The book itself is a simple collection of what CC thought his best posts from his 8 years of prolific blogging. Coming in at 400+ pages, the book has a whole lot of mini-essays on a wide range of topics primarily in the fields of economics, gender relations, bachelorhood, politics, and education.
Having read through his entire archive about a year ago (a lot of reading), I can’t think of any posts that should have been included that he left out. In addition, there were some good posts in it that I forgotten about. The book is very comprehensive.
The essays are all enjoyable, often thought-provoking, and usually informative. This is good stuff.
Everything is written in an engaging manner by the Captain at the top of his game. Read the first page or two of his blog; if you like what you read, you’ll really enjoy this book.
Grammar nazis may be concerned about the grammar and typos in the book. There are a lot of them, as there are in many blogs, and the Captain made no bones about the fact that he left the original typos in. Overall, I found this doesn’t really hurt the book or its readability, but if you’re OCD about these kinds of things, I might as well give you fair warning.
Another problem that comes up is that in converting his webposts to book format the links and the occasional graph are unavailable. You can understand all the essays even without them, but sometimes you know you’re missing something.
Now, the first question when considering this type of book is, why should I pay for something that I can get for free on his blog?
There are 3 primary reasons:
1) Support the author. The Captain has been giving us free content for almost a decade, paying . This of course doesn’t really benefit you directly, so if you’re a strict homo economicus this won’t really be convincing. Although, if the Captain is not working because his website is providing a minimalistic living, he has more time to devote to giving us more posts.
2) Save time. As I said, I read through the entirety of the CC archive about a year ago, it took me about two weeks during a really slow time at work. It required dozens of hours. Top Shelf skims the cream off and gives it to you in a format that can be read in an evening or two. It let’s you get the Cappy Cap goodness without such a time investment.
3) Hard copy format. I find it a lot more convenient and comfortable to read from a book than off a computer screen and Top Shelf let’s you read dead tree-style. Convenient.
Now comes my biggest complaint about the book and something I’m hoping Aaron will fix in his future books:
Top Shelf needs an index.
There are dozens (I don’t know exactly how many because there’s no index and flipping through counting them would be a pain) of mini-essays in this book and they do not seem to be arranged in any particular order. If I want to find, re-read, or reference a particular essay, it requires a lot of page-flipping. A basic index listing the page each particular essay is on would be handy.
This complaint aside, I found the book well worth it.
Buy this book, it is worth it. If you like reading Captain Capitalism’s blog, this book is a must-buy.
If you’ve read his blog and for some weird reason don’t enjoy it, then you probably won’t like this book, so I can’t recommend it.
If you’re really broke, but have a lot of time on your hands then you can read his archives instead.
Other than those two exceptions, I’d recommend getting Top Shelf.