Monday, 31 August 2015

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)

Book 48 of 2015 is A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley.

This is supposed to be about basic maths and helping you find ways to enjoy it if you haven't in the past. It is written by a maths professor. It is absolutely chaotic and I can only assume there is some bigger system at play.

Yeah, yeah, I'm a mathematician and will find it simple but the reason I read it was to find new ways of thinking about maths. There were a few suggestion but it jumped around all over the place. I can't imagine someone who already dislikes maths liking it after this.

Apart from the pondering on diffused thinking, this didn't hold much for me.

2 random thoughts out of 5.

Should I read this? No. Read another maths book.
What did I learn? A smart person does not a good teacher make and a good teacher does not a good writer make.

A Long Walk To Water

Book 47 of 2015 is A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park.

It tells the story of a young boy who went through the ethic cleansing of South Sudan and the lost boys who walked east to a safe haven in Africa. It also tells the story of a young girl and the joy of a water well.

This is quite heartbreaking but also uplifting. We can not hide from the fact that this happens now while we live comfortably in the first world.

4 wells out of 5.

Should I read this? We all should. People think the last atrocities happened in the WWII but they happen now.
What did I learn? The terror of a child is something you can not imagine. You can only read through it and wish it never happened.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Wool Omnibus

Book 46 of 2015 is the first book of the Silo series, Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey.

This is a great world and the characters are more realistic than the usual post apocalyptic type. The women come across like actual people and tended to remind me of strong female characters in the Star Trek world.

The writing is simple but interesting. I listened to the audio book and it kept me engaged most of the time, which isn't usually the case.

5 silos out of 5.

Should I read this? If you like post apocalyptic fiction then this is one for you.
What did I learn? People don't like being cooped up in finite places.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

Book 45 of 2015 is Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by @thebloggess (AKA Jenny Lawson).

I've been following @thebloggess on twitter for many years. There are twitter moments she talks about in her autobiography that I remember seeing on her twitter stream and that is always a cool experience.

My recent foray in to the autobiography scene was never enthusiastic but I have been pleasantly surprised again by this book and can call it one of the best books I've read this year.

I literally laughed out loud through every chapter of this book, even the ones I also cried through.

She is a crazy lady who makes those of us who aren't quite conventional feel a little less alone. I've always liked her for that and this book concreted that for me.

5 taxidermied Hamlet mice out of 5.

Should I read this? Without a doubt, yes.
What did I learn? The broken people are my favourite kind of people.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Maisie Dobbs

Book 44 of 2015 is Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.

I've missed the BBC for a while now since leaving Australia and reading this was like reconnecting with a BBC crime drama.

This is well written and engaging. Maisie is loveable and tough. You can respect her and relate to her. At least as a woman.

I can't wait to read the rest of the series but it won't be straight away. I will wait a while to read this in a decent and considered way, just like Maisie would.

4 proper considerations out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes, it is worth the time if you like British drama.
What did I learn? I don't have to miss the BBC if I can read British fiction.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


Book 43 of 2015 is Room by Emma Donoghue.

Another disturbing psychological thriller. This may be my new obsession to replace post apocalyptic fiction. Maybe.

This book is a unique idea based on recent events in the news. This book is good. It would have been brilliant if it had stopped half way through. You'll know where I mean once it happens.

This is a writing experiment and it is mostly executed well. It needed to stop earlier and didn't. Too much of a good thing and all.

3 rooms of 5.

Should I read this? For the writing, yes. For the predictable story, no.

What did I learn? Not everything needs to be wrapped up in a neat red ribbon. Psychological thrillers certainly fit in to that group.

Sloppy Firsts

Book 42 of 2015 is Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.

This is the first book of the Jessica Darling series. It reminds me a lot of the pre-teen books I read in primary school. These are a little more grown up but the ideas are the same. Teenage girl is friends with the cool kids and a very good student. She falls for the bad boy and all that.

This is well written though and not as cookie cutter as it could have been.

I think I'd have enjoyed this more if I had grown up in the US as it is very American and I'm pretty sure I missed some of the sentimentality that was meant to be evoked.

3.5 cheerleaders of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you like teen drama.
What did I learn? This reminded me of how difficult it was to be an individual as a teenager. Your brain forces you to comply with your peer's needs. I'm sure there is an evolutionary advantage to that but I'm yet to work it out.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


Book 41 of 2015 is Spin by Robert Charles Wilson.

The movie Interstellar has done for science fiction books what Hunger Games did for teenage post-apocalyptic fiction. Everyone is writing variations of it. Like The Fold, Spin is another sci-fi tale with temporal challenges.

This book is too slow and not for any good reason. The character development is sloppy and I felt most sad when an alien die than a human.

