Recent(ish) Non-Fiction: Five Short Reviews

 

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck, by Mark Manson

Sort of an anti self-help book, meaning that it actually contains a useful philosophy, which is (mostly) just Buddhism/Stoicism dressed up a little for millennials. It’s not as douchey as the title would have you think, and it’s very entertaining.

There’s a lot of cross-over with Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, surprisingly. A lot of good advice for those, like me, who over-stress themselves about mostly nothing at all. I really loved it; I’ll probably circle back to it a few more times in the future.

 

 

 

The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Kameron Hurley

The Geek Feminist Manifesto, by Kameron Hurley

Terrific essays, a little repetitive in some spots, and slightly more sarcastic than I’m used to. But, great stuff nonetheless.

At the very least read ‘We have always fought’, the essays on Mad Max, Die Hard, and True Detective, as well as ‘In Defense of Unlikeable Women’.

I’ve never read any Kameron Hurley fiction, but I would really like to after reading this. It sounds like she has a fantastic grasp on writing real, living, breathing characters. She also clearly understands—and opened my eyes to—the monumental power that storytellers have to change the world, and how our worldview is flavored and interpreted through the lens of fiction.

 

 

Information Doesn't Want to be Free, by Cory DoctorowInformation Doesn’t Want to be Free, by Cory Doctorow

Doctorow expertly breaks down and illustrates just how much we lose societally by allowing intermediaries to stipulate things entirely outside of their business through lobbying and extortion of all parties involved. It’s a fascinating, multi-faceted deep examination of digital rights, copyright, piracy, net neutrality, and the human tendency toward protecting our own interests at the detriment of everyone else (including, unbeknownst to us, ourselves).

At first it made me angry, then it made me paranoid, and finally it made me angry again when I realized just how paranoid I actually have to be now that I understand this stuff a little more. After working my way through that cycle a few times, I’ve actually come out the other side more hopeful than I was when I went in. I feel a little more informed on just how serious the situation actually is, and I now have a huge amount of respect for the EFF and all the work they’re doing to combat ridiculous things like SOPA/PIPA, and anti Net-Neutrality nutjobs.

I recommend it for pretty much anyone that would like to hang on to their privacy in an increasingly invasive world.

 

 

Fire and Fury, by Michael WolffFire and Fury, by Michael Wolff

This book doesn’t challenge your assumptions. If it is to be believed, the day-to-day functioning of Trump’s White House appears to be simultaneously worse than we all imagined, and exactly as we all thought it probably was: Trump’s an idiot, the least self-aware person alive, interested only in his own celebrity and validation, and wholly unqualified to be the President of anything. Everyone around him is 1) Trying to save face. 2) Pushing their competing agendas. 3) Making fun of Trump. 4) Stabbing each other in the back. 5) Pulling their hair out. 6) Trying to avoid jail time. 7) Competing for Trump’s attention. 8) Trying to reign Trump in. 9) Trying not to get fired. 10) Trying to get everyone else fired. 11) Failing miserably at everything they do, because they themselves are wholly inept, and generally awful humans.

All things considered, it was a surprisingly compassionate portrayal of everyone involved. It’s the blind leading the blind leading us all off a cliff.

P.S. Pence is mostly absent from the book, which makes it seem like he’s just sitting on the sidelines, twirling his thumbs, waiting for the moment he can step in and become President.

 

 

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me

A deeply illuminating, honest look at the realities of being black in America, written as a letter to the author’s teenage son. It doesn’t insult by offering a solution to the problems, but aims only to make the reader acknowledge the deeply internalized, institutionalized racism, hate, and fear that built America and the American Dream. Read it.

“The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs. They have forgotten, because to remember would tumble them out of the beautiful Dream and force them to live down here with us, down here in the world. I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free.”

“..a society that protects some people through a safety net of schools, government-backed home loans, and ancestral wealth but can only protect you with the club of criminal justice has either failed at enforcing its good intentions or has succeeded at something much darker.”

“The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free. Slowly, I was discovering myself.”

“I am black, and have been plundered and have lost my body. But perhaps I too had the capacity for plunder, maybe I would take another human’s body to confirm myself in a community. Perhaps I already had. Hate gives identity. The nigger, the fag, the bitch illuminate the border, illuminate what we ostensibly are not, illuminate the Dream of being white, of being a Man. We name the hated strangers and are thus confirmed in the tribe. But my tribe was shattering and reforming around me.”