I have been documenting the books I read since last year, and look forward to these small notes. It’s a good year end look back on ideas that influence me. I feel empowered when I am done reading something that feels revolutionary or well-thought out. 2017 has started slow for me, because it seems like there’s no time and space. I subscribe to Vogue (monthly) and New Yorker (weekly) which take up significant reading time, so it’s not like I am reading less. I’ve just reworked my channels.
Books in red are for children (varying ages), so if you’re an adult into only adult books skip to the darker black titles instead.
Image from Arles. We saw this play being advertised on the walls all over the city at that time. (I’d love to see it.) It was funny looking at the image because this reminded me how despite our love for decluttering and small spaces, both my husband and I love our books. But our reading tastes feel a lot like this couple’s Franco-German differences. Read: there’s a lot less in common than everyone would think.
Onwards to my book list now…
A 2017 Book List: What Have You Been Reading?
1. Dear data : a friendship in 52 weeks of postcards , Giorgia Lupi
I loved the details in this book. It’s naturally something you’d read and be inspired by. Small projects make me feel so amused and wonderful. I love collecting data and this books shares so many different ways to share so much redundant and necessary information that we collect. I also love the romanticism of sharing all of this data, each day with a friend across the Atlantic. It felt unique, nostalgic and opened up my visual senses.
2. Alone together : why we expect more from technology and less from each other, Sherry Turkle
I had heard about this book may years ago when I’d seen this video. Sure, I’m still sticking by my previous theory that technology is merely a tool. Reading this book after many years and in my current life was a little different though. I value and appreciate technology-free zones far more now. Especially, when I see kids obsessed with screens. With limited time on my calendar each day, I crave for alone time and reading (still on print without distractions). And I stay away from tools that tempt me.
3. How to have a good day : harnessing the power of behavioral science to transform our working lives, Caroline Webb
I appreciated the premise of the book but I skimmed through it, just noting the headlines. It felt like reading a blog post I was learning from, but in a hurry. The text in itself didn’t seem compelling. I didn’t want to read the argumentation, it wasn’t something I would not have arrived at myself. So the summary was a good read.
4. Basic science education for kids, Bertha Morris Parker
It’s no secret that I love children’s books. Mostly because of illustrations but also because of the sheer simplicity with which they dive into concepts without dumbing them down. I mean that’s what the good books do. And this is definitely one.
5. Unfriending my ex, and other things I’ll never do, Kim Stolz
Confessions of an obsessive social media persona, Kim Stolz weaves a world of socially awkward reactions, experiences and OCDs that are gripping us. Written in a personal, easy-breazy manner, it’s not hard to think through our own behavior as we reflect on her experiences. It’s not the greatest prose, but it’s a definite insight into our digital lives. Makes you want to run for a digital detox.
6. An illustrated compendium of untranslatable words from around the world, Ella Sanders
As a lover of languages and drawings, this is the marriage I LOVE. In today’s divided world, it’s nice to step back and see how our languages shape us. And find some deeply intriguing new words while we’re at it.
7. The illustrated book of sayings: curious expressions from around the world, Ella Sanders
I preferred this book over single words mostly because phrases tell so much more about a culture. And add so much more context. In both cases, Ella does a phenomenal job at being the curator and illustrator of the untranslatable.
8. The Mare by Mary Gaitskill
I stopped reading this book the moment it described Bend it like Beckham as a movie about a Pakistani girl. For a book talking about race, different cultures and taking this lofty liberal position, it’s irritating to club the whole of south Asia as a single culture or country. I was also annoyed that the editor/ writer did not get any time to fact check what they were writing and had perhaps only added this “detail” to sound worldly.
It reminded me of a time when I met a very angry Nigerian person in a conference whose first question to everyone was: do you know where my country is on the African map? We tend to lump people into a single category or make no efforts to understand contexts. India and Pakistan may seem to be the same to this author, but she has no business talking about them if she doesn’t realize the dynamics. Having said that, I was not offended because of the countries involved, but it just showed poor research. I refuse to read books that are ignorant like that.
9. Design your life: the pleasures and perils of everyday things, Ellen Lupton
I love the illustrations, details and the trivia. It’s such a great insight into American culture and things that have shaped our everyday lives. It all these questions you always had (from toasters to kitchen counter tops) that all find their way into this book. It’s also written in a fun, engaging and (sometimes) hilarious way- such a great holiday read.
Currently Reading: Story genius by Lisa Cron, Of gardens and graves by Suvir Kaul, Amusing ourselves to death by Neil Postman, Kashmiri Phrases and Proverbs by J Hinton Knowles
Book that I could/did not finish: Yes Prime Minister (it was boring), Mare (special mention above)