[2023-08-12], ****, Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
Good read, overall - this is not really about pachinko, rather more symbolic of historical Korean experience in Japan. The writing is crisp, not as evocative as I normally like. But there is something so gripping about the story that will take you all the way to the end.
[2023-06-13], *****, Mine!, Michael Heller and James Salzman
Thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish. The book explores ownership design from a law/policy/econ point of view - who gets to own what ? Land/water/organs/digital goods… the book explores tons of great examples to demonstrate how we should make ownership fair, just and sustainable.
[2023-04-02], ****, The Charisma Machine, The Life, Death and Legacy of One Laptop Per Child, Morgan G Ames
A nice detailed account and analysis of the famous One Laptop Per Child project - the alluring, but misleading, utopian vision of getting children to change the world, by giving them laptops and teaching them to code. The program started in the mid-2000s, and while I had heard mention of it, I hadn’t paid much attention then. The book makes reference to similar initiatives such as MOOCs, which is a more recent thought-provoking example. We can try to outsource education at scale using our tools, but it simply will not work for every student.
[2022-12-31],***, Land of Big Numbers, Te-ping Chen
Short fiction stories of citizen life in mainland China. Well-written but many stories suffer from abrupt endings that left me wholly unsatisfied. I’m glad I stuck through to the end, though, as the very last story (Gubeikou spirit) is the gem worth waiting for.
[2022-11-01],****, Shalimar, Rebecca Ryman
Historical fiction novel set in Kashmir during British India. It’s a considerably darker romance taking after pride-and-prejudice type of characters, but they are compelling. The backdrop and descriptions of Kashmir make me wish I could visit that place at a time when it wasn’t so miserably ripped apart in its war torn state. Everything in the mystery of the novel comes nicely together for a poignant ending.
[2022-10-15],***, Longitude, Dava Sobel
A historical account on the problem of accurately finding longitude at sea. Whereas it is easier to find latitude using the location of the North Star or the sun, longitude is harder as we have no reference point. The widely accepted way appeared to be using the time difference between current time and local time at the origin, but timekeeping at sea was difficult. This ultimately led to John Harrison’s decades long attempts at creating an accurate watch. Overall, the beginning half of the book was far more interesting than the latter as Sobel discusses weirdly alternate schemes people came up with for finding longitude.
[2022-09-01],****, Will, Will Smith
Unfortunately, I ran out of steam about 70% of the way for this, and might get back to it later. But overall, it’s a wonderful read about the actor/rapper who is partially a misfit for the world he grew up in - something I can relate to.
[2022-06-09],**** , Golden Chronicles, Patricia Veryan
Historical victorian romance. These 6 books took me into a thrilling world of love, humor, chivalry and swashbuckling tales of racing after hidden treasure. All books take place in eighteenth century England, backdropped by the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising by Bonnie Prince Charlie.
[2022-03-04], ***, Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software, Nadia Eghbal
Good read about open-source communities. Sections of the book go into way too much detail for me about structures of various communites, but I enjoyed the application of economic ideas (such as the tragedy of commons) to the very real problem of open source code maintenance. Also, loved the many famous examples of incidents gone wrong in open-source, and what it teaches us.
[2022-01-31], **** ,Black Swan, Nassim Taleb
Be wary of anyone claiming to predict future events. No one really knows what they’re talking about, except for experts in very specialized fields. Long read, but well written.