Reviews of the books I've read

A list of all the books I've read this year. For these reviews, this is my book review scale:

burn Burn any copy you find of this book, it is horrific.
mock This book is awful. Don't read this book and mock anyone you see reading this book.
don't Don't read this book.
desert If you're on a desert island and are bored out of your mind, this book is okay to read.
fan If you're a fan of this author / genre, this book is worth reading.
worth This book is interesting, fun, entertaining, and thus worth reading. I would hand this book to a friend who asked for a _____ type book.
strongly I strongly recommend this book
amazing OMG, this book is amazing and/or life-changing, let me buy you a copy.

Post date:

The Dark Horse

Book Notes

Walt Longmire, Book 5

You must enjoy the book THIS MUCH to continue reading. Fortunately for this one, not a problem. The mystery is good. There was one part that took a little more suspension of disbelief than normal, but, hey, let's go for it. I have to say, I'm a bit delighted that the bad guy is not a bad cop.

Recommended.

Another Man's Moccasins

Book Notes

Walt Longmire, Book 4

Yep, still enjoying the Longmire books. Would be rather hard not to enjoy them, with the wit of the characters. In this one, the dead body comes from OUTSIDE of Wyoming, so whoo! not another person dying in the county. Who would have thought so many people could die in such a small place anyway?

The format of this one is a little different, in that it has a number of flashbacks to Vietnam (the reference of which is coincidental to Bosch, who was also in Vietnam, but with a much different experience), and an intertwined storyline. Two mysteries for the price of one!

The ending was satisfying. I'll keep reading this series and recommending it.

Kindness Goes Unpunished

Book Notes

Walt Longmire, Book 3

Completely unsurprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Given the number of deaths in the last two books, I was seriously concerned where Johnson was going to go with this book. There are only so many murders that can happen in a small population space before people begin fleeing, moving out, going to safer places. The previous two books had six murders in total. If this book had had another one, well, okay, I'd still suspend disbelief, but I'd become very frustrated with the triteness of it.

Fortunately, not the case. Unfortunately, Walt's daughter is injured when he and Henry are visiting in Philadelphia. And what do you know, MORE PEOPLE DIE. Kinda the point, though.

I'm finding these books addicting. I've been reading them as I walk and run on the treadmill, which means I've been walking a lot more than I had last month. Between Longmire and Bosch, I am having a delightful time reading through the series.

This book is, as expected, recommended. As of this writing, I am, of course reading the next one.

Death Without Company

Book Notes

Walt Longmire, Book 2

Okay, book two of the Walk Longmire series, and it was as delightfully entertaining as the first one. I am thoroughly enjoying these books. In this book, there were three murders. Coupled with the three deaths in the previous book, you would totally expect anyone in the area to hightail it out of there for safer grounds. And a joke is even made about Longmire retiring and fast, before there are any more. The characters are fun to read about, the banter witty and the Gavriel-Kay style of not telling the reader everything going on, but letting said reader read between the lines to understand, all totally enchant me with these books.

You can read about the plot elsewhere, or just pick it up and start reading it. I liked these first two books enough to keep reading, and maybe seek them out in hardcover, if they've been published in that form.

I may have also actively stayed up until after midnight finishing this book, which I haven't done since Harry Dresden or Harry Potter. So...

Recommended.

City of Bones (Bosch)

Book Notes

Harry Bosch, book 8

This would be the second "City of Bones" book I've read. No, I did not reread the Clarisse something or other YA book again.

I'd been eagerly reading through the various Bosch books to get to this one, so that I could watch the pilot of the Amazon/Netflix/I-don't-remember-where tv show, Bosch, which is a combination of this book and Concrete Blonde. Unsurprisingly, I will continue reading the Bosch series, as I enjoyed this one. The last book would have been book 1 of the "two sucky books and I'm done" requirement to stop reading a series, but this book redeemed the series.

This book did not have a bad cop as the bad guy. Well, sorta. There's still a couple bad-cop incidents but HEY, LET'S HAND WAVE OVER THAT PART, because really, any group in an us-vs-them and in power is going to have bad seeds in the ranks. The book included the classic Bosch elements of the dame, Los Angeles (though post my era), the distrust from other cops, mystery and tragedy. There was a twist, and FINALLY Bosch doesn't get it right the first time. I didn't get it right the first time I guessed the twist, either, which was great.

The ending is a bit of a cliff-hanger, so I'll be starting up the next one, just after I finish a couple more of my already started books.

