The City in the Middle of the Night - Charlie Jane Anders (2019)

This was an interesting book, told from the perspective of two main female characters. Each one, flawed in her own way, tells the story set in this world which doesn't rotate relative to it's sun - so is half darkness, half light and all human life lives in the twilight.

There are some interesting observations about how we forget the past in order to make sense of the present - each are in obscurity, each are shaped by fantasies and desires for what might have been or what might be.

Do we change or stay the same? Do we cling to old ideologies or do we look for new patterns and way of being in new circumstances? Like the alien crocodiles, do we see bioengineering and geoengineering as two halves of the same equation? Adapting to the environment even as we change the environment to ourselves.

  • Alien culture
  • Future
  • SciFi
  • Extra-planetary
Finished on 27 May 2020

Middlegame - Seanan McGuire (2019)

This is the first book I've managed to start and finish since lockdown. Before the world became a different place, I was reading 2 or 3 books a week. That's become more challenging as my concentration levels have struggled.

I really enjoyed this book - even if I still don't really understand some of the things that happened. That's probably the point, though - that not everything is understandable with words or numbers.

It was an awesome adventure combining science, literature and alchemy. The characters were solid and well-written, the plot was engaging and fun.

  • Time
  • Reality
  • SciFi
Finished on 24 May 2020

Talking to Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell (2019)

I'd heard a few scornful reviews of this book but it was an interesting survey on why we are bad at understanding people. Some interesting points, mostly around crime and policing. Worrying how bad we are at telling someone is being truthful or lying.

  • Observation
  • Analysis
Finished on 26 Feb 2020

The Body Keeps the Score - Bassel van der Kolk (2014)

This book was quite personal to me and took a long time to read. I learnt a lot and made some of how I experience the world make more sense. It also explained why some therapy I've had in the past has been effective and some hasn't.

  • Trauma
  • Recovery
Finished on 25 Feb 2020

How to Be Stoic - Massimo Piglucci (2017)

This was a decent summary of Stoic ethics and thinking with some pointers on applying it to modern life. Not much new here but quite interesting.

  • Stoicism
Finished on 22 Feb 2020

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers (2014)

I really enjoyed this book and found the characters fun, engaging and well written. I'd read Becky's book that came just after this one chronologically and it was interesting to meet some of the characters that I loved before I knew them.

  • Space opera
  • Adventure
Finished on 21 Feb 2020

We need to talk - How to have conversations that matter - Celeste Headlee (2017)

I read this quite quickly and enjoyed it - some interesting points about how we can listen and communicate better.

  • Listening
  • Talking
Finished on 14 Feb 2020

A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers (2016)

AI futuristic sci-fi exploring moral dilemmas. I loved this book and appreciated the depth with which the characters were written and explored.

  • Space opera
  • Adventure
Finished on 11 Feb 2020

The Noticer - Andy Andrews (2009)

This was a short book and a bit too didactic for me. Someone I enjoyed reading listed this guy as his favourite author so I've given a few of his books a go. Don't think I'll read any more.

  • Feel good
Finished on 9 Feb 2020

The Dark Horse - Todd Rose (2018)

  • Quota-ocracy
  • Localised maximum
  • Prioritise personal fulfillment over external measures of success
  • Figure out what truly motivates you and stick close to it
  • If you don't truly know what matters you then there is no chance of having a fulfilling life. Successful yes. Fulfilling no.
  • Who we are? What we're good at and what job we do or what is important to us and motivates us.
  • 4 things
    • Know your motives
      • We tend to think we should be motivated by the same things society says we should be.
      • There are big universals
      • Micro motivations that are specific to you
      • Think about some of the things you enjoy doing and ask yourself why
    • Know your strengths
  • Achievement
  • Success
  • Business
Finished on 7 Feb 2020

The Butterfly Effect - Andy Andrews (2010)

  • Feel good
Finished on 28 Jan 2020

The Unicorn Project - Gene Kim (2019)

At the end of the first book we learnt what was going on, this book explores the situation a bit more and ends as the situation gets much worse.

    Finished on 20 Jan 2020

    Meditations - Marcus Aurelius (2003)

    I've read so much about the meditations, I thought it was worth reading them. I haven't translated much Latin since my A-Levels, so this translation was needed. I liked the translation and appreciated some of the insights Marcus brings. While I'm not sure I always agree with his philosophical perspective I found it though provoking.

