Don Hosek - Recent reading

I tend to be a voracious reader, and I read widely. This list has its origins in an old signature file which I would update periodically with the current book that I was reading. That gradually transmogrified itself into the current massive archive with brief reviews.

What I've been reading lately
Number of books read and reviewed each year
1995* (28)
1996 (47)
1997 (74)
1998 (61)
1999 (62)
2000 (27)
2001 (51)
2002 (60)
2003 (37)
2004 (36)
2005 (32)
2006 (46)
2007 (109)
2008 (78)
2009 (65)
2010 (68)
2011 (98)
2012 (129)
2013 (114)
2014 (101)
2015 (88)
2016 (82)
2017 (76)
2018 (67)
2019 (95)
2020 (90)
2021 (54)
* Partial year
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
[Finished 27 July 2021] This is good. Really really good. I have a lot of thoughts about it and I think it’s worth writing an actual essay.

Catch the Rabbit by Lana Bastašić
[Finished 21 July 2021] I feel like the novel somewhat loses its way and there’s a part of me that was distracted by Bastašić’s biography. For someone to describe themselves as “Yugoslav-born” is usually a kind of code language for Serb who resents the breakup of Yugoslavia (as a half-Slovene, I have a bit of a radar about this sort of thing. I can still remember noticing the abrupt switch in my Grandmother’s language about her nationality in 1991). While it is technically true that she was born in Yugoslavia, having been born in 1986, it’s hard to imagine most non-Serbs wanting to identify as Yugoslav post-1991, especially with the especially bloody final stages of the civil war. This ambiguity carries over into the story itself. There’s an unspoken mystery surrounding the ethnicities of some of the characters in the story as well. But overall, it’s a well-drawn story and compelling narrative and it’s all too rare that stories from the Balkans make it into American consciousness.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by don Miguel Ruiz
[Finished 18 July 2021] Well, first off, I’m not really buying the whole “ancient Toltec wisdom” thing. But even so, I think that Ruiz has some good ideas for how to approach life and there is a lot to commend this thin little book.

The Rust Programming Language by Steve Klabnik and Carol Nichols
[Finished 14 July 2021] The “official” Rust book (and available for free and included with a normal Rust installation), I got the paper copy from the library because I still prefer paper books as much as possible. It provides a good overview of most of the language. My biggest complaint would be that it ignores the wealth of third-party crates that are available for simplifying many common tasks (like error handling or command-line parsing), but other than that, I can strongly recommend this as a good first Rust book, to be supplemented with the O’Reilly book.

Beginning Rust: From Novice to Professional by Carlo Milanesi
[Finished 11 July 2021] An actively bad book. I shouldn’t be surprised. I have never seen a good book from APress. The material is badly organized and often spends inordinate amounts of time on esoteric information that would only serve to baffle the “Novice” reader that this book purports to be aimed towards. It’s not even that good for propping up a monitor because it’s kind of thin.

Programming Rust: Fast, Safe Systems Development by Jim Blandy and Jason Orendorff
[Finished 6 July 2021] Despite being a bit old and in places outdated, this is an excellent comprehensive coverage of Rust development. I found the emphasis on systems development early in the book a bit offputting, perhaps because what Blandy and Orendorff call systems programming I’ve always just thought of as programming (I cut my teeth in the era when “real” programs were written in a compiled language—most often C/C++ or Pascal, occasionally more exotic choices like PL/I, Ada or Modula-2—while interpreted languages were reserved for more mundane tasks like scripting), but the level of detail is fantastic. I’ve since learned that a new edition of the book has been published and it should definitely be on any Rust developer’s bookshelf.

From That Place and Time: A Memoir, 1938–1947 by Lucy S. Dawidowicz
[Finished 6 July 2021] While I’m close to the end of the “first” draft of my novel, I continue to do a lot of research reading. This was an excellent book for getting background on both the conditions of Jewish life before World War II and also the situation in the years that followed, although the latter was perhaps a bit thinner than I would have liked.

Operation Exodus: From the Nazi Death Camps to the Promised Land: A Perilous Journey That Shaped Israel's Fate by Gordon Thomas
[Finished 4 July 2021] One of many books that I’ve read on the Exodus 1947 while I work on the antepenultimate chapter of my novel. Thomas’s story is a good instance of narrative non-fiction and he does his best to present his version of the story with the pacing and intensity of a novel. There were a lot of good details that I have been able to put to use from this. Interestingly, there were also a fair number of places where Thomas’s account and the other accounts I’ve read contradict each other.

Century of the Wind by Eduardo Galeano
[Finished 3 July 2021] See my review at dahosek.com

Faces and Masks by Eduardo Galeano
[Finished 24 June 2021] See my review at dahosek.com