I think I lack some of the necessary background to really follow the finer points of this (knowing nothing about Deleuze etc.) but even so, it blew myI think I lack some of the necessary background to really follow the finer points of this (knowing nothing about Deleuze etc.) but even so, it blew my mind. Can't stop seeing everything I enjoy through this lens now. I'm still processing, but this may have fundamentally reoriented the way I approach entertainment....more
Cookie-cutter YA urban fantasy, adequately written. The fact that it centers a non-white, non-male perspective adds quite a bit of charm, but in the eCookie-cutter YA urban fantasy, adequately written. The fact that it centers a non-white, non-male perspective adds quite a bit of charm, but in the end not enough to redeem it from mediocrity.
I feel bad not giving it more stars because it incorporates a ton of great political commentary (on topics like cultural appropriation, gentrification, street harassment, police brutality, toxic masculinity... there's even a teen lesbian couple) in a way that feels very genuine and unforced. And the world and premise are very unique! While the ideas are there, the level of sophistication needed to pull it all together is not. I was actually expecting to learn it was Older's first novel.
I'm glad it got published, I hope plenty of impressionable kids read it, and I will say that for $2 I got my money's worth....more
Peter S. Beagle is a treasure. Somehow I'd never read this one, so when I saw it at the Little Free Library, I pounced on it. It turned out to be thePeter S. Beagle is a treasure. Somehow I'd never read this one, so when I saw it at the Little Free Library, I pounced on it. It turned out to be the perfect sick day read -- ideal for immersing myself in (and helping me forget my rhinovirus-induced misery) while wrapped up in blankets, drinking tea and sniffling into Kleenex.
Moreso than his other books, this one reminded me how powerfully affected I was by stories like Dogsbody and The Dark is Rising as a child. There's the same sense of magic, but not a fluffy, toothless, Disney-ified magic; this is a darker magic, darker and older and wilder....more
This book was on my to-read list because I'd come across this framing elsewhere ("sensitivity" vs. introversion etc.) and found it useful. The book itThis book was on my to-read list because I'd come across this framing elsewhere ("sensitivity" vs. introversion etc.) and found it useful. The book itself, though, wasn't terribly useful for me. It's just not quite was I was looking for. Varies between overly-rah-rah / reassuring and what other reviewers here have uncharitably called "psychobabble" -- "reparenting your inner infant" type stuff. I'd recommend Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking instead....more
I hope it's not overly-naive to say that the basic concepts here will be familiar to most seasoned programmers (whether coming from an academic backgrI hope it's not overly-naive to say that the basic concepts here will be familiar to most seasoned programmers (whether coming from an academic background or having simply been exposed to good software engineering in the course of their careers). Still, it's a nicely-organized book that distills many best practices into pithy and memorable "rules" and "laws", giving you a lens for writing good software in the trenches.
My favorite law? The purpose of software is to help people. :)...more
I read this in conjunction with taking a variant of the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction workshop, but I think it would also stand on its ownI read this in conjunction with taking a variant of the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction workshop, but I think it would also stand on its own.
A very readable, practical, secular guide to mindfulness: what it is, why you might want to practice it, and how to incorporate it into your day-to-day life. The revised edition also includes a lot of information on the ever-increasing body of scientific knowledge about how the practice of mindfulness can rewire your brain.
Only time will tell whether this book CHANGED MY LIFE, but since reading about a topic is one of my stronger learning styles, I personally found it helpful as a complement to the workshop and daily practice....more
I DEVOURED this book. This might be my new go-to recommendation for folks who haven't read David Mitchell (or who couldn't get into Cloud Atlas). HaviI DEVOURED this book. This might be my new go-to recommendation for folks who haven't read David Mitchell (or who couldn't get into Cloud Atlas). Having read The Bone Clocks first adds some depth, but isn't necessary -- this is the same universe but not a direct sequel per se.
