Erratic engineeress

A personal blog fuelled by caffeine and curiosity.

Erratic book Wednesdays pt. 3

As you know I post book recommendations on Facebook and Instagram under #erraticbookwednesdays, as well as in my newsletters, which recently went from weekly to bi-weekly. New book recommendations will now come every 2 weeks too, because that makes it easier for me to fit all of this into my busy life, but they’ll still eventually appear in these posts summary too. You’re welcome to sign up for my newsletters or connect with me on social media if you haven’t already!

Now it’s book time:

#1: M. Wiking – The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well

The first one this time is the one I also referenced in my first podcast episode What makes us happy. The Little Book of Hygge was published by the Danish Institute of Happiness, because yes, that’s a thing. It’s a fast and nice read about hygge, the Danish concept of a happy, safe, relaxing togetherness vibe to which they attribute their above average national level of happiness. The book is full of pretty pictures and interesting social statistics and it even includes activity ideas and recipes. I won’t say it’s exactly life changing and there is a whole chapter about lighting and candles that is probably only relatable to people who have lived in the north, but I enjoyed reading it and it was a nice reminder to slow down and enjoy the little details of life, so go give it a read!

#2: O. Pamuk – Silent House

Next I chose Orhan Pamuk’s Silent House. It was written in the 80s and it’s an interesting work of literary fiction, describing a turbulent week in the life of a Turkish family set against a backdrop of politics and Turkey’s struggle for modernity. The main plot revolves around a bed-ridden widow, her dwarf servant and the three young people who come to visit her in her small town during the summer, but what I found most interesting was the insight into Turkish life and culture. Also, Pamuk got the Nobel prize for literature in 2006, so if you like a good fiction novel, this one is for you.

#3: M. Karsak – Celtic blood series

This one was a recent read and I absolutely loved it from the first book, the Highland Raven. It’s a historical fiction series set in 11th century Scotland and it tells the reimagined life story of Lady Macbeth – you know, the one from Shakespeare. In a way it rehabilitates her reputation and follows her as she tries to navigate between her foretold fate in service of an old Celtic goddess during the rise of Christianity, political intricacies that end up putting her on the throne with a mad husband, her own desires and the harsh realities of daily life as a woman back then. Obviously the real history gets bent quite a bit around the edges, but the whole series flows so well and has all the right details that bring back an echo of a time when the world was smaller, simpler and full of old magic.

#4: A. Huxley – Brave New World

Brave New World is a classic book I always recommend to everyone! You’ve probably heard of this one and if you haven’t, you should have, because it’s becoming increasingly relevant in our modern era. Unlike most of the stuffy classics, it’s super readable, short and the plot is intriguing enough that you’ll breeze right through it. However, the time to read it is now – I just saw that Netflix released a Brave New World TV series and they took extreme creative liberties with the plot, so read it now before it gets spoiled forever. Have you read it or seen it? If you need extra incentive, it’s set in an advanced hyper civilised society, where everyone is happy at the cost of a total lack of privacy, no family ties and no monogamy or love. It’s a world of information overload, Pavlovian conditioning, genetic engineering and mandatory mood-adjusting drugs – but hey, everyone’s happy! Until a savage comes a long and throws a wrench into their little forced fairytale…

#5: E. Kagge – Silence: In the Age of Noise

This one was written by a crazy Norwegian explorer who climbed Mt. Everest and solo trekked across the South Pole. Silence: In the Age of Noise is a short and gripping philosophical read, as the whole book reads like his personal meditation on the concept of silence – what it is and why it’s important, particularly the kind of silence we can find within ourselves. I really enjoyed his simple, non-preachy writing style and the way his unusual life experiences shone through, bringing with them a sense of wonder that reminded me to actively seek more of that in my daily life. He’s also written some other books and they’re on my reading list for when I need a peaceful day or two.

#6: C. Ritter – A Woman in the Polar Night

A Woman in the Polar Night is a memoir of an Austrian painter who moved to Svalbard with her husband and grew to love life in the Arctic wilderness. I first read this book when I got back from Longyearbyen and it really captures the vibe of the place the way I limitedly experienced it too. It’s full of wry humour, interesting insight in the human psyche and beautiful artistic descriptions of the icy nature through a painter’s eyes, so it’s definitely a book to read with a cosy blanket and a cup of tea on Sunday afternoon. Do you ever read memoirs?

#7: M. Angelou – On the Pulse of Morning

You’ve probably already heard of Maya Angelou and if you haven’t, you need to change that right now. She was an American poet and civil rights activist and her poems are full of power and call to action. One of my favourites is On the Pulse of Morning, which she actually read publicly at the US presidential inauguration in 1993. Here‘s the video.

