Books in 2019

Dave Asprey — Head Strong
I read the book since I felt that I was entering a competitive job and I felt that I could improve in some ways. For example, I felt that my ability to concentrate or my working memory could be improved. The book is on different facets bio-hacking and extremely extensive. I see some of the things he describes really critical and not sufficiently evidenced yet, other stuff I think makes a lot of sense. I would say that after I had read the book I was like “Hmm, not sure what to make of it”, but looking back it was surely the book which had the most impact on me in 2019 and a lot of the stuff I did directly or indirectly goes back to it.

Some examples:

Going outside into the sun for at least 30 minutes a day. This might seem really obvious, but when working a lot I had quite some days were the only time I spent outside where the couple minutes from the subway to the office or from the flat to the gym. After I read the book I deliberately went outside into the sun, into a park, each day for at least 30 minutes. I feel that this had a very positive impact on me.

Don’t make a lot of small decisions first thing in the morning. This will lead to “death by a thousand cuts”, they all cost a small amount of cognitive energy.

Nutrition, nootropics. I started looking into how to improve the stuff I put into my body in terms of being beneficial for my mind.

Sport. There are many empirical studies demonstrating that sport is beneficial for your ability to focus, remember stuff, etc.. Also increased levels of energy, health benefits, reduced stress, etc.. The list goes on and on.

No digital devices one hour before sleep.

Sylvia Plath — The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath is one of the authors who was influential for the feminist movement in the 60s/70s. I read this book since somebody I got to know in Berlin was a big fan of the author. The book seems to be kinda famous in the US and there are also many pop culture references to it, I was totally unaware of it though.

I really liked the book, it’s catching and an interesting insight into life of a young woman in the 60s.

Friedrich Schiller — Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre
Wow. It’s more of a short story than a book really (something like 40 pages). And it’s a story which catched me right after the first few sentences. It’s written so darn well that it’s hard to believe he wrote this in 1786 [sic!]. I think if this story would be handed in to a modern writing competition it would still easily strike the first place.

Regine Rompa — Unser Hof in der Bretagne
The author did what I kinda dream of: buying an estate in a very secluded area, growing ones own food and just living in nature. The author lived in Berlin for a couple years after moving here from South Germany.

There are many parallels to my own life/worldviews and I see myself in a similar state of life in a few years. The book had a lasting effect on me and I think about it quite often. Something that was a bit of a rough idea at the beginning of the year has formed into something more concrete now. I think this will be a book that will have had a deep impact on my life in a few years time.

Sam Harris — Lying
This book (it’s more of an essay and you can read it easily in an afternoon) examines only one topic: Lying. Harris makes the case that it’s basically never beneficial for anyone to lie, but it’s still very common to lie. There is a statistic in the book that we lie multiple times a day — be it “white lies” (lies with the intent of doing someone a favor, e.g. “yeah sure, the haircut looks great”) or small lies (like thinking of an excuse of why we can’t make it to a meeting, though we just don’t feel like going there).

I really liked the book and thought a lot about it in the coming days. It definitely rang a bell with me and I discussed a lot with Valerie about it.

It’s one of those books where I already know that I’ll recommend it often in the future.

Do you dream of Terra 2?
Oh my. I found it via a recommendation on “The Verge” (a huge tech news site) and I ask myself if the person recommending it actually read the book. Probably not, I guess the big tech sites just have contracts with big publishers to recommend anything new which fits the profile.

So in principle it’s a good idea for a coming of age sci-fi story: a second earth “Terra 2” is discovered and everything points to it being habitable. The journey there takes multiple decades and it’s not possible to “deep-freeze” people for the way there. So a group of kids is trained to actually fly there for multiple decades, to be the first exploratory mission.

The problem just being that the author is really really religious and let’s this shine through everywhere: e.g. the authority figures regularly pray (even though they are supposed to be hardcore scientists), creationism being painted in a positive light, religious slang a la “inschallah” mentioned regularly. Overall I just finished it to have closure. Definitely the last “The Verge” recommendation I will have followed, I’m still angry at them for this.

Blake J. Harris — The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality
I follow the story of Palmer Luckey since a long time, but somehow it escaped me that there was actually a book published on his story. And not just by some random person, but rather an author who was close to him and did a lot of in-person interviews with him and colleagues. Apparently the book has gotten very little media exposure since most mainstream tech sites refrain from reviewing it. Supposedly because of their relationship with Facebook, since the company ‒ which bought Luckey’s company and then outed him — doesn’t get away too well in the book.

Yeah so the book was definitely interesting and gives a lot of detailed account on how Oculus came to be and how the whole “Facebook fired Palmer” story actually played out. A good read.

Dennis E. Taylor — Bobbiverse
Didn’t know about this sci-fi trilogy. The idea is quite intriguing, I don’t want to give away too much though. The topic is of digitalized consciousness and self-replicating machines. All in all I found it refreshing and there were a number of novel ideas I hadn’t heard before.

The thing is that it’s definitely noticeable that he isn’t an experienced writer and that the novel was self-published. For example, I dislike sentences like “the scene looked like a Star Wars space battle” or “the ship resembled the one from Prometheus”. I dislike this style of not describing something as he views it, but rather take the easy way out of saying “yeah just think of that one movie and yeah that’s how it’s here too”.

But still I devoured all three books in under three weeks :-). So it was definitely an interesting read, just don’t read anything on the books before starting reading.

Category: Life itself


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I am a 32 year old techno-creative enthusiast who lives and works in Berlin. In a previous life I studied computer science (more specifically Media Informatics) at the Ulm University in Germany.

I care about exploring ideas and developing new things. I like creating great stuff that I am passionate about.


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