What I read in October 2023
Babel by R.F. Kuang, 556p: This is probably the first Dark Academia genre book I've read and although the theme is indeed dark, I'm enjoying it. It's a mixture of alternate history with fantasy and serious criticism of colonialism. It's very well written, using England's Oxford University in the 1800s as background. I liked it, even though it’s a sad book. It's sad, but it was a page turner for me (which doesn't usually happen with sad books for me). I loved the writing style, and I cared about the characters, I wanted to know what would happen to them, and that kept me going. I also enjoyed the discussions about origin of words and how they relate in different languages (etymology). I didn't think the “magic” system (silver working) was super exciting. It was subtle, and it was interesting that the author used the concept of “missed translation” between languages to create power. Cool to see a magical version of the industrial revolution, explaining why the British Empire was so much more powerful than the rest of the world. The author's time and effort put into research was obvious. It goes deep into racism and colonialism. It goes deep into privilege and wealth and power over oppressed people. Inequality. Cultural appropriation. Xenophobia. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.
A Perfect Equation (The Secret Scientists of London #2) by Elizabeth Everett, 322p: Another historical romance with some modern twist. This one is about the lady mathematician Letty, and Lord Greycliff. I thought Lord Greycliff was super annoying at the beginning, although he gets better by the end. There were some fun banter moments between the two. The plot of this one was not as interesting as the first book.
A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1) by Tessa Dare, 400p: I loved the setting: a place by the sea where unmarried women can go to restore and explore their interests, like a summer camp. They go on country walks, they go sea-bathing, they garden, they even shoot firearms! No men allowed until a group of military men reaches Spindle Cove. This was a super fun and lighthearted enemies-to-lovers trope book. I loved the writing style. This is the second romance book I read by this author (I read “Romancing the Duke” years ago) and I forgot how delightfully fun and sexy her writing was. It was the perfect fluffy read with a strong red-haired female lead (Susanna Finch) and an alpha hero who was not cringy (Bram, or the new Earl of Rycliff).
The Chaos Machine: The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds and Our World by Max Fisher, 389p: This is a very in depth presentation of facts on how technology can impact society and social movements. It describes in detail how Facebook aimed to increase the number of friends users had (they wanted to surpass the Dunbar limit of 150) by enforcing it through changes in their algorithms. Then it discusses the Trump election and the rise of right-wing posts, videos and groups in social media. Chapters 4 and 5 covers the rise of machine learning algorithms and how all platforms started promoting and amplifying more outrageous/radical content. And how the average user's time on these platforms skyrocketed around 2016. And then, Trump's and Bolsonaro's election in the USA and Brazil respectively, which were fuelled by social media. The rise of alt-right movements. The pandemic and all the misinformation campaigns during that period. It’s a full exposition of how social media had (and still has) real life dire consequences.
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By Noisy Deadlines
Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.