📚Noisy Deadlines

reading

What I read in February 2021 It was a difficult month for reading for me! I had to actively remind myself: “Hey, you have books to read, why don't you let go of that shiny screen and grab your e-reader”? I just felt I was reading slower than I used to. That knee jerk reaction to stop reading and check something on my phone instead showed up a lot. I'll keep on working on my reading focus.

  1. The Outside (The Outside #1) by Ada Hoffmann, 401p: I enjoyed the word building. I wanted to keep reading to find out what the Outside was. And I wanted to know more about the AI Gods. I realized in the middle of the book that it had inspiration from Lovecraft with all the Outside creatures and the “outside madness” condition. It was creepy to think that Artificial Intelligent quantum computers, that were created by humans, came up with a technological religious authoritarian system to control humans.
  2. A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1) by Arkady Martine, 454p: This one had a Dune feel to it. Planets, Space Stations, alien threats, Artificial Intelligence running an entire City, neurological implants, a murder mystery and political intrigues. The pace was slower than I'm used to but it managed to keep me interested enough to pick up the book at every opportunity I had. It's heavy on world building but it is executed in a very clever way through the eyes of the protagonist Mahit Dzmare. She goes to the City at the heart of the Empire of Teixcalaan as an Ambassador to her original home, the Lsel Station. Teixcalaan's culture and language is heavily influenced by poetry being a sophisticated place with lots of social norms. This book has that intellectual appeal without being boring.
  3. How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism by Cory Doctorow, 146p. This a free book available on Medium. Interesting discussion on the status of Big Tech disputing the assumption that tech companies can and will regulate themselves to fix the Internet. Can we fix Big Tech companies that dominate our Internet or can we fix it by ourselves, free of the Big Tech influence? One of the main points discussed by the author is monopoly. His point is: Monopoly enables mass scale surveillance. Food for thought.

“Surveillance capitalism is the result of monopoly. Monopoly is the cause, and surveillance capitalism and its negative outcomes are the effects of monopoly”. — Cory Doctorow

#readinglist #books #reading


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

What I read in January 2021

  1. Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5) by Martha Wells, 346p: Such a delight to be back inside the mind of this cyborg. Sarcastic but righteous, Murderbot is a fantastic character and we get to experience its thought process all the time. Status updates, Simultaneous parallel dialogues with humans and AI's, Performance Reliability Ratings. And also, how not to like ART, the transport ship AI that loves talking to human teenagers?
  2. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, 260p: Dystopian YA with Indigenous people protagonists in the area where today is Canada. It is a climate change dystopia focusing on this group of Indigenous people who are being hunted. After the climate change cataclysm people lost their ability to dream, but Indigenous people were still able to do it, so they are chased for it. It uses real world facts like the atrocities committed against the Indigenous population to basically remove children form their culture to make them assimilate the “Canadian” one (from around 1876 to 1970's). With this horrifying background and a devastated world the book is extremely emotional. It was a hard read at times with dark moments. But it is also hopeful showing the power of resilience and community.
  3. The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World by Jenn Granneman, 320p: Fun read. It is a very light read, a good introduction to the introvert temperament characteristics and how to cope with it.

#readinglist #books #reading


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

There is something calming about the act of reading for me. I think it has to do with my introvert temperament. It's the perfect quiet time activity. Hiking or swimming might be close second. You know when there's too much going on around you: work tasks, phone calls, appointments, meetings? After all this excitement I end up with a hangover. An introvert hangover. And the cure is almost always to dive deep into a book. Let the ideas of another mind mingle with mine. Imagine impossible worlds, crazy science, share emotions. Or understand an interesting theory. Know different points of view. Agree to disagree. This brings me peace. Inner peace. And I probably took 30+ years to understand this about myself.

But there is another more extrinsic reason. I'm not a native English speaker. Growing up in Brazil and being lucky enough to have a dad who was into computers put me in contact with the English language early on. I wanted to learn how to communicate with computers, what are those DOS commands? what do they mean? So my mom decided to put me in an English school for 6+ years old children to learn English. So that I could stop annoying her (and my dad) about English vocabulary all the time. (I must have been pretty annoying!)

After years studying English, taking all the courses I could up until the last “Advanced Conversation Module X” or whatever I wanted to keep learning. I did not have the resources to leave Brazil and truly immerse myself in an English speaking community. So I became the Brazilian who only listened to English speaking music (mainly rock & heavy metal), watched American or British movies and shows and only read books in English. That's how I kept my English practice on my own, with what I had available.

