Ask Hacker News: Which Book Can Attract Anyone Towards Your Field of Study?

A discussion thread on important books in various fields. A few examples:

  • Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought by Lakoff, George
  • Deep Learning for Coders with Fastai and Pytorch: AI Applications Without a PhD by Howard, Jeremy
  • Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Everett, Daniel L.
  • Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Petzold, Charles
  • Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics by Jacobs Jane

Books in 2022, Plan vs. Reality

The Plan

Last year, I made a list of books for every week of the year. I hardly read anything from the list. I read things like N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy, revisited some of the books of Iain M. Banks Culture series (currently reading Against a Dark Background), and basically, just read whatever I felt like and only looked at the list a few times. I did manage to read the first entry, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel M. Ingram, which I found worthwhile.

This year I’m going to try just one book a month.

  1. The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony by Robert Calasso
  2. Chicago by Brian Doyle
  3. Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit
  4. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
  5. Against Method by Paul Karl Feyerabend
  6. Building Stories by Chris Ware
  7. The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector
  8. The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
  9. Circe by Madeline Miller
  10. The Odyssey by Emily Wilson
  11. Ulysses by James Joyce (in conjunction with Stuart’s companion volume)
  12. Paradise Lost by John Milton

Beyond the list, I’ll make room for anything like the Murderbot series by Martha Wells, Ann Leckie, and any of the other usual suspects. Memory’s Legion, the final book in the Expanse series is coming out in March, isn’t it? Knowing me, I’ll want to reread the whole series again next year. Maybe as a fun corrective, I’ll keep a list of books actually read below.

The Reality

  1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  2. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  3. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
  4. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, 3/6
  5. Holes by Louis Sachar, 3/11
  6. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, 3/17
  7. Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey
  8. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, 8/8

Always Judge a Book By Its Cover

“Some books win awards, some win our heart, and others… only serve to confuse.”

https://alwaysjudgeabookbyitscover.com/

Eating People is Wrong’s commentary made me LOL. But, it was the Chuck Tingle book that convinced me to post this website. I don’t know why I even know who Chuck Tingle is, probably has something to do with the “weird fiction” phase I went through mid-2019, but I’d like to do my part to increase his readership.

Amazon’s Censorship of Devil Daddy

“Censorship is alive and well over at Amazon Kindle. Last time it was our scholarly edition of the rare 1881 Victorian gay text Sins of the Cities of the Plain, which they banned for several years. Now they’ve banned the ebook of John Blackburn’s 1972 horror novel Devil Daddy, while refusing to explain why. At Amazon, any book can be blocked from sale at some random employee’s whim, with no right of appeal. Please remember that you have a choice of where to shop, and all our ebooks are available on our site, as well as Nook, Kobo and iTunes.

If you can’t zoom in on the screenshot below, here is the email from Amazon:

“As stated in our content guidelines, we reserve the right to determine what content we consider to be appropriate. This content includes both the cover art image and the content within the book. We’re unable to elaborate further on specific details regarding our content guidelines…”

-Valancourt Books, “September 2021 Update, part 2“.

I should have known. But, this is the first time I’ve heard of Amazon censoring books. When the largest retailer of book refuses to carry particular titles, especially ones that are controversial in some way, it cheapens the public discourse. Devil Daddy may not be to the taste of the average American, but the average American’s taste and community standards is a horrible basis for content guidelines.

Patricia Lockwood Reviews Bear by Marian Engel

“It’s easy to forget that the female writers of Engel’s generation are telling their stories after generations of mothers and grandmothers (and Aunt Ednas whose ‘talent was slicing in half slices of sliced store bread’) said nothing. This was not simply a matter of oppression, it was a deep and violent sense of propriety that her generation, just as violently, was trying to cut out. More than one Engel protagonist speaks of her ‘stiff pudeur’, which sounds like a little pussy wearing a crinoline, dancing with herself in a ballroom. The books are in hand-to-hand combat against that, and ultimately they are a triumph. People like Engel write books not to shock society but to free themselves, to violate some inner constraint that makes the agreed on forms of living unbearable…

