Category: Books

Thoughts on bird appreciating brought on by How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

Reading How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell over the past few days took me back to both Oakland, CA and to my own backyard. The author lives in Oakland and talks about her time lingering and noticing in the Morcom Rose Garden and Lake Merritt. It is always fun to read a story where the author spends time if you happen to have spent time in the same place.

I was introduced to Lake Merritt one afternoon. Around after dropping off a bridal party to get their hair done for her friend’s wedding. Only, I had no idea how big the lake was. So when I estimated how long it would take to walk around, I fell short and ended up late to retrieve the ladies.

You see a neat lake in life and have time to kill, you park your car and go for a walk to explore the city on foot and enjoy the water birds and water humans you encounter along the way.

Granted, I’ve not lingered among those particular roses, though I’ve spent many a sun-kissed afternoon strolling through Brookside Gardens. While the author thinks of the birds as friends and greets them by species name, I do the same.

While my come to bird moment didn’t take place in full until the global pandemic, I had started identifying birds by sight and call from my own backyard feeders. I liked to know who I was hearing and who came with their entire family to my yard to pick it clean then move on.

While she greets the pelicans and egrets, I have my Mourning Doves. Birds simply too silly to take seriously with their mournful calls and absolute imposter syndrome whenever they manage to flap up to the bird feeder.

I’m up here. I made it this far. What do I do now?

I notice the American Robins picking through the yard for bugs once I’ve cut the grass in warmer weather. The Cardinals trying to impress the Lady Cardinals by soaring through trees as bright red flashes. The gold finches are my current favorites. They come and go so rarely. We had a neighbor with sunflowers and I would see a small flock of the birds in their yard on my daily walks past it. I made a note to plant yellow flowers this year since that’s what they seem to like.

It makes sense. Small yellow bird. Big yellow flower.

I realize by reading this book and take in her thoughts about the attention economy, my thoughts go to my feathered friends. That’s the part of the book that stuck most with me. She called the birds as who and not what. I do the same thing. I greet the birds as friends and the squirrel as on-again-off-again love affairs.

Watching and listening to the birds is peaceful. It’s calm and focusing. When you’ve absorbed in the birds, the rest of the world washes away and there’s only the many calls and flapping wings when once whooshes by your head at top speed.

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

My favorite part of this entire book is his description of how terrible it is live in the DC area. The traffic. The people. Just trying to get around is an entire evening’s endeavor.

Ed Snowden’s description of DC.

The second part I loved about this book is his description of the access to some administrators have. The ability to look into each and every part of a system because that person has to administer and fix that system when it breaks is like the hand of God reaching out over computer files and information.

Trust is a huge requirement when it comes to administering computer systems. Trust can easily be broken when there’s no oversight. And can be easily abused when there’s no accountability.

The hardest part of this book to read, by far, was the portions of his girlfriend Lindsay’s journal entries.

Artemis

ArtemisArtemis by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio book read by Rosario Dawson.

It’s not The Martian. And that’s a good thing. Artemis is its own story in its own world. it takes place in the moon. There’s a city there in a series of bubbles.

We follow Jazz and what she gets up to and it’s a wonderful story. Not a deep cerebral novel, but a fun adventurous read about life on the moon.

I enjoyed the story and Rosario’s narration and choice of voices. I like the worlds Andy Weir creates and I want to keep living in them.

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The First Rule about this book

Fight ClubFight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fight Club is another “book that became a movie I loved but I’ve never read the book” so I got to it this year. I listened to the audio book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I never did catch where the “I am Joe’s ____” came from until now.

I enjoyed the story and the slow build up to the realization of who Tyler really is.

I didn’t know there was a Fight Club 2 graphic novel until today, so I’ve added that to the to-read pile too.

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Fortress of Habit

The death of reading is threatening the soul

“Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”


When asked about his secret to success, Warren Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…”


Modern culture presents formidable obstacles to the nurture of both spirituality and creativity. As a writer of faith in the age of social media, I host a Facebook page and a website and write an occasional blog. Thirty years ago I got a lot of letters from readers, and they did not expect an answer for a week or more. Now I get emails, and if they don’t hear back in two days they write again, “Did you get my email?” The tyranny of the urgent crowds in around me.


I’m still working on that fortress of habit, trying to resurrect the rich nourishment that reading has long provided for me. If only I can resist clicking on the link 30 Amish Facts That’ll Make Your Skin Crawl…

Fortress of Habit is a wonderful turn of phrase.