Noisy Deadlines

reading

  1. Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files # 8) by Jim Butcher, 496p: We get to know a lot more about Molly, Charity, and Murphy, who are all strong and bad-ass female characters and are given more space in this book. I thought this one was a little bit more self-contained with less overwhelming magic battles, and more character development, which was good. And Dresden apparently gets an apprentice, cool!

  2. Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention- and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari, 368p: There is so much information in this book! The author explores various sides of the topics covered, citing scientific research and interviews. Some topics discussed: the importance of mind wandering, how slowness and mindfulness activities nurture attention, that reading a book is the simplest form of experiencing the flow state, and how the Internet is training us to read information by skipping and jumping from one thing to another, instead of reading in a linear and focused fashion. He also covers some of the debates and controversies around the increase in ADHD diagnoses, what is going on with social media, the importance of sleep, the idea of perpetual economic growth and how it affects our worldview, and some ideas on why we can't focus enough on the climate crisis challenges today. Excellent read, it doesn't try to find a single magical solution. Our ability to focus is complex and it is entangled with technology, mental health, our environment, our economy and our culture.

  3. The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, 224p [RE-READ]

  4. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, 356p: I didn't know I liked contemporary romcom novels about women in STEM and academia, and yeap, I do! This was fun and light-hearted! Just what I needed to get out of a sudden book slump at the end of the month. I empathized with the characters, their academic struggles, and their self-doubts. The romance was adorable, I just wanted a happy ending for all the characters!

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

One thing I’m learning is that it is OKAY to stop reading a book. I can just abandon it and move on with no guilty feelings.

I did just that today. I usually try my best to finish a book even when I’m not enjoying it too much because I have hope it will get better eventually or I’ll learn something by the end of it. A book can have ups and downs and that’s okay.

I’m finding that if after reading 20-30% of the book and it is not grabbing me, it’s time to let go. I’ve always found it hard to give up on a book, after all, I’ve invested hours into it, and giving up seems weak.

Now I have more awareness of the signs showing me it’s time to let go:

  • I’m not reaching for the book at every given opportunity. When I’m into a book, I’ll read it during lunch break, breakfast, before bed, while waiting in line, or during any downtime when I’m not working. If reading the book feels like a chore, then it’s best to let go.
  • I can’t relate to the characters and their motivations. I like to have enjoyable characters, even if they are villains. This is subjective. Sometimes I don’t care about the main character because of “reasons”. It’s like a gut instinct, if they don’t click with me, I’m not engaged.
  • I’m not enjoying the tone/theme. I’m getting more sensitive about some themes in fiction. Too much gore and violence can throw me off. Some trigger warnings for me: child abuse, gore, body horror, sexism, racism, and physical abuse.
  • I give the book a chance (read at least 20-30%) and I feel it’s not the right time to read it. If after a few chapters I still do not feel like I’m in the right place emotionally or mentally to finish it, it’s time to stop reading it.

The book in question today is Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. I read 20% of it, roughly 8 chapters in total. It is a pick for my local Book Club and I’ve heard great things about it. It is a fantasy set in an alt pre-Columbian American world with magic and old prophecies. The setting is dark from what I could gather and the very first chapter threw me off with a brutal scene involving a child. I couldn’t get past that. Later on, we are introduced to a great character, a strong female ship captain whom I loved! But the story is told from 4 different characters’ viewpoints, and I didn’t enjoy the other three POVs.

Anyway, it’s time to move on. Maybe I’ll pick it up later, but there are so many other books I want to read that I’ve decided to put Black Sun on the back burner. Deep inside I still feel bad about it, it’s one of those situations where “I wanted to have enjoyed it”. Well, I’m sorry, it didn’t work out this time.

In Bookwyrm there’s a shelf for “Stopped Reading” and I added a comment so that in the future I know why I stopped reading it.

