Has it been that long already? Tempus fugit, I guess. Anyway, I've done more public transportation than usual so I've been reading more than usual recently:
I usually listen at 2-2,5x so that's more than 50 hours of audiobook just for October. As soon as I graduate I think I'll jump to a higher Audible tier.
Last time around I was halfway through Postwar. It kept fascinating me and the hours kept flying by. Highly recommended for anyone interested in European history.
Because I wanted something a bit lighter than Judt I read Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test. It's as good as any Jon Ronson, although he could've been much more critical of the "scientific test" that is at the core of the book.
I then attempted to read Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian. A friend of mine was interested in the book and Audible has been shoving it in my face ever since I've read Weapons of Math Destruction and it was on sale so I figured why the hell not. It's not a very good book. Here's a summary of every chapter I read: someone faces a problem, there exists an algorithm in computer science that can kinda help, here's how that algorithm works without any math or numbers whatsoever (so I ended up more confused, not less) and because my publisher wanted to make this book insightful, let me talk for a few pages about how this algorithm explains Life, The Universe and Everything.
I then listened to Jon Ronson's new The Butterfly Effect in less than 24 hours. To everyone who listens to podcasts and hasn't read a lot of Jon Ronson, I highly recommend it. It's a podcast series about porn, and it perfectly encapsulates everything I love about Jon Ronson books: he takes you into a fascinating and weird part of the world that you never thought about and talks to the people in it with an open mind and great questions. My only beef with it is that it suffers a bit from the podcast format when compared to a regular audiobook: every episode has an intro and outro which is annoying when you listen to it back to back, and Jon's slow-mo voiceover speed vs Jon's rapid talking speed in conversation is laughably disjointed.
A buddy told be to watch Narcos. I don't watch many series, but I was interested in the topic, so I picked up Narconomics by Tom Wainwright. His book looks at the business logic behind cartels and drug lords, which I found quite interesting. The bigger point that he makes is that our War on Drugs doesn't work from a business point of view, and that there's a pretty compelling economic argument to legalizing drugs.
I then decided to tackle another big book on my reading list: A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. It's a great book, but I noticed that my enjoyment per chapter depended highly on whether I knew a little or nothing about the topic. So I was trudging a bit throughout the 18th century striker chapters, but really liked the 20th century chapters. One outlier earlier on was his chapter about women and their role in society, I wish he'd discussed that more because it was a fascinating perspective. I think I will read this book again in a decade or so when I've hopefully read more history books.
I also read Strangers Drowning by Larissa MacFarquhar. The book tells the stories of a bunch of different do-gooders from all across the world, interspersed with a few chapters on critique about altruism. To no one's surprise, Peter Singer gets mentioned often. But if I read between the lines correctly, the stories she tells depict people who struggle with the purity of doing good that Singer's philosophy demands and kinda shows that that is either unworkable or unsustainable. I liked the book and the stories in it, so if you want a broader perspective on what it means to do good it might be a book for you.
Finally, as you can see in the screenshot, I am largely done with Peter Wohlleben's The Secret Life of Trees. This book has been on my list for something like two years I think? I knew about it before that Radiolab episode, that's for sure. So far it's an okay book. Peter tells a bunch of interesting facts about how trees work and how we only just learned that trees in a forest can "communicate" with each other by excreting scents. There's two problems I have with the book though: he anthropomorphises the shit out of trees and glosses over most of the (still new) science, which means that I find it hard to take what he says seriously. Maybe he should've waited a bit longer before writing this, or maybe someone else should have written it. I don't know.
Next up: my reading list is a bit short, so if anyone has suggestions let me know. I am considering reading The Better Angels of our Nature as my next big book. Also on my list, unless someone tells me it's crap: The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman, City of Light, City of Poision by Holly Tucker, Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit and American Kingpin by Nick Bilton. (kleinbl00, didn't you hate Nick Bilton?)