Noisy Deadlines

books

  1. A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2) by Becky Chambers, 365p: I love Becky Chamber's writing style. And this one is a delightful read following the coming of age of two characters from the first book. One is a former sentient ship AI that was transferred to a synthetic humanoid body to move around and explore the world. The other is about a little girl that was born to work in a factory, barely escaping it and being taken care of by an AI. It's so beautifully written! It's focused on character development and the world building just flows with it. It touches on identity, friendship, diversity of gender and sexuality, exploitation, and oppression.  But it's all done through the lens of intimate, emotionally charged characters perspectives. Very well crafted!

  2. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Scott Pilgrim #1) by Bryan Lee O'Malley, 168p: After I saw the first season of the 2023 Netflix animation “Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” I wanted to get into the original black and white material. And it's so fun! There is a direct reference to Amazon.ca, which is hilarious. Also, I loved the tea scene. Great sense of humour, with Canadian references and funny dialogues. Will continue reading.

  3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Scott Pilgrim #2) by Bryan Lee O'Malley, 200p: Sweet and funny. I love the dialogues and the fight scene at the Toronto Reference Library was awesome! I like that there are so some many references to Canadian life, like celebrating the “first t-shirt day” after winter and walking around Toronto seeing a “Second Cup” café and Casa Loma in the background. I already got volumes 3 and 4 from the library to continue reading.

  4. A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys, 336p: This is not really my flavour of sci-fi, but it gets points for its unique perspective.  It's a first contact story where the conflicts are not carried in a violent, physical way. For a first alien contact situation, things go pretty smoothly. There is a lot going on here: efforts to reverse climate change, representations of different identities, gender spectrum and sexuality, diverse families, exploitative corporations, Watershed Networks, ecology, Jewish culture, parenting. There is a LOT of talking:  most of the conflicts are resolved with dialogues. The story is told from the main character's point of view, and she doesn't hide her flaws and insecurities: we get to feel them all! I thought the future imagined was too close to our time (50 years ahead) for humanity to have changed that much. Interesting read, but it was not so easy to get to the end. This was a Book Club read for me and it certainly raised intriguing discussions.

  5. Exadelic by Jon Evans, 448p: This is a very weird book. It's a mash-up of Ready Player One, with Matrix, Outlander and Assassin's Creed. Seriously there's so much going on here! Dark magic, AI's, time travel, obscure pseudoscience, cults, witches, sex rituals, post-apocalypse worlds (just to name a few). There are a lot of technical programming terms and references which I didn't get most of the time. What kept me reading was wanting to know where the story would end up and yeah, it's bonkers. The short chapters and mini cliff-hangers me helped me stick with it, but it was a wild ride. I wanted to see what the point of the story was, and I don't think I got it at the end.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends & Lattes #0) by Travis Baldree, 339p: I loved going back to this cozy fantasy world with a younger Viv. We can see how her experiences in this book lead to her choices in the first book. Viv is injured on a fight, and she must stay in this small town to recover. She ends up making friends, helping the town people and discovered a passion for reading. I loved the bookshop being renovated! And Viv's enjoyment of romance books, it was so relatable! It's the perfect read to get out of a book slump or just have fun and relax.

  2. That Time I Got Drunk And Saved A Demon (Mead Mishaps #1) by Kimberly Lemming, 277: This was a fun read in a medieval fantasy setting with lots of humour and romance. It's funny, whimsical and can't be taken seriously. There are demons, all kinds of shape shifters and evil witches. The language is very modern and full of slang.  I gotta say that there were some violent deaths that were dissonant with the book vibes. It's not a book you read for the plot, you read it for the laughs and feel-good vibes.

  3. The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, Brandon Hall, 224p: This was a re-read for me. I got out of the GTD wagon, and I just needed a quick workbook to get back to the basics. I realized there were some issues with my capturing habit and that I was overcomplicating things. It’s a nice GTD refresher.

