how to do nothing by jenny odell

“how to do nothing: resisting the attention economy” is a highly praised book, and the publisher made it very clear via blurbs on both front and back covers. (side note: is jia tolentino really so high profile to put her quote on the front?)

if you dread another self-help book with a checklist at the end, i have good news for you – there nothing like that behind the flowery cover. this book rather belongs in the section of modern philosophy. author is not trying to give the reader prepackaged and easy-to-digest ideas, but hands them a cookbook, if you allow me this tired methaphor.

i appreciated the way jenny odell quoted and referenced greek classics – giving the necessary exposition but without overexplaining. as someone who has surface level familiarity with the subject, i got a nice refresher and a prompt to return to philosophy in my reading.

who would i recommend this book to? to my every terminally online friend (waves at #productivity) who pondered at least once “is this whole internet thing making me a worse human?”

the signal and the noise by nate silver

while observations and main thesis of the book are sound, useful, and insightful, the tone of the author is borderline obnoxious.

why on earth does he need to give short description of their looks nearly every time he introduces a person? how is that relevant? instead of lightening up the text, or whatever was his goal, book starts looking like a random mash of scientific paper and badly written RPF fanfic.

the tone of the author at times overshadowed the factual content. my copy of the book has several notes, such as “really?”, “ugh”, “this is ageism”, et cetera, most accompanied with exclamation marks.

the book would benefit from re-editing with consideration of evolved norms on what is considered appropriate in a serious non-fiction work.

believe me by eddie izzard

“A memoir of love, death and jazz chickens” was such a delightful book to read1, and it came at the right time too.

reading about her story of making the complicated unconventional career for herself, getting to grips with being transgender, being ‘out’ for so long gave me fresh hope and reassurance.

the book tone is self-aware of the amount of fortune and privilege author had due to the all life circumstances (gestures vaguely), and at times it felt like Eddie is trying too hard to convince the reader that the career was earned in sweat and tears. but that’s the only negative observation i have.

another detail that stood out is the acknowledgement of the second writer – Laura Zigman. it’s nice to see a celebrity writer adequately credit the help they get.

to summarise, this is a four out of five star book, and i recommend it, if you have seen at least some of Eddie Izzard’s sketches2 and liked it.

  1. even if the editor does not like oxford comma ↩︎
  2. this is my favourite ↩︎

men who hate women by laura bates

i’ve been aware of Laura Bates since her ‘Everyday Sexism’ project, but somehow her books slipped past me. thankfully, ‘men who hate women’ was promoted in the guardian’s books section, where i saw it and immediately ordered a copy.

entire book is a chilling read, even if you are a weathered online person, but chapter nine is the scariest. it’s about young people in their formative years, who are absorbing normalised misogyny.

i wish every man, who have ever asked me whether feminism is still relevant, would read this book. because fighting modern misogyny can’t be successful without them.