Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Chimes



Book 30 of 2016 is The Chimes by Charles Dickens.

It can't be Christmas without a lesson for the soul from Dickens.

This isn't A Christmas Carol but it runs along the same tracks. The Chimes however does not cross the times and resonate as its more famous sibling does. It is lost in class and superstition and old sexist ideas. Maybe a modern day rewrite would work.

Still, this book has brought the Christmas spirit out in me. Since it is an easy read, it is worth the moment it takes to listen to the ever present chimes.

Three chimes out of five.

Should I read this? Only if you need some Christmas reading.
What did I learn? Dickens sometimes wrote the same story twice, even the good ones.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Island Home




Book 28 of 2016 is Island Home by Tim Winton.

This book made me cry. This book made me homesick. This book made me proud.

Those are not things that I often feel and certainly not from a book. Maybe I read too much fiction or a kind of book that is abstract to me. Island Home was not abstract to me in any way. It was quite the opposite.

The way Winton describes Australia is so vivid that I found myself imagining the Northern Territory were I grew up, even while he was describing Western Australia.

Every part of this book broke me down and built me up simultaneously. I'm not even exactly sure why. It could be the visual he projects or the honesty with which he loves and sometimes doesn't love my home country.

This book confirms for me that we must travel far from home and see other places in order to truly appreciate the beauty of our own place. And for a nomad like me, it is hard to accept that I am so connected to a piece of land that it makes up most of who I am no matter how I sometimes fight it.

A book for all expatriates, even if Australia isn't your piece of dirt.

Five wide open spaces out of five.

Should I read this? If you aren't living where you grew up then yes.
What did I learn? I can fight it some days but Australia will always be my home.

Zer0es




Book 29 of 2016 is Zer0es by Chuck Wendig.

I picked up this book at The Elliot Bay Book Company on their shelf with recommendations from staff. They said this would be a book that would spark thought and conversation.

They weren't wrong but they weren't right either. The story is interesting enough but the characters are predictable, stereotypical... boring.

The premise is interesting. In an age of technophobia, it is right for us to stop and ask the question about how much technology is intertwined in our lives and what would happen if that was used against us.

Imagine if the Internet of Things was not controlled by us. Imagine if it isn't right now.

This is still a book I would recommend but more for the thought provoking ideas that drive it and not the characters.

Three intelligences out of five.

Should I read this? If you're at least open to the thinking behind a lot of technophobic literature, TV and movies now then sure. If not, this will bore you and seem paranoid.
What did I learn? Just because we can build it, doesn't mean we should.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

2016 Didn't Suck



As an eternal optimist, it takes some effort to listen to the way people are voicing their dislike of 2016. Despite what I think, it is important that I do listen and try to understand why people are so disappointed and dismayed at the last 11 months.

In my short 40 years on this planet, I've seen the world change in ways I did not expect. Events like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests;  the Arab Spring; the Collapse of Apartheid in South Africa; and many other pivotal moments/revolutions/movements.

Apart from political disruption and change, just this year there have been significant discoveries in science like mapping the epigenome; surprise concessions from religious leaders like the Pope allowing priests to absolve people of sins of abortion (no, I'm not religious, just surprised);  and the undeniable rise of Corpratocracy.

There are people swearing about the death of legendary entertainers from our lifetime. There are people screaming at people who voted a different way to them. There are people throwing their hands in air not knowing what to do. A lot of people think this year was awful and that the world is going to hell.

I don't agree.

Has the world all of a sudden become a cesspool or are we just more aware of what is going on?

I believe it is the latter.

The slow questioning of mainstream media, the rise and rise of social media and the increased pressure for individual critical thinking is pulling people away from their cat videos and making people think.

Conspiracy theorists are running with this. Liberals are smugly nodding that they told you so. People who took TV and newspaper news as gospel are the ones who are finding this the most revealing. They are wondering if anyone can be trusted and are now looking for new leadership. I truly don't know the answer but I have faith in people doing what is best for the group and not just themselves.

These are interesting times. Thing is, they have always been interesting times. People are now awakening to the fact that mowing their lawns, finding bargains online and watching the Kardashians may not be all that matters.

Realities may have to be readjusted. People may have to give when they once took and take when they were once taken from. Societies may have to take a long look in the mirror and decide how to improve.

As an eternal optimist, I don't think this is a bad thing. It is an uncomfortable awakening but an awakening all the same.