      Finished on 17 Jan 2020

      Remote - Office Not Required - David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried (2013)

      An interesting survey of what remote work can offer to employees and employers. Helped me to think about this from both sides. I think I read this before but reading it again working primarily remote helped me relate to it a lot more.

        Finished on 16 Jan 2020

        Joyful - The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness - Ingrid Fetell Lee (2018)

        This was a really interesting book. Ingrid was looking at the various aspects that bring us joy and how we can adapt our environments to maximise this in our day to day experience. Some things around colour, surprise and abundance that I've already started thinking about already.

          Finished on 15 Jan 2020

          Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari (2011)

          I thought I'd read this book already but I think it had been referenced by so many other works that I just got confused. I think I enjoyed it, I learnt some interesting things and it's made me ask interesting questions about the direction we're going in as a species. It's interesting to find someone equally dismissive of capitalism as Christianity. It's a long read and not always the most stimulating but I felt it was worthwhile.

            Finished on 8 Jan 2020

            How to Take Smart Notes - One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers - Sönke Ahrens (2018)

            This is potentially the most transformative book I've read in a long time. It links so much of my previous thinking and gives a strategy to improve thinking and move things forward. I'm hopeful that using my adapted version of a slip-box as laid out here will have a positive impact of my thinking and understanding.

            • Learning
            • Notes
            Finished on 5 Jan 2020

            Idea to Execution - How to Optimize, Automate, and Outsource Everything in Your Business - Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg (2018)

            This collection of notes about a company starting up and their first year of business was interesting but a bit dull. The writing didn't flow and wasnt very engaging and the opinions weren't all that new.

            • Start-up
            • Automation
            • Business
            • Tech
            Finished on 4 Jan 2020

            The Last Town - Blake Crouch (2018)

            A thrilling final installment for this trilogy. Romping good fun.

            • Space
            • Cold War
            • 1968
            • Apollo 8
            Finished on 2 Jan 2020

            Grendel Unit 2 - Bernard Schaffer (2018)

            The next episode in this series. Viewed as a part of a whole it's not too bad, but in it's own it didn't stand up.

            • Space
            Finished on 30 Dec 2019

            Permanent Record - Edward Snowden (2018)

            Man. I'm now very conscious of where all my data is. To be fair, since the break in 013 I've been aware but this excellent account of the why and the how makes a more poignant wake-up call. No doubt in typing this hear and then putting it online I will be logged somewhere but it's worth it if only to say this is a book worth reading.

            • Privacy
            • Technology
            • Tracking
            • Surveillance
            Finished on 28 Dec 2019

            Small, Sharp Software Tools - Brian P. Hogan (2018)

            I love the command line and use it a lot. This book was interesting but it wasn't written for me. I learnt very little but would recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their CLI-fu.

            • CLI
            • Command line
            • Automation
            Finished on 28 Dec 2019

            Grendel Unit 1 - Bad Day at Khor-wa - Bernard Schaffe (2018)

            An episodic sci-fi romp. Felt like a slightly more serious version of Guardians of the Galaxy. Read this one, didn't mind it and will probably end up reading the other two. Dec 26, 2019

            • Space
            • Adventure
            Finished on 26 Dec 2019

            Design Your Work - Praxis Volume 1 - Tiago Forte (2018)

            A collection of long form blogposts that raised some interesting thoughts and questions about work, productivity, creativity and learning.

            • Thinking
            • Optimisation
            Finished on 24 Dec 2019

            Wayward - Blake Crouch (2018)

            At the end of the first book we learnt what was going on, this book explores the situation a bit more and ends as the situation gets much worse.

              Finished on 24 Dec 2019

              Pines - Blake Crouch (2018)

              When I finished recursion, I saw that this series was the thing Blake was most well known for. I wasn't disappointed. A secret service agent wakes up in a strangely perfect town and tries to work out how he got there and what is going on. The creepiness is in the ordinary lives these people seem to be living.

