book

Carrying a book everywhere

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This is going to be a rambling, round about, nothing in particular conversation between me and my future self, looking back. I do this every once in a while. You're invited to listen in. Hi, Kitt!

So, I've been working on my life goals this year. In particular, moving them from vague, hand-wavy goals like "read more" and "travel more" and "be successful" into concrete, measurable goals like "read 52 books in a year", and "establish a baseline of how much I travel so that I can measure 'more'," and "dump stuff on the website at least twice a week." So far, having them measurable means I'm moving towards them, which is great.

Practical Empathy

Book Review

http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/practical-empathy/

I bought this book almost immediately after it was published. As someone who has been told time and time again that I lack tact, I dove into this book with abandon and joyous expectation that this book would help me be more aware of the people around me, their motivations, their stories, their expectations, their fears and hopes. My desire was to learn to be empathetic. For the first six chapters of this book, however, I was fairly disappointed in this book. Pretty much the only thing I got out of said first six chapters was the correction that one is not empathetic, but rather one has empathy. Empathy is something that is developed, and, oh, boy, I was thinking this was not the book to teach me how to develop it. This was not the book for me.

To start, the first three (of nine total) chapters are introduction to developing empathy. I was so confused by the lack of anything useful in the first three chapters that I figured I missed something, something so fundamental that it would be obvious on a second pass.

So, I read the first three chapters again.

Nope.

It's three chapters of why I want to buy this book. I already bought the book. I am already reading the book. Tell me how to start this journey, push me down this path to empathy already. I don't need more convincing, just go already. The first three chapters could have been condensed into one introductory chapter.

Okay, so along chapter four, I have more than just the proper definition of empathy. Good. Let's go.

Right into formal listening sessions.

Uh... What?

I think I've decided on the n, x and t

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Okay, after pondering it for a bit (hello, overnight) and receiving a few suggestions from friends (looking at you, Chookie, with <3), I have decided my next "n {tasks} in n {time unit, plural}" goal is going to be 7 chapters in 7 days of this next book (as in writing it, not reading it), so that I can finish it, jam a stick in the ground, and say, "Done."

I'm tempted to follow Chookie's suggestion of "7 dinner parties in 7 nights," because that idea is awesome. I would manage to have dinner with 35 friends and new friends in one week and that sounds wonderful. I can't do that this week, since I'd have to find 35 people and plan 7 meals, but I'm really interested in this idea. Might have to try it in 2-3 weeks...

We Are All Completely Fine

Book Review

On this vacation of mine, I (unsurprisingly) have goals. One of the ones I added was, "Read a book or two." Ten days, yeah, I should be able to finish one or two books.

Well, this is the second of two books I read on the first day of my vacation, while I was still travelling out here. Go fig. I can't even read "right" on a vacation.

That all said, this is a quick read. It starts out (appropriately) confusingly, 5 people attending a group therapy. They all have severe trauma in their past, of different flavours, their stories revealed as the plot progresses. No one wants to talk about their past, but eventually they all start talking, become a group, and begin to tell their tales. I have to say that, while the Amazon / back cover summary is nominally complete, it gives away more of the characters than it should. Don't read said summaries. The plot is much better that way.

As said, it is a quick read. I enjoyed this book. Only after reading it did I realize the author of this book is the author of Raising Stony Mayhall, which is an odd juxtaposition. I'm finding RSM terribly boring and difficult to finish. In contrast, this one was fast, engaging and interesting. Another "Go fig."

I have this book if you'd like to borrow it. I'll happily loan it out, if you bring it back. It has a nice twist at the end.

Wool

Book Review

Recommended by Luke.

Okay, wow. When Luke recommended Wool (Amazon affliliate link), I had four other books going, and wanted to finish those before getting too far into Wool. I kinda wish I hadn't delayed. This book is great. Read the basic plot on the Amazon page, if you'd like. The back reads something like:

In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.

His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.

The thing about Hugh Howey's writing is that it's isn't eye-rolling absurd. Given the basic premise (societies living in underground silos), the characters are believable, the dialogue reasonable and the actions plausible. I really enjoyed that about the book, being able to be lost in the dystopian world for hours.

Angel's Flight

Book Review

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.

