books I've read in 2022
Tuesday December 27th 2022 by SocraticDev
Since the pandemic, I seemed to have lost my essential connection with the reading.
I was a reader in public transport.
A reader during downtime; a lunchtime reader, for example.
All opportunities gone with remote work.
After resuming normal life with respect to restaurants and show, 2022 has really been the resumption of conscientious reading for me.
Conscientious? That is, read a whole book!
David Vermette(2018), "A Distinct Alien Race"
My book of the year!
David Vermette is an American descendant of a Franco-Canadian family having emigrated to New England in the 19th century.
His reading of French identity in America is unique.
What I remember especially from this book is the difference between Quebecers and Franco-Americans. The emancipation of Quebec during the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s given a coup de grace to the Franco-American identity. Despite the language, Franco-Americans have lost their connection to the francophone identity because they feel in no way Quebecois.
Reading the book "A Distinct Alien Race" recalls the pain experienced by our emigrant ancestors in the American Empire:
- racism and xenophobia from anglo-saxon population;
- workers exploitation;
- appalling living and working conditions.
Jonathan Ames(1998), "The Extra Man"
The book I devoured from mid-December to today: December 24th!
The stories of Jonathan Ames are imbued with New York City. A metropolis where human nature is at its best: free, creative, and alive. The novel "The Extra Man" is made up of 'slices of life' by the author. A series funny, lewd and extravagant adventures.
Meet Louis Ives: well-groomed, romantic, and as captivating as an F. Scott Fitzgerald hero. Only this hero has a penchant for ladies clothes, and he's lost his teaching post at Princeton's Pretty Brook Day School after an unfortunate incident involving a colleague's brassiere.
Meet Henry Harrison: former actor, failed but brilliant playwright, and a well-seasoned escort for New York City's women of means. He dances alone to Ethel Merman records, second-acts operas, and performs his scrappy life with the dignity befitting a self-styled man of the world. What can this ageless Don Quixote of the Upper East Side have to offer a young gentleman such as Louis? What, indeed.
goodreads, "The Extra Man", https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/96040.The_Extra_Man
Alexander C. Diener(2012), "Borders: A Very Short Introduction"
Borders: A Very Short Introduction challenges the perception of borders as passive lines on a map, revealing them instead to be integral forces in the economic, social, political, and environmental processes that shape our lives. The issue of borders includes considerations such as transnational communities, security threats from terrorist groups, migration regulation, rights of indigenous peoples, the legal status of the sea and outer space, environmental sustainability, and the emergence of neo-liberal economics. How have borders developed over time? What is their relevance today? Will we ever have a borderless world? Borders are likely to remain a hot topic across the social sciences and global headlines for years to come.
Oxford Academic, "Borders: A Very Short Introduction ", https://academic.oup.com/book/751
Stephen Lovell(2009), "Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction"
I remember almost nothing of this book which I finished reading at the end of March...
From the 1917 revolution to the fall of the USSR on December 25, 1991, we trace the story of a strong but weak state. A systematically racist, violent and comfortable with the ideological lie.
The Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction blends political history with an investigation into the society and culture of the time. This VSI takes a thematic approach to the history of the Soviet Union. It covers the workings of Soviet society and its political system from 1917–91, emphasizing the contradictions and paradoxes of this large and complex state. The Soviet Union's impact and legacy are also considered, alongside aspects of patriotism, political violence, poverty, and ideology, and answers are offered to some of the big questions about the Soviet experience.
Oxford Academic, " The Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction ", https://academic.oup.com/book/823
Paul Klenerman(2017), "Immune System: A Very Short Introduction"
The Immune System: A Very Short Introduction describes the immune system and how it works in health and disease. It focuses on the human immune system, considering how it evolved, and the basic rules that govern its behaviour. The immune system comprises a series of organs, cells, and chemical messengers that work together as a team to provide defence against infection. These components are discussed along with the critical signals that trigger them and how they exert their protective effects, including innate and adaptive responses. The consequences of too little immunity (immunodeficiency), caused for example by HIV/AIDS, and too much, leading to auto-immune and allergic diseases, are also considered.