  4. Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout by Cal Newport, 256p: Interesting ideas about knowledge work, and how to adopt a slower pace while doing relevant things. It's perfect for people who have lots of autonomy towards their work. I didn't feel I could use all the suggestions presented. Even though I'm a knowledge worker, I don't really have that much control over my working hours to be able to work at a natural pace or really do fewer things. I enjoyed the story about how Jane Austen got to write her books (it was NOT by writing a few words here and there in between house chores). Maybe because I've been listening to the author's podcast, I didn't find the book to be ground-breaking, and I already knew most of the stories he uses as example or inspiration to the slow productivity principles. It was not a hugely impactful book for me if compared to his previous ones.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I was sick in the beginning of the month, and I experienced fatigue and headaches for most of it. But I managed to do a quick refresh on Morning pages, powered through a romantasy, explored some Buddhist philosophy, and finished with an interesting read about attention span and technology. Overall, not bad at all.

  1. The Miracle of Morning Pages: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Most Important Artist's Way Tool by Julia Cameron, 52p: This is truly short and it's like a Q&A with the author giving more details about the Morning Pages. It was okay. I just wanted something short to read and this was on my TBR.

  2. The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness by Pema Chödrön, 145p: This book brings concepts from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and focus on Bodhichitta and how to become a bodhisattva or warrior, in the sense of nonaggression and being open. I don't have a deep knowledge of Buddhist and some ideas were very abstract. It emphasizes the importance of having a meditation practice. The message is finding ways to nurture compassion for us and how to deal with fear. I might have to go back to this book to grasp the concepts more deeply.

  3. A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout, 626p: I didn't enjoy this one very much. I could have stopped reading it, but I really wanted to see where it would go, because it's a prequal to a series I've already read (Blood and Ash). I thought it was quite repetitive and it didn't make me want to continue reading the series. Note to self: I'm tired of dark vampire-like stories for now.

  4. Attention Span by Gloria Mark, 770 pages: This was a very interesting read presenting various research results on how we use our attention with our digital devices and how much our attention span has been diminishing as a society. I enjoyed the chapter about the Framework for Attentional States, in which she identifies how we have several types of attention depending on how challenging or boring an activity is. There are lots of insights in how we need to vary our attention states throughout the day. We can't be focused all the time, and we need downtime to replenish our cognitive resources. She debunks these myths that we could be “in flow” for extended periods of time, or that mindless activities like playing Solitaire are bad. It's recognizing that we need breaks, especially if we are being constantly bombarded with information nowadays.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I've abandoned the book “Apollo Murders” by Chris Hadfield. I wanted to like it, but it's not growing on me, really. I stopped at 20% which is a fair amount to realize a book isn't resonating with me.

Every time I stop reading a book, I feel guilty. I can't stop but wonder “But what if things get more interesting at 30%?”, “What if I'm missing out on this fantastic plot twist?”. It’s as if I am leaving behind a potential adventure, a secret world that might have unfolded if only I’d persevered a little longer. It is a type of FOMO.

Deciding to abandon a book is always a reflection prompt for me. Maybe my reading taste is changing, it's not the right moment for that genre or I'm craving for a different experience.

Anyway, my reading taste is shifting to lighter reads and more character focused. I've been noticing that I really enjoy a first-person point of view. And I want to be able to understand what that character is feeling, what is her thought process, how is she dealing with her inner struggles.

So right now, I'm not into Cold War thrillers.

Recognizing that a book isn’t resonating with me is an act of self-awareness and self-care. I'm acknowledging that my reading preferences are evolving, and that’s perfectly okay.

I'll keep on focusing on more cozy and light-hearted reads. I'm craving for comfort reads at the moment. After all, reading should always be a delightful journey, not a chore. 📚✨

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

In Gloria Mark’s book “Attention Span” she delves into the fascinating world of attention management.  We usually fall along a continuum for how we like to work:

  • Monochronic: we prefer to finish one task to completion before beginning another task. We thrive on focused, sequential work.
  • Polychronic: we prefer to juggle multiple tasks at once. We are comfortable with interruptions and context-switching.

Interestingly, Mark identifies a rare breed: the “supertaskers”. These exceptional individuals can seamlessly shift between tasks without sacrificing focus. However, most of us fall somewhere in the middle, balancing monochronic and polychronic tendencies.

