Books, Professional Development

Book 535: Nudge – Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

I’m really taking to heart all of the articles I read about the most successful people and I’m trying to read one nonfiction book that will teach me something every month this year. I just looked back on all my stats from the last year and I’ve averaged 16 nonfiction books a year.

I’m still not 100% sure what list I saw this on, but I picked up a copy back in August of 2016. It was probably when I started reading about the importance of mental acuity and keeping your mind sharp and constantly learning how to do new things. That or it was when I was dealing with some craziness at work and needed all the advice I could get! Pick any number of these books and you’ll see what I mean, specifically those dealing with conflict.

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Books

Book 533: Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

This is one of those books that has been on my metal list to look into since it came out. For some reason though, I had lumped it into the same sort of release period as Ender’s Game and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and boy was I surprised when I realized it was written and released in 2011. I knew I would get to the book some day, but the movie release in the next few months, preview embedded at the end of the post, my desire to read the book increased dramatically.

I didn’t read it quite as fast as I read some of the recent Jane Austen fan-fiction, but I did get through this one pretty quickly. I found the writing simple enough to breeze through and my vague familiarity with a lot of the 1980s pop culture helped (even if I did have to google quite a few). The strengths, for me at least, were the realistic vision of where we could easily end up as a society within the next few decades if something similar to OASIS actually becomes reality. The OASIS or, “The Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation was a big place.” (48), is in essence an internet/game type situation that could include full or partial body immersion. Cline isn’t the first, nor will he be the last to write something like this. It’s a dystopian vs. utopian, good vs. evil, privacy vs. corporate consumerism story for the ages.

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Books

Book 525: Origin (Robert Langdon #5) – Dan Brown

I’m not sure if this has pulled me out of my reading slump, but I did read it. When I got the notification from the library for this I was surprised. I had completely forgotten that I’d requested this.

I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to read this, but I figured why not? Brown might not be the most high brow of authors, but the man knows how to write a page turner (mostly). I still remember reading The Da Vinci Code it’s year of publication and quickly seeking out Angels and Demons and Deception Point. Ever since then I’ve made a habit of reading his books as they’re released. I enjoyed both The Lost Symbol and Inferno, and this one probably falls somewhere with those two. The wonder and awe as the action in Da Vinci Code unfolded just wasn’t there in the follow ups.

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ARC, Books

Book 508: Chemistry – Weike Wang

I first heard of this book through a friend, who also happens to be friends with the author. After reading the blurb I reached out to the publisher for a copy and here I am.* It of course didn’t hurt that the book was set here in Boston at an unnamed University and I’ve started to see it everywhere around the city either!

Chemistry is the tale of an unnamed narrator and her exit from the academic world that has ruled her life and her various reactions to things going on in her world. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s what I boiled it down to. I’m still mulling over many parts of the book, particularly the “conclusion,” but in general I found this to be a wonderfully engaging read.

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Books, Professional Development

Book 507: If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? – Alan Alda

Only two ARC/Galleys left and I am all caught up! The same publicist who sent me Finally Out reached out about this book and the title had enough humor in it I figured it was worth a shot.* I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would!

What Alan Alda—I didn’t even recognize him from M*A*S*H (IMDb link), I just recognized his caricature—is doing is what the Plain English Campaign (website) has been trying to do since the late 70s, just through a different venue: improv. Both are trying to get things translated from the indecipherable jargon of science or government into easily relatable language. Alda, has basically made a side career out of this with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where the observations he made from his many years on Scientific American Frontiers are put into practice to teach scientists how to talk to non-scientists.

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Book Group, Books

Book 479: The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events #3) – Lemony Snicket

If I weren’t reading this for book group, I don’t think I would keep reading the series. The exponential increase of negativity and darkness is too much for me. I’ve struggled with the balance of the darkness and the humor. Thankfully, the one person in our group who has read them told us that they’re not all as doom and gloom as the first few and that other story lines develop, so needless to say I’m looking forward to that.

This one was once again even darker than the one before, and the reason I wrote about the above. There was a scene where the person who was supposed to be the Baudelaire’s guardian offered them as a sacrifice instead of themselves and I was like WTF, this is just too much. I also felt the appearance of Count Olaf and the rapidity of the demise of the guardian was even faster than the previous books.

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Book Group, Books

Book 478: The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events #2) – Lemony Snicket

I’m still not sure what to think about these. This one got so much darker so much faster than the first book. I’m also trying to figure out why these books are okay for kids.

I mean I get it, but it’s a bit overwhelming when you think about how dark and how dangerous these books are. Thankfully there’s a lot of (light and dark) humor that it sort of balances out.

I actually really enjoyed Montgomery Montgomery and was sad how that ended, but I’m continuously amazed at how idiotic the adults are, which really is why we’re reading these books this year because of the whole Trump elections thing.

What I enjoy most about the series so far is that Snicket’s language skills are incredibly great and with a town called Tedia (think tedium), Lousy Lane, and there are even more ways in which he plays with language.

Recommendation: The series is good and I’m enjoying it so far. I’m fascinated by Count Olaf and all of his pawns, but I’m concerned that we won’t get that far with these characters because these are children’s books.

Opening Line:The stretch of road that leads out of the city past Hazy Harbor and into the town of Tedia, is perhaps the most unpleasant in the world.”

Closing Line: “They stood together in the moonlight, and kept waving, even when Bruce shut the doors of the van, even as the van drove past the snake-shaped hedges and down the driveway to Lousy Lane, and even when it turned a corner and disappeared into the dark.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers.)