Monday, 4 July 2016

The Marshmallow Test




Book 19 of 2016 is The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control by Walter Mischel.

A book based on a famous psychological experiment that anyone who has had their self-control falter has heard of.

I know the child I would have been. I'd not have taken the marshmallow because I was very obedient and knew to wait for the better option. Not sure that reflects in my current life though. My adult life.

The idea that nurture is as powerful as nature was interesting. This is something I have believed for a while but have not seen backed with a lot of studies.

The way this was written was not that interesting but the studies and interpretations were.

If there had been more tips and tricks for dealing with hot actions, that would have made this more worth the read but it wasn't.

Three marshmallows out of five.

Should I read this? Only if you have an interest in CBT and want more help with what to read more about around self-control.
What did I learn? All this talk of them made me want to eat marshmallows.

The 5th Wave



Book 18 of 2016 is The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

This book has been on list of books to read since 2014. It was actually in my top ten reads and kept getting pushed down the list by other books because I always knew I'd read it one day. It only took two years to get there.

This is another Young Adult book, which is I genre I enjoy for the adventure and very easy reading.

This is another post apocalyptic tale with a strong female lead with a mission that will not be taken from her.

This is another sit down and read in two days book.

The main character Cassie is believable and likeable. There are moments when she says something very teenage girl and then snaps herself out of it. This gave truly gives away the fact that a man wrote her and not a woman. I say this because women can have multiple trains of thought going simultaneously without so deliberately halting a thought as silly and starting a new one. That other way is a very male way of thinking.

Through this book, all the major characters are fighting to save someone more innocent than themselves. It is as if when the world as they new it ended, they fought to hold on to their own innocence. This is repeated and honed as a well played metaphor in this story. Nicely original in many ways. Or at least originally presented.

Four waves out of five.

Should I read this? Yes, if you like sci-fi AND you like young adult fiction.
What did I learn? We protect in others what we lost in ourselves.

Needs and Wants




For one week in June, I did not buy anything unless I could without doubt say that I needed it. I didn't go without anything except my purchases made on a whim.

I always track my finances to make sure payments that hit my card are correct and that I'm on track for savings goals. What I do not do is look at what I bought and if that is valid... unless it is a big purchase and blew my usual spendings for the month.

At the end of June, I looked back and found that I spend around $365 less than my average month.

That is such a significant percentage drop and confirmed my inner revelation that I have become an American-like consumer. It actually needs to stop and finally, this is becoming apparent.

I have everything I want and it is as though I need ten of each thing. That is not a good way to think.

Changes, they are a-coming.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Cinder



Book 17 of 2016 is Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles.

I mostly cringe at fairytales - originals or those retold.

Unlike the massive fail that was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as a mashup of genres, this sci-fi fairytale is a total win. Even the lovey dovey teenage rubbish doesn't dominate and is managed well by the female lead.

The plot was nowhere near as vacuous as the original and follows it very loosely. This was more like a modern teeny bopper sci-fi story than any fairytale.

Now to read the rest of the Lunar Chronicles.


Four kick-ass female mechanics out of five.

Should I read this? If you like old stories re-written well and with better female characters then you should.
What did I learn? Saving the world is much more important than falling in love.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki




Book 16 of 2016 is Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami.

I enjoy most of what Murakami writes but sometimes find it tedious in its challenges. That is why I purchased this book at the end of last year but only read it now.

Once I picked this up, I could not put it down. Over a few days, it took self control (not my forte) to put this down and actually sleep each night. Last night, I completed the book after ignoring that pesky self control blah.

This is not so much a book about friendship as it is a book about having a sense of self and self worth in friendship. That is why I connected with this book. There are many moments of self doubt when I wonder why anyone would bother being my friend, when they are such a cool person.

There were unanswered moments of supernatural fear and this book left me wondering many many things. I think that is why some hate it and some love it. Not all questions are answered but then... some unasked questions are answered so sincerely that it feels balanced.

