Ben Crowder / Blog Menu

Grief hit a little bit harder the past few weeks and made reading more difficult.

Recent nonfiction reads

  • The Anna Karenina Fix, by Viv Groskop. A short, enjoyable survey of Russian lit. The part that stuck with me most: “[Ann Patchett] describes reading Anna Karenina at the age of twenty-one and believing that Anna and Vronsky were the most charming, romantic people in the world and that Kitty and Levin the most boring, pathetic people in the world. She writes, ‘Last year I turned 49, and I read the book again. This time, I loved Levin and Kitty… Anna and Vronsky bored me.’ As we get older, she concludes, ‘we gravitate towards the quieter, kinder plotlines, and find them to be richer than we had originally understood them to be’.” I feel like I’m getting to that point, where I’m more interested in quieter, kinder plotlines.
  • Out of the Software Crisis, by Baldur Bjarnason. A bit more prescriptive than I was in the mood for. I also haven’t run into a lot of the programming culture he describes. That said, I did find a couple of the ideas interesting: first, programming as a branch of design rather than engineering — more like filmmaking than bridge building. I’m still thinking on this and haven’t yet decided whether I agree. Second, programming as pop culture, with a neverending stream of faddish new technologies. This one resonates with me. It’s exhausting. The older I get, the better “use boring technology” sounds.

Recent fiction reads

  • Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. Some parts have not aged well at all, and there are definitely some cringey bits, but ignoring all that, overall I liked it. (This in spite of cyberpunk not being an aesthetic I really care for.) Interesting ideas, and the linguistic angle appealed to me.
  • The Golden Enclaves, by Naomi Novik, third book in the Scholomance trilogy. Not as good for me as the first two — in fact, I almost gave up a third of the way in, and then again two-thirds in. I struggled with the voice, which surprisingly started grating on me for some reason. But I still liked some of the reveals later in the book.