Book Reviews


2022


Nietzsche and Philosophy by Gilles Deleuze

I will write more on this later. I have read a lot of Nietzsche and tried to approach a lot of Deleuze. Reading Beyond Good and Evil in 2013 actually changed my life more than any other book (no joke). I have been trying to read more of the "fundamentals" of deleuze (this book, his other solo stuff) before returning to Capitalism and Schizophrenia. At the beginning of this year, I felt a lot of despair and hopelessness -- personally and politically. Encountering Deleuze showed me a path out, and it's been an exciting journey to be on. His is a philosophy of joy, creativity, expression, freedom, dynamism -- profound lessons for the political left (of which Deleuze was a part)


A Promised Land by Barack Obama

I listened to this on Audiobook, and it took me almost 2 years. Barack Obama is a good writer: I've read Dreams from My Father and part of The Audacity of Hope. Listening to his voice soothes me somehow, even when the content does not.


Internet For the People by Ben Tarnoff

It's interesting to hear everything you believe repeated to you, but it frustrated me a bit, because I'm interested in books that expand my understanding of things


Nevada

Beautiful novel, compelling story. Thought about how cool it is to bike in New York.


The novelist -- Jordan Castro

I have been seeing this book in many different independent bookstores, and I picked it up at one in Williamsburg and flipped through it and read the blurbs. I impulse bought it and read it in Domino Park, then the subway from domino park back to park slope (M to B), then at a coffee shop that I stayed at until close to its close (I was the last person there), then Prospect park, then back at my apartment, where I finished it. After I read it, being on my phone or social media became sickening to me, the book worked like Disulfiram.


what i talk about when I talk about running -- haruki murakami

I have been meaning to read this for a while. I recently decided to take running more seriously and this book helped solidify that decision and develop my mindset around running. I liked how murakami said that people like his books in times of crisis. There is something soothing about his style, I call it "Murakami Mindset". He casually mentions that he was smoking 60 cigarettes a day and then stopped. It's very unlike my personal mindset. I liked the way he described not really actively thinking while running, and how while running he could solidify in his body ideas that he only realized intellectually.


something to do with paying attention -- david foster wallace

An excerpt from the unfinished The Pale King, which I've read about 100 pages of, republished as a novella. Riveting and incredible. How can we live in the world in which we find ourselves? DFW seems to have gotten much farther on this question than most. Reading this cemented the idea in me that I made the write decision to pursue software engineering and not writing, first because I fully believe myself incapable of writing anything even remotely this good, and second because this book itself finds a sort of honor and reverence in a career that is so mind-numbingly boring and full of bureaucracy (IRS accounting) to the point of absurdity. I found the 'climax' about the death of the narrator's father so moving that I was moved to tears in Propsect park. What struck me was how (mild spoilers) his father is killed by a combination of highly improbably banal events, four of which I will list: 1. The narrator sleeping in that morning 2. The narrator "sulking" behind his father as he rushed ahead of him (described in incredible detail) 3. poorly-conceived state-level tax policy that year 4. overlooked engineering faults on the CTA. The story elevates the daily, mind-numbing toil and "tedium" (used often) of daily life into a single event which dramatically and improbably kills the narrator's father. And then, over the next few years, another series of incredibly improbably events leads the narrator to become one of the "1 in 10,000" people who, somehow, consider a career at the IRS to be their personal calling. Just read this it's so good


tomorrow sex will be good again — katherine angel

Picked this up after flipping through it at a bookstore and mostly read it on the train. Extremely good. Interested in how Viagra was marketed and used not for male pleasure but male “performance”.


Dune

Thou shall not make a machine in the likeness of the human mind


Starting forth

Forth is a great programming language


The Utopia of Rules

Very meandering book, not entirely sure what the main "thesis" was. An analysis of bureaucracy and how it is pervasive in not just public but private life. Got me thinking about the stultifying aspects of bureaucracy in my daily life, and how bureaucracy exists to dominate and control. Graeber makes the good point that our political imagination since the 70s has been almost nonexistent, and that computing / technology doesn't really serve the imagination, but is primarily used and designed for filling out forms.


fungirl by elizabeth pich

This was a graphic novel released by a local publisher. It was very funny and well done.


Atomic Habits

I read this based on a recommendation from my work's internal slack's "career club" channel. I rarely read this kind of self help book.


Nietzsche -- The Anti-Christ

This was mostly kind of boring relative to the other Nietzsche I've read. Mostly about 19th century Christianity. I thought the insights on Buddhism were good.


2021


The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-first Century by Amia Srinivasan


A collection of essays exploring difficult contemporary questions regarding sex and feminism, named after its titular essay, which originally asked the question, regarding incels, does anyone have a right to sex? Her answer is, of course, no, but along the way, she asks pointed questions about the politics around who and what we desire.


Jaron Lanier "Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now"


A bit kooky, but I agree with the arguments. Reads kind of like RMS's blog. In some ways, he feels like an "insider's outsider", like Thomas Piketty or (that guy who writes for newsweek)


Nadia Eghbal "Working in Public"


An insightful and thorough investigation into open source. I don't agree with all her conclusions: she seems bound within the existing structural framework of Big Tech -- as one would expect from a member of the Ford Foundation. But overall it was a good read, and inspired me to think about my relationship with open source.



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