While I was reading this, I felt represented in the more monochronic preference scale. And that explained a lot about the feelings of overwhelm I experience so often in my work life:

“As you might imagine, monochronic types are the ones who tend to experience role overload, and yet they are stuck switching among multiple tasks, trying to keep up. This is consistent with the many people in our studies who report feeling overwhelmed in their work.” — Gloria Mark, “Attention Span”, Chapter 4

I’m not a supertasker, but it seems there is this expectation from companies (and managers) that all office workers are natural multitaskers. The demands of our modern workplace are mixed with continuous real-time electronic communication, and that is exhausting!

The author points out that switching attention away from a challenging task can be beneficial at times. Moving to a new activity can refresh our cognitive resources. Incubating a hard problem can help us figure out a solution later.

“On the other hand, too much task-switching at a fast rate, where you are continually forcing yourself to refocus your attention, is often detrimental because of time and performance decrements, and it leads to stress.” — Gloria Mark, “Attention Span”, Chapter 4

Sometimes I feel bad because I can’t get to focus on something important and I wonder what’s wrong with my brain. But I’ve been learning that the problem isn’t my brain per se. The environment I work in does not foster focus. And then I might feel stressed and overwhelmed at the end of day. It’s fascinating how our personal preferences impact our work experience and vice-versa.

Anyway, this book is an interesting read and I hope the author will explore strategies to navigate this delicate balance between attention and productivity.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood, 362p: This book made want to learn how to play chess! I didn't know anything about the world of professional chess, so it was interesting to learn. I loved that the characters show intellectual admiration for each other, instead of just physical attraction. There is friendship and love, although it starts with a competitive vibe to it. I wish the ending were longer, I wanted to know more details about their final chess tournament. Overall, I had lots of fun reading it, and it triggered feel-good emotions in me, I loved it!

  2. A Master of Djinn (The Dead Djinn Universe #1) by P. Djèlí Clark, 431p: Interesting world building: alternate history Egypt with magic and djinn in 1912 Cairo.  It's a murder mystery but I enjoyed the world building more than the characters. The main character, Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. She is investigating the murder of an English Basha, who is the Member of a Secret Brotherhood. The world is super rich with the Djinn having become integrated into society and magic allowed Egypt to become a powerful prominent economy. I figured out the murderer at about 60% and that made the book drag for me in the rest 40%. So, it was a bit annoying that Fatma was still going after false clues, getting lost in her search, while I already knew who the murderer was. Anyway, nice read but not one of my favorites.

  3. Beach Read by Emily Henry, 361p: Somehow the title of this book didn't really match with the story for me. I don't know why that bothered me. The main character is dealing with grief, and she inherits her father's house by the water. It's meta in the sense that the two main characters are writers, and they struck a deal for each one to write a book out of their comfort zone. The woman is a romance writer who tries to write literary fiction, and the man writes literary fiction and attempts to write romance. I thought the pacing was terribly slow and the book didn't keep me always interested.

  4. Divine Rivals (Letters of Enchantment #1) by Rebecca Ross, 368p: I loved this book! It was a five-stars read for me. I loved the idea of enchanted typewriters that can send letters! The two main characters are adorable, and it is such a lovely story about friendship, hardship, and love. So beautifully written without being excessively flowery. I felt a full range of emotions while reading this book: sadness, joy, grief, compassion, anger. I cried and I laughed. It just a sign of a really good book: when it can touch me so deeply without being depressing. I sympathized with the grief portrayed in this book, and it helped me deal with own feelings of grief that were buried deep inside. The love story is amazing! So adorable and so authentic! I loved the whole thing about exchanging letters, like unknown pen pals that somehow connect using words. I can't wait to read the second book! (it's a duology!)

  5. Practical Meditation: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide by Giovanni Dienstmann, 185p: I enjoyed most of this book, it gives an overview of meditation practices from different traditions. There are gorgeous graphics inside explaining key concepts. I loved the “Mindful Mind Flow” diagram! One thing that I missed was an audio companion to the book (I read the e-book version). There are instructions on distinct types of meditation, but it is best to have listened to these instructions while we are meditating. Good reference book as an introduction to meditation, but I think it’s hard for a beginner to start without an audio guiding the meditations.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

1. I Didn't Do the Thing Today: Letting Go of Productivity Guilt to Embrace the Hidden Value in Daily Life by Madeleine Dore, 304p: This was a nice read to start off the year. There were some good things to think about, the main message being: it's okay to not be perfect, we don't have to do it all. It was a nice reminder, although I felt the ideas were quite repetitive throughout the book. It's full of the author's own ruminations about productivity and her discoveries. It doesn't have anything too ground-breaking if you've been reading the most recent productivity books (such as Four Thousand Weeks). Nice read focusing on not feeling productivity guilt.

