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reading

What I read in June 2020

June was a tough month! I don't know, the ongoing pandemic, the immense amount of accumulated work that suddenly appeared on my plate, Black Lives Matter protests... I just needed some comfort reading, so that's when I turn to steampunk and sci-fi romances.

  • Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2) by Meljean Brook : Steampunk alternate Victorian era in a world with dirigibles, nanoagents, mechanical flesh, zombies. I think I still like the first book better. However, this one has a strong lead female character who is an experienced badass captain of an Airship. Yasmeen, captain of Lady Corsair, and Archimedes Fox, adventurer, go out on a journey to search for a treasured sketch from Leonardo da Vinci. There is also revenge but that wasn't too clear to me. Good fighting sequences with zombies, but in the end, I didn't get who/what they were fighting against really.
  • Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal : The premise here is: we are also responsible for being addicted to technology so the author discusses some tactics to make us less prone to use it mindlessly. But, I don't think it is for everyone. There are some drastic measures that I think might work for some. I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.
  • Polaris Rising (Consortium Rebellion, #1) by Jessie Mihalik: I enjoyed this space-opera! Lots of adventures: boarding ships, cracking security codes and locks, dealing with smugglers, discussing ship layouts, sending encrypted messages and blending in a crowded port to avoid being recognized. The two main characters, Lady Ada and Loch, were equally strong and I liked that they were both highly skilled at their areas of expertise. And rescues! It happens a lot and for the most part the rescuing is done by Lady Ada (as opposed to the male hero always rescuing the damsel in distress). It had that old Star Wars feel but without aliens. Fun!

#readinglist #books #reading


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

What I read in May 2020

This was a hard month for reading. Distraction was with me all the time! It was one of the few months that I didn't enjoy my readings that much. The highlight was “Broken Angels” by Richard Morgan, always a good sci-fi!

  1. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell, 240p: Maybe too philosophical to my taste. Although the title book starts with “How to…” it's not really a manual. It's more like an exposition of the author's memories and her musings about art. Art like a critic of the status quo. There is a lot of talk about art. It was not my cup of tea.
  2. Broken Angels (Takeshi Kovacs, #2) by Richard K. Morgan , 480p: I thought this book had a totally different tone than the first one. It totally feels like military sci-fi. The pace is kinda slow until half of the book and then it's action-packed till the end. There is a lot of worldbuilding when Takeshi remembers his childhood and the wars he has fought in. There is an interesting group of characters that are put together to fulfill a mission. Alien ruins, old artifacts, soldiers, war, archeology, mental illness.
  3. The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran, Michael Lennington, 208p: I get the concept: treat 12 weeks (3 months) like it's your year. That way it forces you to set up achievable goals and don't lose track of them. It makes sense. It brings a systematic way to define vision, goals, projects, plan each week and evaluate progress using a scoring system. I think it works for some people, but for me, at the moment, it felt like too much pressure on myself. The basic concepts of having a productivity system are all there: goals, time blocking, weekly reviews. So, it's not unlike other systems, like GTD, for example. But there is this added urgency because of the 12 weeks time frame. Not sure it would work for me.

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

What I read in April 2020

I wish I had read more this month! I think the COVID-19 pandemic has changed my reading habits. I've been way too much news articles and updates about. Ugh!

  1. Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, 288p – A fun book about productivity techniques. It has lots of nice ideas on how to focus and achieve goals. One of the main messages is to choose the highlight of the day. It is valuable advice because the highlight can be something as ambitious as “finish that final report” or as simple as “enjoy a cup of tea after work”. It has lots of ideas to experiment with our habits and routines, not all of them will work for everybody. It is a lighthearted book about productivity with no pressure on being highly productive all the time. It's more about doing what we enjoy :)
  2. The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz, 352p – Time travel, feminism, 90's riot grrl punk rock scene, murder, abortion rights, geology, wormholes. Yes, all this together to form an exciting story of people wanting to make the world a better place. Lots of imagination and interesting historic facts that creates various alternate histories realities. A great read with lots of historical references related to the 1800's social movements! I had to stop and do some Wikipedia research here and there. Fascinating!

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

What I read in March 2020

  1. The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley, 369p: A different flavor of time travel in a military sci-fi setting. I liked the way the author doesn't emphasize gender differences, the characters are people and you can tell their gender when there is mention of a pronoun.
  2. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin, 336p: Really good book about how our brains like organized information. It even mentions the GTD methodology and how it works.
  3. Swordheart by T. Kingfisher, 419p: A fantasy of a fantasy. A man that lives in a sword and protects the wielder of the sword. So it's kinda like the talking sword fantasy meeting the genie in the bottle. As I said, lots of fantasy! Oh, and romance.
  4. Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne, 206p: Another military sci-fi in a dystopian world from the point of view of an elite super soldier.
  5. Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes by Kent Wayne, 298p: The continuation to Echo Volume 1. This one is like 200 pages of an action sequence non-stop. Very military and action packed.

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

A reunification, someone gets high and have stupid ideas, a longer than expected stopover on a comet-planet settlement and more awesome (meaning pleasantly weird) alien species. A family still trying to just...survive in a crazy world where appearances and race matter more than it needs to.

This series only gets better and better. Two more to go!

Saga Volume 7

#saga #graphicnovel #reading


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

Books I read July 2019

  1. Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols: A woman astronaut temporarily lost in space during a mission comes back to Earth 10 years later and weird things happen. It's loose on sci-fi, NASA makes unlikely decisions and I'm not sure I bought into the reason why the astronaut was having these mysterious experiences.

  2. Saga, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist): I'm hooked! Will read the entire series.

  3. Saga, Vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist): Best quote from this one: “Together, my parents had learned to be much more than “the sum of their parts”, whatever that means. Separately, they were kind of just a mess.” I already got Vols. 6 and 7 lined up!

  4. Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells: The bot that hacked it's governor module becomes more independent and becomes more human-like, without even wanting to, I'd say. It's so familiar to know that all that Murderbot wants in life is to watch more media. But at the same time, Murderbot can't stay away from its ex-owner problems and goes into a complicated rescue mission.

  5. BrainChains: Discover your brain, to unleash its full potential in a hyperconnected, multitasking world by Theo Compernolle: It's full of scientific research reference and it can get repetitive. It talks a lot about the disadvantages of using e-mail, stress, multitasking, texting while driving and the importance of rest. Good message but I think the book could be shorter.

  6. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari: Made me wonder about tomorrow but question if I really want to be transformed into a stream of data to live forever.

#readinglist #books #reading


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

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 :)

  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


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

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

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

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:

“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.

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

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

What I read in June 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.

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