It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be: The world's best selling book

I saw a friend reading this and the large font size appealed to me. Oh look, I thought, I can read a book in minutes instead of hours, how fantastic! What I found was a motivational book with clever typography that suggests that goal setting and grit is necessary to get stuff done. I agree! In line with The War of Art, but with an advertising twist.

Consider Phlebas (Culture)

Finally back to science fiction, this brainy work is an interesting introduction to the Culture series. Originally piqued by the SpaceX naming of their recovery barges after characters in this series, I'm interested to see how it develops. While I enjoy the vivid imagery of this first book, I wasn't particularly in step with the characters or their motivations. Still, it was an interesting read and I've been told the series only gets better.

Betsy-Tacy

After the horrible oppression of 1984, I needed something less dark. I'm not sure it's possible to get more positive than this children's book about two girls growing up together. It is my wife's favorite series from childhood and I'd promised to read it for ages. It was just what the Doctor ordered...I barely even remember the cage filled with rats in room 101 now!

1984 (Signet Classics)

This is a very difficult book to review. I hated it and I loved it, evoking the feeling of doublethink which is a cornerstone premise of the work. If the world is one big computer program, then 1984 is a programmer's manual found by chance that explains how it all works. Politics, power, the manipulation of people. 1984 is the despot's best friend, and the libertarians only hope of freedom. But oh my, it's horribly depressing. Several times I wanted to stop reading, but I had to know if Winston would stand firm. In the end, this is a work of art, written in the fashion of literature, that I don't want to ever read again.

Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0)

Light hearted and sometimes obvious in its humor, this is an enjoyable story of a nerd discovering a kind of magic he can relate to. Perhaps more on the Fantasy end of the spectrum, though the apparatus of the magic is technology, I still enjoyed this diversion from the harder sci-fi of late. It's a series, so perhaps I might read more. Will you like it? Are you a nerd that had a Commodore 64 and wished you could fly? Venn Diagram completed.

Serializable Service Objects

I have to admit, I really like using Service Objects when I'm working in Rails. By which I mean, a tableless object that has domain knowledge for a particular interaction.

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Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

A bit off topic for what I normally read, but I really appreciate Gottman's focus on data and research rather than appealing to an authority regarding how to raise a healthy child. A bit jingoist at time (ahem, Emotion Coaching), but I like the approach. Fundamentally, I want to raise my kid without resorting to physical punishments. This seems like a good possibility.

The Man in the High Castle

PKD's finest work, The Man in the High Castle is scintillating literature in the tradition of Vonnegut and only barely resembles the category of science fiction. It is absolutely nothing like the Amazon produced series (just as Blade Runner barely mirrors Do Androids?), but each are intriguing in their own way. Honestly, I'm still puzzled as to what this book means, but perhaps that is its very point. . .I'll need to consult the I Ching.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

An immensely enjoyable tale with a clever point of view. Like Star Trek? Ever wonder what it must feel like to be one of the disposable cast of extras, seemingly killed off each episode for ratings? Then you'll enjoy this fun read. Only critique I would give is that the author holds dogmatically to Stephen Kings "thou shalt only use 'said' for dialog tags", so the audio book version gets confusing at times, but if you can ignore that, you'll love it!

The Dark Forest

Carrying forward the incredible story from the Three Body Problem, this may be the most thoughtful Sci-Fi on this list and is shaping up to be the best trilogy I've read. The scenarios of the Wallfacers, the intrigue of the Wallbreakers, and the incredible plot twists throughout make this a must read. Couldn't recommend it more, though many folks have said it bogs down at the beginning.

The Three-Body Problem

I feel quite fortunate that Ken Liu translated this book from the original Chinese masterpiece which was Cixin Liu’s labor and that it was distributed to the English speaking world. It was only through that effort that I was able to experience such a superb example of what I love about excellent Science Fiction…excellent science and excellent fiction!

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Old Man's War

Scalzi is channeling Heinlein in this enjoyable space marines epic which is built around the twist of sending old, rather than young, folks to war. I'll have to check out the sequel some time.

Machines of Loving Grace

Often times, Artificial Intelligence breakthroughs are portrayed as being catastrophic to humanity. The author promotes a view where Intelligence Augmentation is more of a worthwhile goal and likely outcome. In other words, building intelligences that can help us, rather than overtake us. Honestly, the book was boring with the author meandering constantly with theme-less chapters. Wouldn't recommend it even though I like the topic.

A Review of 2015

In years past I've been reticent to record a retrospective like this, as it reminds me of all the things I didn't accomplish. One of the quirks of being Zack, I guess.

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