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Booknotes 2.5


  • The Invisible Kingdom, by Meghan O’Rourke. An important book about chronic illness. It’s so, so frustrating what these people have to go through — and not only the chronic illness itself but also the poor treatment from doctors who tell them it’s all in their head. (I have a friend with Lyme disease and a lot of this book sounded like it lined up with what I know of her experiences.)
  • Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson. Whew. Another important book that was painful and maddening. So many monstrosities. Ugh. I hadn’t heard about lynching postcards before, or the bridle reins made from the flesh of Native Americans, or how much those early Americans hated Italians, or most of the stories about how people tortured and killed African-American slaves. The comparison between Nazi Germany and American slavery was on point and really hit home for me — especially that the Nazis thought America was too harsh in some cases. Sheesh. The comparison to Dalits was also illustrative. I hate caste systems. Humanity’s capacity for horrific violence is awful. On a mostly happier note, I didn’t know that the idea of inoculation came from West Africa! That was great.
  • Shareware Heroes, by Richard Moss. I read this for the nostalgia, as a kid who grew up playing lots of MS-DOS shareware games in the ’90s. Fun to read more about Kingdom of Kroz, Hugo’s House of Horrors, Commander Keen, Scorched Earth, ZZT, Capture the Flag, Jill of the Jungle, One Must Fall, Descent, Terminal Velocity, and Wacky Wheels, among others. (My 2011 post about DOS games links to some of these.)


  • The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson. It was interesting, though I think I maybe didn’t like it as much as the other Stephenson novels I’ve read. Still enjoyed the voice, though. A few icky bits. The parts about Turing machines were fun. Also, there are violently murdered Mormon missionaries. (Which was not fun, to be clear. Thankfully the murders happen off-page.)
  • Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Really liked it, especially the religious aspects (which I can’t really talk about since it would be fairly spoilery, so let me just say that some parts resonated, and if you’ve read it then email me and we can talk about it). Also picked up the word slugabed, which was fun. Bujold continues to be one of my favorite authors.