The Three Star says:
Although I’m usually very picky when selecting reading material, last month’s collection of books sadly contained many 2.5- to 3-star reads.
How to do nothing (resist the attention economy), Jenny Odell. Given his title, this was definitely not what she expected. What she hoped would be a light, relaxing read turned out to be a well-researched call to action, even when that action is resistance. Odell’s central message here is to resist the draining and disconnecting influence of social media and technology and find alternative, more meaningful ways to interact with our surroundings.
In this respect, the book has definite merit. However, potential readers should note that “How To Do Nothing” focuses more on the fine print subheading than the big, bold words on the cover.
GPT Chat for Boomers, Colin Pickering. This is an easy to read introduction on how ChatGPT can be used in our daily life. Helping to keep it light and lively, the writing is laced with humor. However, the book contains many repetitions and many of the chapters present a brilliant partial view of ChatGPT.
If you use this AI system, it is imperative to understand that it cannot currently be used as an authoritative source of information. Although this AI technology is based on content from the Internet, it wasn’t until the last chapter that Pickering briefly discussed this fall of ChatGPT and how it can “reflect our majority view and amplify biases.”
However, if you’re curious about trying ChatGPT but aren’t sure where to start, Pickering’s guide offers practical tips that can be used as a springboard for ideas, among other helpful tips. I received an advanced reader’s copy from BookSirens. I have willingly and candidly written this review.
Off the road, Jack Hitt. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in this book and struggled to finish it. I’m sure the author is a great guy, but he often sounded unbearable in this account. Hitt frequently exhibited an arrogant and condescending attitude. I found his final comments on Shirley MaClain’s book, ‘The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit’, petty and unnecessary.
Ironically, McClain’s and Hitt’s Camino books currently have almost identical ratings on Goodreads. If you are looking for a book that provides genuine information on the Camino de Santiago, there are better options available.
The four stars:
Making up for previous readings, the next two novels earned a solid four stars from me. Still, due to the hype surrounding them, I expected more.
A Town Called Solace, Mary Lawson. Set in an isolated town in northern Canada, this novel presents a moving exploration of loneliness, loss, grief, hope, and healing through the perspectives of three intertwined characters. While this quiet, character-focused drama completely captivated my attention, various instances of redundant storytelling within the woven narratives and occasional pacing issues left me wanting.
Through the looking glass, Lewis Caroll. I heard this book on Audible, read by Harlan Ellison. It was an excellent reminder that Carroll’s imaginative settings, whimsical characters, and clever use of wordplay are meant to be read aloud and shared with others, young and old. As in Alice in Wonderland, Caroll’s linguistic prowess shone through in this nonsensical poetry, clever riddles, and entertaining logic brain teasers. Feel free to call me linear, but I found the absurdities a bit too much at times.
My five star read:
I’m going to confess up front that you could accuse me of being a bit biased with this one: it was co-authored by my son. I honestly really loved this book and learned a lot from it. I also loved that what I read offered a balanced point of view and a hopeful conclusion, despite the complexity of the subject.
Pandemic Urbanism: Infectious Diseases on a Planet of Cities, S. Harris Ali, Creighton Connolly, Roger Keil. ‘Pandemic urbanism’ refers to how pandemics affect and reshape cities and urban areas. Explore the social, economic, and spatial consequences of pandemics in urban settings. The book ‘Pandemic Urbanism’ navigates readers through the intricate relationship between urban development and public health. The authors emphasize the vulnerability of urban areas to infectious diseases, supported by case studies and empirical evidence from various global contexts. They effectively illustrate how the pandemic has exacerbated existing urban inequalities and revealed underlying structural weaknesses in our cities.
Ending on a note of optimism, Pandemic Urbanism offers an innovative framework for post-pandemic governance, inspiring new ideas to reshape urban environments in a more environmentally sustainable, socially just and democratically open way. I learned a lot from this engaging and thought-provoking book and recommend it to everyone interested in this subject. You can find it in paperback and Kindle format through the following links: Amazon and John Wiley (UK)
What has been on your shelf lately?
Let me know below in the comments. If you have a book post to share, you can include it here. While on the link, check out posts from co-hosts (Jo, Debutante, To sue) and other notable collaborators. You can always count on finding great book recommendations from other readers.
Before retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing, China for fourteen years (high school principal/Deputy Principal of Beijing Western Academy). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope you enjoy reading these reflections and that you are willing to share your own.
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