(2019) January Hits and Misses

Hi, Nerdies!

Hope everything is going well with you! Today I am summing up my January reads. There are some hits, one that I have mixed feelings about, and the rest are unfortunately misses!

Hits :

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Remarkable.

Not only this book is a good book, it’s also a must-have-must-read book. It’s a theory which predicts what kind of future that we’ve been making for ourselves as a species, written by a history genius. If you’re interested in knowing more about this book, you can go here:  Homo Deus: Are We God?

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Intriguing.

This one is another and highly political book. It’s laden with partial political views and opinion. This book covers 100-first days of Trump’s presidency, it includes narratives on his governing-style, his political and racial disposition, his family and most importantly his fury. Putting aside its provocative propensity, I must say that this book is very well-written.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Fine by Gail Honeyman

Great Story. Great Characters.

If you’re in a mood of a good, somber and grim story with a bit of bitter and saucy humor on top of it, then this novel will definitely satisfy your thirst!

I’ve put out a full-on post on this book, and you can check that out here: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely NOT Fine!

Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm

Perfect Guide.

It’s an abridged version of a meditation handbook. It’s surprisingly very easy to digest and very very well-structured. This book would be a perfect guide for any complete newbie who knows absolutely nothing of meditation and is not sure where to start.

(For the full version, check out: Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm)

However, a tiny caveat, if you’re only interested in meditation practices, and not in being a Buddhist, the full version is probably not for you.

Mixed-Feelings:

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

A Quasi-Poem.

As clear as in the title, this small book recounts a writer’s life, through a somewhat poetic narrative. Not that this book is a bad book, because it’s obviously not! But the thing with anything poetic is I am too dumb to understand it most of the time. And that’s where the mixed feelings came from I guess.

Misses:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Moms would relate the best to this book!

I read this book because of all the rage on the Instagram. People seemed to like it so much, so probably I would too. I didn’t.

I guess the fact that I am not yet a mom myself has made this book a full-of-questions pool for me. I questioned every turning point of the story, I had mixed feelings about almost each character, and I didn’t fully understand which part of the narrative should have intrigued or hooked me.

But since many people enjoyed it, maybe you will too!

One Day In December by Josie Silver

Not for me.

To me, this novel would otherwise be an engaging story if not for its terribly drawn-out love at the first sight. Personally and primarily, I am not a fan of awfully cheesy romance and most importantly, I don’t believe in love at the first sight. Besides, I also couldn’t accept the irony of what was painted as such a deep and sure love took the longest time to materialize.

Do Humankind’s Best Days Lie Ahead

Too short of a book, too important of a subject.

This one is a brief record of a debate on humankind’s future. I read this book in the event of trying to balance out Harari’s opinion (see Homo Deus: Are We God? to understand what I am talking about), and I ended up not liking it simply because it was too short to be substantial on such a complex matter. But it was short, so it didn’t take up much time to read anyway.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to press like, follow or kindly leave a comment below, and I’ll see you guys next week!

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely NOT Fine!

Hi, Nerdies!

Here’s another novel to read: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a realistic fiction by Gail Honeyman.

Storyline

It’s a story about a girl who thinks she is completely fine when she is completely not!

Her name is Eleanor Oliphant and she is an atypical girl with a complicated scar on her face.   

Everything about her is either unusual or downright strange. She doesn’t have a mobile phone or know what facebook is. And despite her young age, she can’t stand anything part of pop-culture, especially those in-style typed abbreviations! She does speak and write over-formally as she doesn’t even know how to make or have a standard conversation with another human being. And on top of all that, she is also this oddball who thinks of stalking people as merely visiting them, and of liking a stranger as the same as having that very stranger as a boyfriend.

It’s either because of her peculiarity that she has nobody in her life, or the fact that she has nobody in her life makes her bizarre.