Reading was a huge part of this journey. By reading I was building up my vocabulary and having fun at the same time. I was consolidating grammatical rules and memorizing irregular verbs in my head. It was (still is) extremely beneficial to a non-native speaker.

The Internet was also useful. I remember playing MUDs and having the first contact with real English speaking people that were hundreds of kilometres away from me. Note: a MUD is a multi-user dungeon text-base real-time RPG. My favourite one was Realms of Despair (which surprisingly still has a website (!!).

Music and movies were important too, of course.

But books were always the best. So I keep reading.

Today I live in an English speaking place that I love. It was a dream come true, really. And sometimes I remember my first English lessons and how they shaped me. How it all started with me wanting to talk to computers.

#journal #noisymusings #reading


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

I think I’m loosing my ability to read for long periods of time. By long I mean more than 20-30 minutes. I was really good at sitting down to read for a whole hour, without interruptions. I started to feel something was off last year, during the pandemic. That initial overload of anxiousness made me search for news. I’ve never been a news person. I can’t stand regular TV or cable TV. I abhor advertising, I think they are annoying and with the Internet they became even more normalized. Heck, most of Internet today is ad-based.

So for the past months I got back into the habit of checking news sites. Doing that once a week for half an hour is okay, I guess. But all the sites have this “addictive” social media component that triggers this need to check them ALL THE TIME.

I’ve been checking the news everyday now. I think I was okay during the holidays, but 2021 started with some dystopian things happening!! What the hell is going on??

I’ve already removed many sources of distraction from my life but there is this lingering effect that refuses to go away.

I feel like I’ve been unwillingly addicted to something, some weird urge to check endless feeds. An urge that never really goes away because everywhere we go, everywhere we look, the trigger is there. It’s hard to run away or to look away.

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What I read in December 2020

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I was happy to have finished “The Innovators”. I started listening to this book back in April and I stopped several times to take notes. It's an encyclopedia of our digital technology development. Then I wanted light reads, the types you have fun and are not expecting grandiose conflicts. I'm more and more interested in reading about the art of writing. I started with “Writing down the bones”. Lighthearted and inspiring!

What I read in October 2020

  • The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson, 542p: Excellent compilation of the history of digital technology. It starts in the 1800's, which Ada Lovelace and Babbage, going through Vacuum Tubes, Capacitors, Alan Turing, Grace Hopper, John von Neumann, the breakthrough invention of transistors, Bell Labs, Intel, Texas Instruments, Hacker culture, Video Games, Xerox, ARPANet, BBS, the Altair 8800 computer, Internet, Blogs, Wikipedia, Microsoft, Apple, Google. It is a detailed exploration of how innovation is driven by collaboration and all advances are built on top of the past experiences. There is no one genius creator, innovation is most vibrant where there is room for idea sharing between communities. And the Internet allowed for a new level of collaborative process, the author calls it “the collective wisdom of crowds”. I loved that he closes with a reflection on Ada Lovelace's ideas of integrating Arts and Humanities with Math and Physics, resulting in what she called “Poetical Science”. A must read to understand where we are and how we got here.
  • Kenobi (Star Wars) by John Jackson Miller, 401p: A look into how Obi-Wan Kenobi was known as Ben in Tatooine. He only wants to be left alone (so that nobody realises he's a Jedi) but he keeps getting tangled into local affairs. It was interesting to get know a little bit about the sand people and the constant tension with the farmers. It covers a short period of his time there when he basically helps dissolve local grievances. Kinda like “A day in the life” of Ben Kenobi.
  • Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg, 225p: I heard about this book when I was researching about a technique called free writing. This author developed this “writing practice” method in which you set a timer and free write whatever is in your mind, nonstop, flow-of-consciousness style. The book is a compilation of fun small essays about writing and how to develop a writing practice. It's light and amusing!
  • Finder (Finder Chronicles, #1) by Suzanne Palmer, 400p: Space adventures of Fergus Ferguson, a finder. He just wants to find a ship and bring it back to the owner, but he ends up entangled in local affairs. Fun, light space adventure. Excellent to sit back and relax.

