I, as my four star rating would suggest, really liked this book. Newsom presents a lot of interesting thoughts about the intersection of government an...moreI, as my four star rating would suggest, really liked this book. Newsom presents a lot of interesting thoughts about the intersection of government and ubiquitous technology, and what that could mean for the future of our country. The ideas and examples discussed throughout the book are empowering and point toward a possible future defined by increased civic engagement, strong sense of community, and a new definition for and appreciation of our commonwealth.
The book is not without its problems. Newsom glosses over privacy issues quickly by dismissing privacy as a relatively recent social construction. The implications of using people's personal data for commercial purposes are illustrated through the rosiest possible lenses. That said, the world that Newsom foresees is an empowering one that puts power in people's hands and views the relationship between government and its constituents as a two-way street instead of the top-down system of government we currently have. At a time when seemingly everyone, myself included, is disenchanted by how they see government operating, Newsom makes a compelling case that it doesn't have to be that way and points to others who have already started to change the system for the better. (less)
I picked up this book sometime earlier this year after borrowing it from the library and only getting through the first few chapters. The length of ti...moreI picked up this book sometime earlier this year after borrowing it from the library and only getting through the first few chapters. The length of time it took me to read Dharma Road is not a fault of the books, but rather my own inability to stick to a book that isn't written by a sci-fi or fantasy author for more than 3 days at a time. But I'm actually really glad I dragged this book out for so long.
In many ways this book reminds me of The Tao of Pooh. The book is extremely readable and the author strikes an easy-going, conversational tone throughout - impressive because of the breadth of content he covers in such a relatively short amount of time. The short chapters are focused, interesting, but above all engaging. I feel like Haycock succeeds thoroughly in illuminating Zen principles through the unlikely lens of a cabdriver, and I very much enjoyed being taken along on the ride.
I initially was drawn to this book after reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs and wanting to know more about what Zen was. I walk away from this book completely satiated in that goal and find myself wanting to still explore more. (less)
Every three years or so I rediscover the genre of short stories and find myself amazed by what an impact they can make in such a short amount of time....moreEvery three years or so I rediscover the genre of short stories and find myself amazed by what an impact they can make in such a short amount of time.
I've had The Lucky Strike lying around for a few years and happened to stumble across it again after reading an article on io9 about alternative histories. The story deals with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how history might be just a little be different had the Enola Gay and its crew crashed on a test flight before her bombing run.
The story is by no means my favorite piece of literature by Kim Stanley Robinson, but I think he does a pretty good job of depicting a realistic alternate history while at the same time bringing up still very real questions about whether the bombing of an actual city at the end of World War II was necessary. It's an important question to at least consider given the ongoing development of nuclear weapons in an increasing amount of countries. (less)
The title of this book immediately caught my attention as I was walking through the library and shifted my thoughts to my seeming inability to not eat...moreThe title of this book immediately caught my attention as I was walking through the library and shifted my thoughts to my seeming inability to not eat just one more pringle, starburst, pretzel, chocolate covered raisin, bread, cheese, and so on and so on...
The book follows a typical non-fiction format: intro, stuff, conclusion. The author's treatment of the material is alternatively wonkish and cheesy and he seems torn about whether or not he's writing a self-helpish diety book or an engaging-bring-it-to-the-masses overview of psychological food experiments. The latter is far more entertaining and the experiments he details are truly interesting, though I would imagine that readers interested in the former would be more likely to pick the book up.
The book reminded me a lot of Jonah Lehrer's How We Decide, only with a food focus. There's a lot of crap our brain does without us realizing it when it comes to the "over 200 decisions about food" we make on a daily basis. Coupled with other books that explore the various factors affecting how we make decisions, I could see this book as being inspiring depending on what you take away from it.
Overall an informative and mostly engaging if at times repetitive read. (less)
Thirteen years after having first read this book, its ending still crushed me. CRUSHED me. I knew what was coming and I still couldn't help but tear u...moreThirteen years after having first read this book, its ending still crushed me. CRUSHED me. I knew what was coming and I still couldn't help but tear up the last three pages.
I think this book is a classic and would I be making a required reading book list (which I will now make via Goodreads tags), Flowers for Algernon would definitely be on the list. I think there are a lot of reasons for that, but one of the things that struck me about the book as I thought about it afterward was how important first-person perspective is to the book achieving the emotional weight that it does. A lot of the books that I read jump from one character to the next as a means of exploring the variety in the worlds they inhabit and for the most part, I'm a fan of this. I love being able to guess at the intentions of one character on one page only to be surprised at their true motives on the next.
Truly committing to one, single, flawed character though allows you to emotionally tug on the reader more thoroughly. Watching just one individual's story arc, Charlie's rapid rise and accelerated fall, you don't have the luxury of not empathizing and you too are pulled down with the character. (less)
This book is trying just a little too hard to be a little too cool. That said, it was an enjoyable short read. I appreciated the dialogue, as it's pro...moreThis book is trying just a little too hard to be a little too cool. That said, it was an enjoyable short read. I appreciated the dialogue, as it's probably one of the more accurate portrayals of how people our age speak to one another. There is so much potential in the ideas that this book explores, but I feel like it never got deep enough to be super-memorable. Overall though, I liked it more than I didn't. (less)
I've never been a big fan of the coming-of-age-I-hate-the-world-well-maybe-I-don't novel a la Catcher in the Rye or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. D...moreI've never been a big fan of the coming-of-age-I-hate-the-world-well-maybe-I-don't novel a la Catcher in the Rye or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. David Klass' Stuck on Earth suits me better. Brisk, fun, and generally light hearted, the book still manages to deal with some of the tumultuous aspects of being an adolescent, but in the creative way of having an alien tasked with deciding the fate of humanity take over the body of a typical 14-year old boy.
The book is not the most earth shattering young adult novel, but I would still greatly consider it as a summer reading book for 7th, 8th, and maybe even 9th graders. There's enough in here to spark some quality discussions about the pressures of that age in a relatively non-threatening way.