2. When Beauty Tamed the Beast (Fairy Tales #2) by Eloisa James, 384p: The first time I heard about this book I thought it was going to have some fantasy elements, since it's supposed to be a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale.  It's more like a re-imagined version in Victorian England:  Piers Yelverton (Earl of Marchan) lives secluded in this castle, he has an injured leg, he is grumpy and works as a doctor (very much like  Dr. House from the TV show); and Linnet Thrynne our heroine, is extremely beautiful but disgraced in the ton because there are rumours saying she is pregnant (outside of a married relationship). Long story short, Linnet becomes betrothed to Piers (who actually doesn't want to marry) but Piers father thinks her “pregnancy” will solve the heir problem. And then it's all about banter between Linnet and Piers and how they fall for each other against all odds. Fun and lighthearted.

3. The Ex Hex (Ex Hex #1) by Erin Sterling, 322p: This is a cozy-spooky book: a nice comfort read with witches. I liked the premise: witches trying to counteract a hex placed years ago with some hilarious consequences. I loved the cat “Sir Purrcival” and I wish there was more going on with it. The resolution felt too easy. The plot made me believe the curse had high stake consequences but by the end it was too easily solved, I think. A light, fun read with a second chance witchy romance.

4. Capture the Sun (Starlight's Shadow #3) by Jessie Mihalik, 432p: This is the third of this series, and I wasn't too thrilled about it. I think it has the same formula as the previous books and it was the weakest of the series. There was a lot of unnecessary info-dump, as I felt some world building elements were already explained in previous books. It's a fun series overall, with sci-fi and romance, but the ending in this one was kinda meh.

5. Artemis by Andy Weir, 335p: I had fun with this book! The main character (Jazz) is very resourceful, and she is not afraid of taking risks. Sometimes I would think to myself “No, Jazz, that's too risky, don' t do that!” but she has a way of analytically thinking through a situation and concocts a plan that might work (with pros and cons). I loved the maps showing Artemis and how the bubbles were connected. Andy Weir has a way of skilfully explaining scientific ideas within the characters dialogues, it's super well done!

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

📚 Reading Challenge 2024: Read 54 books & 20,500 pages

Every year I look back at my reading list and think about my reader goals. I don’t have anything specific, other than the number of books/pages I want to tackle.

I will probably continue reading a lot more lighthearted romance books since they proved to be a great way to unwind and bring joy to my life. From my TBR pile (over 200+ books) I picked some to focus on this year:

Series that were on my goals last year that I still want to read in 2024:

  1. A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers, #2) by Becky Chambers

  2. Aurora Blazing (Consortium Rebellion #2) by Jessie Mihalik

  3. Wanderlust (Sirantha Jax #2) by Ann Aguirre

  4. Ambush or Adore (Delightfully Deadly #3) by Gail Carriger

  5. Defy or Defend (Delightfully Deadly #2) by Gail Carriger

  6. Between Two Thorns (The Split Worlds #1) by Emma Newman

  7. Any Other Name (The Split Worlds #2) by Emma Newman

  8. Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy #1) by Tade Thompson

  9. Lock In (Lock In #1) by John Scalzi

  10. Diving into the Wreck (Diving Universe #1) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

  11. Fire Logic (Elemental Logic #1) by Laurie J. Marks

  12. The Cold Between (Central Corps #1) by Elizabeth Bonesteel

  13. Series: The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (I stopped at book #10)

  14. Series: Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

  15. Series: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (I stopped at book #3)

  16. Series: The Expanse by James S.A. Corey (finish series: I stopped at book #6)

  17. Series: Uptown Girls by Joanna Shupe

Books I want to read in 2024 (in no particular order):