The Cold Dish

Book Notes

I think that Book Riot might be the death of me. I have to admit that "death by books" wouldn't necessarily be the worst way to go, though perhaps being pummeled to death by books might be. In this particular case, the article Five Female Characters Who Are Way More Awesome in Books started off with Katee Sackhoff as Victoria Moretti in Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series. Katee Sackhoff. Starbuck. Sackhoff. In another tough-as-nails role? Yeah, sign me up.

And, holy moly, this book is fun. I came for the character and stayed for the wit. Johnson's writing style is as fun as Butcher's style in the Dresden series. Johnson also has the writing style of showing, not telling. I am a huge fan of this style, and consider it a sign of a better writer. The book is written in first person, and done well. We aren't privy to thoughts of the other characters, but are shown small details, sometimes in odd places, just as we all do in real life.

The book is set in Small Town, Wyoming. I haven't looked up the town or county to see if they actually exist. An unpleasant young-ish man is murdered. While the sheriff (who we follow in the first person) is solving his murder, one of the victim's fellow miscreants is also murdered. The sheriff is now taxed with protecting the victims' other fellow miscreants, while now solving two murders, which are linked. We learn of the sheriff's history in this book, the first of a currently-11 book series, which isn't unusual for a first book.

The supporting characters are entertaining, and yes, Vic is great. I'm looking forward to watching the series. More importantly, I'm excited to read the other 10 books in the series. I've already started book, two.

How to Make Sense of Any Mess

Book Notes

I had Abby Covert's book, How to Make Sense of Any Mess, open in one of my tabs since it was published. I thought about reading it, lingered on buying it, and finally just purchased it last week. It arrived, and I read it quickly.

Abby describes the book as "a book about information architecture for everybody." I would argue the title is more accurate about making sense of any mess than her description is. The steps of "Identify, State, Face, Choose, Measure, Play, Prepare" she has are accurate in fixing any mess, if you adjust them slightly. Consider:

  • Identify the mess
  • Determine what you really want from this mess
  • Face reality
  • Choose a direction that takes you to your goal
  • Track how far you've come
  • Reflect on what you really want, if this goal is still worth the effort
  • Adjust (actually adjust) the way you're going (not just prepare to adjust)

More words, same idea. I like how Abby presents the ideas and provides a roadmap. I COMPLETELY disagree with her definition of hypertext, and wonder if her ideas of the hyper* come from a non-technical, didn't-start-with-the-web-from-its-infancy perspective, such that it may be more accurate to younger/non-technical people than I think it should be.

I recommend this book as a guidebook for groups. I can see this being a starting point for teams beginning a clean-up project, and plan on using the suggestions Abby provides for cleaning up this site (yay! a group of one!).

A Darkness More than Night

Book Notes

"Harry Bosch," book 7

I finished A Darkness More than Night, book seven in the Harry Bosch series, tonight. To call this book a Harry Bosch book is a bit disengenous, since it really was book two of Connelly's Terry McCaleb series. I didn't bother reading the first McCaleb book, Blood Work, choosing to watch the move which starred Clint Eastwood, and to read the summary on Wikipedia instead. A big *shrug* on that one.

The book, in and of itself, is classic Connelly, with the surprising twist that THE BAD GUY IS NOT A COP. Can you believe it? No, I can't either. The plot alluded to a number of other incidents and cases in Bosch's past, with Bosch being set up for a murder he didn't commit, but didn't prevent either. Given the murder was of a man who was also a murderer and had walked on a technicality, we are presented with a moral dilemma that no one would ever want to face.

Okay, so, the bad guy isn't a cop, but you know what? BOSCH IS STILL A SUSPECT, STILL HAS THE FBI AND IA ON HIM and, good lord, after nearly 30 f------ years of living with that, only a fictional character could survive. 30 years of a hostile work environment where EVERYONE you work with thinks you're dirty, even though the beloved reader would NEVER THINK SO? It has to be extremely wearing.

Yeah, so, book seven of the Bosch series. Good enough I'll read another one. Might have been okay to skip, given that it's a essentially a McCaleb story.

Fear Street 9: Stepsister

Book Notes

This book came up as a Book Riot book, just as I started reading Book Riot posts. I promptly bought a number of the books from that first list, but this book has been moving from to-do list (yellow card) to to-do list (another yellow card) to to-do list (give it to the PA to buy for me). In a fit of insomnia last night, I opened up my ebook copy and started reading. I had read R.L. Stine years ago when reading his books were age appropriate, though found them inferior to Christopher Pike's works (and learned JUST TODAY, that Christopher Pike is a pseudonym for Kevin Christopher McFadden, who used the Star Trek captain's name - always wondered about that one). Given the recommendation that Fear Street #9: Stepsister was the best of the Fear Street series, I read it. The "you'll read it in 35 minutes" was fairly accurate, though it took me more like an hour, reading on the jostling bus on a small screen.