#8: K. Addison – The Goblin Emperor

The Goblin Emperor is one of my favourite fantasy novels and if you read one book from this list, make it this one! It follows the story of a half-goblin unwanted royal son who suddenly finds himself the elvish emperor after his father and brothers are killed in a crash. He’s barely educated, utterly unprepared for court life, all its sycophants and loneliness and perhaps the worst of all, he wants to actually be a good ruler. This book is viciously intelligent, hilarious and absolutely brilliant overall: it has intricate politics, complex characters, a dash of steampunk and an extremely rigid, official courtly culture where everything must be said in the royal we. That gives it a unique flavour and it will soon have you thinking in the majestic plural as well, so all I can say is we approve and you will too!

#9: E. Colfer – Artemis Fowl series

The next one is a childhood favourite, but I think it’s still worth reading if you want a light, super imaginative read. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer is the first in a series about a teenage genius and criminal mastermind who decides to kidnap a faerie for money. However, these are not your typical flower power faeries, they’re high tech, underground fae with IT centaurs and police units. I loved the originality of the whole setting and the morally ambiguity, because the main character is a bad guy and a 12 years old sociopath. The books follow him over the years as he eventually matures into a somewhat decent person with the grudging help of his faerie connections. Each book has a really well developed central plot, funny dialogues and cool fancy tech, so the engineer in me loved it. I’d say this is like a lesser known Harry Potter franchise for nerds, so give it a read if that sounds like fun.

#10: A. Secombe – The Last House in the Galaxy

The Last House in the Galaxy was a sci-fi recommendation around the 4th of May and it is a stand alone novel with a light Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy vibe, featuring lots of humour, interstellar battles, daring rescues, a crazy amusement park brain and a very stuck up English butler. It starts off with a space captain crashing in the azalea patch on the property of a destitute elderly English couple, while he’s trying to find a safe place for the United Planets Federation to organise against the rebellion of galactic garbage disposers. Sounds promising, right?

#11: Nathan W. Pyle – Strange Planet comics

Also, this week’s book recommendation is another comic: Nathan W. Pyle’s Strange Planet. The comics are super colourful and I love all the highly intelligent jokes and depictions of the seemingly alien inhabitants on a very familiar planet. It’s a great reflection of the absurdity of our daily lives and I think it’s good to be reminded that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. P.S.: You can also find individual comic panels on social media.

#12: N. Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane

You’ve probably heard of this author before, since he’s pretty well known and wrote the American Gods series, but I think The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of his best and most underrated books. It’s about a middle-aged man who returns to his home town for a funeral, sits down at the local pond and starts chasing childhood memories of a friend named Lettie who used to call the pond an ocean and helped him through a troubled time.The book is a blend of fable and serious adult fiction, full of that fragile understanding of all that makes us human and best read when we start to forget what it was like to be a child.

#13: D. Mathur – Crimson Skins

The next pick was poetry again, a collection of poems titled Crimson Skins by Devika Mathur, an Indian poet who is also going to be a guest on my next podcast episode. She writes gorgeous lyrical surrealist poems and has a way of capturing colours and emotion that will make you think and feel within a few words. Her book is separated into 5 parts: Isolation, Detachment, Delirium, Attachment and Revival that deal with topics like love, grief, hope etc. and form an expressive whole that I really enjoyed reading. Although her poems are also open to interpretation, each of them paints a unique mental picture, which is sometimes just a heavy emotional vibe and sometimes a complete, vivid image of an unusual, twisted world. So, if you like surrealism that doesn’t suck, this one is for you.

#14: J. W. von Goethe – Faust

Goethe’s Faust is a classic that all of you have probably heard of before, but have you read it yet? It’s actually a play, not a book, and it’s structured in a sort of narrative way that makes it readable by itself, although it is of course best seen as a play as intended. Faust follows the story of the title character, a scholar who is so disillusioned with life he makes a deal with the devil: the devil will try to make him happy and fulfil his every wish, but if Faust actually feels happy enough to enjoy life, he forsakes his eternal soul. It’s supposed to be a tragic play based on the medieval myths about pacts with the devil, but it has a happy ending and it’s all about passion; passion for knowledge, passion for growth and surpassing yourself and ultimately, the passion for life. I’ll be honest with you, the language can be erratic and the play is not entirely coherent as it was written in different periods of Goethe’s life, but I feel that just adds to the whole crazy vibe Faust has going on and personally, I enjoyed it.

So, that’s it for this time, let me know how many of these you’ve read or are planning to read in the comments below!

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5 responses to “Erratic book Wednesdays pt. 3”

  1. Brave New World has been on my TBR list for a while now. I have read all of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis series plus the Sixth book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which he wrote at the request of Douglas Adams’ widow and daughter. I’ve tried to do Faust a couple of times but just couldn’t seem to get into it.

  2. Brave New World is really good and I agree, Faust is a love it or hate it thing I guess. I really love Eoin Colfer’s writing and I think the 6th book was pretty good.

  3. I read Brave New World many years ago. It certainly is a classic, and a novel that feels increasingly relevant.

    The Neil Gaiman book sounds interesting. I should give it a go.

    1. Let me know if you do!

      1. I certainly will 🙂

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