                Finished on 22 Dec 2019

                Recursion - Blake Crouch (2018)

                An outstanding sci-fi novel exploring time, memory and causation. If we can't trust our memories, then is anything real? Dec 20, 2019

                • Time
                • Memory
                Finished on 20 Dec 2019

                Radicalized - Cody Doctorow (2018)

                Four short stories that look at some of the implications of our technology and policy a few years out from now. The first story was, by far, the most thought provoking and powerful.

                • Short stories
                • Future
                • Privacy
                • Dystopia
                Finished on 19 Dec 2019

                Hidden In Sight - Julie E. Czerneda (2018)

                I raced through this book after the second in the series. I really like the characters and was fascinated to see how they turn out. People change and the growth in some of the characters as they assimilate new facts and ay down old prejudices was really encouraging. Dec 16, 2019

                • Space
                • Shape shifting
                Finished on 16 Dec 2019

                Changing Vision - Julie E. Czerneda (2000)

                I hadn't realised that Beholders Eye was the first in a trilogy. I'd found the first book okay and thought I'd give this one ago. Actually, it was much better.

                The main characters, a human and a shape-shifter, were both better developed through the course of the book. I enjoyed seeing them 50 years after the events of the first and seeing how that had worked out.

                As most sci-fi does, it was an interesting view into the xenophobia, tribalism and the rest. Alongside that it was a good who-dun-it and adventure romping around space. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the third.

                • Space
                • Web Shifters Trilogy
                • Shape shifting
                Finished on 10 Dec 2019

                Freelance to Freedom - The Roadmap for Creating a Side Business to Achieve Financial, Time and Life Freedom - Vincent Pugliese (2018)

                A story of one freelancer with lessons to be more broadly applied. Pretty well written and a number of interesting take aways.

                • Business
                • Freelance
                Finished on 4 Dec 2019

                Rocket Men - The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon - Robert Kurson (2018)

                I didn't know much about the Apollo 8 program at all before I read this book. It does a good job of setting up the challenge and motivation to take on this journey. 1968 was a fraught year and this achievement managed to rescue some semblance of positivity from it.

                I felt the book could do with a bit more editing - there were a few times that facts and anecdotes were repeated and the style was sometimes disjointed and a bit dull. Saying that, I enjoyed the book overall and have added to my facts about the space program and this first successful moonshot.

                I was struck by how male this book was. The title should have given it away but still given all we've learned about women and POC being integral and overlooked in this race, it was disappointing not to hear and see more.

                • Space
                • Cold War
                • 1968
                • Apollo 8
                Finished on 4 Dec 2019

                Every Tool's A Hammer - Life Is What You Make It - Adam Savage (2019)

                I like making things. I don't make them as much as I'd like or invest anywhere near the amount of time I think I should.

                My job now is mostly to make things on the internet - that's cool and all, but I love making things made of atoms too.

                Adam does a great job of allowing us to follow him through his model-making journey - from early work, Star Wars Episode I and Mythbusters. He tries to debunk the feeling that writers, coders, cooks and the like are not makers. Alongside that he gives some good advice to get back on the maker horse.

                Been scoping out my home office to see if I can get some cleaner making tools in here. Maybe some more cardboard?

                • Maker
                • Inspirational
                • Biographical
                • Rally call
                Finished on 29 Nov 2019

                Beholder's Eye - Julie E Czerneda (1998)

                As an old-school D&D player, I initially thought that this book might be set in the Forgotten Realms and refer to a Beholder. Not so, this is indeed about appreciating what is in the eye of the beholder.

                The protagonist is a 'young' shape-shifter of only a few centuries, just about trusted to control their powers. Part of a web/hive mind that shares experience by eating and being eaten, they hide their existence while also trying to save the universe.

                A fun, easy read. It's an older book now and the tropes felt well trodden. At various points I felt I'd read the book before but I think there are just a lot of books that deal with similar themes in similar ways.

                • Space
                • Shape-shifting
                Finished on 26 Nov 2019

                The Crown Agent - Stephen O'Rourke (2019)

                This was a fun book that brought an unsuspecting doctor through Scotland and to Jamaica to unravel a mystery. I read on a gloomy day, warm under a blanket while the rain beat against the windows. This certainly reflected the weather in most of the book and helped me get in the mood. If you like mystery novels mixed with some historical fiction then this is for you.

                • Fiction
                • Mystery
                • 1800s
                Finished on 23 Nov 2019