THAT ALL SAID, it was okay. The style of writing was very, um, juvenile? The sentence structure was monotonous, the plot predictable and the twist anticipated. I found all of the characters unlovable, uninteresting, and, well, to be honest, unbelievable. The mom who doesn't want anything bad said about anyone or anything, to the point of disbelieving her daughter who's been almost killed twice? The stepdad who is such a wet noodle that we have no idea why the mom is even interested in him? The omniscient main character who is so determined to blame her stepsister for everything wrong that she is unable to function even slightly rationally? There were enough clues to understand where the author was going with the plot, fortunately.

If I were 10, I might have enjoyed this book. Related: I'm not 10. It was an okay book for the bus ride to work this morning. I'll move back to reading Madame Bovary for the ride home.

9 books in 20 days, with the four I've started and haven't finished yet.

Angel's Flight

Book Notes

Harry Bosch, book 6

Oh, look! Another bad cop! In this case, however, we don't know which cop is the bad one. It's this one, no it's this one, no, no, no, it's that one. In reality, this is one of Connelly's better books, in that the bad guy isn't obvious. Well, that, and we didn't have to sit through a boring trial. While the end had a slightly meh part to it, Angel's Flight had enough twists, mystery and action to make it enjoyable. I'd recommend this Bosch book for readers of Connelly's work or crime mystery fiction.

Unrelated to the book, ooooooof, eight books in 12 days. That's a lot, even for me. I'd guess something is going on with me and my life, since that much reading usually indicates I'm avoiding something or I'm doing a lot of physical labor that allows time for my mind to wander or, as is this case, listen to an audiobook.

Trunk Music

Book Notes

Harry Bosch, Book 5

Oh, look! Another bad cop! I swear this is going to be how I start every Bosch book, because that seems to be how every Harry Bosch book ends. This one has the very, very obvious bad cop, even if he doesn't end up being THE bad cop. Well, that's not actually correct, because there are a couple bad cops, that don't ever end up being THE bad cop. It's just weird.

The bad cop was just one of the now-classic Bosch elements: bad cop, IAD on Bosch's ass, the dame, Los Angeles. We have a newly introduced Kima Greggs, who was the black woman detective in The Wire, though her name is Kiz Rider in the Bosch series.

Did I mention the mob in this book? Yeah, because the mob would totally let all of this go, right? Yeah.

I'm enjoying the books. I'll keep reading. Not sure I'll keep up this pace, though: 7 books in 11 days.

Last Coyote

Book Notes

Harry Bosch, Book 4

Okay, now things are getting absurd in this series. Seriously, how the f--- does a cop manage to get a 100% close rate when he's investigating murders that are 30+ years old? I mean, COME ON, how f---ing stupid were people 30 years ago that THEY MISS THE OBVIOUS? Oh, wait, THEY WEREN'T STUPID. There were, of course, cover-ups and shameful acts and people-who-need-to-confess.

Upside, the book wasn't boring like Concrete Blonde was.

Oddly, no tunnels.

I enjoyed this book, too, even if the level of suspension of disbelief was a little high. Coyotes talking to people who haven't had peyote and 30 year old case solved, my foot. Doesn't happen unless the killer confesses on his deathbed.

Concrete Blonde

Book Notes

Harry Bosch, book 3

Okay, this is the third book of the Harry Bosch series, and, well, the most boring and predictable of the three. The previous ones weren't boring, so having to listen to this one at 3x speed to get through it was surprising. The main plot point of the story is Bosch is being sued in civil court for the wrongful death of the Dollmaker from four years previously, a plot point mentioned many times in the previous two books, giving us lots of court scenes and predictable characters: the tough plaintiff lawyer, the bumbling city lawyer, the asshole judge. The plot does give us a way to understand the plot of the Dollmaker murders without having to read about the past, which was a good history fill-in that I liked. The misdirections in the plot, though, were boring enough to be eye-rolling with the obvious clues for the reader to figure out they were immediate misdirections.

My worry is that in three books, I've figured out Michael Connelly's style and the remaining 11 Bosch books will be boring past two. The upside is that the area of Los Angeles that the books take place in, as well as the time, are all familiar to me, making the old books a trip down memory lane.

