For your summer reading pleasure, Bill Gates recommends:
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• “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson
• “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler
• “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders
• “Origin Story: A Big History of Everything” by David Christian
• “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund
I've mentioned it online before, but here we go: Two years ago, my wife and I decided to leave our rented home behind and move into a 40-foot RV. We spend our spring and summer in Alberta, Canada where she has a job for six months of the year working as an addictions counselor. The other half of the year, we head south to Mexico and beyond so that she can work as a dive Instructor.
This might be an excellent time to point out that my partner is far more interesting than I'll ever be.
We love this life, but it's not without its difficulties. We have all the repairs that come along with home ownership and owning a semi-truck, rolled into one. Our paychecks can sometimes take weeks to catch up to us, leaving us eating rice and beans. Again. But perhaps the worst thing about living in a motorhome, for us, is that we had to get rid of our book collection. Between us, we owned hundreds of books. We looked upon them as shelves of old friends who we could turn to, no matter what life brought us. But, sometimes, you have to leave old friends behind in order to grow. A motorhome can only carry so much weight, not to mention the limited amount of space that you'll find inside of one. We packed them up and took them to our favorite used bookstore where they'll, hopefully, find new homes.
When I'm not guest blogging here, part of my job is to review e-readers. Read the rest
I do most of my reading on a Kindle Paperwhite. I'm currently reading the Penguin Classics translation of The Count of Monte Cristo (much better than the Project Gutenberg version I read years ago) and the Kindle's X-Ray feature, which lets me find out about the many characters and their relatives who pop in and out of the novel, helps me remember what the hell is going on. The Kindle is also a lot easier to hold than the 1200 page paperback version, which my daughter is reading.
The Paperwhite rarely needs recharging, even when the backlight. Unlike a phone or tablet, there's no glare, making it the best way to read outdoors. I have at least a hundred books on it, and haven't gotten a "memory almost full" warning (text doesn't use a lot of storage, like audiobooks do). If I don't have my reading glasses, I can make the text as large as I need to. At $80 for a refurbished model, it's a good deal. Read the rest
Ten MTA cars have been outfitted as Subway Libraries by the New York Public Library: the in-car wifi connects riders to an e-reading repository containing "books, short stories, chapters and excerpts donated by publishers to the New York Public Library." Read the rest
I have a paid of +2.50 reading glasses, but they are not good for computer work. I needed some +1.00 glasses. I fund this 5-pack of 80s Reading Glasses for $6.70 on Amazon. One pair has shading. I got them and they are perfect for computer use, and they look good. They also have spring hinges so they don't fall down my nose. Other lens strengths are available, but they cost $13 for a 5-pack. Read the rest
In a recent Fox News interview, President Donald Trump told anchor Tucker Carlson he's beginning to get the hang of this whole reading thing. The interview hit the internet on the same day Trump's administration released an incomprehensibly nihilistic budget draft that he almost certainly didn't read. Read the rest
"Your first doomsday machine is a malevolent, inscrutable wristwatch.”
The Please Don't Tell My Parents series, by Richard Roberts, is a wonderful young adult series of novels about Penelope Akk and her two friends Claire and Ray. They are normal middle school kids just hoping their superpowers will kick in soon. Read the rest
Ken Norton is a partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures). In the post, he explains how he increased the number of books he read per year from 5 or 6 to 61. One smart thing he did was quickly abandon books that bored him.
I had an almost masochist need to finish any book I started, even if I got bored five pages in, found it repetitive, or decided the author was annoying. That meant a single book could take months to grind through, a page or two at a time. This probably slowed my book reading pace more than anything else. Now if I’m not enjoying a book, I quit and move on to the next one. No big deal. I find that’s another advantage of reading e-books (see below). An abandoned paper book just sits on my nightstand, a sad monument to my failed experiment. When I ditch an e-book, it just scrolls off the list into the void.
He also writes down what he learned from each book:
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Remembering that I’ve read a book isn’t sufficient if I don’t also keep track of what I’ve learned. I use Kindle’s highlights and notes features to mark interesting or representative passages as I go. I don’t tend to write lengthy book reviews, so I’ve started a note file to record three things I learned from each book. Within a few days of finishing a book, I review the Kindle highlights and then take five minutes to record my thoughts (I use the Bear app, but anything will do the trick).
Author Clive Thompson once wrote an essay about the experience of reading War and Peace on his iPhone. On his blog, he writes about how Sarah Boxer read Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, all 1.2-million words.
From Boxer's essay:
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Soon you will see that the smallness of your cellphone (my screen was about two by three inches) and the length of Proust’s sentences are not the shocking mismatch you might think. Your cellphone screen is like a tiny glass-bottomed boat moving slowly over a vast and glowing ocean of words in the night. There is no shore. There is nothing beyond the words in front of you. It’s a voyage for one in the nighttime. Pure romance.
In a curious way, I think reading Proust on your cellphone brings out the fathomless something in the novel that Shattuck calls “the most oceanic—and the least read” of 20th-century classics. It makes you feel like Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo in his submarine, which is just right.
[Beverly Cleary is 100 years old today. Here's an entry I posted in 2006 about an NPR interview with the great children's book author.--Mark]
I'm over a month behind in listening to podcasts, so I just got around to listening to this NPR interview with Beverly Cleary. She just turned 90, and her mental acuity is better than most people half her age.
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Wonderful literary GIFs by Javier Jensen of Santiago, Chile. Read the rest
The librarians of Vernon, Illinois want you for their summer reading program, and they're not shy about it! (Thanks, Sharpchair64!) Read the rest
So many times I'm reading a Victorian plot that revolves around some gentry fop handing a scullery boy a sum of 100 half-whatevers. And I’m left wondering: is that a staggeringly large amount of money or an insultingly small one?
Historical Currency Conversions is a tool for finding the current value of historical currency. Type in an amount you see in a book and it spits out: “100 guineas in 1850 had the same buying power as 14647.25 current dollars.” Sure there are socioeconomic challenges to comparing 1850 London with current times, but you get in the ballpark enough to move on with your book. Read the rest
What Should I Read Next? suggests books, similar to the algorithm used on sites like Netflix and Amazon based on your use patterns and ratings. Read the rest
Gather Journal, Spring/Summer 2013 issue.
About their wonderful publication launched just about a year ago, Michele Outland and Fiorella Valdesolo say: "We started Gather because of a shared love of food and cooking, and a desire to create a magazine with staying power on your bookshelf; one that you could return to again and again for inspiration. If we can, with our recipes, words, and images, inspire a great meal and maybe a smile, then we are satisfied."
Janet Leigh's legendary shower scene in "Psycho," inspiration for the pie above.
I'm satisfied. After seeing a mention in the Instagram feed of a favorite LA chef, I picked up the latest issue: a film-inspired “Rough Cut” edition.
The cover photo is a pie recipe tableau inspired by the shower scene in Hitchcock's "Psycho." Read the rest
Learn your letters — from "anthrax" to "zoonoses".