Productive Procrastination #3

Revue
 
2015 is the year I stopped reading ebooks and went back to paper whenever possible. This has little t
 

Johannes Kleske

December 21 · Issue #3 · View online
A combination of recommendations, observations, and personal updates

2015 is the year I stopped reading ebooks and went back to paper whenever possible. This has little to do with a nostalgic feeling about books as objects but more with the practicality of working with books. For the last years, I’ve been trying to come up with a system to manage ebooks and the highlights I made in them. I’ve been burned by the acqui-hire of Readmill and the huge gap it left. I’ve been experimenting with bookmarklets, Calibre and its plugins etc. These are all hacks. Hacks that usually need you to start with the illegal act of removing DRM from something you’ve just bought
And so I waved a white flag to the publishing industry this year. The reason that there are only bad hacks available to work with digital books is that the publishers prevent anything else. Their lock down on the ecosystem of digital books discourages anyone who might have an idea about how to make it better. Until this fundamental gridlock changes, I’m back to paper books, especially for non-fiction.
Now, this might sound ridiculous to the academics among my readers who work with books every day. But once I committed to paper again, it was quite satisfying. I enjoyed rediscovering the simplicity of a highlight marker, using small post-its and copying quotes into a notebook. Only now do I understand how helpful spatial navigation in a book can be. Or how different seeing a quote in its context is. Sometimes, you only realize the brilliance of a concept after you tried to replace it. Especially when using a “product” that has been iterated over hundreds of years.
Here’s Craig Mod more eloquently on this topic: Future Reading

Reading Recommendations
Can’t Put Down Your Device? That’s by Design
Military Strategist Explains Why Trump Leads—And Will Fail
How the Mast Brothers fooled the world into paying $10 a bar for crappy hipster chocolate
EFF Publishes "Pwning Tomorrow," a Speculative Fiction Anthology
War Stories from the Future
Book recommendations
Here’s my year in books according to Goodreads. So far, I’ve read 19 books (a little short of the 26 books I’ve set out to read, but I still got a couple of days left with a lot of reading time). Here are the ones that stood out:
  • I’ve just finished Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism. For me as someone pretty fresh to the thinking of the left, it was mostly a wild ride through 200 years of capitalism, left theory and worker movements. 
  • Somehow I ended up reading two books on Mars: Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robertson and The Martian. Two books, that couldn’t be more different. I think I enjoyed Red Mars the most because I’m very fond of KSRs dedication to detailed scenarios and how he looked at Mars colonization from different angles through the eyes of different protagonists. I actually only picked up the book to prepare for Wark’s Molecular Red, which I still have to read. 
  • I might have learned the most from Howard P. Segal’s in-depth history and analysis of Utopias. It’s the book I’ve “worked” with the most this year. 
Comic Book Recommendations
Sometime this year, I discovered a comic book store (Grober Unfug) close to our office and started buying trades again. If I had to single out one book from the stack above, it would be Warren Ellis’ Injection. It holds a special place for me because I was able to follow much of its development through Warren’s newsletter and his talks
I also started going through all 300 issues of Hellblazer (John Constantine). Usually, I’m not a big horror fan. But this is written so, so good. It starts as a deep reflection on the UK in the 80s under Thatcher and the direct consequences of her neo-liberal ideology. I’m somewhere around #60. Lots to look forward to then. 
Happy Holidays
I wish you a relaxed break with hopefully much reading and eating. See you next Monday.
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Carefully curated by Johannes Kleske with Revue.
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