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

  1. A big ship at the edge of the universe (The Salvagers #1) by Alex White, 473p: It is fantasy in a sci-fi setting which I found was unusual and cool. I liked the diverse group of characters in a “found-family” kind of setting. I missed having more information about the villains, they seemed underdeveloped. Some action scenes where magic, space battles, or spacewalking were being described seemed a bit confusing to me, it was hard to understand exactly what was going on. It is a light read, with lots of action scenes and I tried not to overthink the magic to enjoy it. I don't think I will continue reading the series, but the book builds nicely for the sequel without ending in a cliffhanger.

  2. The Air War (Shadows of the Apt #8) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 646p: This book escalated way more than I thought it would. I don't know why I wasn't expecting so much war in a book with “war” in the title. So, it's heartbreaking while both the Wasps and the Beetles are developing new weapon technologies. It focuses on the development of fixed wings airplane fighters and a more efficient way to drop bombs from them. The parallels with the Second World War are inevitable. Taki, the Fly-kinden pilot shines on this one. This series continues to be very entertaining.

  3. Exhalation by Ted Chiang, 352p: I don't usually read short stories but this one was recommended to me. Maybe I had too high expectations? Anyway, I enjoyed the first stories “The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate”, “Exhalation” and the “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” and “Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny”. But I had a hard time engaging with all the other stories. I didn't find the ideas that interesting and for the most part, I didn't care at all about the characters/narrator of the story. Most of the stories were disturbingly weird to me. I was a little bit disappointed overall.

  4. Selfish, shallow, and self-absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids by Meghan Daum and others, 288p: It was nice to read thoughts on the topic from people of various ages and sexual preferences, males and females. I find it’s hard to have an open conversation about this topic nowadays. The essays are very personal and honest bringing diverse perspectives. I'm glad these voices are out there debunking the prejudice that childless people (especially women) are selfish or that there is something wrong with them. Being a woman who decided at an early age to not pursue motherhood, this was a refreshing read for me.

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

Since Goodreads was bought by Amazon I’ve been trying to find a replacement for my book tracking. Last year I moved over from Goodreads to The Storygraph.

And then I decided to explore the Fediverse using Mastodon and heard about BookWyrm: a federated social network for book lovers. When I knew that I could import my data using a CVS file, I gave it a try. And I’m loving BookWyrm!

Here are the steps I took to make the move:

Choosing an instance and signing up

There is this neat landing page that can help us see the list of available instances and choose one to join. I chose the flagship (the biggest) instance and joined bookwyrm.social. After my request to join was approved I got a message to confirm my email and logged in.

Read more...

  1. Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson, 656p: This was my first time reading Sanderson and it’s clear he is a great storyteller. It felt a little YA to me, which is not a bad thing, but sometimes it seemed like the book didn't know if it was going to be an adult or a YA story. Nice world-building: the author really takes time to develop the world and bring it to life, without making it boring. The high point of this book was the Magic System based on colors and Breaths. It's intricate and interesting. I like it when magic has rules, restrictions, and costs to the user. There are some good plot twists that caught me totally by surprise.

  2. 100 Things We've Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul, 288p: I listened to the audiobook and it’s basically a journey through things we used to do before the Internet. It’s funny and light. But I felt it got a little repetitive towards the end.

  3. The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency #2) by John Scalzi, 320p: The second book of the series and very enjoyable, like all Scalzi’s books. We learn lots of secrets about how The Interdependency was created and the Memory Room. There are cool AIs, conspirators, palace intrigues, plot twists, and people getting arrested. It ends in a cliffhanger so I had to jump to the third book right away.

  4. The Last Emperox (The Interdependency #3) John Scalzi, 336p: I thought it was a satisfying end to the trilogy. Discoveries are made, very important people get killed, and more plot twists making the story super engaging. I loved the characters in this series, and also the sci-fi ideas: with star systems risking being disconnected from the rest of the world, how to save everybody? How to save millions of people from a natural disaster? How to avoid the ones in power from being selfish and only saving themselves? I had lots of fun with this series.

