Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

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message 1: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new)

Bryan | 480 comments Mod
Art has talked about how he tries to read some non-fiction books each month. I've been inspired by him and I'm going to try to get one done a month. So, I started a new biography book about Robin Williams. It's called Robin by Dave Itzkoff by Dave Itzkoff. I've always respected Robin Williams and he's death was the only recent celebrity death that got to me.

I just started it today, but I figured I'd hold myself accountable to reading it by letting everyone know. Also, I may post comments or what-not as I go through the book.

I would also like to hear about what non-fiction book you are reading. I know Art is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to non-fiction. I'd like to know who else in our group reads non-fiction on a regular bases.


message 2: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Glad to hear that I've got you curious about reading nonfiction, to me it is an inexhaustible source of knowledge that I would hardly give up.

I'm not too familiar with biographies, but I'm pretty sure that there's plenty to learn about from the title you picked, from what little I know about him, it must be a pretty interesting read.


message 3: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3989 comments Mod
Biographies and memoirs can be fun! Right now as my monthly non-fic I read/listen to The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century, which describes the story of Nuremberg hangman in the late 1580s to early 1610s


message 4: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new)

Bryan | 480 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "Biographies and memoirs can be fun! Right now as my monthly non-fic I read/listen to The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century, wh..."

That's intense! I'm going to do baby steps into this.


message 5: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
If you are interested in the natural world and the universe, there are plenty of interesting books about that. As for the baby steps, you might want to check Bill Bryson and his A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail and A Short History of Nearly Everything

I'm sure you'll enjoy it and learn a thing or two while having a chuckle every 2nd page.


message 6: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new)

Bryan | 480 comments Mod
The non-fiction for this month for me is The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney.

I'm starting it today. Being an introvert who has learned how to be an extrovert, this book calls to me. I'm interested in seeing what it has to say.


message 7: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3989 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "Being an introvert who has learned how to be an extrovert"

I usually assume this is an innate characteristic which cannot be learned. The will to tolerate people around you and constant interaction can, but the very desire cannot :)


message 8: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Jun 26, 2018 08:08PM) (new)

Kateblue | 4063 comments Mod
I think many learn to present selves to the world as extroverts even though they're not. The true difference remains even if extroverts are the favorite flavor this decade--so we all become apparent extroverts to better function as our lives require in current society.

Does this make sense? Because I could sit here in this house and never really talk to anybody, but my hubby goes nuts if he can't get out and interact with people. That doesn't mean that I can't interact, but mostly, I don't really need it the way he seems to. Not gregarious, that's me.

Bryan, let us know if it's any good . . .


message 9: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Won't comment too much on the subject of the book, besides that it looks rather interesting. I've been dipping toes into the vast pool of wisdom of behavioral psychology for a couple of decades now and the only thing I've learned is that the more I learn, the less I understand.

One word of caution though, many of the books focusing on one subject have a tendency to paint with a broad brush. Take the examples they provide with a grain of salt, even the most established theories dating 4-5 decades back have been disproven only recently. I am not really talking about research which had two dozen subjects, but the real deal, 300,000 participans involved in years of research giving out false-positive results. Of course, maybe none of this relates to this particular work.


message 10: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (last edited Jun 29, 2018 05:29AM) (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3989 comments Mod
Art wrote: "I've been dipping toes into the vast pool of wisdom of behavioral psychology for a couple of decades now and the only thing I've learned is that the more I learn, the less I understand."

I'm interested in this as well. What can be a problem, as you correctly noted, is a modern crisis of experimental psychology, which showed that too many classical experiments are not that solid-proof. One of the articles on the subject I've read recently:
https://www.vox.com/science-and-healt...


message 11: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new)

Bryan | 480 comments Mod
Alright now...everyone best be careful...you are getting dangerously close to calling Psychology a soft science and that be fightin' words to anyone with a Psych degree.

I would like to also point out that every science started out with false beliefs and some of the most respected sciences are still finding new stuff that maybe reshape what they all believed to be true.

However, Psych is a young science, but it is getting there. The major problem with Psych studies is the subject matter. If a geologist looks at a rock, you don't have to worry if the rock is going to lie to you or be in a bad mood.

Humans are fickle and when you start to test them, then its like pull a single frame out of a video and trying to understand the previous scenes or even the whole movie. Every test is a snap shot of what is going on right then and there. If the person just got in a fight, is scared of doctors, or just didn't get enough sleep for that day...it's going to make the picture a little off.

This guy, Daniel Amens, is starting to take SPET scans of peoples brains. Which is interesting because it is more empirical. Check out his website.

With all that said. I give the book 3 stars. It was interesting and it pointed out a lot of things I had not noticed and validated some things I had already thought of about myself. The author tells you over and over again that there is nothing wrong with being an introvert but she treats introverts like fragile children.

I think this book would be better for those who have social anxiety and have a lot of issues with getting yourself out there. because those are the people she interviewed for this book. Which goes back to what I was saying (you thought I was just talking out my ass, didn't you) that your theories and your results are only as good as your test subjects. If every introvert you interview has social anxiety and lower self esteem, then you are going to come to the conclusion that EVERY introvert suffer from these issues.

