What I read in June 2019

What I read in June 2019
  1. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig: a great audio book! A call to a quieter lifestyle and how to avoid the things that makes us nervous (without even realizing it). More thoughts here.
  2. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay: beautiful writing, epic world building. Maybe a little bit too slow for my taste. More thoughts here.
  3. Goodbye, Things: On Minimalist Living by Fumio Sasaki: A Japanese view on minimalism. Inspiring reasons to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, even if you don’t want to be as extreme as the author.
  4. Saga, Vol. 3 (Saga (Collected Editions) #3) by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist): the Saga continues and I am on the wait list for Volume 4 at my library ๐Ÿ™‚
  5. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier: This book gave me a new perspective on gaming and how passionate people dedicate endless hours on creating a game. Fascinating, specially if you play video games.

On my to-read pile for July:

  1. Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols
  2. Infomocracy (Centenal Cycle #1) by Malka Ann Older
  3. Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells
  4. Conscious by Annaka Harris
  5. Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

#readinglist #books #reading

Tigana: What is a name?

Tigana: What is a name?

Tigana was written by the Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay in 1990. It was the first time I read one of his books. Kay is known for his fantasy fiction that resembles real historic places and even historical events, but transformed into fantasy. It seems like alternate history with fantasy elements in it. Tigana has lots of fantasy elements but I read that Kay’s earlier books gravitate more towards alternate history.

Tigana is a stand alone fantasy novel which is extremely rare these days. It tells the tale of a people that lost their identity since their kingdom was conquered by two powerful tyrant Wizards. It’s a story about lost names and culture and how a group of brave rebels prepared themselves over years to overthrow the tyrants and reclaim their homeland. The two tyrants split the kingdom into two and one of the provinces was put under a spell to basically transform it into another place and make its past forgotten.

It’s a slow burn story that develops leisurely and in an almost dream like state. The writing is poetic, almost to the point where it is too flowery, but then it isn’t. Some chapters are a deep dive into the characters memories and emotions that later helps us understand their motivations and their actions. The characters are not good nor bad. There is ambiguity in their actions. Even the tyrant wizard Brandin is portrayed as a conflicted villain and at times he seems unsure about his decisions. But for me, he is evil.

There is a lot of world building and it almost feels like the world he created could exist on its own and many other tales could be told about it. The newest editions of the book have a foreword in which the author explains his Italian inspiration for the Peninsula of the Palm. The author was inspired by the Italian Renaissance history. The powerful wizard Brandin of Ygrath was inspired by a proud and arrogant Borgia or Medici of the 1500’s.

Best and worst characters:

  • Best character: I loved Catriana, the red head woman who is brave and basically makes the story less boring.
  • Second best character: Devin, the bard/singer.
  • Worst character: Dianora, who lived in the saishan (kind of a harem) with the wizard Brandon. She wanted to defeat him but Stockholm’s Syndrome got her and she just couldn’t do anything against him.

My thoughts

I enjoyed it but it’s not on my “best books of the year list”. I thought the pace was too slow. Until 40% of the book we just get background story and not much action. Not really my cup of tea. But the writing is beautiful. Not sure if I’m going to read another book from this author.

The book

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My notes on “Notes on a Nervous Planet”

My notes on “Notes on a Nervous Planet”

I really enjoyed this book by Matt Haig. It’s part memoir, part essay, part blog post.

First of all, the author does a great job at narrating it. It felt like I was having a conversation as I nodded and sighed at various passages.
His personal stories add a lot of depth to the discussion: how can we be sane in a world that bombards us with information.

It’s a call to quieter lifestyle and makes us think about our standard behaviors. And it’s all in the little things: watch the stars, observe the clouds, listen to the birds, read a book, appreciate music, have a conversation in person without looking at your phone.
Beautiful writing!

I loved a chapter where he talks about books and reading:

โ€œReading isnโ€™t important because it helps to get you a job. Itโ€™s important because it gives you room to exist beyond the reality youโ€™re given. It is how humans merge. How minds connect. Dreams. Empathy. Understanding. Escape. Reading is love in action.โ€
โ€• Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet

And there is a look of talk about self image which is particularly relevant in today’s Instagram’s selfies:

โ€œRemember no one really cares what you look like. They care what they look like. You are the only person in the world to have worried about your face.โ€
โ€• Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet

It was a refreshing read (or should I say “listen”?). It’s about living. And being happy. And embracing what is important. Letting go of the burden.