Oxford Academic, "The Immune System: A Very Short Introduction ", https://academic.oup.com/book/569
Günter Grass(1959), "The Tin Drum"
From the first days of 2022, during the January holidays, I finally finished Gunter Grass's masterpiece, "The Tin Drum".
It must be said that I had been reading this book in "on and off" mode for several years. The story of little(!) Oskar Matzerath engages the reader from beginning to end. A life filled with tragedies lived by an eternal optimist. Maybe a wink look at Voltaire's Candide.
A classic to read!
Jonathan Ames(2002), "My Less Than Secret Life: A Diary, Fiction, Essays"
I discovered the American author Jonathan Ames via the TV series Bored to Death. [This series...] highlights starred Jason Schwartzman as a fictional Jonathan Ames, a writer based in Brooklyn, New York, who moonlights as a detective private without license.
My Less Than Secret Life is the companion volume to Jonathan Ames's first memoirish endeavor, "the mildly perverted and wildly amusing" (Vanity Fair) What's Not to Love? This collection of the cult author's fiction and essays includes Ames's public diary, the bi-weekly columns he penned for the New York Press. The entries of this diary are a record of his mad adventures: his ill-fated debut as an amateur boxer fighting as ‘The Herring Wonder', a faltering liaison with a Cuban prostitute, his public outing of George Plimpton as a Jew, his discussion with Eve Ensler about his dear friend The Mangina, a renegade mission as a Jew into the heart of Waspy Maine, and other such harrowing escapades. Whether trying to round up a partner for an orgy, politely assisting in an animal sacrifice, or scamming tickets to the WWF's Royal Rumble for his son, Jonathan Ames proves himself a ballsier Everyman whose transgressions and compassionate meditations will satisfy the voyeur and encourage the halfhearted. But be warned. As Jonathan says, "I don't like to be a bad influence. It's bad enough that I have influence over myself." "...Ames has always been one of my favorite contemporary writers ... for his ... fearless commitment to the most demanding psychosexual comedies."—Rick Moody
goodreads, " My Less Than Secret Life: A Diary, Fiction, Essays by Jonathan Ames ", https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/96043.My_Less_Than_Secret_Life
William Gibson(1984), "Neuromancer"
Written before the Internet revolution, this novel is a classic of the era pre-digital. A bit like the more serious work "Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace" by Lawrence Lessig.
Rather difficult to understand on first reading. The author mixes up the past and the present; includes "streams of consciousness".
I suggest reading novel with a companion like 'cliff notes'.
In order to ensure a fruitful proofreading, I challenged myself to summarize the chapters and publish them here, as blog posts.
Neuromancer is a 1984 science fiction novel by American-Canadian writer William Gibson. Considered one of the earliest and best-known works in the cyberpunk genre [...] Set in the future, the novel follows Henry Case, a washed-up hacker hired for one last job, which brings him in contact with a powerful artificial intelligence.
wikipedia, "Neuromancer", https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Neuromancer
Michel Houellebecq(2019), "Sérotonine"
Hooray! Houellebecq stays on track. And it's worth it.
Another tragic, but normal, story. Climb into the head of a ill-adjusted grown man.
I found this story fascinating. Hilarious at times. I understand that reading Houellebecq requires a certain amount of cynicism and the ability not to "give a fuck when it's not your turn to give a fuck".
Houellebecq is not for everyone. We love it or we hate it.
The narrator, Florent-Claude Labrouste, is a depressed agricultural scientist who lives in a Parisian apartment block, the Tour Totem. He commutes to Normandy to help promote French cheese. Sympathetic to the plight of local farmers, he is powerless to help them retain their traditional methods
wikipedia, "Serotonin (novel)", https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Serotonin_(novel)
Matthew McConaughey(2020), "Greenlights: Your Journal, Your Journey" [audiobook]
Reading an audiobook is not the same.
