Thoughts on my May 2022 Reading

estimated 8 min read

I have no idea what to write for these intros. Does anyone read this part? I assume you want to get straight to my thoughts about the books I read last month. Some interesting (to me) stats are that the average page count was 334 and the total for the month was 5,679.

This month I started tracking the number of hours for audio books, but it’s a bit misleading. I listen to most books on at least 1.5x speed; depending on the book and if I’m using listening through speakers or headphones, I often listen at up to 2.05x. No, it doesn’t sound like a chipmunk on helium! I’m a New Yorker and accustomed to fast speech (and walking). It sounds more normal to me this way. Headphones allow me to isolate the sound and I often bump up the speed. If I listened at the recorded speed, approximately 41 hours of audio passed through my ears last month. Often, I’ll check out both an audio book and the written version from the library and will switch back and forth depending on my environment.

Once again, this month I grouped the books by general subject and sorted by author. If technology works, there should be a nifty list below to jump you to the categories. Please assume unless otherwise specified that I borrowed the title from my local library system. If there are hours listed in addition to a page count, then at least some of the title was read as an audiobook.

Please note that a star (★) preceding the title indicates that I received the book with the hope that I’d write a review, the FTC wants you to know.

Fiction

Inscape by Louise Carey (2021). 416 pages, Science Fiction; Thriller.

Technically this is first in a series, but it’s also the only one published so far. It was a little slow at the start but picks up speed quickly. It’s an all too plausible world and as fantasy pulls in elements from the nonfiction books I read last month – emotional intelligence, disaster planning, and information security. It’s a wonderful debut novel.

Hounded (2011) 320 pages, Hexed (2011) 320 pages, Hammered (2011) 312 pages, Trapped (2012) 290 pages, Tricked (2012) 341 pages, Hunted (2013) 384 pages. Iron Druid Chronicles (#1-6) by Kevin Hearne. Urban Fantasy. Reread.

I’ve not read this series for many years, my memory of the story line is definitely fuzzy so it’s a reread full of surprises! If you love geeky puns, snark, and mythology this series is for you. I picked it up because the tenth anniversary rerelease of the series includes some bonus stories I’d not read before. The new covers, by artist Sarah J. Coleman and designer Ella Laytham are stunning and bring a consistent look to the series.

Spelunking Through Hell: A Visitor’s Guide to the Underworld (2022) 352 pages. Incryptid Series (#11) by Seanan McGuire. Urban Fantasy.

It was amazing to finally get to read Alice’s story. I don’t want to spoil it. If you enjoy the Incryptid series and find Alice Price a fascinating ass-kicking wonder, this will be an enjoyable read for you. If you’ve not yet started this series, pick up Discount Armageddon today.

The Informationist (2011) 12 hours; 336 pages. Vanessa Michael Munroe Series (#1) by Taylor Stevens. Thriller.

This title has caught my eye for years as I scrolled through the library catalog – I have a degree in Information (and Archive) Management. What was it about? Technology? Paper? However, I go in and out of reading thrillers, and for some reason I didn’t make it past the title until this month. I needed an audiobook while I knit, and this was available. Michael is a very interesting character. The second book, The Innocent, is on my device and so far, just as fascinating.

Dead Lies Dreaming (2020) 384 pages. The New Management Series (#1) by Charlie Stross. Urban Fantasy.

Escape from Yokai Land (2022) 96 pages. The Laundry Files (#12) by Charlie Stross. Urban Fantasy

It might behoove me to reread the entire Laundry Files series as it leads to The New Management. I tore through it the first time and some details are not well anchored in my brain. This first book under The New Management took me over a year to get into, I reread the first few chapters many times. Once I did it was a path that crossed betwixt different story lines and times and completely captured my attention. I look forward to the next book Quantum of Nightmares. Well, in an intellectual way I look forward to reading it, it’s sure to be filled with Stross’ trademark ability to make me twitch at shadows. The novella Escape from Yokai Land will give me Sanrio nightmares for the near future. With that in mind, it was a good read within the comfort of the Laundry Files.

Disaster Planning

The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters by Juliette Kayyem (2022) 240 pages.

In a world besieged by crisis and befuddled by the paradox of preparation, how can we learn to move past the traditional manner of disaster planning? This is a new world where The Devil Never Sleeps, and Juliette Kayyem takes the reader on a guided tour through classic principles and shows how we can adapt for our new reality of reoccurring disasters.

My complete review can be found at PSG Studio where I also write about and assist solo and small businesses with disaster and disruption preparedness.

Linguistics & Psychology

What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves by Benjamin K. Bergen (2016), 288 pages.

It felt very good to finally read and review this NetGalley title, I also am now at a 50% review ratio.

Why are curse words so appealing and certain word taboo? Bergen wrote with psycholinguistic detail how the brain processes language in general and swear words specifically. My complete review of this book is at NetGalley.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman (2006), 4 hours; 384 pages.

I’m pretty sure I read this back when it came out, this was the type of book I devoured when in high school, along with the books Howard Garner published. EI is no longer an earth-shattering concept and that’s positive. It came up in some of the business reading I did back in April, so I listened to the audiobook to refresh my memory.

Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution That Made China Modern by Jing Tsu (2022), 11 hours; 336 pages.

I’m not sure which review I saw first, perhaps in The Guardian. Over the years I’ve experienced the struggle enough to write languages other than English on websites. Encoding has changed significantly over the years (for the better). While my experience with Asian languages can mostly be found in my 25 year slog to learn the hiragana, before reading Tsu’s book I had little understanding of how these languages manage digital input much less how they might essentially alphabetize an index. I highly recommend it.

Technology

A New History of Modern Computing by Thomas Haigh and Paul Cerruzi (2021), 544 pages.

I’m pretty sure I flipped through The History of Modern Computing by Cerruzi during my undergrad years. I don’t think I read it cover-to-cover back then, but I did for this new edition written with Haigh. Ambitious in scope and sensible in approach, this book attempts to guide the reader through the highlights of modern computing. While comprehensive, it does not bog the reader down with minute details. For those who want more, there are liberal footnotes offering direction to additional sources. The first section was the most polished and interesting to me. I’d covered some of this in my undergraduate education most specifically when we had to program in assembly but never sat and formally studied it all at once. I appreciated the use of parallel story telling in order to show how computing evolved and the past informs the present. This is not a sociological exploration of computing, nor does it really look deeply into software. By-and-large it looks at the hardware behind today’s technologies. The later chapters covering recent history (aka since my CS degree) feel more fleeting but that could be this reader – I’ve spent my adult life living it. A New History of Modern Computing is a readable history for those who want to understand how we got to here.

You’ll See This Message When it is Too Late: The Legal and Economic Aftermath of Cybersecurity Breaches by Josephine Wolff (2018), 14 hours; 336 pages.

I’d heard about many of the incidents covered in this book but hadn’t read much about them. While I pay attention to security issues, it is not a core part of my business offerings. Wolff’s book is approachable and fascinating look into what happens before, during, and after a cybersecurity breach.


My plan for June is to finish the Iron Druid Chronicles. After that I don’t know what else I’ll read, likely whatever I grab with no focused plan. There’s enough chaos and uncertainty right now for me to confidently commit to any specific book. An unsupervised visit to the new book section of my library the other day resulted in my leaving with my arms full and I hope to finish reading them before their due dates: Still Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton; Nettle & Bone by T Kingfisher; and Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun. My current knitting is to Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky which is recorded as 19 hours of audio, ideal for my project.

Is there something you think I’d like to read?

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