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2021.08.15

Books From 2021 (So Far)

I continue to read (listen in fact) almost every day for the past years. It’s in my daily routine when I walk the dogs. It’s a very different proposition from laying down and dedicate some time to read them. I have a urge of a secondary task when I am performing a no-brainer routine, just as.. walking the dogs. Otherwise, I just feel wasting my time my just walking and no thinking.

This is the list of this year’s books that I ingested. Later I present a list of books from the previous years that did not mention before. These lists are -definitively- not comprehensive ones. Since I’m not updating my GoodReads personal records nor writing about them in this blog, they are just the ones I remembered. Eventually I might edit this post in case I remember other entries.

  • Remote(10), from Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson: I’ve read this book few years back and I’m planning to do a annual reading of this book, along with the other Jason Fried books. They are mind opener, very opinative and thought provoking. Yet so elegant and simple. It points advantages and disadvantages of remote working, some misconceptions and prejudices. During the radical change of life during the pandemic, it was still valid (it was published in 2013)
  • Foundation(10), from Isaac Asimov: a SCI-FI classic that was always in my “want to read” list. Since I’ve heard that it’s going to become a TV Show from Amazon Prime, it climbed up to the top of my next books. And it did not disappointed. A superb novel that deals with the idea of a guy that can forsee the future and plan each step to change it.
  • Parable of the Sower(9), from Octavia E. Butler: a 5 stars recommendation from The Wertzone, it was amazing and rich as I was told. The next book, Parable of the Talents, also recommended, will be read soon.
  • Torto Arado(7), from Itamar Vieira Junior: this Brazilian first time author conquered most of national and international Portuguese awards. Tells a story of two girls from the almost deserted region in Brazil, fighting against poverty, misogyny and happiness.
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century(8), from Yuval Noah Harari: another hit from the same author of Sapiens, focusing on some pressing issues of the contemporary times, like genetics, robotics and artificial intelligence.
  • Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution(8), from Klaus Schwab: the same vein of the previous book, analyzing global issues, from the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. I think I liked more than 21 Lessons
  • Mistborn(7), from Brandon Sanderson: in a universe that magic spells can be casted by consuming metals, Sanderson starts the sprawling saga with a epic heist.
  • Letters From An Astrophysicist(7), from Neil deGrasse Tyson: Tyson is a well known scientist and his polite, yet firm, way to respond questions in TV shows is also presented in this collection of letters received by fans ans not-fans alike. He talks a little bit of everything: science methods, physics, astrophysics and, but also about astrology and religion.
  • Project Hail Mary(7), from Angie: The Martian was a mega hit. As a movie adaptation, it was the most [viewed and profitable project][https://screenrant.com/highest-lowest-grossing-ridley-scott-movies-according-to-box-office-mojo/] from the acclaimed direction Ridley Scott, which includes Gladiator, Blade Runner and Alien. It takes the same Weir' nerdy writing style, again with a very lonely protagonist and the rollercoaster plot. This time, I have big doubts that a film adaptation would be a similar success, due the complex narrative and scope.
  • Foundation and Empire(6), from Isaac Asimov: the second book have two different stories and is less interesting due the lack of the main characters from the first book. Of corse, it takes places centuries after the first book' events. The new characters are all nice, but the Hari Seldon previsions becomes both too mystical and precise to my taste.
  • The Miracle Morning(4), from Hal Elrod: I heard about it while listening the Jeff Goins podcast interviewing the author. He mentioned coming to Brazil to advertise his new book and discovering a huge fan base. So why not try. I found a very obnoxious self-help book about waking up early, do some exercises, meditate and suddenly one would become 999% more productive.

From previous years but not yet mentioned (and worth mention)

  • It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work(10), from Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson: Like Remote, it’s worth to re read periodically.
  • The Name of the Wind(10), from Patrick Rothfuss: Kvothe’s early stories are fascinating. The universe blends Harry Potter with Lord of the Ring, with a very likable cast of characters.
  • The Hate U Give(8), from Angie Thomas: read years before the Black Lives Matter movement, is still a valid story about racism and police brutality. I’m yet to see the movie adaptation.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft(7), from Stephen King
  • Judas Unchained(8), from Peter F. Hamilton: the second book, just after the events of Pandora’s Star. Breath holding.
  • How To Write 50,000 Words In 30 Days, and survive to tell your story!(7), from Mike Coville: dogmatic but can serve as a powerful inspiration.
  • Artemis(7), from Andy Weir: first Mars, now the Moon. The this sci-fi story is well grounded in science and the protagonist is tenacious and
  • The Wise Man’s Fear(5), from Patrick Rothfuss: the The Name of the Wind’s protagonist transformed from a poor underdog in the first movie to a almighty demigod. There are basically no impossible obstacles that are solved a couple later.