5 in 7 days

Black Ice

Book Notes

Harry Bosch, book 2

Like Bosch book 1, I've had this book in audio format for two and a half years. I better have bought these on a steep discount, given how long I've had them and not read them. That said, I enjoyed this book, too. Similar to the first book, it had tunnels, bad cops, stupidly annoying and bumbling IAD officers (they can't possibly be this awful in real life), Los Angeles circa-my-era, the dame, and Harry Bosch in his hard-boiled detective glory.

I enjoyed the book and I'll keep reading them until I've read two in a row that suck. So far, this one is good enough to keep going.

Four books in five days. Maybe I should have set last year's 52 books in a year for this year instead.

Black Echo

Book Notes

Harry Bosch, book 1

I bought book fourteen (yes, 14) of the Harry Bosch series. I hadn't quite realized it was book fourteen of the series. The only series where I've read fourteen of the books in the series is the Harry Dresden series, and yes, that Harry is well worth the read. I didn't realize this Harry was up to fourteen books, but, eh, sure, I'll give the series a try. It's not like I don't have a stack of 60 books just waiting to be read on my nightstand or anything.

So, book ONE of the Harry BOSCH, not Dresden, not Potter, series is Black Echo. I swear I've had this book in my audio book list for two and a half years (June of 2012, actually, I just checked, so I'd be right), and have no idea why I haven't read it or listened to it. Fixed that today, and by "today" I mean, "today," because I spent the whole day putzing around the house, cleaning up the yard, and listening to it.

Okay, right, enough rambling, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is set in Los Angeles in the late 1980s with enough similarity to when I was there in the late 1990s, that I knew where everything was. A lot of the scenes in Hollywood were where I had gone to night clubs to listen to new bands coming up, or in the canyons where I had hiked, or along Wilshire where I worked, or UCLA where I went to play ultimate, or along Silverlake where I'd bypass traffic when riding to work, that all of it came rushing back and it was a great. The book is like the old hard-boiled detective novels, with a slight twist at the end, with the good cop (Harry, of course) who everyone suspects of wrong doing because he's sticking to finding the truth even when the bad guys dressed in good guy clothes don't really want him to find the truth.

And wheeeee!

So, the personal connection kept me interested in this book. The references to the Vietnam tunnels provided a history lesson and it was a fun read. I'll read book two, which is good, because I already have it.

Three books in three days. Zoom!

How to Speak Baseball

Book Notes

Okay, THIS is the book I needed fifteen years ago. It is a list of baseball terms, in alphabetical order, with some cute illustrations thrown into it. Much of the baseball lingo I've heard Kris use, and a lot of it that I had never heard, was in this book. I was, after reading it, surprised to realize how many terms I did know, which just proves you can learn baseball by osmosis.

The only problem I could find in the book is that it lacked the definition of "High Cheese Ball." I can't understand why such an auspicious term would have been left out of this wonderfully enjoyable baseball lexicon.

White Night

Book Notes

I am uncertain how many times I've read this book. This is at least the fourth time through; my count is likely higher, though. It has one of my favorite Harry scenes in it, even though it isn't one of my top three favorite Dresden books.

The book has the typical Dresden banter and an interesting plot twist. It wraps up a couple ongoing story points, presents Harry and human, and gives us a moment to see Harry's breaking point. The story arc of this book isn't quite the typical Dresden story arc, which is refreshing if you've been on a Dresden streak and understand Butcher's Dresden formula.

I like that Elaine is back in the storyline. The glimpses into her life, as well as the display of her power, are interesting. Reading about Molly and her apprenticeship from the perspective of having read the subsequent seven books is also refreshing.

As always, love the Dresden books. I will, unsurprisingly and of course, read this one again.

2014 Year in Review

Book Notes

I read these books in 2014. I didn't reach my goal of one book a week, for 52 books for the year. I did okay, though. Instead of doing full book reviews, I'm just dumping them all in this list. Hopefully, I'll be better in 2015.

  • The Shining Girls (Lauren Beukes)

    Fast read, a bit jarring in the plot twists that come with trying to span two stories that occur 100 years apart.

  • Darkness Visible (William Styron)

    Styron's account of depression, and the closest account I've read that describes the descent into the hell that blackness is.

  • Acceptance (Jeff VanderMeer)
    Authority (Jeff VanderMeer)
    Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer)

    I did not like these books. I read them as fast as I could. I was confused after the first one, slightly less confused after the second and ready to throw the third book into the fire. I was never able to see the world VanderMeer was trying to create. It was one gigantic white blur of crappy story-telling.

