King Solomon’s Mines Book Review

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Don Maitz cover for King Solomon’s Mines

I can see why this book isn’t on the good side of so many people. In order to enjoy any work of classic fiction, one should put aside his views, do without his moral compass and see the work as a product of its time.

The book is a narration of Allan Quatermain’s adventures with his companions Sir Henry, Mr. Good and the mysterious Umboba into the Kukuanaland. I’m not really a fan of revealing too much about a story so explore their adventures for yourself if you are prepared to take my warning from the first paragraph.

Sure, there is a lot of racism and animal slaughter in these pages. The characters have grayish personalities with some qualities and some flaws that would give anyone feelings of revulsion. The narrator of the story, Allan Quatermain, refers to himself as a coward and unable warrior in some instances and that appealed to me because I had up to my head with all those flawless characters littering fiction. He then points to how the savagery of native Africans resembles that of Europeans that made me think that this book is far from advocating imperialist and colonial agendas:

“Cruel Africans are compared to cruel Europeans”

and in another instance, he compares a certain African cruel king to a despicable character from Charles Dickens‘s A Tale of Two Cities:

“One,’ counted Twala the king, just like a black Madame DeFarge”

Although, the book isn’t without its flaws and the events when the characters senselessly murdered animals didn’t please me in the least bit.
But, on the whole, the book was enjoyable. It had that sense of adventure that fills you with awe and makes you clench your teeth and flip the pages rapidly to see what happens next.

Ready Player One Book Review

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“People who live in glass houses should shut the fuck up.”
Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

Oh, my.Oh, my. Oh, my!

I stumbled across a youtube video where a guy shared his 10 favorite books. It was suggested by youtube and it attracted my curiosity. I clicked the thumbnail and went through it. I was impressed, the guy’s taste matched mine to the book. But, I didn’t recognize one title: Ready, Player, One. The title appealed to me. It was catchy and the cover was all the more attractive. Stacks of cars and trailers with a figure climbing them. I had to read it!

I downloaded the audiobook since I heard it was narrated by Will Wheaton (the man is an icon in the geek/nerd universe), I listened and didn’t regret it in the least.

The book is a science-fiction adult novel set in the year 2044. The majority of the world seemed connected to the Oasis. A massive virtual game world where you could go anywhere, be anyone and do anything. Even attending school! The possibilities were endless. No wonder it was the most talked about subject on the planet.
The Oasis earned a worldwide fame when the creator of the game, a man called Halliday, a filthy rich man, decreed in his will that whoever finds the easter egg he hid in the world will win all his fortune.

It wasn’t an easy feat to do. Thousands upon thousands of people tried for years to find any hint of a clue but they kept failing until Wade, our protagonist, found the first clue (Or key). A throughout knowledge of the 80s was crucial in order to succeed. (I think I’ll stop here and let you discover the story for yourself because I think I can’t go any further without creating a minefield of spoilers).

What attracted me the most to the book was the diversity in it. There is everything from magic to giant robots to samurais and an evil corporation ran by the likes of Men in Black. References to 80s pop culture littered the pages. I jumped and tossed whenever I came across something I recognized. So many A-ha moments that I burned through the whole 16 hours audiobook in less than 4 days. I even listened to it late at night even though I had a job interview first thing in the next morning but it was worth it (And if you’d like to know, I got the job too).

All in all, the book was amazing. Better than I expected it to be. If you’re of the nerd persuasion, this book is definitely going to be a blast. If you’re not, give it a go anyways, you might love it nonetheless. 5/5.

Making The Most Out of Reading

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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

When I first starting absorbing books. I found it hard to keep what I learned lodged in my brain. I kept forgetting the stuff I learned just yesterday or a few hours earlier. I used to read an article and find myself having vague recollections of coming across all of this before, a deja-vu of some sort, and then it turns out that I did actually read that piece of information already only to forget it.

Thankfully, I started adopting some techniques that helped me with the learning process. Most of them I acquired from attending Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects, an incredible course by Dr.Barbara Oakley and the author of A Mind For Numbers, the excellent book that examines the same ideas.

So, if you want to make the most out of what you read, here are some techniques that worked wonders for me:

  1. Understand what you’re reading: It is by far the most important aspect of reading. You should never persist and go on reading without understanding the concepts that you previously absorbed. Use google or ask someone to explain them to you. More likely than not, the author of a book is going to build up on those ideas and the further you read the more difficult your understanding will be.
  2. Read slowly: When it comes to non-fiction, you should never overload your brain. Take it slow, read a chapter or two each day.
  3. Further investigations: When you find something interesting or you think it might be of use to you one day, try to go beyond what you read and make your own research on the matter.
  4. Take notes: Just the main ideas. Jot them down. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
  5. Recall what you read when you’re not actually reading: Take a walk, lay back on your bed without doing anything or listen to some calm music and try to remember the main ideas that you learned from the book or article or whatever. You don’t have to memorize everything to the letter. Just the main ideas.
  6. Explain or discuss what you read: This one is my absolute favorite. After I learned something new, I invite one of my friends for coffee or just chat with them online and tell them about what I learned. I’d explain the ideas to them and then consider their points of view on the matter in case they had one.

If you have any other approaches that I missed, then please, share them in the comments.

Cheers!