Anyhow, she has no friend, no family, basically nobody to talk to. Not that she has anything to talk about. Because never once she thinks that she needs somebody else, or that there’s anything wrong with her life or herself really.

Only through a random IT guy who later becomes an acquaintance who goes by the name of Raymond, Eleanor eventually finds out that she’s been missing out a lot in life. All along, she’s been missing things as basic as having a friend and things as elusive as a scar that she’s been refusing to deal with.   

So.

I enjoyed this book so much!

Especially the characters.

To begin with, I adored all and every El’s peculiarities. I found them so striking that they’re intriguing, and sometimes they’re even amusing! I loved seeing her behaving insanely oddly while thinking that the others were the ones who’re incomprehensible. It was so twisted and exhilarating.

Other than that, I also found Ray and his absurd connection with our pitiful main weirdo so fascinating.

Nothing is normal about their relationship that it’s impossible to even put a name to it. It’s something like a friendship, yet it’s hard to call something friendship when one person in it doesn’t even know what a friendship looks like, let alone know how to act like a friend. But anyway the two end up spending time together thanks to a series of unplanned life events and Ray’s casualness combined. And in span of their times together they do usual stuff friends do; like going to another friend’s house, coming to a bar and having lunch, but somehow those episodes go quite differently in El’s mind.

I swear the never-ending twist-slash-contradiction between the world in and outside El’s thoughts is seriously addictive!

Writing-style

Gail’s writing-style is dramatic, solemnly atmospheric, and meticulous. This novel is not titanic-tragic, nor armageddon-dramatic, but it has just enough drama and secrets to engage readers in and out. If it were a dish, I’d say this book was very well-seasoned!

The story runs not exactly slowly but it’s not a fast-pacing narrative either. It’s more like being magnetized slow. The solemn vibes will give you the sense of right time and ambiance to devour the story properly.

Narrator

If you’re on Scribd, I’ll say you better listen to this book’s audio version. It has the best narrator I’ve listened to! The kind of narrator that totally turned me back into a preschooler by listening to her narration!

That’s it about Eleanor and Ray and see you guys next week!

Homo Deus: Are We God?

Good morning Nerdies, and welcome to Rubbish Talk.

Today I am going to breathlessly talk about Homo Deus, a wildly captivating and exceedingly speculative theory postulated by the atrociously intelligent Yuval Noah Harari

WOA!! WAY . TOO . MANY . adverbs-slash-jective !

I know!

I just wanted to show you how high I deemed this book.

Because, DAMN! What a mind-blowing book!  

Let’s get on with it!

What’s this fuzz I made about?

Harari was originally known for his another mind-blowing book that he egged in 2011 but first published in English in 2014, Sapiens. Rumor (Read: Wikipedia) has it, he was virtually nobody before Sapiens, and then BOOM, he became well-known worldwide after the book had been out.

Sapiens covers a comprehensive humankind evolution history. Or in plain English, it’s about our history since those days when we were apes until today when we are assholes.

Meanwhile, Homo Deus is a forecast of what would happen to our world or to us if this new digital era are to culminate without any major hindrance.

The book is a prophecy of humankind’s future, or as Harari puts it, A Brief History of Tomorrow.

So, if you’re wondering which one should you read first, entirely basing on the historical timeline I suggest that you read Sapiens first. I suppose reading Sapiens first will give you a better understanding of Harari’s perspective that he’s basing his prediction on.  

What does the future hold for us?

According to Harari’s conjecture, there’s a sensible probability that Homo Sapiens (Read: we) are going to extinct in the future.

Future here is not the future we used to know. Since circa the last century, technological advancement has been going on in such an unprecedented speed that now we basically live in dog years. Thereby, in this epoch, future means 30 years from now.  

This brand new digital age is so shiny and intoxicating that it’s blinding us. Twenty-first century quickly becomes a time when new is always best and old means backward.

Step by step, we trumped major threats to humankind’s survival; first wars, and then flu, and eventually we also put famine to end almost completely. We’ve changed the harsh world into our cozy home.

