When I construct my reading list for the year, I keep an eye out for new books by my favorite authors, or ones from their catalog that I might not have read yet. Current favorites include Blake Crouch, Eliot Peper, A.G. Riddle, Hugh Howey, William Hertling, Robin Sloan, and Andy Weir.
So last year, when I saw that A.G. Riddle came out with a new trilogy named The Long Winter, I knew it would be both on and near the top of my reading list for this year. I recently finished the first book in the series, Winter World.
If you frequent my blog, you know how much I like a good short story. I’ve been making it a point to mix-in short stories between my longer fictional reads.
I recently enjoyed Amazon’s Forward Collection of six short science fiction stories, so I was eager to read one of the latest additions to Amazon’s Original Stories, Young Blood by Andrew Barrer.
I find science fiction fascinating. I’ve written in the past about why I read it. The main reason – it has an uncanny ability to foreshadow the evolution of technology. I’m regularly amazed by an author’s capability to imagine the future.
A case in point is a recurring theme in my science fiction reading – artificial intelligence (better known as AI). In my opinion, we are at the early stages of artificial intelligence. Narrow AI is already here and integrated into our daily routines, whether it be internet searches, directions, or predicting weather patterns. The question is if and when AI becomes more general, and eventually turns into superintelligence. Superintelligence is that point beyond the singularity where machines become smarter than humans at a runaway pace. Predictions abound regarding what happens at that point from catastrophic, apocalyptic outcomes to a wondrous society where all the problems of today have been solved.
In my latest science fiction read, Post-Human (the Omnibus Edition), David Simpson imagines a story arc for AI that starts in the not so distant future and evolves from there.
Whether you get your news from the internet, television, newspaper, radio, or any other media outlet, it can be downright depressing. Headlines abound of natural disasters, terrorism, war, territorial disputes, violent crimes, and, these days, continuous coverage of the pandemic. It’s enough to make you think we live in the darkest of times.
This constant negative news cycle led me to read Factfulness by Hans Rosling last year. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my Must Reads and at the top of my books to read in 2020. The book puts the news cycle into its proper perspective and makes you realize that we actually live in the best times ever known to humanity.
I’ve made this opinion known to many people, and in one of those discussions, a friend told me that I had to read Enlightment Now by Steven Pinker. Since I like to get input and insight from different sources on a subject, and since this was a very good friend and trusted source, I made it a point to put the book near the top of my reading list for this year.
Humanity has a seemingly endless fascination with exploration. It’s as if it’s built into our DNA, which it probably is. People have been fascinated with exploring new lands for millennia with expeditions to the New World, Antarctica, and Moon being some of the more recent. Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson, is written based on this tradition.
I became interested in personal development a few years ago. My goal was to learn how to manage myself better by understanding how the mind works and building good habits.
Since then, I’ve read quite a few books on the topic. Here are the 10 books that I found most useful in my personal development journey. They are the ones the had the biggest influence on changing the way I approach life, and hopefully, in reading these, they will have the same positive effect on your life too.
The first, and only, William Gibson novel I’ve read is Neuromancer. It’s been nearly five years since I read it. I don’t remember a lot of details about the book. What I do remember is that I liked it a lot, and I was impressed by the amount of technology foreshadowing in the novel. The immersive cyberspace environment and human augmentation concepts that he wrote about back in 1984 were way ahead of their time. Those seemingly far-fetched concepts are close to becoming a reality today, if not here already.
Ever since finishing Neuromancer, I’ve wanted to read more of Gibson’s works. It’s taken a while for some reason or another, but I finally got around to it. So, for my second venture into Gibson’s extensive library, I choose to read the follow-up to Neuromancer, Count Zero.
One of my goals for this year is to be more present, to live in the moment. It’s a recurring theme in my meditation practices, and, as I recently wrote about, one I consistently struggle with. I have a tendency to get wrapped up in my thoughts, whether it’s about the past, the future, or my latest work project. These distractions can keep me from being fully present and engaged in the now.
So what do when I’m struggling with something? I research and read about it.
Therefore, I decided to read 10-Minute Mindfulness: 71 Simple Habits for Living in the Present Moment by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport. I figured that I would find at least a few of their recommendations useful on my journey to living more mindfully.
My favorite reading genre is science fiction, which you already know if you frequent my blog. However, every once in a while, I’ll step outside my comfort zone and read something a bit, well, different. Such was the case with Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale.
Clearly, the book does not fit into the science fiction category. There is no mention of sentient robots, super-intelligent AI, space travel, or alien beings. In fact, there is pretty much no mention of any technology whatsoever. If anything, it fits into the romance genre, which I don’t like much and rarely read. But you know what, I liked Everything We Keep, a lot. I’m not afraid to admit it, and here’s why.
My reading list is downright crazy. There are over 220 books on my “Want to Read” list on Goodreads. I do my best to prioritize the list every year, but even then a book can sit on it. Such was the case with The Jennifer Project by Larry Enright.
I first came across the book in March, 2017. I’m almost positive it came through an Amazon recommendation or one of their daily deal emails. The description looked good with numerous references to artificial intelligence (AI), so it fit in with my favorite reading genre – science fiction.
I put the book on my 2018 reading list, but it was pretty far down the queue. I moved it up considerably in 2019, but still wasn’t able to get to it. It finally made it up to the top of this year’s list, and I finished it last month.