Content roundup (Feb + Mar + Apr 2021)

Books:

  1. If Beale Street could talk – Love, loss and hard-hitting everyday reality of what it means to be black in America. I’ve read many books centred on this theme of late – what stood out here was the simple, raw and matter-of-fact reality of the average black person’s life. The simplicity of the everyday narrative is heart-breaking. I personally wanted a longer book and more closure in the end, but that’s the thing – many black lives are hanging in the middle, without closure – so in some ways, it felt apt. – 4/5
  2. Where the Crawdads sing – Such a wildly different book. I lapped it up. This book is about family, love, loneliness, and the price we pay to not be lonely. It is also a book about the wild beauty of nature – the part of nature most of us don’t consider beautiful. The writing is so vivid that I could visualize every word. The protagonist is flawed, and that’s what makes the book magnificent – 4/5
  3. The Little Prince – This is a classic but I personally did not relate to it or like it as much. Overall the characters and the plot were not real enough for me to be invested and internalize the philosophical takeaways 3/5
  4. The Great Alone – This book was such a rollercoaster of emotions – love, solitude, family, domestic violence, and the choices we make that define our lives. I held on to every word and every page. Kristin Hannah’s Nightingale is an all-time favorite and this came close. The portrayal of ‘real’ Alaska is so real, raw, untamed, wild that I spent hours reading about Alaska when this book got over. If you ever want a wholesome read that makes you feel many things, this book is it – 4.5/5
  5. The Three Body Problem – Much has been said about this book. It was my first real foray into sci-fi. While the initial half of the book is somewhat slow and difficult to get through, the overall plot and actual hard science fiction makes up for it. There are so many good scientific concepts explored for the uninitiated, and it does a good job of setting up the plot for the next two books in the series. Overall a little more flow and a little less ‘bunch of independent narratives’ would’ve made it more wholesome, but it’s definitely worth reading, for what follows – 3.5/5
  6. The Dark Forest – Second book in the Three Body Problem series. I could NOT put down this book. The characters, the plot, the science, the fiction, the overarching understanding of the universe – I think this book has it all. The protagonist’s view on a life partner is as old school as it can get, but it’s a minor blip in the overall scheme of things. I was awed and amazed at the scientific concepts throughout and I definitely learnt more through than all the Physics in school – A solid 5/5
  7. Death’s end – Third and final book in the Three Body Problem series. This book made me really think about our universe, space and the Earth in a different light. The scientific concepts were again enthralling and mind-opening, while being largely grounded in the laws of physics. Seeing game theory play out at the scale of the universe was also crazy. Although the book didn’t imply this, I appreciated how truly, truly rare life is and how fortunate we are to have a planet like Earth – 4.5/5
  8. Animal Farm – Another classic. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Everyone should read this book once in their lifetimes – the journey from being ‘equal’ animals to ‘more equal than others’ animals is intriguing and funny at the same time, and the parallels with our world’s authoritarian regimes today, are uncanny. 4/5

Articles:

  1. Nobody is perfect, Everything is commensurable – Slate Star Codex – protests, civil activism and other ways to spur change may be overrated; giving even $100 can save many more lives than we can imagine
  2. Contra grant on exaggerated differences – Slate Star Codex – the best piece I’ve read on the gender gap in tech. Despite being a feminist, this article really changed the narrative for me
  3. Why is everything liberal – Richard Hanania – super interesting perspective on why, even though Democrat and Republicans see nearly equal voter support, most of America’s institutions lean liberal
  4. Organized lightning – Greg Isenberg + Mario Gabriele
  5. Moore’s law for everything – Sam Altman
  6. Book review of Why we’re polarized (Ezra Klein) – Slate Star Codex
  7. How Twitter got its groove back – Not Boring by Packy
  8. Why Gamestop didn’t sell any stock during the Twitter rally – Matt Levine
  9. Is Substack the media future we want? – New Yorker

Movies / shows (notable):

  1. The Spy – 4.5/5
  2. Dead Poets Society – 5/5
  3. My Octopus teacher – 3.5/5

Podcasts:

  1. The simple economics of saving the Amazon rain forest – Freakonomics Radio – 5/5
  2. The $69 million JPEG – NPR Planet Money – 5/5
  3. A primer on NFTs with Jesse Walden – Invest like the best – 4.5/5
  4. Puzzle Rush – Revisionist History – 4/5
  5. The Basement Tapes – Revisionist History – 3.5/5
  6. Modern Monetary Theory – NPR Planet Money – 3.5/5

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