For many years now, I’ve been
trying hoping to put together a comprehensive record of my expenditure. I have a thing for data and ExceI and really would like to have an annual pie chart showing how I’ve spent my money. However, it’s sad to say this dream has never quite materialised because it’s generally been a battle for me to keep a money journal. Actually, any type of journal if I’m being very honest.
Anyways, money journal or not, I’m pretty sure that two of the main things I spend cash on are food and books. Food is a more recent love (maybe about 5 years old). My love story with books, however, goes way back to my childhood. I have read a lot of books in my life. One day I’ll have a pie chart for that too :-D. How-to/self-help type books would have the smallest sliver of my pie. And sappy romances (strictly of the Christian variety, no explicit sex scenes for me – more on this later) would take the cake, literally. They’re my go-to genre right now. Recently, it’s become an escape for me, but again, more on that later.
My book habit finds me scouring Amazon every other week for new reads (although once a diehard paper reader, I have since been converted to e-book-ism) and new deals. Individual books themselves are not expensive, but when you find yourself buying 4/5 titles a month, the numbers start to add up. So, I’ve recently started looking into how I can get advanced readers copies (ARCs). First, because I’m pretty opinionated so I’d like to publish my views on titles (which I do fairly regularly anyway). Secondly, I figure since I’m doing so much reading anyway, I might as well make it beneficial for both the authors and myself.
In comes, NetGalley – an online sort of match.com for book reviewers and publishers which I found in this wonderful post for reviewers (I recommend a read if this kind of thing is up your alley). Its method is simple: publishers put up their titles either for instant download or request and reviewers can read those instantly available and request those that aren’t. At the end of the process, honest reviews are desired. After going back and forth, I decided to give it a go. I’ve started with two free downloads and two requests (note: if you join, don’t request more books than you can read, it’s a temptation but don’t do it, better to request 1 and get to it than 10 and add to a to-do list you’re still struggling to tick out).
So, to put it simply, expect more book reviews on here (but rest assured this is definitely not becoming a literary site). And not just romance, I’m going to use my NetGalley membership to expand my book horizons. Here are my first two books and reviews for your pleasure:
This is absolutely not a sponsored post by the way. And the great memes are from liveabout.com.
Spiritual Life Hacks
Uncommon solutions to common challenges
by Len Woods
Harvest House Publishers
Christian, Religion & Spirituality
Publication Date: 06 August 2019
While the concepts of spirituality and hacking seem at best oxymoronic and at worst mutually exclusive, Mr Woods manages to not cross the fine line between credible ‘spiritual hacks’ and oversimplifying spiritual issues. Personally, I love a good hack. And the combination of this love and some recent questions I’ve had about my spirituality made me select this book. I was, however, worried that it might be one of those ‘click bait’ type resources that fall short of their sales pitch, but it is not that at all. It is very thoughtfully written with a number of learning points. It answers questions about faith in a manner that is very direct and refreshing.
I also really like the real-life scenarios that came with each subject matter and help bring them to life. As a ‘hack’ compilation, it presents each hack in short chapters that you can almost read like a devotional-a-day or something along that line. However, it did once in a while seem like the hacks and their descriptions were a bit longwinded, making the book tiring to read at various points.
All-in-all, I enjoyed the author’s sense of humour and laughed out loud several times. I appreciate his perspective of faith-based living. I give this book 4 stars and would recommend it to anyone interested in examining their faith through more of a practical, lifestyle lens than a religious one.
How YouTube shook up TV and created a new generation of stars
by Chris Stokel-Walker
Biographies & Memoirs, Computers & Internet
Publication Date: O2 May 2019
This book caught my attention because I am both an avid YouTube watcher and a not-so-avid YouTuber (you didn’t know I have a YouTube channel?). I thought I had a fairly good understanding of YouTube’s beginning and workings but reading this was really eye-opening. I love a good backstory and have to say that my eyes were opened to the nitty-gritty of my favourite app. Now I seem to be coming across more stories that reinforce the book’s salient points which I never noticed before. It’s a well-written book that canvasses and the length and breadth of the contexts, motivations and ideas that combine to form YouTube’s story which is also, I think, a story about our evolving civilisation and rapidly morphing social norms.
One major thrust of the book which I don’t agree with, however, is the responsibility heaped on the organisation to police content. While not a supporter of unpoliced publications that spread radicalisation, conspiracy theories and other misinformation, I believe these things are really only a reflection of humanity itself. It is humans themselves that should be addressed. We somehow need to address the root causes of these issues – in which case I see policing content as merely suppressing the problems. I realise this might be a bit of an idealist point of view, but it seems a bit unfair to shove this responsibility on emerging tech and then call their responses overreactions.
This is very much a book relevant to current times. I feel like the conclusion could have been a bit stronger, although at the same time the author is very right in leaving it open-ended. YouTube is really too novel a phenomenon to predict a solid trajectory for and there is little/no baseline for permutations. How can one really make conclusions about what YouTube will hold for humanity? I give this book 4.2 stars.