What I did like about the book was towards the end, when it talked about the effects of an introverted child being raised by extroverted parents and parents with mental health issues. It did bring to light a few things about myself and hit close to home a few times. But that's the point of reading stuff like that. It also helped me appreciate my wife more (extroverted). It will give us stuff to talk about.

I think this is the longest post I've ever done. Yay, a new personal best!


message 12: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4063 comments Mod
So interesting Bryan. I looked at the website and found that I did not know enough to really understand the pictures. Kind of creepy, though!

Thanks for clueing us in to an interesting subject


message 13: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "Alright now...everyone best be careful...you are getting dangerously close to calling Psychology a soft science and that be fightin' words to anyone with a Psych degree."

Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for the science and I believe that the discoveries that are being made or those that already have been made, will prove to be crucial in fixing flaws of our society in general. There is absolutely nothing soft about it.

What I referred to in my previous post is not only the byproduct of overzealous PhDs who are mostly looking for a quick buck by publishing a book based on anecdotes of a few of their drinking buddies. Unfortunately there have been too many cases where a certain subject is approached using scientific method, which fails utterly when dealing with human beings. It is never an a + b = x (as you've also mentioned in your post), our psyche is bombarded constantly by outside distractions, personal biases, our physical state, social interactions, not to mention myriad of long-term influences ranging from childhood experiences to what we ate for breakfast. Therefore whatever test there were undergone during 60s through 80s they were all but scratching the surface.

Nowadays the research that is done is way more controlled and not a single self-respecting professional in the field of psychology will commit to having established something with a 100% certainty. However you will still find many articles about Research X proving that Y causes Z, tabloids just keep pulling stuff out of a hat (and by hat I mean ass). Still there's loads of research that yields fantastic results, though all the brilliant minds who work on it will admit not knowing what it exactly proves. Take for example the "marshmallow test" (dubbed so by a newspaper, marshmallow figure very little in it), though it did not exactly show the "hows" and the "whats" of human self control, it still launched up to twenty various researches that touch upon some of the original findings.

One of the fields that proves to be an exception to the rule is neuropsychology. I've got nothing on it, the results are very often as staggering as they are concrete. The best thing about it is that neurons don't lie. Empirical data's shown us how addictions work (from gambling to heroin), the origins of sleep disorders, assessment of memory and recognition paradigms. The list goes on and on.

In any case, thanks for sharing the read and I hope others will also throw in their recommendations of nonfiction works.


message 14: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2350 comments Mod
I typically have some type of non-fiction book going, reading a few pages at a time. Typically, it is some type of history, military or biography. Last year, I read Martin Gilbert's massive biography of Churchill. This year, I happened to find a battered used copy of Robert Massie's famed Nicholas and Alexandra, and its companion volume The Romanovs: The Final Chapter, which I just finished. His Pulitzer Prize winning Peter the Great and WWI prelude Dreadnought are outstanding and insightful. One quick, fun history I would recommend is The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum, about the advent of forensic lab testing in the early 20th century.


message 15: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new)

Bryan | 480 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "I typically have some type of non-fiction book going, reading a few pages at a time. Typically, it is some type of history, military or biography. "

My brother has the exact same interests. I like history and some biographies, but I'm not very interested in military non-fiction.

I picked up a history of Persian Empire and of Viking history. Both I have a personal interest in learning more about.


message 16: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Found a copy of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, seemed fascinating. I'm not one for biographies but if anyone else has any suggestions for nonfiction, feel free to throw them out there.


message 17: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4063 comments Mod
I have Stephen Hawking books available from the library. Anybody read much of his stuff? Which ones do you like? I decided maybe I better try to learn something new before my brain fails altogether!


message 18: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3989 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "I have Stephen Hawking books available from the library. Anybody read much of his stuff? "

I've read his A Brief History of Time and it was fine. Not extraordinary but not dull either. So, yes, give it a try


message 19: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3989 comments Mod
Art wrote: "any suggestions for nonfiction, feel free to throw them out there"

non-fic history books? Try Barbara W. Tuchman, oldie but goldie


message 20: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2350 comments Mod
Finished All Quiet on the Western Front, the classic soldier's viewpoint of WWI. Very sad, as you can imagine, but very well written and unique.


message 21: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3989 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "Finished All Quiet on the Western Front, the classic soldier's viewpoint of WWI. Very sad, as you can imagine, but very well written and unique."

However, if you speak about Erich Maria Remarque this is fiction


message 22: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4063 comments Mod
I'm looking at Tuchman's stuff, and I appreciate the suggestion, but I think I would rather read about science . . .


message 23: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "I'm looking at Tuchman's stuff, and I appreciate the suggestion, but I think I would rather read about science . . ."

I have The Grand Design by Hawkins that I was going to read some time soon, will let you know how that goes.

Other than that, I really suggest A Short History of Nearly Everything, I am planning to reread that and I almost never reread nonfiction (cannot afford to) due to the time constraints.


message 24: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2350 comments Mod
True, but it reads as non-fiction since it recounts his own experiences. Fiction/non-fiction.


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