Wool (Silo, No. 1) by Hugh Howey
WOOL is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the people who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

Author: Hugh Howey
Book published: 2012
Finished on: 09/08/2108
Rating: ★★★★☆

It took me a bit to get into this book, but once I did I found it becoming more and more engaging. An enjoyable read.

The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet No.1) by James Ellroy (James Ellroy)
In this fictionalized treatment of a real case, Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard, both L.A. cops obsessed with the Black Dahlia, journey through the seamy underside of Hollywood to the core of the dead girl’s twisted life.

Author: James Ellroy
Book published: 1987
Finished on: 2018/06/30
Rating: ★★★★☆

📚 Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy, #3)

Author: Pierce Brown
Published: 2016
Rating: ★★★★☆
Finished on: 31/03/2018

The third book of the original trilogy – which has now turned into a saga with book 4 published and 5 on the way – was a an interesting read. I enjoyed some of the plot twists and particularly liked the ending. As a trilogy, I’d say they are definitely worth a read if you enjoy the fantasy sci-fi genre.

📚 Golden Son (Red Rising Saga, #2)

Author: Pierce Brown
Published: 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆
Finished on: 07/03/2018

Unusually the second book in the Red Rising series kept up the pace of the first one. I’ve read some other series of books which involve revolutions, and the second book is often a slower read acting as a cue for the third books final battle. Less so with Golden Son, and it included a few twists which I didn’t expect.

📚 Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Author: Susan Cain
Published: 2012
Rating: ★★★★★
Finished on: 13/02/2018

I don’t normally read psychology related books, but this one caught my attention and intrigued me a great deal. I’m an introvert, multiple Myers Briggs tests tell me I’m an INFJ—the rarest of them all—and for a few years I’ve struggled with how to harness my personality to work for me as a freelance designer.

The book is a fascinating read and one which I recommend introverts and extraverts read, it will help both personality types understand each other a bit more. What was most interesting to me is some of the chapters about the effects of our culture on introverted children and how that affects their ability to learn and progress in life. Also of real interest were the chapters about faking extraversion to help overcome some of the issues many introverts battle, I’m still mulling over some of the strategies that were highlighted, especially those in regard to running your own business.

This is a book I will be returning to in the future, I’m already looking to grab a copy of my own for such a time.

📚 Red Rising (Red Rising Saga, #1)

Author: Pierce Brown
Published: 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆
Finished on: 10/02/2018

At the start of the year I needed a new fiction series to read, and I’d seen this one recommended on a few sites so I decided to give it a go. I quite enjoyed it, the story was entertaining and I found myself engaging with the characters well. What I liked about this book was the mixture of settings that allows the reader to put their imagination to work building these different environments. It provided a good way of shutting my brain down at the end of the day. What’s most telling is that I’ve made a start on the second book in the series, that’s usually a good sign that I enjoyed the first.

The Crossway ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible ›

I’ve never read a review of a Bible before, so when Joshua Ginter mentioned he would be posting one recently my interest was piqued. This week I finally got round to reading his review of the Crossway ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible. It’s not just a really interesting read, it’s also a beautiful visual essay as well. I’m a big fan of Joshua’s photographic reviews, and this one certainly does the new ESV Heirloom justice. Hopefully one day I’ll be in the market for Bible like this.

Habits of Grace

After my posts and thinking about discipline last week, on Sunday I decided to order Habits of Grace by David Mathis. It arrived yesterday and the study guide that goes with it is set to arrive either tomorrow or Friday.

It’s a book that’s been on my radar for a while both for it’s subject matter, and if I’m being honest, it’s design. I’ve resisted buying it in the past because I’m aware I already have a large pile of books to I’ve yet to read, but having spent some time in prayer, reading, and thinking around this subject I decided it was time to get my finger out and order it.

I’m looking forward to diving in over the next month, all to often it’s easy to start grinding things like discipline in terms of hobbies and passions. As a Christian grounding the desire for discipline and self control in God and my faith is of far greater importance. Doing that is far easier to say than it is to do, and so I’m hoping that this book, along with building momentum by writing here on my blog will help that muscle of discipline grow into more areas of my life.

Book Budget

I just added a new category in my YNAB Budget under Quality of Life Goals, it’s name? Books.

Since I started using Goodreads in 2013 I’ve read 104 books. That’s an average of just under 21 books a year with a low of 17 in 2013 and a high of 34 books in 2016.

