Reading and Listening in 2021
I read 12 books last year. Three were read on my Kobo e-reader and the rest were deadtree format. Six of them were fiction. Six were non-fiction. Nightly reading with the girls continues. I’m mising my weekday 1.5 hours bus commute reading sessions. It’s just too easy to fall asleep with a book across your face. :)
Fiction in 2021
- What’s Bred in the Bone - Robertson Davies - The nature and nuture of people and place.
- Secret Commonwealth - The Book of Dust Vol 2 - Philip Pullman - When you stop believing in magic.
- Red Seas Under Red Skies - Scott Lynch - The bastards take to the sea.
- Darker Shade of Magic - V. E. Schwab - Red London, Grey London, White London, Black London.
- Leviathan Wakes - The Expanse Book 1 - James S. A. Corey - Not quite warp speed and first contact.
- A Gathering of Shadows - V. E. Schwab - Red London and pirates.
Non-Fiction in 2021
- Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari - Of human cooperation by way of imagination.
- Reinventing Comics - Scott McCloud - Towards an infinite canvas.
- Math Art: Truth, Beauty, and Equations - Stephen Ornes - The aesthetics of equations.
- Procedural Generation in Game Design - Edited by Tanya X. Short & Tarn Adams - Algorithmic media synthesis.
- The Book : On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are - Alan Watts - Other people teach us who we are.
- Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life - Dr Stuart Shanker - Don’t forget the body while calming the mind.
Top Three Books of 2021
What’s Bred in the Bone - Robertson Davies
“A happy childhood has spoiled many a promising life.”
This was my only re-read of 2021. I think this is my favourite Davies novel, but I tend to think that after reading any of his books. It’s part two of his Cornish Trilogy, and shares some characters and settings from his Deptford Trilogy. Who was Franis Cornish? I’m a sucker for coming-of-age stories, but mix in art, philosophy, religion, spies!, forgery, provincial Canadiana, angles and daimons, and you know I’ll be hooked throughout.
“The art of the quoter is to know when to stop.”
Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”
Although I disagreed with some of the book’s claims, they are presented with such conviction that I just went along for the ride; it’s a good ride if slightly depressing. Harari’s history of humanity begins with the evolution of imagination and concludes with an exploration of human happiness. A 100,000 year story of how we (homo sapiens) outlived five other human species and (for better or worse) came to dominate the world.
“Biology enables, Culture forbids.”
Math Art: Truth, Beauty, and Equations by Stephen Ornes
A coffee table art book with artist interviews and high-level explorations of aesthetically pleasing mathematical concepts. Goes beyond the usual math art of Escher and Fractals, although both are mentioned. If you’re intrigued, the book is available from the Winnipeg Public Library.
Instead of a quote I’ve included photo from the book at the bottom of this post.
Family Books in 2021
Public libraries were open throughout 2021 so took full advantage.
Lumberjanes Graphic Novels - Volumes 1 through 13 - The girls absolutely love the adventures at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types.
One top of those we read 73 story books and books 6 through 11 of Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows.
Podcasts in 2021
Due to my backed up queue of podcasts I only added two showa to my Pocket Cast list, Eric Normand’s Thoughts on Functional Programming and Conversations with Tyler. I also managed to pare down my show count from 28 to 23.
Podcasts where I continue to listen to every episode:
CBC Spark, CppCast, CppChat, Game Dev Advice, Gameplay, Hanselminutes, Invisibilia, Lex Fridman, Long Now Seminars, Nice Games Club, Overdue, Philosophy Bites, Reply All, Song Exploder, The Bike Shed, The Tim Ferriss Show, This American Life
CBC Front Burner, CBC Ideas, Philosophize This!, Syntax
Favourite Podcasts of 2021
Some of my favourite episodes from the past year, listed alphabetically by show:
- CBC Ideas - Entre Chien et Loup: How Dogs Began, Flow, No Feeling is Final: The Wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke
- Conversations with Tyler - Audrey Tang on the Technology of Democracy and Amia Srinivasan on Utopian Feminism
- Eric Normand - Computer Programming as Art
- Gameplay - Honk! The Sound Design of Untitled Goose Game
- Lex Fridman - Andrew Huberman: Sleep, Dreams, Creativity & The Limits of the Human Mind and Neal Stephenson: Sci-Fi, Space, Aliens, AI, VR & the Future of Humanity
- Philosophy Bites - Suki Finn on the Metaphysics of Nothing
- Song Exploder - Danny Elfamn - What’s This from The Nightmare Before Christmas
- This American Life - The Weight of Words and Act V
- Tim Ferris - Jessica Lahey on Parenting, Desirable Difficulties, The Gift of Failure, Self-Efficacy, and The Addiction Inoculation and Giuliana Furci on the Wonders of Mycology, Wisdom from Jane Goodall, Favorite Books, and the World’s Largest Fungarium