📚Noisy Deadlines

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."- Douglas Adams

It's that time of the year (middle of winter in the northern hemisphere) when I start to hear lots and lots of people complaining about winter. They say: “It's too long, it's too cold, it's too much snow, it's horrible.”

So here's a message to leave those negative feelings behind:

“If you choose not to enjoy snow, you will have less joy in your life, but the same amount of snow.”

So, let’s choose to enjoy!

Winter view

#winter #quote

by Charlie Jane Anders

All the birds in the sky

This was a surprisingly weird book. It's a mix of urban fantasy, light science fiction, nonsense and disastrous near futures. There's an AI, witches and mad scientists (sort of...). There is romance. Childhood adventures. Nerdy hipsters. Birds and trees talking. There are philosophical discussions about life, universe and everything. A clash of magic and science.

It's one of those books that can't really fit in one genre box. It's multi-genre (if such a classification exists). I enjoyed reading it mostly because of the unusual dialogues and crazy ideas. It reminded me a little bit of Douglas Adams's style (like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

The AI Peregrine was my favorite character. And in my head I was sure the AI was a female. But then later in the story I realized they actually called her with a masculine noun. Anyway, the genre doesn't matter at all, the AI was cool. I thought the best portions of the story were when Patricia and Laurence were having some existential discussion, like the end of the world.

At around 70% I thought the story dragged a little bit and it became a little depressing. But then the story picks up and extraordinary things happen.

It's an interesting mixed bag of magic and “sciency” near future story.

To be read with an open mind.


#bookreview #reading #books

I started listening to audio books recently. The first month of 2019, to be exact.

So far I've listened to 23 hours distributed between 3 books.

Audible total listening time

And I have mixed feeling about audio books... I mean, it's a great way to squeeze in more reading hours in moments when you can't actually sit down and hold a book (or a Kindle, in my case).

And that's the point: 99.99% (*)  of my listening happened while I was:

  • Running on a treadmill at the gym
  • Exercising/stretching at the gym
  • Folding laundry
  • Preparing food
  • Doing the dishes
  • Eating breakfast
  • Commuting
  • Cleaning the house

(*) Note: the 0.01% was due to 5 minutes today that I was actually sitting down and listened until I reached the end a chapter before I started something else at the same time.

Focus?

So I was never fully focused on the “reading act” the way I am when I'm with my Kindle.

It's...different. Different levels of focus.

I know that I could sit down and just listen to a book. But somehow that didn't seem an attractive option for me. And probably that's because I'm used to listening to podcasts while doing all the activities I pointed above.

So I replaced podcasts with books.

I concluded I don't immerse myself and assimilate information the same way when I'm listening. And that's probably because I've multitasked while listening to Audiobooks.

I'm not saying I can't remember what I read. I just feel that I might have missed small pieces of information. A quick-witted phrase. A savvy detail. A stirring revelation I wanted to note down and muse over. I got the overall message, no problem. But the act of listening wasn't conducive to reflection while I was receiving the information.

Distraction?

And that brings me to my wandering mind...

Our minds wander, that's normal. From moment to moment it gets filled with random thoughts and to-do's for an undetermined future date. When that happens with my Kindle I just pause, acknowledge, take a breath and find the last sentence I remember processing and continue reading from there.

With Audiobooks, my mind got lost in not only my internal thoughts but also with all the things going on around me (remember: I was multitasking).

So the combination of my inner musings and external stimuli kept me not paying attention to the audio for what? 30 seconds? 2 minutes? 5 minutes? I really don't know. When I realized I was distracted I just paused the audio feeling a little bit overwhelmed.

And eventually I would come back to listening when the situation I was in felt less distracting.

Wrapping it up...

I don't hate Audiobooks. I actually enjoyed it most of the time and I'm sure I would not be able to read 3 books as fast as I did if I was reading.

I will continue to listen to Audiobooks. At least 1 per month, that's part of my Reader Goals for 2019.

But I'll choose wisely which books to listen to. If it's a more contemplative reading that I know I would like to take notes and assimilate slowly, I will probably not choose the audio version.

And I will experiment with just sitting (or lying) down to listen, distraction free.

#audiobooks #reading

The other day I was watching this TED talk on “Mindfulness, Technology and Attention Activism” by Jay Vidyarthi and he mentions this quote from Herbert A. Simon back in the 60'/70's.

Simon, a Nobel prize winner, was onto something here and I wonder what he would say about the world today... 🤔

“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” Simon, H. A. (1971) “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World” in: Martin Greenberger, Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest, Baltimore. MD: The Johns Hopkins Press. pp. 40–41.

#attention #quote

My good old Kindle

I challenged myself to read 52 books this year. And I have a plan... 🧐

...Read more “Hell, Yeah!” books.

The past few years I was experimenting a lot and reading books I would not really pick up at first glance. And looking back I saw that my average rating for all the books I read was 3.9. I think that's low. That means I didn't read enough books that I thought were really exciting. I read lots of “meh” books. You can see a list of all my read books here.

This year I want to read books that have been on my “to be read list” for some time because they are sequels to stories I already love.

