30 December 2015

Stuff I've Been Consuming: Part I, Books

Earlier this year Susie (Boygirlparty) introduced me to Spritz, which is a speed reading app. I didn’t end up using it much but did take a series of speed reading tests. Surprisingly, I found that I read with more comprehension than I assumed, and at a pretty fast clip. I’ve been accused of skimming too much and I thought that was becoming a problem. I always knew I was a fast reader but now it’s mathematically true! The average reading speed is 300 wpm and I think mine was around 500, which is roughly the average college students i think. Still, despite all this, it was as dark dark year for books.

My big comeback to reading was derailed by, well, I don't know. I guess it's time to face facts: I am no longer a reader. After successive years of not getting to fifty books a year, I thought I could find the motivation to get my numbers back up. Instead, I went from twenty-six books read two years ago, to twenty-two last year, to a whopping eleven in 2015. That's a downward trend if I ever saw one.

I mean, technically I will "finish" fiftyfifty this year, but mainly because I teamed up with my cousin Cleo, who finished with a tremendous 100+ books read — which will combine nicely with my movies watched for this year’s version of fiftyfifty.me, +BUDDIES. But I'm not trying to win this challenge through a technicality. Three times a failure equals out of the club! Luckily, fiftyfifty has a "no kicking people" out policy so I can still stick around for another go.

Anyway, with barely double digit numbers of books read this year, I can reel off the recommendations pretty quickly. Here they are: We Were Liars by E.Lockhart and You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman. Those were my two five star books for the year. Basically all of E.Lockhart's books are great and I've already talked about how much I like Kleeman's writing, and her debut novel was as brilliant as I knew it would be.

Somehow I've met more male readers in my short time in Taiwan than I have in many years back home. The bartender at Taipei's R&D Lounge is a voracious reader and he told me to get behind The Forever War. Joe Haldeman's a huge name and influence in "hard sci-fi" and after reading Forever War I can see why. I've been reading derivatives of Forever War for years and just never knew it. Also, if you were like me and didn’t know, hard science fiction is "characterized by an emphasis on scientific accuracy or technical detail or both."

Also, a brief take on Crazy Rich Asians, the book that took the U.S. by storm last summer -- where I wasn't residing and thus I had no idea what it was. "I hate Kevin Kwan." There, I said it. It's sheer professional jealousy but still, I hate him. It's all the salacious things that I would put in a book but didn't think about doing. So yeah, anyway, Mr. Kwan, congratulations on getting everyone addicted to your book (and its sequel). And I hate you, in the most admirable way possible.

So that's my pathetic tale of books read in 2015. Most of all I need to read the Ferrante's Neapolitan series next because I feel like they could set my life on fire and get me hooked on something.