veen:

Books I've read in the past 64 days:

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. I'm pretty sure I blasted through this in less than 48 hours. Phenomenal book on how to #writebetterdammit. Even though the majority of the book is advice on writing fiction, there is a lot to learn when you want to write nonfiction, so it's an enjoyable and engaging read nonetheless.

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman. A fun and self-aware book on how to be happy. Burkeman dispels the common (read: American) approach to happiness and takes the reader through a bunch of different philosophical ideas from Alan Watts to the Stoics that go against the grain.

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker. At almost 37 hours, this is not a small book, but Pinker is forgiven for it because he covers such a large scope and depth. In a Tony Judt-esque fashion, Pinker explains the large and steady decline in violence through decades and millennia with a bucketload of insight, evidence and anecdotes to back it up. The only thing that bored me to tears were his methodological chapters where he explains how he got his data, but other than that I found it intriguing.

Dollars and Sense by Dan Ariely. I then wanted something more fun-sized so I read Ariely's new book. If you're well-read in Freakonomics or behavioural economics, it's not very insightful but it was a fun read nonetheless.

The $12 Million Stuffed Shark by Don Thompson. I'd put this in the same bucket as Narconomics which I read earlier last year: take a niche and explore/explain the economic forces that drive the behaviour that looks weird on the surface but makes sense once you have the full picture. Interesting, but sometimes Thompson loses pace.

Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis by George Monbiot. This book is...basically a political pamphlet, and is researched like one. I liked his proposed ideas, but his argumentation is shoddy and easily shot-down. I found his proposal of a renewed Commons that is separate from government and market forces very intriguing.

After those books, I semi-accidentally bought myself a trifecta of memoirs. The first was Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman. Chapters alternated between "not so significant youth experiences" and "trying a little to hard to sound wise and insightful", so I didn't make it far before giving up. Autobiographies always focus too much on rosy and fuzzy childhood memories, but this was a bit too much for my liking.

The second was Hitch-22: A Memoir by Hitchens. I also haven't finished this yet, but that's mostly because it is quite a long book and the audio recording makes it hard to listen to him for too long at a time. I like Hitchens and his writing, so I'll finish it one day.

The third is Dawn of the New Everything by Jaron Lanier. This looked like a Jaron book on VR, but really is a Jaron memoir that has like four chapters about VR sprinkled in between. There are fascinating insights in there, but on the whole, they are few and far between when compared to his other books. I think he expanded too much on experiences that I could not relate to at all, and too little on the interesting anecdotes and stories he could've told.

Today I started reading Orientalism, which has been high on my list for quite some time.


posted by rd95: 19 days ago