This post is part of the series Books in Review 2017
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Today's books are mainly autobiographies, with one biography tossed in. I generally prefer autobiographies since they are direct from the source. While they lack the detachment and long view that a biography might possess, memoirs and personal accounts feel more visceral and real to me.
Zoë Quinn has been through a lot. As the genesis of the harassment campaign that became known as Gamergate, Quinn has the unenviable position of being the first to experience that particular group of hate, and the person who was used to launch a variety of alt-right (Nazi asshole) personalities into public consciousness.
Quinn is self deprecating, maintains a good sense of humor throughout the ordeal and book, and offers useful tips for those who are currently being harassed, as well as preemptive tips to avoid some of the fallout of holding opinions that Internet harassers disagree with.
Of course Rainn Wilson first popped onto my radar with The Office, but I later followed him to his web company, Soul Pancake, where I watched a bunch of their Youtube videos. I was a bit surprised that the the serious Dwight and the unhinged vigilante from 'Super' was a generous and sensitive person.
Wilson's memoir is that of a boy living around the globe in a variety of strange circumstances, growing up without realizing that acting was his passion until he dove headlong into schooling and auditioning, finally landing his defining role. Throughtout he practices his Bahia faith and describes how he lives with the world around him.
I chose this book because it is in part a decision that I made and I want to see how and why someone else has done the same. Jessica Berger Gross has a different story than I do, and I'm sure everyone does, and she has made her decision as more of a necessity than I have.
One of the societal assumptions that I have been rebelling at over the last few years, and even moreso this past year thanks to the cultural shakeup that we've been having, is the need to do things because "that's just how they are". The problem with society though, is that it's social. I'm lucky to not have to explain my actions regularly, but it's a bit odd feeling that all of culture is against you.
I contribute a lot of this being one of my best years yet personally to my decision to eschew norms a bit and make my own decisions. It's not always the easiest, but I don't regret it.
Andy Borowitz is a funny writer, and he handles the recounting of a life-threatening medical condition with the same level of humor as his New Yorker writing. This was a short read, and wouldn't have been quite so funny had it not had a positive outcome, but I enjoyed it.
Victor Frankl's memoir of his time in concentration camps during WWII is brutally honest, yet meditative. He descsribes horrors as seen from the victims, while retaining humanity and a sense that there is purpose to everything even in his darkest hour.
This book is recommended reading for a reason. You can live through hell and come back stronger and with more focus on your life. Additionally, you can have an account from someone about an atrocity that most certainly took place, while people who want to do it again deny its very existence.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had a notable career, and is particularly outspoken and thought provoking in her words and writing. Ginsburg fully leans into the popular culture representation of a badass who doesn't take lip lying down. At the same time she professes undying love and devotion to her husband, showing that feminism doesn't equate to man-hate, but equity for all people.
While 'The Imitation Game' had historical inaccuracies, what biopic doesn't? Alan Turing was the father of modern computing, and a martyr that serves as a reminder that we often try to drag our brightest minds down when we don't recognize that what makes them different is what makes them important.
This short recounting of Turing's life and professional work is a good overview of how he and a team helped crack the German Enigma code, while not giving him all of the credit like some other portrayals inaccurately do. He thought in terms far beyond what most people were doing at the time, considering computing as a platform for the future, not just the problem at hand.
I used my Amazon affiliate account to link to these books. If you want to buy any of them, I wouldn't mind if you gave me a click!
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Books in Review, 2017 – Technology