…Much of women’s work is what allows life to continue. The rest is like … Windexing the veneer of civilisation every morning to keep it shiny, or cooking Beef Wellington every night for a pig king who would be just as happy eating apple cores. Equitable division of household labour has always had to contend with the fact that no husband on this earth was ever raised by Mary Passmore, hears her voice in his mind when he enters the grocery store or hunkers down to wax the baseboards. The phrase ‘slut’s wool’ isn’t in his vocabulary, or if it is it means something different. Alice Munro said that Engel ‘felt a need to be forthright [with interviewers], to show herself to them as fully human, dirty dishes, empty bottles and all’. But what she was displaying, perhaps, was the same principle of refusal that constituted both her defiance and her sense of humour. A sense of humour can be sad, after all, or sour, or a broad clowning gesture to the chaos behind you.”

-Patricia Lockwood, “Pull off my head.” The London Review of Books. August 12, 2021.

Patricia Lockwood is a God-damned treasure. There’s a good chance that this is the only book review you’ll ever read that’ll make you think, “A love story between a woman and a bear? Sure, why not?” And the writing! “Where is the taser for the reader’s balls?”, indeed!

Book Review | Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells | The Ultimate Reference Book For The Magical Arts | By Judika Illes

I love this book. It is one of my favorites in the occult section of my library. It is valuable as a practical and historical tool. The book is an excellent guide for the beginning as well as experienced witch. I have never seen another book that has so many spells.    Get this; […]

Book Review | Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells | The Ultimate Reference Book For The Magical Arts | By Judika Illes

Sometimes, I see something on WordPress that makes me think strange thoughts. A book of 5,000 spells? If I cast one spell a day, that would take me over 13 years to cast them all. Maybe I should just chose the top 365 spells and do it for a year? What would a year of spellcasting be like? In my mind, I become the sorcerer’s apprentice, except sure in the knowledge that no one is going to save me.

Ah, another life lived, in my imagination.

Books I’d Like to Read in 2021

A short fiction where I pretend to you, dear reader, that I am still capable of reading more than a book a week.

  1. Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel M. Ingram
  2. Fool on the Hill by Mark Sargent
  3. The Omnibus Homo Sacer by Giorgio Agamben
  4. Cargill Falls by William Lychack [x]
  5. Black Imagination by Natasha Marin (Editor)
  6. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  7. Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth by Marilyn Waring
  8. Deep Adaptation by Jem Bendell [x]
  9. The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limon [x]
  10. Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen
  11. Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures by Mary Ruefle [x]
  12. How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong
  13. Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions by Martin Gardner
  14. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology by Gregory Bateson
  15. Are Women Human?: And Other International Dialogues by Catharine A. MacKinnon
  16. War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires by Peter Turchin
  17. Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind by Alan Jacobs
  18. Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy
  19. Take the Long Way Home: Memoirs of a Survivor by Susan Gordon Lydon
  20. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
  21. Ball Four by Jim Bouton
  22. The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men by Robert Jensen [x]
  23. The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
  24. Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World by Olga Khazan
  25. The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics by Christopher Lasch
  26. Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold
  27. On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
  28. Another Birth by Forough Farrokhzad
  29. Darkness Spoken by Ingeborg Bachmann
  30. So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ
  31. Oblivion Seekers by Isabelle Eberhardt
  32. The Neopolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
  33. Machines in the Head by Anna Kavan
  34. The Selected Poems of Rosario Castellanos by Rosario Castellanos
  35. Mad in Pursuit by Violette Leduc
  36. The Wedding by Dorothy West
  37. The Hebrew Bible by Robert Alter
  38. The Red Book: Liber Novus by C.G. Jung
  39. New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
  40. Heart of the Original by Steve Aylett
  41. On the Brink of Paradox by Augustin Rayo
  42. The Commonwealth series by Peter F. Hamilton
  43. Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher W. Alexander
  44. Sandworm by Andy Greenberg
  45. Women, Race & Class by Angela Y. Davis
  46. A Passion For Friends by Janice G. Raymond
  47. The Precipice by Toby Orb
  48. Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump
  49. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
  50. Primeval & Other Times by Olga Tokarczuk
  51. Consuming the Romantic Utopia by Eva Illouz
  52. Tools for Conviviality by Ivan Illich