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veen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What's Hubski Reading?

I'm gonna partly ignore the question and use this post as a diary of what I have read since the last thread.

In chronological order:

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil. Alternate title: here are a bunch of subjects in which biased, shoddily or maliciously designed systems and algorithms screw over thousands or millions of average Americans. I already knew about it but it's a fun read nonetheless.

How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett. I listen to the Invisibilia podcast, so when they mentioned that their season would take the core idea of this book and run with it, I decided to give the book a shot myself. The author makes the case that our assumptions about what emotions are and how they originate are wrong, and how most of the research on emotions up until recently was based on those false assumptions. She argues that emotions are produced by us (in part by our senses, in part by our habitual responses to said senses) instead of something that happens to us. Which also means that she thinks we're much more in control than we think we are, which has a bunch of consequences for mental illnesses related to emotional wellbeing.

However, after her quite interesting argumentation has been laid forth, the book somersaults straight into a bottom-of-the-bargain self-help book. I couldn't finish it because of that, but the first half or so was not bad.

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. As I said in a pubski somewhere, it's 1/3 autobiography, 1/3 biography of artists and 1/3 art analysis. Two of those three were mildly engaging, one of the three I couldn't care less for.

Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle. I should've read this earlier - a phenomenal book about how we interact with technology (mostly: our phones) and how actual, normal conversation can never be replaced by it. While some might write it off as yet another old person lamenting on the decline of younger generations, I think it would be pretty intellectually dishonest to dismiss Turkle's arguments that easily. For me it was an eye-opener that I needed - she describes how more and more people do everything they can to avoid phonecalls or conversations, which was something that I was definitely doing for all the reasons she said I was. I've done a bit of soul-searching since reading this. For one thing, the book made me start calling my mom and my sister more frequently.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, which I discussed here. I forgot about her folding technique - the second thing that I now do because of the book.

Hiroshima by John Hersey. This book tells the story of six survivors of Hiroshima. A bit on the short side but it is an interesting account of the tragedy.

What do you care what other people think? by Richard Feynman. I loved the first half which covers Feynmans' youth and relation with his parents. Much of the second half bored me to tears - it's quite a miracle how a behind-the-scenes of the Challenger crash investigation can be made so utterly boring.

De Nieuwe Democratie by Willem Schinkel. This Dutch book was my holiday read. It's a dissection of the Dutch political landscape and everything that's wrong with it. You know how they say that in the U.S., most of the people vote against their economic best interest? Well, imagine what a country would look like when politics is reduced to voting for one's interest, hollow out any ideology, adopt managerial and neoliberal language and you've got the Dutch political system. I knew I wasn't happy with politics but now I know why it's so depressingly disappointing and disenchanting.

One thing I do wonder because of that book: is it a requirement for sociologists make up at least three dozen words in one book? He comes up with words like globalism telescope, poverty safari, critical boomerang audiences, mediatizing and paradoxical Englightenmentfundamentalism. By the end I could not stand cursive anymore because I knew that meant he'd pull yet another word out of his ass.

Almost forgot! Currently halfway through Tony Judt's Postwar. One of the most fascinating books I've read, with enough insight to keep me more than entertained for the 1000 pages that it is. I mean, he relates the Lucky Luke cartoons of my youth to the American image portrayed in the years 1950-1960s. What more could I want.

Excluding Postwar, that's about 1500-2000 pages in 2,5 months. I don't think I've ever read this many non-study books in such a short amount of time.