    Plot is some event happened that made this dome of the East Coast impenetrable, where time is accelerated and man's influence (toxins and poisons and the like) are removed. It's a bizarro worm hole to another world, but you never really know that and it's all a giant fog, like the writing. I do not recommend these books.

  • The Witch with No Name (Kim Harrison)

    Final book of the Hollows series. An eye-roll but expected ending to the series. I enjoyed all of the books, though I think Andy stopped reading a few books back.

  • Hidden (Alex Verus 5) (Benedict Jacka)

    Enjoying the series. Read it. Enjoyed this one.

  • Personal (Jack Reacher) (Lee Child)

    Reacher. Not else needs really be said. Recommended.

  • Lock In (John Scalzi)

    Scalzi. Not else needs really be said.

    Okay, a little more. I enjoyed it. Feels like it'll be a series. Will definitely be a movie or tv show in the future.

  • Not a Drill (Jack Reacher novella) (Lee Child)

    Novella that leads into Personal, short, with a nominally pointless plot, but Reacher.

  • Chosen (Alex Verus 4) (Benedict Jacka)
    Taken (Alex Verus 3) (Benedict Jacka)
    Cursed (Alex Verus 2) (Benedict Jacka)
    Fated (Alex Verus 1) (Benedict Jacka)

    Okay, I think Jim Butcher recommended Benedict Jacka's books. Well, Butcher or maybe Harry Connolly. Either way, the books are entertaining. I read all four of the published books, boom, boom, boom, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The world is different than the Dresden world, but Jacka hints at Harry Dresden, which is just delightful.

    The books are serial, you should read them sequentially. The humour isn't Dresden/Butcher-esque, but the books are a fun read. I preordered the fifth book immediately, and added Jacka to my buy-the-next-book-published list.

  • City of Heavenly Fire (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Lost Souls (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Fallen Angels (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Glass (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Ashes (Cassandra Clare)
    City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

    I read these straight through. I really enjoyed the first one. The second one was fun. I grew tired of the series around the fourth one and had to plow through the last one to finish. One of the great things about the books is that the main female character is a strong one, though, god, are teenagers really that stupid about communication? I remember just asking the boy questions instead of assuming what an inane action meant, but these characters seem to assume the worst in each other. When I realized the author was probably trying to recreate her childhood in a favorable way, well, the series lost its sparkle for me.

    That said, the part that I REALLY liked about these books was the idea of one's character riding in one's soul. I'm not saying that correctly, but something like when a soul is taken from a body, that person is no longer who you thought they were, that the new soul / entity in the body is that, a new person. I'm not describing it well. The idea is thought provoking, to the point that I consider it still, from time to time. It's like the tumor that causes certain behaviors in people, remove the tumor and the unexpected, erratic behavior disappears. It's a fascinating bit of ethics.

    Thankfully, these books WERE NOT Twilight, he's so perfect, Bella Swan crap. *shudder*

  • Skin Game Dresden 14 (Jim Butcher)

    HARRY DRESDEN. OF COURSE I'M GOING TO READ IT.

    I read it three times. It's a good one.

  • Unlocked (Locked In prequel novella) (John Scalzi)

    Okay, having read World War Z, I have to say that this book paled in comparison. They are both oral histories of the world they are describing, this one being a lead into Locked In. The big difference is that in WWZ, Brooks managed to get the different voices of the persons being interviewed, whereas Scalzi did not. In WWZ, you could feel the shift in tone, demeanor, phrasing of the different interview subjects; you could hear the different voices, the accents; you could see the body language.

    In Unlocked, all I heard was Scalzi's story-telling voice. It was one person, first person omniscient, telling everyone's stories.

    However, see above: Scalzi.

  • Allegiant (Veronica Roth)
    Insurgent (Veronica Roth)
    Divergent (Veronica Roth)

    After the Hunger Games, but unsurprised that I read these. Thankfully, I read them before the movie came out. The first book was great. The second book is as most second books are: get me to the third book. In this case, the third book was okay. I enjoyed reading about O'Hare, since I go through there a lot, and can imagine the airport. Downside, holy crap does the author have her distances wrong. The people in the city would totally see the airplanes taking off, and Lake Michigan is not that far away that they wouldn't know about it.

  • The Antidote (Oliver Burkeman)

    Read this one three times. Highly recommended.

  • The Undead Pool (Kim Harrison)

    Second to last Hollows book. Enjoyed it.

