Reading two very different books at the moment, but that’s really not unusual for me as I generally read constantly.
First, I’m dipping into Waking Up by Sam Harris. I’ve practiced meditation on and off for most of my adult life; currently in “off” mode. However, I’ve long acknowledged that during “on” periods, I seem to be much more resilient regarding the regular buffeting that life hands me. I simply lack the discipline necessary to always maintain a practice. Various things crop up that derail the habit, and it takes me a while to get back to it. I’m hoping that this book gives me a nudge to begin again. One day will simply lead to the next, and so on, and I’ll be back to a better practice and, perhaps, sort out some things that have been on my mind lately.
I’ve also begun Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier. If you weren’t already paranoid – and you’re here at Glibertarians.com so I’m betting you are to some extent – this book will push you over the edge. I’m also looking forward to Bruce’s new book Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World due out in September.
I’m currently reading two books as well, also very different from each other.
The first is When: The Science of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink. This is very much as is described in the title: all about why the timing of something matters as much — and sometimes more — than the thing itself. Pink discusses how people’s biorhythms make them more prone to mistakes at different parts of the day, and how it’s important to align the task you’re doing with your own natural rhythm. The book starts off with the suggestion that maybe the Lusitania sunk because it was early afternoon — typically a time when most people make mistakes — and the Captain made a series of bad judgement calls. I find this book very interesting.
I’ve also just tucked into We The Corporations by Adam Winkler. It’s too soon to form an opinion.
I had been meaning to read The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin for a while now, intrigued by the idea of the most popular Chinese-language science fiction novel of all time and when it won the 2015 Hugo Award (in translation by Ken Liu.) But with the announcement that Amazon was prepared to commit a billion dollars to adapt the trilogy for Prime TV, I decided to move it up in my long reading backlog.
The first book in the trilogy isn’t perfect, seemingly to only half-heartedly commit to its attempt to blend the history of Red China’s SETI program, the Cultural Revolution and a modern-day mystery of wide-spread suicides among physicists which are somehow connected to an underground VR game called The Three-Body Problem. The early parts of the book, set around the Cultural Revolution and the SETI program are very engaging, but the long sequences of the main character playing the VR game–with its grounding in higher mathematics and Chinese historio-mythologue–is less so. And when the reveal comes to tie it all together, it creates severe fictional whiplash.
I was left with a real sense of “Where the hell does he go after this?” And after Liu showed me in the sequel, The Dark Forest, I was left asking “Where the hell does he go after this?” And after Liu showed me in the final book, Death’s End, all I could think was “How in the hell are they going to make this in a TV show?”
There are few science fiction books that surprise me, and even fewer that don’t turn that surprise into disappointment. Liu Cixin didn’t disappoint me but these books are not an easy read.
The bad news is: I did not pass the exam on April 3rd. The good news is: I get to take it again on May 7th. … Yay. So, I’ve still been reading this lovely book, taking practice exams, etc. It’s been a very exciting few months. I’m looking forward to reading literally anything else after this is all over. … But mostly I’m looking forward to quality time with Persona 5, which Mr. Riven purchased for me for my birthday based on how much I loved Catherine. Since I can’t recommend you pick up the book I’m buried in, I will recommend you purchase either of these fine video games, instead.
Al Qaeda’s Super Secret Weapon – a VERY tongue in cheek take on the end of DADT in short graphic novel form. I laughed until my sides ached. There’s an almost poignent discussion of the IDF and why threesomes seem like a good idea but aren’t somewhere in the middle, and a pointed criticism of the Dallas airport. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
An Irish Country Cookbook, Patrick Taylor – I didn’t realize when I picked it up that it was a tie-in to a book series. I’ve queued up a few of the recipes and the short stories interwoven into the book almost make me want to start reading Taylor’s Irish Country Doctor series.
I’ve completely failed to put down Jia Pingwa’s Happy Dreams, which is both fascinating and infuriating, which is why I’m light on the reading this month.
Old Man With Candy
Two fun books, with a couple from SugarFree queued up for next month. First a reread of something I picked up a couple years ago and loved the hell out of, Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion, detailing what (to me) was the most interesting scientific fiasco of my lifetime. I may be somewhat biased because I know (or knew) about three quarters of the people talked about in the book, but it really is a delightful look at the use and abuse of science, the wonderful self-correcting nature of the process, the socio-religious tensions in the Salt Lake City-Provo axis, and the carnivorous world of academia. It does make me grateful that I’ve made a science career in industry instead…
The polar opposite is an intimidatingly thick romance novel, The Proviso: Director’s Cut, by the Glibertarians’ own Moriah Jovan (mojeaux). I’m not much on the romance novel genre, but couldn’t resist this one. It’s set in a corporate cut-throat environment, and brings together fatal attraction, ultra-violence, Mormonism (I’m sensing a theme in my books this month), sex, and libertarian sensibilities. The personalities of the characters are very three dimensional and the storyline is compelling. I’m halfway through and greatly enjoying this exploration outside of my reading comfort zone. The scene in the prosecutor’s office will sound disturbingly familiar:
“We don’t help people here. We find excuses to put them in jail and take their stuff… That means we’re the bad guys. Power hungry, abusive of the office, contemptuous of the law, in bed with all the wrong people, completely uninterested in justice,and to top it off, we’re a bunch of thieving bastards… And if you think any other prosecutor’s office is any different, think again.”
I haven’t been eating at home much recently, so I’ve run out of cereal boxes to read. But the really cool thing is that at my favorite restaurant, they have special placemats! So instead of me telling you about what I’ve been reading, I’ll show you!
Swiss came to visit me. Swiss brought me a whole pizza. Just for me. I didn’t share. I love Swiss. Swiss is my favorite forever. Bacon Magic didn’t bring me pizza. I bark and growl at Bacon Magic.
I love Swiss. Forever. Woof!
I am reading the latest Mark Lawrence book, Grey Sister, second installment in his newest series. Honestly, I’ll probably take a break and re-read the first one as I can’t track the characters.
I also read The Great Passage, a surprisingly entertaining book (set in Japan and translated from the original Japanese) about a young, uh, “focused” man who becomes the center of a fifteen year effort to create a new dictionary. I really don’t know how to describe it beyond that. But a really good novel about a couple of awkward people who fall in love with dictionaries and lexicography from a passionate desire to communicate better.
I also read the Riyria Revelations trilogy since last I made a WAWR post. A fun “let’s go overthrow the empire” adventure by two thieves who turn out to be principled killers instead of just thugs. Fast-paced, entertaining, good plot twists. A little too reliant on deus ex machina but a good sword-and-sorcery yarn that doesn’t take itself too seriously.