  5. The 5th Gender (Tinkered Stars) by G.L. Carriger, 222p: A cozy murder mystery in a spaceship with humans trying to understand aliens and vice-versa. And a romance between a queer detective and a lavender alien with hair tentacles. It plays with the idea of gender and sexual diversity. It’s cute and light-hearted. Warning: It has explicit sexual content.

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

  1. The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull, 286p: I wanted to have enjoyed this book more, but there was something about it that threw me off. It is unique because the story takes place on St. Thomas Island in our current time. An alien ship lands on the island in 2019. But we don't get to know much about them, only that they want to do some research on the island, they live among the humans peacefully but can become extremely violent if someone annoys them in any way. The aliens are used as an allegory of colonialism, racism, and slavery. And it is all portrayed through the lens of characters, with their personal struggles and thoughts. This book had an eerie feel to it, where I couldn't trust the character’s points of view, it all seemed too surreal to me sometimes. So, I was hoping for more sci-fi alien explorations and this is more like a social commentary on power and occupied territory.

  2. The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman, 192p: I've heard a lot about this series over the years, but I’ve never actually read it. I gave it a try, and it didn't really catch me. It's probably too dark for my taste as it clearly has horror elements. I didn't like seeing people suffering because of the cruelty of deities, it's not really my thing. The art is beautiful, though.

  3. Heirs of the Blade (Shadows of the Apt #7) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 622p: In this book, we go to the Commonweal, the land of the Dragonfly-kinden. It is a vast far-away land with mostly inapt inhabitants, and they were partially conquered by the Wasp Empire, but still somewhat kept their ways creating an interesting mix of small Monarchies (Principalities) and Wasp-occupied provinces. There is an epic Weaponmaster duel, featuring Tynisa, the Spider. The first half of the book focuses on Tynisa's explorations in the Commonweal. Through her experience, we can see the duality of the Apt and Inapt worlds, and manifestations of arcane magic. This whole series is an exploration of this duality: the arcane versus technology/science. It seems the Wasp Empire wants to rule with both magic and technology, combining them into a powerful weapon to take over the world. We'll see how that goes.

  4. How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price, 192p: Very practical, it presents daily exercises to be done in 30 days, so the chapters are grouped by week, with one activity per day. I enjoyed the activities and they really gave me another level of awareness of my relationship with my phone. Sometimes the exercises were just a few questions that made me reflect on my feelings and physical reactions when I use my phone. It was very interesting. The final exercise is to spend 24 hours without a phone and that was also very enriching. I wrote about some of my takeaways here.

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Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


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

This month I tried some magical realism, continued on the Dresden Files series (it only gets better), read a short urban fantasy and some light non-fiction. I realized books about minimalism aren’t that interesting to me anymore because I already read a lot of them (so I’ll keep that in mind).

  1. The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo, 468p: I was curious to explore some magical realism, and it's probably not my cup of tea. It was very slow and too “dreamy” for me.  The premise is intriguing and what kept me going was the mystery about the lost finger and the weretigers. Lots of people losing fingers on this one. It brings interesting cultural elements, with references to mythology and folklore of Malaysia. I feel Magical realism is not my thing. Everything happens in the real world (1930s colonial Malaysia), real places, real cultural references, but at the same time there is this uncanny mysticism and I don’t trust any of the characters. I think my suspension of disbelief doesn’t work well while reading this genre.

  2. Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) by Ilona Andrews, 225p: A fun quick read. I liked the idea of a Victorian Bed and Breakfast being a cosmic outpost with its own powers. It's a good urban fantasy mixing up space vampires, werewolves, and a badass protagonist (Dina) who is this powerful Innkeeper trying to look normal.

  3. Dead Beat (The Dresden Files #7) by Jim Butcher, 517p: Have I mentioned that I love the titles of this book series? This one has necromancers who want to put their hands on an old lost book that contains forbidden magic powers, so, lots of zombies. Also, vampires because, why not? Harry Dresden finally gets a job with the White Council and starts getting regular income. I hope he is not broke all the time anymore, he deserves it, he's a good guy. Oh, and did I mention zombie dinosaurs?