For more books, you can check my online read list on GoodReads.

2018.12.13

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

This title-provoking book tries to tell a very important lesson: not everything is worthy of your attention and worries. In fact, most of things that makes us worried and down could be easily avoided if we maintain a strict rule of not

It’s kinda a Buddhism in modern blogger language. Like the book, Buddha tells that wanting leads to suffering. So you must clear your mind of all desires, not giving a f*ck about stuff. Specially material stuff.

The first third of the book is pretty nice. Is a bit thought provoking, giving you a sense of perspective of your life. I liked this part very much. I believe that it’s worth of a reread time to time. The second and third parts directs the same philosophy towards more practical aspects of life, like relationships, love and work. There the advises becomes a bit too narrow and full of must do and must not do kinda lists.

Overall, I liked the book. It’s that kind of self helping book that shakes a bit the status quo and makes as reevaluate our lives.

My Rating: 7
Goodreads: 4
2018.05.15

Zoe’s Tale

The forth installment of the Old Man’s War series focus on the same events of the third book, The Last Colony. This time it uses the perspective of the little girl Zoe, the adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan.

She is quite brilliant and clever. As a teenager, she is experimenting love, fear and adventures for the first time.

And you might find that several important events from the previous book.

My Rating: 7
Goodreads: 3.74
2018.05.10

Last Colony

From the same universe of books of Old Man’s War, John Scalzi tells a story of a human colony in another planet. It’s a new colony, so mostly tells the hard conditions and situations that they have to face.

They are far from home. And contact with the former homes are prohibited. Most do not know why. Just focus on creating the initial conditions for a bigger and definitive immigration waves. Wild animals, inhospitable weather and lack of resources and technologies makes everything a very dire situation.

Last colony

You follow the story of John Perry, the same protagonist from the original novel. This story takes place many years after the events of the second book in the series, The Ghost Brigade. Perry and his wife Sagan are now trying to have a normal civilian life with their new daughter Zoe.

My Rating: 7
Goodreads: 4.05
2017.06.26

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

I first “met” Yuval Noah Harari in a TED talk last year. He was talking about Nationalism vs. Globalism: the new political divide. I like him and his ideas. Very interesting and compelling. I didn’t know at the time he was a writer. By accident, I found his book.

I read it entirely in 2 days. Love it.

It is a comprehensive visual of the mankind. Several sub subjects are in my top interest subjects, like religion (in a scientific perspective), politics, economics and scientific advances. It dedicate several initial chapters explaining what we know about the origin of our own species. The point when we forked our hereditary tree from other primates and from other man-like species, like Neanderthals (in fact, he argues that it is not exactly like this). It is a 50000+ years analysis of the importance of agriculture, language and religion. The origin of states. It is mind blowing.

Sapiens a brief history of humankind

Then he enters in a revision of the know history, also, focusing one layer at time. He explains why the Homo Sapiens because the rulers of the planet Earth. Why we managed to be so successful. The book is very centered on religion and religion-like lines of through, like capitalism (yes… very thought provoking).

The book is mostly founded on science and data. But also on plausible extrapolations and reasoning. And his writing style is quite convincing.

It is not an accident it is a best seller. It is not an accident it is a loved book by many.

Simple: READ IT.

My Rating: 10
Goodreads: 4.4
2016.07.10

Old Man’s War

John Scalzi’s debut scifi adventure is amazing.

It tells a story of old people from Earth that are recruited for a intergalactic military organization. There, their bodies are reconstructed to it’s younger form and enhanced.

From there, they have to fight against alien races in order to protect humanity. Humans on Earth do not have a clue about this galactic war BTW.

I must recommend the reading.

Old man’s war

Note: I also read the sequel, The Ghost Brigate. And also love it. But much of the original wow was, of course, gone.

My Rating: 8
Goodreads: 4.23
2015.10.25

Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi

Fuzzy Nation is a great story about fighting for what is right, and getting a personal revenge in the way. Scalzi created a very funny story about a underdog fighting against all odds and powerful enemies.

