Category: books

just finished my first full book on the clever Serial Reader app (The Picture of Dorian Gray). there are lots of older & public-domain titles on my list, anyway, & I found the 10 to 20-minute chunks of reading each day fun & easy to stay on top of. recommended! 📚

(2/2) “rede” is a good one but my favorite of those is “ruth”, “a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others”.

like an opposite of “ruthless”!

finally had the time & focus today to really dig in to The Fall of Gondolin, the latest (& last) from J.R.R./Christopher Tolkien. enjoyed looking up and learning some new (very old) words along the way. gems like:

  • ruth
  • meed
  • brake
  • astonied
  • rede
  • thence
  • fain

just finished Data and Goliath, by Bruce Schneier, for this month’s Austin Computer Book Club meetup. it was eye-opening and kind of horrifying, but pragmatic, interesting, and more timely with each passing day’s headlines 📚

The Library Book

I recently started The Library Book by Susan Orlean, via an audiobook that somewhat ironically I bought, rather than getting from the library. (This title was also just selected as this year’s Mayor’s Book Club book, so I have a head start there, ha ha.) It’s really good so far, a unique blend of LA history, in broad strokes and small ones, with a little mystery and a huge dose of detailed examples of how awesome libraries are.

And they really are. They’re kind of a miracle, in many ways. I spent the afternoon yesterday working at our big, beautiful new Central Library, and then attended a wonderful talk with Rachel Kushner, author of the excellent The Mars Room. The circumstances that led me there last night were Byzantine, when I thought about it, but it was so nice. I feel happier just being at the library, and I should make the effort to get there – including branches – more often.

librarians should “read as a drunkard drinks or as a bird sings or a cat sleeps or a dog responds to an invitation to go walking, not from conscience or training, but because they’d rather do it than anything else in the world.”

- Susan Orlean, quoting Althea Warren, director of the LA Public Library 1933-47, in The Library Book

when you order the cheapest used book you can find and it winds up being signed by the author (if barely) & has his business card tucked in the back 😎 📚

added to my to-read list: a new book from Mike Monteiro: Ruined By Design. as evidenced by the sample chapter (“Ayn Rand is a Dick”), it clearly (and typically for Monteiro) pulls zero punches (via Jen Myers’ email newsletter)

just finished Anna Burns’ Milkman. haven’t enjoyed a book this thoroughly in a long time. the unique style might not be to everyone’s taste, but I fucking loved it. the story, the style, the characters, the insights… every page was a delight. a masterpiece. 📚

just finished The Sisters Brothers, a book I liked so much the first time that I not only intended to reread it, I actually did! Just in time for the movie to be gone from theaters, lol/sob. but what a great book, I enjoyed it as much as I remembered. 📚

finished The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. Another gripping & masterfully written story from an author I like a lot, though for me, imagining the railroad as a literal underground construction didn’t add as much to the story as I’d expected.

finished reading God Save Texas, by Lawrence Wright. I enjoyed the mix of history, personal anecdotes, and political analysis. some of the stories cast recent events – in Texas & the US more broadly – in an interesting, some-of-this-ain’t-all-that-new light. 📚

finished Functional Thinking by Neal Ford for yesterday’s @atxcompbookclub. I found juggling examples in several different languages to be more work than it was worth, but as an intro, background, & argument in favor of functional programming, it nailed it. 📚

finished reading: The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller. I really enjoyed this modern telling of The Iliad story, which I knew broadly but have never read. This is so well written, evocative, with superb characterization. highly recommended. 📚

Next was a title that’s been on my list since the 2011 Tournament of Books, where it got to the semis. This opening round review is a good one.

book review: Next, by James Hynes: really enjoyed this. I think I would have even if I weren’t so familiar with much of the setting (a bright, hot day in downtown & south Austin), but that was a bonus for sure. (and what a final act!) 📚

at last, it begins! “Every day for the next few weeks a judge will read two of these novels and select one to advance. Then another set of readers will offer commentary… Eventually one novel reigns supreme & we award its author a live rooster” #ToB18

book review: The Book of Joan, by Lidia Yuknavitch. a literary sci-fi apocalypse story with interesting ideas and moving scenes, undercut for me by some suspension-of-disbelief breaking aspects & a few gory moments 📚

book review: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. overall, not bad, but it didn’t meet the expectations I had after a truly great first chapter, some of the historical period parts struck me as awkward, and a patch or two were a slog 📚 #ToB18

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