Some thoughts on books09 Aug 2017
Here is a stream of conciousness / opinions / reviews on the books that I've read in 2017.
A recurring goal of mine has been to read more. This year I've been trying to keep this particular goal top of mind (more on that on a different blog post). In addition, I've accepted that I'm lazy and would rather have someone read to things to me rather than just consuming things the more traditional way: translating symbols on pages to words in my head (even that sounds very exhausting). So I've been successfully listening to more books rather than reading.
Here is my list:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Ok look, my family and I are far from living the minimalist zero-waste lifestyle. My wife loves her fashion, the kids love their Lego and I love my toys. That said, there is value in looking through your living space and tossing out items that have passed their time with you. This book gives a nice process that helped me go through my clothes, electronics and my office items. I didn't think I had a lot of things, but there were 3 big black garage bags of clothes to donate (just my clothes) and I sold $500 worth of electronics and toys via craigslist. The poor kids had no choice.
Scrappy Little Nobody
The best audio books are the ones that are read by the authors who are either funny actors or comedians. Anna Kendrick is the former (Kevin Hart mentioned later is the latter). There are a lot of interesting stories on her life from broadway all the way up to the success of Up in the Air. Interesting read that made me re-watch some of her movies, but not Twilight. I don't think there is anything that would make me rewatch that series of movies.
A Life Without Limits
I aspire to be a triathlete (I'm actively working my way towards that multi-year goal). While I ride on the bike, I usually put on past recordings of the Hawaii Ironman trathlon. During the years of 2007 - 2009 and 2011, Chrissie Wellington won the world Ironman championships. She was sick in 2010. Every time she has raced, she's won. The book was an interesting and honest autobiography where she filled in answers to a lot of questions that the broadcasts didn't. Questions like: How did she go from a government job to a professional triathlete? How sick did you have to be to miss the 2010 world championships? Why is she always smiling?!
Seveneves: A Novel
A friend recommended this and the premise (as he described it) was really interesting. Humankind has taken to space to survive, ultimately ending up with only 7 women who had different approaches and philosophies for the future of the human race. Fast-forward some years later, and humans have evolved based on those choices. Interesting right? Good book, but there are a lot of long drawn out explanations of the science. Almost to the point that I feel like these are things that already exists. Bill Gates (yup! THAT Bill Gates) actually had a really good write up of the book and I pretty much agree with his assessment of it.
I came about American Gods in a very round about way. One of the first autobiographical audio books that listened to was Kristen Chenoweth's. A few months ago I was scanning my Instagram and saw that she posted this. That visual was so intriguing that I got so caught up googling it. I ended up reading through the book before the TV show. I'm generally ok with Neil Gaiman's works I think his story premises are incredibly clever and this was no exception. Gods living among men, with new and old gods competing for the worship and attention of people.
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House
I got this because it was part of a discounted Audible sale. I looked her up and immediately became fascinated by her Wikipedia page. You never really think about how much work it takes to coordinate the calendar of a sitting president and how much power that person wields. They would prioritize who you would meet with, coordinate changes in schedule and prioritize according to goals and values of the administration. It was good insight and very interesting. Being in Canada, it's hard to relate to some of the politics.
I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons
Ok, don't listen to this audiobook while you're on a treadmill or you might end up face planting from laughing. There are a lot of stories out there on YouTube on the process of comedy but getting a first hand account is always interesting. It's very honest and just a fun book.
Armada: A Novel
As you'll read below, I re-listen to the Ready Player One audio book a lot. Mostly because of Wil Wheaton's narration. So I've been wanting to check out this novel by the same author. It has similar amount 80's references peppered throughout but the premise of this one is a bit too close to The Last Starfighter which is one of my favorite cheesy movies. I admit that not the best judge but I found that the plot was a bit predictable with some of the relationships not developed enough for me to care about them.
The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage
The tricks in this book helped find me the motivation to write this and other blog posts through out this year. She expains the science behind it in the book, plus offers up some tricks on how to apply it to more complex situations. That said, I found Mel and her technique through this YouTube interview. The technique itself is embarrassingly simple, but surprisingly works.
Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook
Ok, there are a lot of mixed feelings about this one. It is very US focused, I feel that the tips are very much focused on their market and way of thinking. I'd have to do a bit more reading on how the advice is applied in Canada before saying any more. The anecdotes are interesting and the psychological perspective has a lot of value.
The next set really shouldn't count, but I included them because I did read 'em this year.
Ready Player One
I re-listen to this audiobook alot because it is one of my favorites. it was a recommendation by a friend and mentor that kinda surprised me. A part of me likes this book because of the glorious 80s references. I've revisited / watched / learned a lot of things as a result of this book: The Pac Man pattern, War Games (I never actually watched it) and a whole bunch of robots. Wil Wheaton does such an excellent job narrating it in the Audible version and there is a weird and meta line in the book where he talks about himself and Cory Doctrow which was amusing in itself. By the way, this is (hopefully) coming out as a movie in 2018! Personally, the casting of Simon Pegg as Ogden Morrow is also something that I didn't know I needed in my life.
The Daily Stoic
I don't think this should count because it's one of those books that you read a 1 page thought every day (sometimes it's 1/2 a page, other days it's 1 and 1/2 page). That said, by the end of the year if I'm diligent (which I've been so far) this book will count toward my annual books read total.
Born to run
I listen to this when I run. This is also the book that got me into running. 'Nuff said.