2015 Book Reviews

Short reviews of books (and other media) I've consumed this year. Will be updated throughout the year. Highlight == recommended. Inspiration: https://push.cx/2014/book-reviews


Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin. fiction (series)

Most fantasy books bore me when they devolve into long-winded descriptions of the clothes and food of the characters. Somehow this one kept my interest during even those parts. An elaborately crafted world I heartily recommend everyone journey to.

Talion Revenant - Michael A. Stackpole. fantasy

Recommended to me by a friend. Very obviously one of his first books. Thankfully the author has improved since this effort. Interesting ideas, but the future/past jumps made it incredibly obvious what was going to happen. Also, too many times the protaganist just pulled some random B.S. to win a fight, which angered me and made me want to put the book down. I recommend reading it despite it's flaws, simply for the originality of the fantasy world the author creates.

Convict Conditioning - Paul "Coach" Wade. nonfiction/self-help?

Besides the author having a huge chip on his shoulder about weight-lifting and gym rats, some good material here. Provides a series of progressively more difficult bodyweight exercises to increase strength. I was honestly surprised at how difficult the first level was. Currently progressing through stage two of the exercises. I can look at my workout log and see that I am gaining strength without a huge commitment of time, or any unnatural movements or stressors. There is some debate about the qualifications of the author, and whether or not his experience is real. Regardless of the controversy, a good reference about bodyweight exercises.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality - Eliezer Yudkowsky

Really gets going after the fifth chapter. Lags a bit around 40-50, then picks up again. Mostly written as a selling point for the author's ideas about rationality, borrowing the Harry Potter world and characters. What the Harry Potter books should have been. I'm not sure I can even go back and read the originals. Ron Weasley. This book kept me up til 4 a.m. multiple nights in a row. You've been warned!

Chimpanzee Politics - Frans de Waal. nonfiction

Interesting observations about a group of chimpanzees and the power dynamics and political coalitions they form. I won't think the same way about groups ever again.

What If - Rebecca Donovan. fiction

This one would have been great if I was still in the 7th grade. The "twist," if you can call it that, just made me facepalm. I finished it out of sheer morbid curiosity, which I now regret. Should have put it down after three chapters.

The Design of Everyday Things - Donald A. Norman. nonfiction

If the use of a device mystifies you, it's more likely badly designed than it is a problem with you. Common sense, published. The first 150 pages or so are good, then you can put the book down, because the end is mostly the author turning very academic and rambling about nothing.

Consolations of the Forest - Sylvain Tesson. nonfiction (memoir)

Starts slow. The best and worst time of the author's life. A book about just, well, living.

Here's a short list of words I learned from it:

  • ebullience
  • affability
  • eremitic
  • desiccating
  • ergodicity
  • benthic
  • gambol
  • vetiginous
  • tutelary


A Good Snowman is Hard to Build

A cute little game. Reminds me of something else I can't quite put my finger on. It gets really interesting after you build all the initial snowman and enter the bonus content. The bonus stage crashed fairly consistently on my mac, but progress seems to save constantly, so still playable.

Dota 2

The original MOBA, updated. The prize pools for some of the tournaments are getting a bit out of hand. Still love my Legion Commander. Such a dynamic hero. Huuuuge learning curve, potential to learn from every game, even after thousands played. The community can be highly toxic (read: angry young males behind a wall of annonymity), so just mute those people and play your own game.