I want to gift this book to everyone I know. The last time I felt like this was last April when I read Love in the Time of Cholera.

Four friends missing their completion out of five.

Should I read this? Yes.It is simple. Yes.
What did I learn? Writing is a talent. Some people have it in spades.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Modern Romance



Book 15 of 2016 is Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari.

This book made me laugh. It is supposed to be a self help book based in psychology but feels more like a elf help book written by an academic and edited by a comedian to add funny stuff.

A lot of the studies used to argue hypotheses are interesting but some seem to be stretches to justify the point being made, The odd mix of humour and quasi-science left me giggling but unconvinced.

This book wasn't written for me though. It was written for single men who are terrified of commitment.

This book was not worth the reviews it received, in my eyes. Luckily I was gifted this audio book.

Three giggles about the scary commitment monster out of five.

Should I read this? If you are a single male who isn't sure whether monogamy is for you then yeah.
What did I learn? Some stereotypes are painfully accurate.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Good Omens


Book 14 of 2016 is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

If you've heard my Gaiman (or as I know him, Amanda Palmer's husband) rants then you will know that I love him as a person and have read many of his books. I loved Neverwhere but have not enjoyed much since. Yes, I even diss American Gods.

This book was recommended to me by so many people that I had to give in and read it.

I stand corrected. This is brilliant. That may be due to Pratchett though :p

The idea that the world isn't perfect but it is imperfectly wonderful, is one that I truly share. The pop culture references and hilarious British humour won me over within the first couple of chapters.

This is so good that I didn't want to finish. I am sad it is over.

Five cute hounds of hell out of five.

Should I read this? Yes. Even if you don't like Gaiman's other stories.
What did I learn? Good and evil are relative. I knew that but now more so.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Unsubscribing from All the Things



I reside in the home of consumerism and have been swept up in the ease at which everything comes to me in this country and specifically in Seattle, the home of delivery.

In my ongoing quest to consume less, I looked at where I am exposed to advertising which has so much say in what I buy. If you say it doesn't then I call bullshit on that.

The answer was in email and on Facebook.

I proceeded to unsubscribe from every email sent to me by a business. This has had me realise that they lie and keep sending stuff to you over and over until Google mail helps you unsubscribe. Yes, they mark those jerks as spam.

The second avenue is Facebook. I've stopped liking my friend's statuses that mention a brand of any kind. I'm also leaving all groups that are selling me something.

This has changed what I read in a day. Lets see what happens in a week.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

A week of not buying everything I want



Wow, is it difficult to not shop online constantly when you live in the US and work for Amazon?!

It's what the company I work for does best. Not just them but every online company in the US.

I can order everything online and have it delivered to my home with the only human inconvenience being dealing with my delivery guy (I joke):
We live in the future and I want my flying car!

You think I joke, but I have pre-ordered two Star Trek: TOS Bluetooth® Communicators. One for my sister and one for myself.


We live in a time when you can get anything you want. My smartphone is more powerful than the computer that landed man on the moon. My speakers hear my commands and turn my house lights on and off , read me the news and tell me the weather or time if I'm too lazy to lift up my so smartphone.

It is so easy to buy. It takes a level of mindfulness to wake up after a goodnight's sleep and cancel that order of plastic garden flamingos. Yes, that happened last week.

People joke that we once had arguments about facts and now google (with a small 'g') everything and Snopes it on the spot. I extend on that and say that we have a conversation and can act on every whim and buy any damn thing we want.

But do we need those things?

This week, I have decided to not by anything that I do not NEED. When I say need, it must be essential to my survival or maintaining my basic standard of living.

In the spirit of a good Amazonian, I decided to keep a Wish List of A Week of Wants and refuse to buy anything that didn't go under the banner of essential.

I'm not saying I will buy them in a week but I am keeping a list of everything I would have purchased given the chance.

This will be both informative and confronting.

Would you face your inner consumer and not be disgusted?