Also, I was inspired by the Reading Glasses challenge (great podcast about Book Culture, BTW) and borrowed some of their ideas to my Reader Goals:

  • Read a graphic novel (or two...)
  • Read more of authors I already know and love
  • Read a book by a trans author
  • Listen to 1 audiobook per month (non-fiction)
  • Listen to 1 fiction audiobook [never tried it before!]
  • Read sequels of the Series I already love:
    • The Expanse by James S. A. Corey (#4 to #7)
    • Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (#3)
    • Old Man's War by John Scalzi (#2 to #6)
    • Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger (#2 to #5)
    • The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski
  • Start Reading The Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher [never read it before! Wanna try!]
  • Read books I've already have purchased/pre-ordered:

    • The Armored Saint by Myke Cole
    • Paladin of Souls (World of the Five Gods #2) by Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger
    • Enough by Patrick Rhone (Kindle Unlimited)
    • Drive by Daniel H. Pink
    • Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport [pre-ordered]
    • Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff [pre-ordered]
    • Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier
  • Read some picks from The Sword and Laser Bookclub and Vaginal Fantasy Bookclub throughout the year, because they are awesome (love their podcast)!

  • Also read some picks from Vaginal Fantasy

I am sure I'll keep adding titles to this list but I will try to consider this my priority list for 2019 😎

#reading #books #list

Window frost patterns at my window this morning.

Window frost Window frost

#winter

Why have sports events became a huge advertisement show?

Disclaimer

I went to a hockey game the other day. As a newcomer in Canada this was one of the experiences I wanted to try. Hockey is like soccer for Brazil: almost everybody has a favorite hockey team and it is constantly in the news. I am not a big sports fan. Actually I don't like watching sports and I don't have any favorite teams. But it was nice to have the opportunity to see a hockey game.

And what I saw was...

... less about the sport and more about...advertising. I was overwhelmed by the number of screens and banners showing ads all the time!

It seemed to me it was a big marketing show that had some guys playing hockey in the background.

The sound system was extremely loud and I ended up with a terrible headache afterwards. The only moments with silence were when the players were actually playing, and as soon as there was a pause, the super loud music would come up and a countdown telling everybody to make some noise would appear before the puck was on the ground again. And they would squeeze as much advertisement as possible during these short breaks.

I think I must have seen thousands of ads coming from various sources, non-stop. I counted at least 8 locations where advertisement was displayed. It just seemed to me that the goal of the game was to get us to buy (more) stuff, rather than enjoy a sports match. Hockey game and ads locations

Maybe I've been away from big stadiums shows and events for too long because I was shocked with the spectacle and how my attention was being forcibly drawn to all those screens.

It was a 3+ hour event, with two 20 minutes intervals that had a DJ with exceedingly loud music and advertisement insertions throughout. And also the camera would catch people from the audience to appear at the big screen in the middle of the stadium. Like, a 30 seconds moment of fame competition with air guitar performances, dancing and people just being goofy.

I don't know if it's me, but it was too much! Too much noise, too much ads, too much non-focused attention.

Are all the sports events like this now?

#ads

Headphones

I decided to try Audible for 90 days. I never understood the appeal of listening to a book. For me, reading is a calming experience and depending on the book I will slow down or speed up my reading. I will stop and just look at the world around me when a phrase inspires me. I highlight and take notes (yes, we can do that with an e-reader). Could I do that with an audiobook?

I am used to Podcasts. I normally listen to them when I am walking towards an errand, doing the dishes, running at the gym or, occasionally, driving. When I am listening to a Podcast I sometimes catch myself wondering about my to-do list or remembering a past event. Then I realized I've been distracted and I come back to the listening. But that's okay because it's not a book, I don't need to follow every sentence to understand the message. When I get lost I just move on.

Now, books... I like to pay attention to every sentence. It's a contemplative experience to me. And that's why I always thought that “listening” to a book would ruin the introspection. This article from the New York times got me thinking about the differences between reading and listening to a book:

Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It?

Basically the conclusion is, it depends:

Print may be best for lingering over words or ideas, but audiobooks add literacy to moments where there would otherwise be none.

So I am trying it for myself and I will see how it goes!

I chose the book The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu as a first try.

The first thing I noticed is that the narrator was too slow. So I am listening at 1.25x speed. It's better.

#reading #audiobooks #books

Every year I set myself a reading challenge on Goodreads.

Goodreads is a kind of a book cataloging network, with discussion groups, lists, reviews and book recommendations. I like using it because of the bookclubs and the integration with my e-reader (Kindle).

Books in 2018

I've been doing the Reading Challenge since 2012 and I broke my record in 2018 reading 52 books in total: an average of about 1 book per week. 🤘🎉

2018 Reading Challenge

I read 15,432 pages across 52 books

I can say that I read more because I decided to cut back time on other activities, like browsing social media. I realized that I was swapping reading time with mindless scrolling and that made me take a step back and evaluate how social media was affecting my habits.

That led me to uninstall all social media apps from my phone, delete accounts and use my “idle” time to read on my Kindle. During my bus commute, instead of checking Twitter on my phone I would take my Kindle. Instead of sitting down at home after work and check my phone I would open my Kindle. I decided to ignore the urge to be online receiving updates all the time. I wanted to retrain my brain to be able to deep focus. And reading requires focused attention.

Average length

The cool thing about the Goodreads Reading Challenge is that by the end of the year we get a report with some stats and the complete list of the books read. It's nice to look back and remember all the books I experienced!

Books in 2018

Here goes a list of my favorite books in 2018:

For 2019 my challenge will be to read 52 books!

Books in 2018

#books #readingchallenge

“Do not wait; the time will never be “just right”. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along” -George Herbert

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.