Now that we conveniently live in peace and have Mc. Donalds in immediate access nearly everywhere we live, we put our precious time to fix finer, more individual problems. Your heart vein is clogged up? Have a ring attached to it, and live longer. Don’t want the hassle asking people around for direction? Have a map app smarter than you that can track wherever you are, and never get lost again! Even cancer is no longer a huge scare like it used to be!

Apparently it’s in our DNA to never be complacent with ourselves. First we made our lives free from threats, then we produced as many of our kind as we could, and then, good became the new bad. So we started to upgrade our lives. This upgrading process has been getting more and more sophisticated, that now we are in the middle of doing or being something so progressive that no one knows what will be of us or of this earth in the future.

In Homo Deus, Harari dares us that if we keep going on this track, whatever species that will thrive through the twenty-first century might not be us. Looking at the way how things go, it could be some mishmash Homo Cyborg or just plain Cyborg.

It’s an argument. And therefore it’s in its nature to be challenged.

Today we are the latest God, we possess the power to do and take whatever we want to and from the earth and its other inhabitants. We decide which direction this world would go. Though also comes with the power we have such a superior ego that won’t let us believe that we, the designer, the administrator of this world, are going to extinct. So naturally, many people take Harari’s hypothesis as ludicrous. And these people are called optimists. They argue that on the contrary of what Harari surmises, we are about to face our best days.

If you’re interested in knowing the other side of this contention, Steven Pinker is the most eminent optimist on this subject (that I know), and his most profound work is Enlightenment Now.

As a matter of confession, I haven’t read that book. #LOL

Given time slots and reading pace that I had and was born with, I read a shorter piece of Pinker’s mind instead. I read a debate record titled Do Humankind’s Best Days Lie Ahead between the optimists which were represented by Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley, and the pessimists’ side delivered by Alain de Botton and Malcolm Gladwell.

I hate to say this but I suggest you not read that book. For two reasons. First one is thickness-wise the book looks more like a booklet than a real book. Which means the book(let) entails not enough analysis on such a complex dispute. And second reason, in my opinion, the debate is closer to a belligerent discussion than a substantial dialogue. I was expecting much more meat and less aggression in the talk to be honest.

Fortunately, beside Pinker’s real book, you can also listen to Pinker’s speech on Ted Talk.

What’s important though.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which side you stand on this topic, the subject is intriguing and compelling by itself, thereby it won’t hurt anybody really to get to taste a morsel of it. Even opposing my opinion by perusing that booklet will actually give you some idea on the matter. But better read the real book, Of Course!

Writing-wise

When it comes to writing skill, I think it is the one thing that matters the most in fiction. But in non-fictional literature, it is that one thing that gives the WOW effect when we realize that the author is just not impossibly knowledgeable but also has an insane writing skill.

And Harari is exactly THAT kind of author. If you think history is boring, maybe it’s not the history that’s boring, maybe the one who’s blabbering about it who’s boring. Because I found out through Harari’s books, that one can actually recount and explain history as if it’s a gossip! Yes, I swear his books are that juicy, provocative and engaging!

One thing that I thought was Harari’s best writing trait was his way to turn every complex matter into the easiest thing to understand. I was glad that one didn’t have to be smart to read his books, otherwise I wouldn’t be here talking about them!

Last thing, before I say goodbye.

This last piece is for you who are a true believer in the merit of sales number.

Based on Come and see Yuval Noah Harari at Brand Minds 2019 !, Harari’s books are sold 12 million copies worldwide and translated into 50 languages (by 2019). These are history books, and it’s freaking 12 million! I can write 10 pages long advertising these books, but a single me can lie. Unlike those 12 million people (discounting those who borrowing and not buying) who surely can’t!

Finally, you’re at the end of this endless post, and if you read every word I’d written, here’s 12 million thank yous for you!