Tag Archive for book recommendation

Spring Back, an American Gothic

Spring in Goscieradz by Leon Wyczółkowski 1933

It’s spring. It’s the anniversary of our collective isolation. And for the first time, it feels like things might be looking better, like we might be able to put this whole year behind us…spring back to normal. We are reaching towards a resolution point of this gothic horror narrative. Gothic Fiction To survive, I’ve read and written a lot this year (I haven’t published much, but that takes a different sort of energy of which I apparently don’t have any). The subject matter of my readings has varied widely — science fiction, science, horror, collected stories, Japanese literature, old fiction and contemporary writings (I will make a few recommendations below). My writing has been quite different too. I wrote a bunch of short stories that were more horror than sci-fi. I wrote a middle-grade novel about demon godparents (and Christopher, my life and writing partner, is in the process of rewriting it — our stories are better when we write together). I’ve written a novel about alternate histories (many different possible timelines that allow the main character to escape one fate in preference for another). I’m about two-thirds into writing the origin story of Baba Yaga — a one-legged daughter…

Jolabokaflod

Aurora Borealis

Jolabokaflod is Icelandic for “Christmas Book Flood” and it is a very old and wonderful Icelandic holiday tradition. Basically, in Iceland, books are considered the perfect gifts for the holidays. In this small northern country full of Aurora Borealis winter skies, there are five books published each year for every thousand Icelanders! There are only 319,000 people who live on this far north island (about one-third of the population of San Francisco), so that makes 1,595 new books per year. Hardback books are given as presents and are read through the night of Christmas. Reading is the national sport of Iceland. As a reader, I can’t imagine a more wonderful tradition! As a writer, I want my books in the hands of all those voracious readers. (Did I ever mention that one of my stories partly takes place in Iceland? “Pigeon”, check it out.) Due to the COVID pandemic, most of us will be pretty isolated these holidays. There is a strong chance that those who socialized heavily for Thanksgiving will be paying the price for that this Hanukkah, Festivus, Christmas, and New Year. CDC issued an advisory that those who spent eating turkey outside of their “pandemic bubble” should…

A Year in Books

Book_lover_Wikipedia

I read a few books this last year, and like a good reader, I would like to recommend and review some of those stories. So here goes… “The Wheel of Time” (4 stars) The Complete Wheel of Time Series Set (1-14) This a big commitment… I want to start this review by being very explicit — don’t start unless you have the time to finish in one go (over many months). There is so much detail and so many characters (all sounding similar) that it would be difficult to get through without an online guide…or if you just give up caring. I posted the images of the books, spines out — I want you to fully understand the commitment you are making. It took me about a year to finish all 14 books. I haven’t decided if I want to spend additional time reading the prequels; certainly not any time soon. Below are my short notes on each book (not summaries of the plot) and the number of pages per book: #1 The Eye of the World (written by Robert Jordan) — 753 pages Very interesting world, very well defined, with many nuances. I liked the characters. It was a…

“Red Notice”

Red Notice Cover Art

I work with human rights groups and with the International Criminal Court. Some of the background materials I have to read are heartbreaking. It takes me days to get over the reports of child abuse in Eastern Europe and the descriptions of mass rape atrocities in the Congo. I cry. It feels personal. I try not to read… For entertainment and emotional solace, I dive into science fiction or pure science books. I read constantly. But I don’t usually read political thrillers or autobiographies. “Red Notice” was different. The story felt personal, and the book came very well recommended. I’m a Russian Jew. I came to US as a refugee in the late seventies. While I was a teenager when my family left, I’m of “that” generation — the generation that is hesitant to believe good things coming out of Russia. Members of my family were beaten, shot, and killed there… It’s hard to “move on” after that. I’ve never been back. But some of my family have. And some even did business in Russia and its former republics. In 2015, one of my cousins (by marriage) was taken into custody in Bulgaria while on a family cruise vacation. He…

Google Apps New Pay Policy and Behavioral Economics

Google Apps Icons

Yesterday, Google flipped a switched on its Google Apps policy — starting with December 7th, 2012, Google Apps will no longer be free! The change is for Google Apps for Business and it effectively ends the ability to create free accounts for groups of 10 or fewer users (here’s Google’s announcement). Individuals could still have a personal account, but businesses will have to pay $50 per user, per year… That is NEW business customers will have to pay — if you had a business account prior to the announcement, you get to keep it on the same terms you’ve signed up for — free! But all new Google Apps business customers from this point forward will pay to play. There’s a lot of chatter about whether Google’s customers will pay or walk away, but I’m interested in the behavioral economics analysis of this change. Allow me describe a few experiments on anchoring — the psychological phenomena where individuals get attached to the first result they witness and base their subsequent decisions on that original priming. The experiments I’m going to describe come from two books: Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”…