Slade House feels like a finely-honed surgical instrument: it's less wide-ranging and expansive than some of his previous work, but deliciously, perfectly, spine-tinglingly effective at what it sets out to do....more
I bought this on sale on Amazon and I'm really sorry I did. I vaguely remember at least somewhat enjoying Freakonomics, but this is a hot mess of disoI bought this on sale on Amazon and I'm really sorry I did. I vaguely remember at least somewhat enjoying Freakonomics, but this is a hot mess of disorganized blogorrhea that accomplished nothing except making me angry. There's little to no actual data or in-depth analysis, just a bunch of off-the-cuff ruminations that range from laughably ill-conceived to dangerously bad. This is a book of Levitt & Dubner's personal opinions, which are on the whole myopic, right-wing and self-congratulatory. Wish they'd spend more time thoughtfully examining their own biases and less time trying to be hilariously offensive rogues....more
I had a harder time getting into this one than the first two; maybe I missed some of the subtleties, but both the political intrigue and the emotionalI had a harder time getting into this one than the first two; maybe I missed some of the subtleties, but both the political intrigue and the emotional subtext was a bit hard to follow at first and the story seemed to have a hard time getting off the ground. After the overly-expository first half, though, the plot grew teeth and the ending was absolutely riveting. As in "No, dear, I can't take a break to eat dinner with you, I have to find out what's going to happen". :P
I'm still not totally sure I really understood all the emotional nuances, but that's not a bad thing. The relationships in the trilogy feel complex and changeable and real in a way that's all too rare in scifi. On the whole there's a lot of texture here that will hold up very well to a reread.
The series reminds me in the best possible way of The Culture, Ursula Le Guin and Laurie J. Marks....more
I continue to be enthralled with this series. It's like The Left Hand of Darkness meets The Culture. The plot is still a bit ordinary but I really likI continue to be enthralled with this series. It's like The Left Hand of Darkness meets The Culture. The plot is still a bit ordinary but I really like the world and characters. I actually think that operating on a smaller, more intimate scale made this book slightly stronger than Ancillary Justice. Still not quite hitting five stars, but quite good....more
Definitely early Murakami, but still, definitely Murakami. Pinball is the much stronger of the two novels IMO. It's been awhile since I read the restDefinitely early Murakami, but still, definitely Murakami. Pinball is the much stronger of the two novels IMO. It's been awhile since I read the rest of the Rat trilogy so I may have missed some of the continuity. Also really enjoyed his intro and description of how he decided to write a novel -- literally out of the clear blue sky....more
Decently good plane read. Some of the essays crossed a few lines for me -- too mean-spirited; too reliant on humiliation or caricature as a form of huDecently good plane read. Some of the essays crossed a few lines for me -- too mean-spirited; too reliant on humiliation or caricature as a form of humor; too callous in their treatment of tricky subjects like the death of pets; too self-centered, puerile or generally grating. There's a fine line between being a clever satirist and being an unlikeable misanthrope, and Sedaris doesn't always quit while he's ahead.
I did laugh out loud while reading the titular essay, though. Repeatedly. And then went back and reread some of the better passages, which were, if anything, even funnier the second time. The series of essays that take place just after his move to France is absolute gold for anyone who's ever immersed themselves in a foreign language and culture.
Aside from those, my favorite essays were "A Shiner Like A Diamond" (which left me in absolute awe of Sedaris' sister) and then "Twelve Moments in the Life of an Artist" (which is admittedly pretty mean-spirited but IMO redeemed, at least in part, by both its self-deprecation and its sheer absurdity)....more
I don't know why, but I can't get enough of these "daily routines of artists" books. This is a good complement to Process: The Writing Lives of GreatI don't know why, but I can't get enough of these "daily routines of artists" books. This is a good complement to Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors - where Process goes deeper into a smaller number of people's lives (and focuses exclusively on authors), Daily Rituals offers smaller sketches, almost vignettes, from a wide variety of artists (authors are represented, as are architects, composers, painters, musicians, etc.)