  4. The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life's Stressors by Brian King, 256p: Light and fun read about stress management with touches of personal memoir. The author uses some simplified explanations of how our brain works under stress, as the  “bears vs traffic” argument. I got the analogy, but sometimes traffic is not as harmless as he describes (I think he never had to drive during heavy snowstorm or freezing rain conditions). I had fun, it is humorous and not intended to be an in-depth guide to fight depression or anxiety.

  5. Love People Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works by Ryan Nicodemus, Joshua Fields Millburn, 320p: I didn't enjoy this book as much as their previous books. Maybe it's because this one didn't bring anything new to me. It has some more personal anecdotes and even childhood pictures from Joshua Millburn. It tries to focus more on relationships and at the end of the chapters, there are some suggested exercises for the reader. And again, since I'm familiar with their work there was nothing fresh for me. But I think it's a good read for people who aren't familiar with minimalism.

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

Last year I started using The Storygraph to track my reading.

The Storygraph is a new-ish service and what I like about it is the simple-clean interface, no ads, no annoying notifications, the “next-up'“ feature, and the team developing it.

For every year we get a Reading Wrap-Up, similar to the “My Year in Books” from Goodreads.

It was interesting to see that 26 books were part of a series. I’m getting more and more into series and I’m enjoying “spending time” with the same characters in their worlds. They become good old friends. My favorite series from last year were:

Another cool piece of information was to know the average time I spent with each book, which was 12 days. Not bad, I think.

And I love seeing all the covers of the books read at a glimpse. You can see the whole list here.

So far I’m enjoying The Storygraph!

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

… to pick up a hold and I’m greeted with this Groundhog. 🤓 Yay, more days of reading!

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

New year!

I’m trying to read as much as I can. And by that I mean replacing all the other “reading” I do on the internet with reading… books. Some books were more challenging than others, but I was able to sit down for long periods to focus on reading. It’s a good mental exercise.

1. The Sea Watch (Shadows of the Apt #6) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 698p: This is probably my least favorite book of the series so far because it starts slow and introduces a whole new world (under the sea) and lots of new characters. It was heavy on worldbuilding for the first half and I wasn’t that interested in this new city, with its politics and economy. But in the end, it was a fantastic read, the last part of the book compensates for the slow start. It was nice to follow closely Stenwold Maker and his exceptional strategic skills to avoid an unprecedented war between sea and land peoples.

2. Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence by Anna Lembke, 304p: Super interesting, it’s an explainer on how dopamine works in our brains and the duality between pleasure and pain. It’s a good introductory book to the subject. A takeaway for me was that a good strategy to break an addiction pattern might be total avoidance of the thing I’m addicted to for at least 3 weeks. It might not work for everybody and not for every intensity of addiction, but for me, it works.

3. Nemesis Games (The Expanse #5) by James S.A. Corey, 536p: I read this book after seeing the TV series, which is very unlike me. I remember the TV adaptation was great, and the book is even better. This might be my favorite book in the series. The pace of the book is just perfect with POV chapters for each one of the Rocinante crew members: Holden, Naomi, Alex, and Amos. It’s a different setting as well because they are not inside Rocinante for a change, and they are not even in the same places for most of the time and that just shows how good these characters are.

4. Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty, 400p: I loved the premise of this story: 6 astronauts that wake up in a generation ship to find their past clones dead and must investigate who is the murderer. So it is a good mix of closed room thriller/mystery and sci-fi. I liked the format: chapters alternating and revealing the background of each character. And with every chapter, you discover new things, and the characters’ past and motives get more complex as you go. It was interesting, it got me engaged to the end. I didn't want to put down this book. The ending felt a little bit too rushed and convenient, but the ride was super fun.

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


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