Maybe harder than reading a book with his eyes. The mind, distracted and hyperactive, is a highly volatile.
"Greenlights" is Matthew McConaughey's autobiography and read by the actor itself in the audiobook version.
McConaughey had an intense and successful life. He has a very good opinion of himself. It might even be a little annoying!
Nevertheless, it is a light and inspiring book. A self-help book without the annoying forced positivity.
Greenlights: Your Journal, Your Journey is a guided companion to the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Greenlights, filled with prompts, pithy quotes, adages, outlaw wisdom, and advice on how to live with greater satisfaction.
Matthew has been writing in journals since he was fifteen years old. His adventures have taken him from Texas to Australia, from Mali to Peru—and he has chronicled them all. In this authentic, unconventional journal, the prompts encourage going inside: remembering, reflecting, and musing, and also going outside: adventuring, taking risks, and dreaming big. Who could be a better guide for seekers setting out on the road to understanding their lives inside and out, past, present, and future?
"Greenlights: Are You Lit?", https://greenlights.com/
Richard Johnston & Dick Boak(2008), "Martin Guitars: A History"
As a lover of good-quality acoustic guitars, Martin guitars are a unavoidable.
When I like something, I become a thirsty geek.
This beautiful book on the history of guitar maker Martin based in Nazareth, in Pennsylvania, is a must-have.
A Martin acoustic guitar is the beloved instrument of millions of fans and famous players worldwide. Starting with the early days in New York circa 1833, this fabled story comes to life in the long-awaited revision of the seminal Martin History book. Originally published in 1975, this new edition is completely updated and re-designed by well-known industry experts. Part of a two-book set, The History: Book 1 covers the people, the places, and the stories of an American icon. Richly illustrated, this book covers the story right up to the fifth-generation president Chris Martin IV. Because the original and revision authors had complete access to authorized archives, this version is the most accurate and detailed reference on the topic. Leading up to the re-vitalization of the 1990s and the remarkable sustenance of its legacy, hundreds of photographs and documents effectively show the people and the guitars that made the company famous.
Martin Guitars: A History Hardcover – Illustrated, December 1, 2008 , https://www.amazon.com/Martin-Guitars-History-Richard-Johnston/dp/0634037854
Jerry Colonna(2019), "Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up"
It's through the podcast "Startup" by Gimlet Media that I discovered Jerry Colonna then baptized "The CEO Whisperer".
Jerry Colonna is an American entrepreneur. He made his fortune selling high-tech companies.
He then recycled himself as a life coach for startup founders and new CEOs.
"Reboot" is the framework sold by Jerry Colonna. This book is in some way sort of an advertisement.
We can call "Reboot" a self-help-book. It contains a dose of positivity and somewhat unnerving new-wave Buddhism. But if we manage to aside, this book is full of helpful advice.
Jerry Colonna helps start-up CEOs make peace with their demons, the psychological habits and behavioral patterns that have helped them to succeed—molding them into highly accomplished individuals—yet have been detrimental to their relationships and ultimate well-being.
Now, this venture capitalist turned executive coach shares his unusual yet highly effective blend of Buddhism, Jungian therapy, and entrepreneurial straight talk to help leaders overcome their own psychological traumas. Reboot is a journey of radical self-inquiry, helping you to reset your life by sorting through the emotional baggage that is holding you back professionally, and even more important, in your relationships.
books for 2023
We don't know what the future holds. Here are some books about my library shelf:
- Will Larson, An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management
- Albert Camus, Works, Quarto Gallimard
- Kai Bird, The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy: Brothers in Arms
- Zora Neal Hurston, Their eyes were watching God
- Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World
- Joseph Grenny et al., Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high
- Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
translation from french by google translate