3.5 million billion years of 5.

Should I read this? No. There are better books in this genre.
What did I learn? We all fall and we all land somewhere.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Graduation Day

Book 40 of 2015 is Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau.

The third in The Testing trilogy is a good ending book. It still has a Hollywood ending and may become one of those post apocalyptic teeny bopper books but I hope not. There are better Utopian tragedies.

There are some original ideas in this but they are built of memes from better books in this genre.

3 sacrifices of 5.

Should I read this? Read all the other ones first - Hunger Games, Divergent and Maze Runner. This shouldn't be too high in that list. It's an easy read though.
What did I learn? Female heroes need a good support network.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015


I see you everywhere.

Every bike rider who sweeps passed on the street turns my head. The confident ones, no matter their colour, make me double take to see if it is you.

When my apartment is buzzed, I answer and wait to hear that it is you. It never is. There is a gasp of hope and anticipation and then a thump as my heart is bitch slapped by reality.

You are gone.

That is OK.

I'd rather you be happy.

I lie in bed and close my eyes and imagine you sleeping next to me. With my insomnia, I used to watch you sleep. Your eyelids would flutter and you'd sigh at whatever you were dreaming. I'd kiss you and like the kissing ninja you are, you'd kiss me back mid-sleep as if you saw me coming every time. Those were the moments I spent with you that you didn't spend with me, consciously.

For all the drama and the pain that you caused, I will confirm that it was worth it.

Thank you for the ride of my life. Thank you for the first true love of my life.

I'd change nothing. Nothing.

Now, go do amazing things and know I love you.

Stoopid immune system.

What is Life? How Chemistry Becomes Biology

Book 39 of 2015 is What is Life? How Chemistry Becomes Biology by Addy Pross.

Someone recently called my understanding of science unsophisticated. When I probed deeper in to what was meant by this, I found that he saw my acceptance of scientific facts as me lacking the ability to challenge an idea.

I thought about this for a while and dispute his perception of this because facts are facts. And facts determined using the scientific method are solid in my world. Damn us rational people.

What I think he thought was that I accepted scientific philosophy and hypothesis as facts when they were not yet proven. That isn't something I do. To prove that to myself, I choose a few books and have started reading the more interesting ideas in current scientific thinking.

This book is about Systems Chemistry which I hoped would help me extend my Systems Thinking views as well. Unfortunately, it did not.

Firstly, I should state that I haven't touched the wet sciences (Chem and Biology) since final year high school and my science is the most theoretical it gets in computer science and discrete maths. Maybe that meant I was lacking the basic knowledge required to call bullshit on this book or not.

The book is actually quite good and encourages you to think about micro systems in a macro systems fashion. In this case, the author tries to think about the essence of life in a chemical way using biological concepts like Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

The problem I had with this book is that the first half is spent on ideas like Teleonomy and on discussions that seemed to be heading towards Intelligent Design. Still, I continued.

The second problem I had with it is that if you look for patterns you will find them but that doesn't mean they are confirmation of your theory. Scientific method will make it fact. THEN I will buy in more.

What the final half of the book did do was try to extrapolate out from biological fact to philosophise on what is the clinching factor that brought molecules together to attain a spark of life. It isn't about god and thank the flying spaghetti monster for that.

As a book, it is easy to read although it does maintain a condescending overtone. You need at least high school biology, chemistry and physics to start this book. A critical and open thinker will enjoy this.

3 RNA strands out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you care about thinking about thinking about science. Yes, I meant both "think about"s.
What did I learn? My understanding of science is not unsophisticated. In fact, I'm pretty well rounded but I do need to read more philosophical thought in general.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Losing Myself

Tonight, I was triggered by an email and I truly lost sight of myself. In the Uber on the way home from my desperate and pathetic attempt to correct what I viewed as a wrong, I shockingly demanded of myself "What the fuck is wrong with you?!"

It was an emotional response to the rawness of losing an intimate connection.

To say I'm disappointed in myself is an understatement. I am an idiot of the highest degree and must shape up.

Now, I must re-centre and not let what has injured me, control me. I must not self destruct.

With art and writing, I have calmed myself. This is what I will continue. All will be cool again and sad Daman

Onwards and upwards.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Ready Player One

Book 38 of 2015 is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

This is another book that I was pushed to read before the movie comes out and like The Martian, I love it! I am not even a fan of reading science fiction novels so this leaves me readjusting my view of the world.

The retro pop culture references are so amazingly brilliant and fun that I enjoyed every single subtle and smashing tribute paid to the joy of my childhood.

This is a much better version of Ender's Game, which I also liked. Read this instead.

5 avatars out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. YES. Yeah.
What did I learn? I didn't miss out in my childhood and I look back fondly on these memories.