Jack Holloway is anti hero. You can think of him like Han Solo working as lawyer. He is a former lawyer that was expelled from the job for a not-that-clear facts, losing a very important case on purpose, it seemed. He became then a geologist freelancer in a very distant planet, scanning for underground for mineral richness. In the way, he discovered a very different thing. And it puts him in a position to work back as a lawyer, fighting against the former employer, that are no short on money and resources.

Fuzzy nation, by john scalzi

Holloway is clever. But this is one of the main complains I had. Holloway is so clever that you cannot follow that he is thinking. It is, in fact, intentional. The book hides the inner thoughts of Holloway in order to deliver some surprising turns in the story. But sometimes it makes you feel a mere passenger.

Despite any complains, it is a solid title. I loved to read it and totally recommend. I would not be surprised if it gets a movie adaptation eventually.

My Rating: 8
Goodreads: 4.07
2015.09.06

The Martian, by Andy Weir

The Martian is often described as Cast Away in space. I definitively agree. It presents the incredible task of surviving, alone, in Mars. Just like Tom Hanks surviving in the island.

But improvising a life in Mars is several degrees more complex than in that island. That is why the main character in The Martian have to be a very very very smart guy, a little too MacGyver to be honest. Imagine Apollo 13, the movie, when NASA focus on converting ship scraps into a oxygen filter, but for the entire duration of the movie an done mostly by one guy.

80% of the book, Mark Watney is in dire straights. Always facing high odds of dying. That is why the book is so compelling. It sucks your soul, making you wonder at night “how he can pull this off now?”. Watney must have a clear state of mind all the time. I totally understand that it would not make any sense to write a book about a normal guy that get lost in Mars and dies after the first disaster. But Watney is too much the perfect guy to be lost in space.

The martian, by andy weir

The book sometimes abuses the technical description of the solution. It could be shorter by a bit. However, and is not a small achievement, there are at least 2 moments that I was totally crying due the narration and climax feeling.

It will become a movie directed by Ridly Scott and started by Matt Damon. I will definitively see the movie too.

My Rating: 7
Goodreads: 4.38
2014.08.04

Saga

What a great story! What a great universe! What a great art!

Without any further words, I loved Saga.

Saga is a epic space opera, with a rich and VERY weird universe, full of bizarre races and locations. Like Star Wars, there is a galaxy-wide conflict, but unlike the reference, there is no good-and-evil motto.

The main characters (the couple Alana and Marko) are involved, but they are not the center of the conflict. They are fugitives hunted by governments and bounty hunters and they challenge the odds to remain alive. All this with a new born girl Hazel.

The story is incredible, yet believable.

Saga

The overall look is really good. Brian K. Vaughan, the author, mention the amazing art from Fiona Staples several times in the author area over and over and I cannot disagree. It enhances the experience like it should. Comics are a mixed of visual and story and both are covered.

Probably one of the recurrent mentioned feature of the series is the sex references. Sex is part of the story but is not vulgar. It is dealt as a part of the universe.

The liberty given by Image Comics to authors really pays off on Saga. In fact, Brian K. Vaughan is one of my preferred authors of this generation. I liked very much X: The Last Man, at least the first half.

Saga

You have to read it

NOTE: I just read the first 8 issues. I totally want to read the rest.

My Rating: 9
Goodreads: 4.17
2013.10.13

Inferno

From the acclaimed author of Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown brought another story from his symbologist Robert Langdon.

Now, instead sitting under Leonardo Da Vinci’s works to create the conspiracy and mystery, the author drank from another Italian writer: Dante Alighieri. This fellow was the responsible for written the Divine Comedy, a narration about the 9 rings of hell.

Without revealing to much information about the book itself, I did not like the book. The character seems to know all the places too well, from secret doors, geography, history and local informants. He knows everything. Also he remains too calm and lucid even on life threatening situations.

Inferno

All the characters, good or bad, including Langdon, are also too resourceful. They need to travel across the globe now? No problem, there are always a contact that can spare a private jet, boat or helicopter. There isn’t any dead end moments, It is too much straight forward adventure.

The Dante’s material is fascinating, but it was over used. He is not Da Vinci, it is not believable that everything in the world somehow conspired to link to his works. Finally, Brown used too many repetitive artifacts in his writings. It annoyed me by half of the book.

I would not recommend this book. I going to read some technical books to change the air…

Inferno
My Rating: 6
Goodreads: 3.86