdle your brain and suffocate you in an airless world of affectation and adjectives. The Tale of Genji's not much better, but at least my face wasn't numb when I finished it.