The Reality Dysfunction (Night’s Dawn, #1)

Peter F. Hamilton (1996)

Science fiction on a epic scale. You can hear the echoes of many modern writers in this work, perhaps most clearly William Gibson and Iain M. Banks, but it’s also positive and heroic in the way that Robert Heinlein and E.E.“Doc” Smith were: there’s no loss of confidence in the face of danger. A lot of the set pieces are wonderful, as are the descriptions of the technology and its implications. I’m looking forward to the other two books of the trilogy.

4/5. Finished Sunday 29 July, 2018.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Utopia For Realists

Bregman Rutger (2014)

A paean to what’s to come, to the need for radical changes in the economy and social norms in the face of a “utopia” of automation and globalisation. It’s a provocation of the first order, strongly in favour of universal basic income, strongly against nationalism and hard borders. As such it feels “utopian” in the classic sense of being an unrealisable dream – but a closely-argued dream that highlights desirable changes, and well aware of the irony that the world we live in, with health and wealth and many jobs being automated, is exactly the world that most of human history aspired to.

3/5. Finished Sunday 29 July, 2018.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)

Carol Tavris (2007)

A study of cognitive dissonance and the need for self-justification. The authors explore the ways in which people respond to the realisation that they’ve been wrong, and the likelihood that they’ll try to rationalise-away the resulting dissonance coming from having two contradictory thoughts in mind. The same phenomenon re-appears in many guises, from personal relationships to wrongful prosecutions and ill-starred wars. What was fascinating for me was the way in which the same mechanisms can protect a poor self-image as well as an inflated one; but also the observation that both self-deception and its alternatives in the form of self-scrutiny and making deliberate amends come with harsh psychological prices, contrary to what the modern self-help literature might suggest.

5/5. Finished Saturday 28 July, 2018.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

All the President’s Men

Carl Bernstein (1974)

A story of dedicated reporting in the face of both active and passive discouragement. This book is interesting because it, again, it written before the end of the story is known: before Nixon’s resignation and all the subsequent fallout.

Being written so in the moment, there’s an assumption that the reader lived through and followed the events being described: Woodward and Bernstein don’t seem to be writing for posterity. As such the book makes little sense unless the reader has at least a passing – and actually more than a passing – acquaintance with the events and characters. That can make it hard to keep up with.

4/5. Finished Monday 11 June, 2018.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

The House of Belonging

David Whyte (1996)

0/5. Finished Saturday 26 May, 2018.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)