#readinglist #books #reading


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

This was a non-fiction month. Although I started reading a fiction book (Kenobi by John Jackson Miller), all the books I finished were non-fiction. I was into productivity and delighted with Scott Adams writings during the first weeks then got to this awesome commentary from the 80's about our current cultural moment with “Amusing Ourselves to Death”. We just have to replace “TV” with “anything we consume on the Internet right now” to make this book 100% relevant!

What I read in September 2020

  • How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams, 248p: Such an enjoyable read! I love the Dilbert comics and it was interesting to get into the head of Scott Adams. He talks about his failures and also his recipe to live well. So it's part memoir part recommendations on how to live a good life. And we get to know that he had to overcome significant obstacles to success in his life. But he persisted and that makes for an inspiring story. He makes good points, summarizing the main areas of focus to succeed, even if you are failing miserably. Like the importance of having a system, not goals. And taking care of our personal energy: exercise, diet, and sleep are essential. Not all his recommendations are applicable to everybody (and he makes it very clear in the book) but reading about his struggles and his plans to live better got me thinking about my own habits. Savvy and fun read.
  • How to Write Better: Improve your writing of letters, essays, stories, articles, papers and books using quick, easy and proven techniques by Martin Li, 81p: It had some good techniques but I felt they were focused on travel review writing mostly.
  • Organize Tomorrow Today: 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life by Jason Selk, Tom Bartow, 242p: I enjoyed the first couple chapters on prioritizing and planning ahead our days. It brings lots of references and parallels from the sports world which I was not that excited about. I'm not into professional sports so some of the arguments and references did not make too much sense to me.
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, 208p: Yeah, Huxley was right. I thought this book would feel totally outdated because it was written in the 80's. Quite the contrary! We just have to replace “TV” with “anything we consume on the Internet right now” to make this book current. It is a thought provoking analysis of our Information Age and how media formats can shape our culture. It gives a clear distinction between the typographic era, when information was written, and the “show business” model we have today with lots of images, short messages and barely no reflection. Highly recommended!

#readinglist #books #reading


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

The end a long fantasy saga, some Scottish historical fiction and an average productivity book.

What I read in August 2020

  • The Pride of Lions (Scotland Trilogy Book 1) by Marsha Canham, 212p: It's a rich historical fiction set in Scotland in the 18th century. Kinda like Outlander but without time travel. It's well done in terms of world building with lots of historical references regarding the Jacobite rising of 1745. It's an exciting book and the rhythm is good. There was one thing that caused me uneasiness in this book: the prevalence of a raping theme. I know it's historical and you can argue that that's how things were back then, but it's a fictional romance novel and I expected less of it. For example, even though it's not explicit, the “male hero” (Alexander) clearly uses the implicit idea of rape to frighten the heroine (Catherine). Every men on the road that encounters Catherine (or any women for that matter) thinks about “taking advantage” of her. So maybe the setting was too historical/realistic for me?
  • The Lady of the Lake (The Witcher, #5) by Andrzej Sapkowski, 560p: The last book of The Witcher saga! I loved the first half of the book with its parallel universes and the fact that the story of The Witcher is viewed as a type of “distant land fairy tale”. One thing that this author can do is create complex characters, meaning, no one is ever lawful good, everybody is chaotic (neutral, good or evil). Themes like misogyny, slavery and racial discrimination are all present in the story. Everybody is looking for Ciri because of her extraordinary powers. Elves can be as evil as humans and sorceresses. Ciri is on her own quest to escape what everybody think is her destiny. I think the story is brilliantly written, with varying points of view, snippets of Dandelion's memoir “Half a Century of Poetry”, a huge battle being described through its actual combatants suffering and the healers in a war field hospital. But people die. Lots of characters die. And that's what makes this series “dark fantasy” in my opinion. It has the feel of a fairy tale without the happy ending. Or maybe the ending is happy depending on how you interpret it. Excellent series overall with rich world building and interesting characters. It was a nice ride!
  • Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt , 256p: I was curious to read this book to know a little a bit more about focus. I already use GTD as my productivity system and it's clear that some sections are a GTD derivative with a different name. I was a little bit annoyed that I had to go to the author's website to take the initial assessment, leave my e-mail and then I started receiving all these promotional e-mails to buy his planner. That threw me off a little bit. But the message in the book is not unlike any other good productivity system: eliminate non essentials, group similar tasks for efficiency, eliminate distractions and use time blocking to focus.

#readinglist #books #reading


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