I think I'm equally fascinated by the neurotic ones for whom the act of creation is a struggle and the muse difficult to reliably evoke (they remind me of myself) and by the ones who can work reliably (sometimes obsessively), day in and day out....more
This feels like an important book. It's very honest, insightful, personal and a much-needed perspective. I am glad it exists, glad I read it, and I thThis feels like an important book. It's very honest, insightful, personal and a much-needed perspective. I am glad it exists, glad I read it, and I think most people could benefit from reading it and really thinking about it.
That being said, I feel like I'm not exactly its intended audience, as a white person who does try to unpack my own biases. I feel cynical about whether the message will reach the so-called Dreamers, the people who are perpetuating the harmful narratives in the first place. After all, not being willing to listen to black voices and do honest self-examination is sort of their defining characteristic.
Of course this is probably also an important read for the folks to whom it's ostensibly addressed, the ones who are on the receiving end of the violence perpetrated on them by ongoing American racism and injustice and who have to figure out how to exist -- let alone thrive, raise families, etc. -- within that power structure. But I can't and won't try to speak for them as to whether or not Coates' story resonates....more
But Kondo doesn’t nag. Instead, she urges a kind of animistic tenderness toward everyday belongings. Socks “take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe, enduring pressure and friction to protect your precious feet,” she writes. “The time they spend in your drawer is their only chance to rest.” Purses merit similar reverence: “Being packed all the time, even when not in use, must feel something like going to bed on an empty stomach.” Kondo’s thesis—that the world is filled with worthy recipients of mercy, including lightweight-microfiber ones—is as lovely as it is alien. It’s empathy as an extreme sport.
Just from that, you probably know you'll either love or hate this book. For my part, I found it charming: eccentric, obsessive and more than a little bit dorky. Am I going to start folding my underwear into tiny little rectangles? Probably not. But as a long-time proponent of minimalism and decluttering, I can't help but love this weird little book.
Moreoever, I understand why it's become a cult phenomenon. Despite the fact that she describes her tidying as a "system", this is not really another 12-step decluttering book. It's more of a manifesto: a call to radically reevaluate your relationship with your possessions, and, by extension, the world.
And, as NY Mag said, it's not even a little bit naggy. It's Bob Ross levels of tender, encouraging and kind.
Some of her suggestions are definitely, well, odd. Like thanking each item you use during the day for its hard work, or greeting your house when you come home. But at its core, isn't that about cultivating mindfulness and gratitude -- about combating the capitalistic culture of scarcity with daily reminders that you are surrounded by abundance?
One of my favorite concepts was the idea that things come into your life for some purpose, but that it isn't always what you think it is. For example, an item of clothing that you bought but never wore may have served its purpose of giving you a thrill when you bought it, or of teaching you something about your own taste. The purpose of gifts is to be received, so there's no regret in letting go of a gift you no longer enjoy.
Another thing I found really interesting was the concept that the process of decluttering is an opportunity to hone in on your own intuition about what brings you joy.
The book acknowledges something that is often overlooked in decluttering advice - that the things we own are important and matter, that they can be hard to let go of, that there are psychological aspects at play. Instead of trying to convince yourself that stuff doesn't matter, Kondo encourages you to notice that it does, to treat it with respect and to appreciate the role it plays in your life and your sense of self.
The things we own are real. They exist here and now as a result of choices made in the past by no one other than ourselves. It is dangerous to ignore them or to discard them indiscriminately as if denying the choices we made. This is why I am against both letting things pile up and dumping things indiscriminately. It is only when we face the things we own one by one and experience the emotions they evoke that we can truly appreciate our relationship with them.
Listen to your own intuition. Surround yourself with the things that matter, that give you joy. Let go of the things that do not. Let go of the things that no longer serve you, and make space in your life for the things that matter.