Clearly I like to read, so it made sense to actually budget for these books financially since I’m already making time in my life to read them. There’s something very different about sitting down and relaxing with a good book compared to a film or boxset that I enjoy a great deal. Most of these books are fiction, I find they provide me with a good way of shutting my mind off at the end of the day by forcing me to use my imagination. I have to let my mind create the images that go with the words, converting the writers descriptions into visuals in my mind. The words on the page acting as the brush and my mind as the paint to create the large landscapes and cityscapes as well as the detail of the characters faces and the expressions they pull.

Until a few years ago I had gone a few years without reading a lot, I always had a novel on the go but the number I would read in a year was much less. Gradually as I got older and remembered how much I like reading the number would increase, but the intensity at which I devoured books became greater after I became ill with depression a few years ago. Throughout my recovery, and when I find my mood dipping again, novels become a great source of escape. Usually I find concentration hard when I’m battling a low period, but a good novel (often a familiar one that I’ve read many times) is able to provide me with some escape. Reading the prose of a good fantasy or sci-fi book allows me to find freedom from the circular thoughts and spirals of whatever I find myself fixating on. As a visual thinker letting my imagination build the worlds centuries away from today (in either direction) is a great way of exercising my creative muscles and preventing those unhelpful thought patterns take hold.

Whenever I’ve spoken to friends who have been struggling with similar mental health issues, I always recommend they read. It takes a bit of effort to start, but I’ve found it much more helpful than watching a film. The act of watching images develop on a screen is far less distracting than having to engage your mind with the words and story of a book. Reading, I find, is a form of active rest. I can let my body rest and recharge, while using my mind in a way that’s different from the work of my two jobs, and in so doing letting it refresh and recharge.

So here’s to books, to my new book budget, and to the many more hours of rest that they will provide.

📚 The Bourne Identity (Jason Bourne, #1)

Author: Robert Ludlum
Published: 1980
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Finished on: 2018/01/21

I’m a big fan of the Jason Bourne film, the original trilogy is one of my favourite series of films and ones that I regularly return to when I want to watch something familiar. When I saw The Bourne Identity in a charity shop for a couple of pounds I had to pick it up.

I enjoy reading books that have been turned in to film and seeing how they stack up. I’ve always wondered how the Bourne books measure up to their film counterparts, normally the two are quite close with a few bits missing for the sake of time, with parts being cut that are not critical to the story. That’s really not the case with this book.

Overall it’s an enjoyable read, it’s a bit hard going in places, the detail is high and the depth of the story is interesting. It’s a completely different story to the film. Although the film has clearly been based on bits of the book, the key story line beyond Bourne’s amnesia is completely different and it took me a while to adjust my expectations accordingly. I had to force myself to divorce the the film from the book I was reading before I could let myself get drawn in to he story.

I might return to it in a couple of years and see whether my view of it has changed. My overall impression has been coloured by my expectation of the book being more similar to the film I enjoy so much, I’d like to read it again without having to go through the process of finding that out and see if I enjoy it more.

📚 The New CSS Layout by Rachel Andrew

Published: 2017
Rating: ★★★★★
Finished on: 30/12/2017

This was my last book of 2017. I started it at the end of November and kept wanting to try things out so it took me a lot longer to finish than it should’ve. It’s a book I’ll be returning to over and over in the next few months while I keep trying out the new CSS techniques in my work. Looking forward to the more powerful and extensive layout options that are now becoming available to us. The web has started to look very same-y in the last 12–18 months, mainly I believe, due to designers trying to make it easier to build responsive websites. I firmly believe some of the new CSS specs will allow that to change and for designers to start pushing boundaries again.

📚 Artemis by Andy Weir

Published: 2017
Rating: Rating: ★★★★☆
Finished on: 2017/11/19

Andy Weir’s second novel after his hugely successful The Martian was an interesting read which I enjoyed a great deal, but for me it’s not quite on the same level as his first book. For some reason I found the story to be much less believable than The Martian which made it a slightly less compelling read. I can’t quite put my finger on why I found it less believable, perhaps because it was a story set in the not too distant future on the Moon rather than one of exploration on Mars. Either way, if you enjoyed his first book, you’ll probably enjoy this one as well.

Going all in with e-books ›

Investing comments from Tim Challies in a recent blog post about Going All-in With Ebooks. It’s something I’ve thought about many times, and in fact have committed to on more than one occasion, but always end up coming back to paper books. Worth a read if you’re considering a similar move.

Go Set A Watchman ›

Not only is this the first glimpse of the long awaited followup to To Kill a Mockingbird it’s a beautifully designed first glimpse.

I first read To Kill a Mockingbird in English at school and hated it since we had to analyse it to death. But last summer I finally read it again and realised why it’s so good. I’m hopeful Go Set A Watchman will be just as good.