  1. The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling (currently reading)

  2. The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield

  3. One Dark Window (The Shepherd King #1) by Rachel Gillig

  4. A Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1) by Naomi Novik

  5. Iron Flame (The Empyrean #2) by Rebecca Yarros

  6. Artemis by Andy Weir

  7. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

  8. Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers #1) by Penny Reid

  9. Not in love by Ali Hazelwood

  10. Bride by Ali Hazelwood

  11. Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood

  12. The Winter King (Weathermages of Mystral #1) by C.L. Wilson

  13. Divine Rivals (Letters of Enchantment #1) by Rebecca Ross

  14. Book of Night (Book of Night #1) by Holly Black

  15. Starter Villain by John Scalzi

  16. Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

  17. System Collapse (The Murderbot Diaries #7) by Martha Wells

  18. Divinity 36 (Tinkered Starsong #1) by Gail Carriger

  19. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

  20. Shadowbound (Dark Arts #1) by Bec McMaster

  21. Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends & Lattes #0.5) by Travis Baldree

  22. The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz

  23. The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

  24. The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

  25. Paladin's Grace (The Saint of Steel #1) by T. Kingfisher

  26. Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne

  27. That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon (Mead Mishaps #1) by Kimberly Lemming

  28. Beach Read by Emily Henry

  29. The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels (Dangerous Damsels #1) by India Holton

  30. The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller

  31. Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity #1) by Nalini Singh

Non-fiction books:

  1. Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben R. Rich

  2. Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout by Cal Newport

  3. In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan

  4. The Science of Time Travel by Elizabeth Howell

  5. Power of Fun by Catherine Price

  6. The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O'Meara

  7. Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell

  8. How to Focus by Thích Nhất Hạnh

  9. The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

  10. Last Chance to See by Mark Carwardine, Douglas Adams

▶ I will have at least 12 more books that are going to be picked for my local Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Club (we read 1 book/month).

This list is just a starting point, in case I run out of ideas!

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

The Storygraph generates a Reading Wrap-Up every year with some cool stats. Here is the summary:

In 2023, I was into plot-driven relaxing, hopeful and funny reads with loveable, diverse and well-developed characters. This year I became more romance-curious, and I found out that light-hearted books made me relax.

I decided not to finish 12 of the books I picked up this year. This is an all-time record! It means I know myself a bit better, and it was easier to make the decision to dump a book without feeling guilty. I discovered I can be a mood reader sometimes, and certain types of books will not work for me in those moments. And that’s okay!

Embrace the new year with an open book! Happy 2024!! 🎉🥳

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

🎉 As the year comes to an end, I've reflected on the books that have stood out to me in 2023, particularly those I rated with five stars. Among all my 5 star books, romance novels seemed to dominate my favourites this year:

  1. Before Mars (Planetfall #3) by Emma Newman: The whole Planetfall series is amazing, but this book grabbed my attention so much that I kept thinking about it months after I finished it. This is the less cozy read of this list, but I loved the emotional and psychological depth of this book.

  2. Legends & Lattes (Legends & Lattes #1) by Travis Baldree: “A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes”. It provided a cozy and sweet escape. It was a joy to read, I felt literally hugged.

  3. Fourth Wing (The Empyrean #1) by Rebecca Yarros: Romantasy with dragons in a military school academy? I’m in! I had so much fun reading it!

  4. Deal with the Devil (Mercenary Librarians #1) by Kit Rocha: This one was a fast-paced post-apocalyptic story with romance, and I dived into this series. I enjoyed all the 3 books in the Mercenary Librarians series.

  5. Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood: STEM romance at its best. Real academic background, lots of physics dad jokes, supportive relationships. I love anything this author writes, she has become a must-read for me.

  6. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg: This was my favourite non-fiction book of the year. It was filled with insightful essays that reignited my passion for writing.

In the midst of a challenging year, diving into some lighthearted romance reads was like a lifeline. With everything going on, those stories of love and connection brought some much-needed joy and simplicity into my life. It was like hitting pause on the craziness and escaping to worlds where I found joy.

These reads weren't just books; they were like a cozy hug, reminding me that even when things get tough, there's always room for a little sweetness and laughter. They were my go-to therapy, proving that, no matter what, a good book can lift the spirits and make everything feel a bit brighter.

🥳 Happy New Year!

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.