What I read in July 2021
Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone, 480p: This is a very imaginative book and it pushes boundaries between sci-fi and fantasy. I think it's a fantasy disguised as sci-fi. There are cool elements like the order of the cyborg monks, the pilots of Orn, The Cloud, and Zang, the Pirate Queen (who was my favorite character). There were some downsides that kept me from enjoying it more, like: the overuse of metaphors/imagery: descriptions were too abstract most of the time for my brain to picture locations and even character appearance; some incomprehensible action scenes: I had difficulty visualizing and understanding what was happening; there were no clear rules for the world: what were the limits of space travel? how things and people could change sizes and shapes? I couldn't see a sense of threat in the story. Nobody seemed to be in real danger because everyone was so overpowerful, including The Empress. So, I feel like I should have been enjoying it more than I have. The premise was cool, but I felt it was overdone and got lost in the abstract world too much.
Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #4) by Jim Butcher, 379p: Serious things happening in the Faerie land between the Summer and the Winter court. We get to know more about the White Council and the other wizards. Someone (that we were sure was dead) is not dead! It's nice to see that the writing on this book feels more mature, and Harry Dresden continues to grow as a strong wizard. He's more powerful than we are led to believe in the first books. It's a really good series and one that I'll keep on reading.
Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf, 272p: Do we read more deeply with physical books? That's one of the conclusions of this book, and I wasn't so convinced by it. I think reading on a mobile device, a tablet, or on a computer is totally different from reading using an e-reader with e-ink technology. The author discusses research that pointed out the importance of the “physicality” of books, the shape, the visual sense of how many pages there are in the book, and how all those cues are important for reading. There are interesting discussions on how technological native children will develop their reading skills. Are they going to be able to read long books? And get a deep understanding of the contents and ideas? Or the way they consume digital information will make them shallow readers? As an avid e-reader myself, I don't think there is a difference between reading a physical book and an e-book in terms of the level of understanding. The environment and distractions around me are a better indicator of how much I'm engaged in the reading. This book started a good discussion about the future of reading. And how our brains might change or adapt to different mediums.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, 188p (AUDIO): Lovely memoir with an inspiring take on exercise, specifically, a running life. This book was insightful and fun but it also talks about the downsides of his running life. His failures and pains. And what happens in his mind when he runs:
“The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.”
I like to run, but I'm not what Murakami would consider a “serious runner” who runs 6 miles a day, 6 days a week. Maybe someday I'll get there. The goal is to keep on moving, bit by bit every day.
By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.