Claiming Ordering Disorder

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Jonathan received a copy of Khoi Vinh's book, Ordering Disorder

Oddly enough, if you google for subtraction, Khoi's last name is spelled Vin:

subtraction-google

Jonathan says the DMOZ has it spelled incorrectly. Bastards.

Anyway, the book? It's a book for him to review. I saw it, looked through it, and was tickled by it, figuring when he was done reading it and reviewing it, I could also review it. Hot damn, it looks interesting.

So interesting, actually, that I couldn't really wait.

I claimed it.

Ordering Disorder

Shipped

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Oh, a happy little dance for this one. I may not have to buy three copies, as I did for the Harry Potter books. Perhaps hard copy and Kindle version should suffice. Of course, that Kindle version can be read on my mac, too. Oh, happy happy joy joy !

Subject:  	Your Amazon.com order has shipped (#103-1...7)
Sender:  	Amazon.com
Recipient:  	Kitt Hodsden
Date:           04.04.2010 03:33

Greetings from Amazon.com.

We thought you'd like to know that we shipped your items, and that this 
completes your order.  Your order is being shipped and cannot be changed 
by you or by our customer service department. 

...

The following items have been shipped to you by Amazon.com: 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 Qty                           Item    Price         Shipped Subtotal
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Amazon.com items (Sold by Amazon.com, LLC):

   1  Changes: A Novel of the Dr...   $14.01               1   $14.01

Shipped via ONTRAC

Tracking number: C1...6

---------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Item Subtotal:     $14.01
                  Shipping  and handling:      $0.00

                     Pre-order Guarantee:      $0.00

                                   Total:     $14.01

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Our Pre-order Price Guarantee covers one or more item(s) in this order. If 
the Amazon.com price decreases between the time you place your order and 
the end of the day of the release date, you'll receive the lowest price.

...

ONTRAC (estimated delivery date: April 05, 2010).

In case not obvious, this is for the latest Harry Dresden novel, Changes, by Jim Butcher.

12% more plot

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At any given time, I have four books going. There's my non-fiction book (currently the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan). And the fiction book I'm reading (currently The Gun Seller, by Hugh Laurie, but previously the Septimus Heap series). And the iPod book I'm listening to (currently, Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan). And finally, the books on CD that I listen to in the car.

Yeah, those.

I just finished reading Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer, the third book in the Twilight Saga, which focuses around Bella Swan, a worthless, clumsy, awkward, ugly teenager (her own words) who has caught the eye of the perfect, gorgeous, perfect, good smelling, perfect (except for the (spoiler alert) vampire part) guy in her new school. Did I mention the perfect part? The perfect hair. The perfect teeth. The perfect skin. The perfect smile. The perfect smell. Annoyed yet? Yeah, me, too.

There are currently four books in the series, with my having read the first three. I enjoyed the first part of the first book where Bella and that perfect guy Edward (the vampire natch) actually start the falling in love process. Yeah, that part where he brushes the hair from her face, where he rests his hand on the back of her neck and leans in close for the first touch of his lips on hers, okay, yeah, when an author gets that part right, oh, I can forgive a lot of other crap in a book.

Which is pretty much what these books are. 95% crap with 5% plot. The plots of these books could be very good, if only there actually WAS a plot. Most of the books made me want to find the fast forward button, wondering how much I could skip of the "He's so perfect, I'm so worthless" crap that filled most of the book.

That was the first book. Very much the second book.

There might have been more of a plot on the third book, if only I could have gotten over the "long second" and "quick moment" and "short pause" and "infinite second" and "minute that dragged on" and other impossible time dialation phrases. Every third sentence included some time reference that just droned on and on and on. I was incredibly inspired to get Who Writes This Crap? up and going just so that I could list all of the time references in the single track (that's 4 minutes of listening pleasure) I was listening to.

Yeargh.

The end of the third book switched perspective, from a purely Bella Swan first person perspective to a Bella Swan first person and Jacob Black first person perspective. I find the switch disengenious mid-series, and think of Meyer as a lesser author for the need. Not that I particularly thought of her as any sort of good author to begin with.

Kris has listened to the fourth book, though mostly out of desperation for listening material rather than any sincere desire to complete the books. After this third book, I couldn't believe I had tortured him so much. He said that, since I've read the first three, I might as well read the fourth book. It does, he said, have 12% more plot than the previous book.

Great. 6% plot and only 94% crap. Such an improvement.