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.
I loved a chapter where he talks about books and reading:
“Reading isn’t important because it helps to get you a job. It’s important because it gives you room to exist beyond the reality you’re given. It is how humans merge. How minds connect. Dreams. Empathy. Understanding. Escape. Reading is love in action.”
― 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:
“Remember 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.”
― 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Doing the dishes
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.
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.
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 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