  • 47 Ronin (John Allyn)

    Did not particularly enjoy this one. Listed to it at 2x speed most of the way, with 3x speed to hurry it up.

  • A Forest of Stars (Saga of the Seven Suns, Book 2)
    Hidden Empire (Saga of the Seven Suns, Book 1)

    There are seven books in this series. After book two, I couldn't have cared less about the characters, I cared so little. The books are written to describe large time spans, with brief glimpses into moments, so that you don't see the years of boredom in between the glimpses. After I finished the second book, my thought was, "F--- it, where's the Wikipedia page?" I read that, knew the plot, and felt nothing but relief about my choice not to continue with five more of these books.

  • Emperor Mollusk vs the Sinister Brain (A. Lee Martinez)

    Okay, I know what the author is trying to do here: something so campy and over the top that it's unpredictable and humorous. It failed. I found it campy and annoying. Not recommended.

  • Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman)

    Kris recommended this one. I enjoyed it.

  • One Second After (William R. Forstchen)

    Wow, I struggled with this one. The struggle likely began with the forward by Newt Gingrich. If that's not a turn off, I don't know what would be.

    The basic premise is that America goes post-apocalyptic after an EMP takes out all electronics in the United States. I can totally agree with the premise, I can even agree with the horrors that would happen with no communication methods and the lost art of self-reliance. The book itself, however, I had to play on triple speed because it was so slow. If I had had the print version, every fourth word would have sufficed.

    So, boring, but important.

  • Deadly Decisions (Kathy Reichs)
    Deja Dead (Kathy Reichs)
    Death Du Jour (Kathy Reichs)

    Well, I liked these books well enough to read three of them. Which is to say, I bought the first one, read the first chapter, liked it enough to buy the next two books, continued reading the first book, and thought, ugh.

    The books are good enough to read the first few. I didn't enough them enough to keep reading past the ones I had already bought.

  • World War Z (Max Brooks)
  • First Grave on the Right (Darynda Jones)
  • Predictably Irrational (Dan Ariely)

Being Mortal

Book Notes

Read this book.

I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. Aside from the fact that Atul Gawande's writing is wonderful and engaging, the topic of end-of-life care is too important not to read about it, especially when you're young enough to be able to do something about it. Saving for retirement is not enough. Thinking about this and preparing can't be stressed enough. Having read it, I am no-way-no-how going to move my mom or my dad or Eric or anyone elder and well-established whom I need to care for, from their homes when they are older.

I can seriously hope that if I'm faced with "do this procedure, get maybe 3 more years of questionable-quality life" vs "don't do this procedure, get maybe 1 more year of quality life" I have the strength and wisdom to choose the latter.

Read. This. Book. I mean it. I'll buy a copy, I mean it so much.

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking

Book Notes

When at Webstock (holy f---, once again, an amazing conference) this year, Liz Danzico gave a great talk about giving up, quitting, and how, "... sometimes, the middle is the end" in projects. The talk was engaging and struck close to my heart in many ways. One of the many books she referenced and drew from was The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking (affiliate link). With a title like that, heck yes, I bought a copy before the conference was over.

The book has 9 sections, ranging from the cult of positive thinking to stoicism to embracing insecurity to the folly of focusing on goals to accepting death as a way of life to negative capability. Each section / chapter has a central theme, some story or author adventure, and a suggestion on how this different way of not-embracing positive thinking has helped others and can help the reader in leading a better life (for their definition of better).

Having read a number of studies about how positive thinking doesn't really work in many cases, as it's essentially sticking your head in the sand about reality, and that visualizing achieving your goals causes your brain to reward you for already having achieved them reducing your desire to continue to pursue them, I was eager to read this book.

It did not disappoint.

There's immediate advice that I took to heart, much of it about stoicism and meditating, along with embracing insecurity and letting go of the belief we can control things. I've been seeing the world as it is, and less through my emotions, opinions and history. I've taken the few minutes, not always as long as I'd like, to listen to my breathing and calm myself. I've been trying to go outside of my comfort zone every day for the last couple months ("An adventure!"), and have experiences I would normally never consider. And, I've been accepting that things happen, whether from the actions of other people, entropy or whatever.

I highly recommend this book. I bought the audio version to listen to when I'm doing non-concentrating activities around the house (dishes, cooking, riding the bus). It's one of very few audiobooks I listen to 1x speed, instead of my usual 1.5x speed, it's that well read and written.

Along with The Happiness Hypothesis (also an affiliate link), this book goes into the "will read again, likely once a year" category, for finding balance.

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