The book:
Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
Published January 29th 2019 by Penguin Books (first published July 5th 2018

#book #bookreview #reading

What I read in May 2019

What I read in May 2019

1) Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3) by Martha Wells

  • Another adventure with the anti-social murder bot. It is full of action inside enclosed spaces and lots of hearing other people’s feeds. An enjoyable read, as always.

2) The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne, #1) by Myke Cole

  • This was a dark-grim book! Darker than I expected.
    The horror is raw and gory. It’s a harsh world with a religious fanatic Order, tyranny and dominated people. I was expecting lighter moments throughout the story but I would definitely consider it dark fantasy. Not really my cup of tea.

3) Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski

  • I loved the idea of “ending the stress cycle” and learning the differences between the stressors and the stress itself. Exercise (aka moving our bodies) is one of the best ways to discharge and close the stress cycle. With this book I realized how and why exercise is essential to my well-being. I always knew but I’ve never linked it directly to the stress cycle.

4) Saga, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist)

  • There’s no way you can’t love the characters. It’s just mindbogglingly full of creativity, emotion and authenticity. I read volumes 1 & 2 for a Bookclub meeting, which was awesome! I will continue reading the series for sure.

6) OneNote: OneNote User Guide to Getting Things Done: Setup OneNote for GTD in 5 Easy Steps by Jack Echo

  • This one helped me review some of he keys points on how to use Onenote. I’ve been using Evernote for more than 10 years now and I decided to move to Onenote. I like the flexibility, the “white canvas” space that Onenote offers. I learned some useful keyboard shortcuts and hidden option with this book.

#readinglist #books

What I read in April 2019

What I read in April 2019
  1. Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3) by Martha Wells, 158p
    • Another adventure with the anti-social murder bot. It is full of action inside enclosed spaces and lots of hearing other people’s feeds. An enjoyable read, as always.
  2. Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff, 256p
    • I heard about this book on Sam Harris’ “Making Sense” podcast. The topic interested me so I picked this one up. I did not love it. It was okay to a certain point but then I felt that the chapters were getting a little bit repetitive.
  3. Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations #1-2) by Michael J. Sullivan, 649p
    • This one was fun and comforting. Also it was my first time listening to a fiction book. It has the old Dungeons & Dragons feeling: cool characters, adventures and lots of talk about swords. It is not a dark fantasy and at some points the story is predictable because it contains some classic fantasy tropes: good vs evil, chaotic-neutral thieves, elves and dwarves, a really old and powerful mage, a prophecy. But that doesn’t spoil it. A good book to read under a blanket.

Plans for May 2019:

  1. The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne #1) by Myke Cole
  2. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski
  3. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier

#readinglist #books #reading

What I read in March 2019

Books I read March 2019
  1. Bitten (Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong, 436p.
  • I did not like this book. Maybe it just wasn’t for me. When you get into the details of being a werewolf, the pain, the tearing of clothing and the wild hunger, it just puts me off. Maybe I don’t like shapeshifters at all.
  1. The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal, 384p.
  • This book is way more action packed than the first one. It feels more sci-fy-ish with a great deal of ordinary human life details. And that makes the story and the characters feel alive. Diversity, racism and human rights discussions are intertwined with the story. There is even a Brazilian astronaut that curses in Portuguese. Anyway, highly recommended as an entertaining and exciting soft sci-fi read!
  1. The Lady Astronaut of Mars (Lady Astronaut #4.5) by Mary Robinette Kowal, 31p.
  • A short story about older Elma and Nathaniel living in Mars. It happens 30 years after Elma joined the expedition to Mars. It’s sad and hopeful at the same time. Will Elma go on another space travel exploration or will she stay and watch her husband die? I read it in one sitting.
  1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, 414p.
  • An evolutionary perspective with science mixing up with anthropology, politics, culture, religion, biology, economics, history.
    It’s a fascinating read and it made me think about many things and change my world view. It gives us a higher perspective on how we got here and leaves an open question as to why we are here.
  1. Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger, 355p.
  • A fun read, as always. But something about werewolves started to bother me. And all the fictional “aether” and “soul” content theories that governs this world. It’s extremely well built but my suspension of disbelief was not so strong while I was reading this book. Overall it’s a great steampunk fantasy, with lots of Victorian humor!

Reading plans for April:

  • Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff
  • Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3) by Martha Wells
  • Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4) by Martha Wells

#readinglist #books #reading