The Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech-Obsessed World

Did not finish at about 50%. I mostly picked this up from the Amazon Prime selection.

There are some good points in there, that we could use more empathy in the world and that it’s hard to find in an increasingly digital world. But those good points get repeated over and over far more than I cared to read about them.


A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories

I’ve read or listened to the Little House books approximately a million times. The kids love them. This is basically a collection of the chapters from each book that cover Christmas. There’s a bit of context that feels like it’s missing without having just read the proceeding parts of the books, but if you’ve listened to them enough, it doesn’t overly matter.

A bit weird to read in February, but kids are a bit weird to begin with. :D


On Writing and Worldbuilding, Volume I

To start with, despite a somewhat overblown feeling title, On Writing and Worldbuilding, Volume I is a solid book. It has piles of examples, a good dash of humor, and is well written enough to fly by.

I do not like the word ‘should’. Or, at least, I do not like how it has been used in books, videos, and lectures that purport to teach people how to write. The term ‘should’ is used often enough that authors might be tricked into thinking there is an objective way to write well. That there is some pantheon of writing deities who have brought forth the Ten Commandments of Writing, and that only the wise and sagelike amongst us can discern their will. Dare you write a book that is pure and unadulterated wish fulfillment? If you write a book that fails to use the three-act structure, curse ye! Doom awaits those that write vampire-romances with one-dimensional characters


A Little House Picture Book Treasury: Six Stories of Life on the Prairie

Vastly simplified stories from the Little House books, with beautiful, colorful illustrations that really draw children’s attention as you read it.

At this point, we’ve listened to all of the full Little House books… who knows how many times. But there’s always room for a shorter read when you just want to pick up a book for an afternoon read or in bed. And once the kids are reading on their own, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it all the more.

Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!

This is a re-read, although it’s a been a few years. Actually, those years seem to have rather helped. Last time I around, I was reading through and everything made a lot of sense (I have a strong background in functional programming, so it wasn’t new here). And then I hit monads and side effects and everything went bizarre.

This time around? Well, everything still went sideways, but in a way that made sense?


Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury: 4 Complete Stories in 1 Volume!

Frog and Toad are wonderful, full stop. It’s a collection of collections, with 4 parts, each of which has a handful (5?) of short stories. You can read the individual stories or go through them all back to back (as I did over the last few nights). The stories are thematically related, but there’s no real plot between them, so no reason to read them in any particular order.

I think my favorite part of reading this is sharing just how wonderful the relationship between Frog and Toad is. They may argue sometimes, but they’re always supportive in the end and really great friends. Also, I love doing voices. For me Toad ended up with a deep ‘toadlike’ voice and Frog somehow ended up being Mouse from the Matrix… Who knows.


Sufficiently Advanced Magic

Without reading more than the summary and without having read much if at all from the LitRPG genre before, the first 10% or so of Sufficiently Advanced Magic felt rather strange. We open with the protagonist, Corin Cadence, going into the Serpent Spire, “a colossal tower with ever-shifting rooms, traps, and monsters”. The description of the tower and the rooms and especially the magic of the world feels rather like someone took a role-playing game rulebook and wrote a book about it. And… it turns out that’s exactly what LitRPG novels are supposed to feel like.

That part of the book continues to feel weird to me throughout–it’s the hardest of hard magic systems, with overly specified classes of mana and magic, with well defined levels and powers for each of them. I actually like that sort of thing, but there are long sections of exposition that get a bit hard to stay focused on.


Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let’s face it, checking your “likes” is the new smoking.

Digital Minimalism makes a strong claim that modern smartphones and social media are every bit as addictive and dangerous as any number of more well known drugs and that we’d be well put to cut out or at least drastically reduce the amount of digital ‘clutter’ in our lives.