Happy Tuesday folks! In my last post, I talked about my favorite movies (check it out if you haven’t seen it) and this one is for you bookworms who just want to curl up and read after a long day at work.
The Bug is set at the dawn of the personal-computer era in the 1980s. Novice software tester Roberta Walton stumbles across a bug and raises her concern to longtime programmer Ethan Levin, who inadvertently created “The Jester”. The bug gained its nickname for its tendency to appear randomly at critical moments, jeopardizing the fate of the company.
Walton and Levin team up to hunt down the elusive bug but the challenge affects both characters differently. Levin’s desire to fix his mistake soon becomes an uncontrollable obsession, threatening to destroy his professional and personal life. Walton, on the other hand, benefits from the existence of the bug. She not only challenges herself to learn to program but also escapes her private troubles by putting all her energy into the learning process.
Although I have no knowledge in programming, Ullman has made The Bug an easy read. It was eye opening to get a glimpse into the programming world and the challenges programmers face at work. Other ideas explored in the book include the boundary between work and personal life, isolation and the relationship between humans and computers. Some parts of the book made me feel uneasy (you’ll know why when you read it) but if you’re curious about the world of programming and the complexities of the human psyche, this one’s for you.
Ellen Ullman is an American computer programmer and author. She owned a consulting firm and worked as technology commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered. Her work analyzes the human side of the world of computer programming.
I usually treat myself to a pile of books when a bookstore is having a sale. I picked this one up about 2 years ago (I got The Bug at the same time as well) while I was in my final year of university.
Buying books is not an easy feat. Because I don’t read a lot, I have no clue as to which authors produce the best work. So I end up reading the short description behind random books, hoping to stumble across something that interests me (I could easily spend 2 hours in a bookstore!). There were two things that prompted me to purchase House of Stone: the memoir was written by an established journalist and the fact that it’s set in the Middle East.
I’ve always wanted to learn more about the culture in the Middle East and Shadid did a great job in portraying that as well as the agonies and hopes of the Middle East. In 2006, Shadid was sent to Lebanon to report on the Israeli invasion and he discovered his great grandfather’s once magnificent property in ruins. A year later, Shadid returned to Marjayoun (where the house is) and began his mission to restore the house. The renovation not only signifies the attempt to restore what was once great but most importantly it also preserves his family’s identity in the land they call Home.
The author takes you through his experience collaborating with the locals and tells a rich story of how his family came to settle in America. House of Stone has informed and changed my perception on the Middle East. It’s personal, engaging and emotional. I highly recommend this one!
Shadid was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times based in Baghdad and Beirut. From 2003 to 2009 Shadid was a staff writer for The Washington Post acting as the Islamic affairs correspondent in the Middle East. He won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting twice for his coverage on the Iraq War. At just 43, Shadid suffered an acute asthma attack and passed away while attempting to leave Syria in 2012.
If you look at the cover, can you tell what this book is about? You guessed it – technology! My desire to read technology related books started when I finished G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen. This was actually a prescribed book for my Popular Fiction class and I’m glad that I was introduced to range of great writers while I was a literature student.
Alif the Unseen is set in an unnamed Middle Eastern security state where a 23 year old Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance. Alif’s relationship with an aristocratic woman named Intisar ends abruptly when her father arranges a marriage for her with a man of her class. It turns out that Intisar’s fiancé is the state’s leading censor, also known as ‘the Hand’. One day, Alif’s computer is breached by the state’s electronic security force and they come after him with guns drawn, forcing him to go underground. As their final communication, Intisar sends Alif a mysterious book titled The Thousand and One Days which he soon realizes is a dangerous source of old world magic. As the keeper of the secret book, Alif is about to become a wanted fugitive from the corporeal and the celestial worlds…
I have to admit it was impossible to put down Alif the Unseen. Although reading one book per week is usually impossible for me (yes, we Lit students are hard core), I had no problem with this one. The story is action packed, filled with suspense and you’ll encounter themes related to spirituality, democracy as well as love and betrayal.
Gwendolyn Willow Wilson is an American comics writer, prose author, essayist and journalist (wow!). After converting to Islam while attending Boston University, Wilson moved to Cairo and made her contributions to the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine and the National Post. Wilson’s writing career began from her work as a freelance music critic for DigBoston. In 2014, Marvel debuted a new Ms. Marvel series written by Wilson. Her debut novel Alif the Unseen won the 2013 World Fantasy Award for best novel.
I was introduced to The Great Gatsby while I was pursuing an International Baccalaureate degree back in 2010. At first it was hard for me to digest as I wasn’t used to reading classics. But after going through it twice and discussing it in class, I begin to appreciate Fitzgerald’s work.
I recommend that you watch and read The Great Gatsby. You’ll get the full picture of what is it like to live in America during the 1920s and Fitzgerald’s (or Nick’s? This point was debated in my but I’ll let you decide) views on society and the country’s values. My favorite symbol is the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. When I first read the book, I didn’t think twice about them but it has an interesting meaning attached to them. I’ll leave you with a quote from the book and you decide if you want to pick this one up or not:
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And then one fine morning – So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American novelist and short story writer whose work mostly illustrates the Jazz Age. Fitzgerald wrote four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night but the last one didn’t receive the attention he hoped for. Although he wasn’t as successful as other writers in his time, he is known to be one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald’s health wasn’t the greatest in the late 1930s. He was a heavy drinker and he died of a heart attack at the age of 44. His fifth novel The Last Tycoon was only half written but it was prepared by his friend Edmund Wilson and published after his death.
Of course I have to include this one in this post. I was telling my friends on Instagram how good the book was and that they should have a read if they want to understand the introverts around them, and rightly so.
In my opinion, Quiet is well researched, engaging and passionate. Cain’s discussions are adequately supported by research and she includes materials that invite the readers to participate in her discussion. The book is broken up into four major chapters starting with the discussion on the extrovert ideal, followed by the idea of nature vs. nurture, cultural influences and finally finishing up with tips on how to love and work with introverts. Although the book is filled with research, Cain managed to make it interesting and easily digestible. What I like most about this book is the stories Cain collected from real introverts. Ranging in age and profession, they all provide valuable insights on how they try to “fit in”, adapt and strive in an extroverted world. Cain passionately argues that by undervaluing introverts, society fails to benefit from at least one-third of the population.
There is so much I could relate to in this book. I even shed a tear or two when I thought about my “ugly” days in school and “embarrassing” incidents during social events. After reading Quiet, I realized how far I’ve come and how my constant struggle to break free from my fears has shaped who I am today. Quiet may have opened up the eyes of the extroverts, but I fear that change is happening too slowly…
Susan Horowitz Cain is an American writer who co-founded Quiet Revolution in 2015. The company’s mission is “to unlock the power of introverts for the benefit of us all”. Following Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Cain wrote Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts in 2016 to educate teachers and parents on introverted children and teens. Cain initially had a career in corporate law and consulting but she decided to leave that behind for writing so that she could work from home and spend time with her family.
And there you have it! I hope I managed to pique your interest with these selections. Until then, take care and have a great week ahead!