Wisdom forges
Tongue bears
Lips provide

– an offering of words

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My 2017 in books and 2018 bookish resolutions

I started 2017 with the idea of not setting any book goals, in terms of the number of volumes read. Unsurprisingly, I ended up reading a lot even without the ghost of the Goodreads challenge. However, I didn’t keep up with my intention of annotating books or writing down notes and thoughts. I still haven’t figured out a way that I like to do it.

Books read: 46
Number of pages: 9369
Longest book: Runemarks by Johanne Harris
Most-read genres: non-fiction
Authors were mostly male, with 7 female authors and 1 queer author

I guess I have become more critical in my rating because there’s around 10 of them who got just one or two stars.
I’ve read a great deal of non-fiction on various topic, ranging from psychology to classical Chinese philosophy and Daoism, to polytheistic theology. As for fiction, apart from my Scandinavia literature compulsory reads for uni courses, it’s mostly fantasy or science fiction. It’s really not been a year for novels. There’s also a fair deal of graphic novel, although they’re mostly the Overwatch comics that come out every three or four months or so.

And now, in no particular order, my 5 favourite books of 2017!

  1. Niels Lyhne by Jens Peter Jacobsen – One of the few Scandinavia novels I really like, I fell this is a great read. It’s got all the best things from XIX century books, but with a fair dose of relatable existential dread.
  2. The End of Eternity by I. Asimov – My first Asimov novel, a book I bought at a library sale. It’s short, dense and amazing, I read it maybe in two days because I was so hooked on the story.
  3. The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer – the book that broke my heart into tiny little pieces, I’ll never be the same. A great book, as always when you hold one of Colfer’s volumes.
  4. A World Full of Gods by J. M. Greer – the first volume on polytheistic theology I read, a wonderful read that got me thinking a lot about my own practice.
  5. The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thic Nhat Hanh – a wonderful book about meditation, full of reflections on the topic and exercises on which I draw from my daily practice.

What now?
Now that’s a whole new year, I want to keep with the same intent of not setting challenges and reading for the sake of reading. Not looking at my reading rate was really an improvement, even though I rushed through more than one book (but that’s just because I rush everything that I do).
I joined a couple of Goodreads groups to find some new titles to read, especially in the department of classics and literary fiction, because I lack knowledge of more than one volume (and bein an undergrad in English literature I can’t keep with what I am ordered to read).
The real challenge will be writing a review for at least half of the book I read: why would I have a blog to write about books, after all? Hope this will help me note more book thoughts as I read

Wishing you all a very bookish year,

firma

REVIEW: Irresistible, by Adam Alter

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I am one of the kids who grew up with the internet. It might not seem much (I mean, what kid doesn’t have the internet now?), but back in the day I had a 56k connection we payed so much for, we were allowed half an hour of it on Sundays. Me and my sister cherished that time, playing Scooby Doo flash games. I was 12 when I got my first ADSL connection, and there began my browsing and I became and internet citizen: I played (my beloved text-based RpGs!), I made friends, I chatted in forums and I also had many blogs. I have always been up to date with the latest internet fashion (be it neopets or memes) and I love it all. Internet is an open sea of possibilities that have been enhanced more than ever when social networks and smartphones came. Given both my interest for the internet and my slight smartphone addiction, this book immediately caught my attention when I saw it on Goodreads.

Adam Alter has made a wonderful work in this volume: he dwells into a vast body of research to talk about what behavioral addiction is and why it is relevant today, especially when we talk about smartphones and social networks. The first three chapters of the book introduce the topic and describe what substance and behavioral addiction are. I read people got bothered by this part, but I believe that it helps clearing up the misconception about both type of addiction, illustrating their similarities, but especially their differences. Recognising behavioral addiction is something we’ve done just recently, after all.
The second part of the book is divided into six different chapters, each one devoted to a single aspect of the design of addictive technology. Goals, feedback, social interaction and more are examined and plenty of examples are (unfortunately) drawn from our daily experiences. Waisting an hour on social network, playing until early hours in the morning, getting hooked on a mobile game or app is something most of us have experienced at this point. Organisations who work to help people recover from their addiction and researches who studied or are studying the phenomenon are also presented.
The three final chapters are more focused on how we can “exploit the bugs in our brains” (as my beloved engineer boyfriend would say) to promote healthy behaviours and replace wrong habits and addictions. How can we use modern technology to work with/for us, instead of against us?
I personally found the book an interesting read. The language is concise and clear, easy to follow even when it gets a little bit more technical. The amount of research that must be behind the writing of this book shows itself in the pages. There references to scholarly studies is surely helpful to those who are academically drawn to the subject, or just interested in furthering the research on their own.

The subject matter is surely something we need to become conscious about. I must admit that reading through the book, I felt a bit ashamed of my personal smartphone habits. I ended up uninstalling all games, YouTube, Tumblr, Goodreads and whatever other app on my phone before I finished the introduction. I am not one of those people who is frightened by every new tech, but nonetheless I believe we are all a bit addicted to these devices. Or we all can potentially be. It’s what they’re made for. Awareness is what will always save us from ourselves.