5 on Friday: Books for When You Need a Sci-Fi Break

I read a lot of science fiction. But, that’s not all I read. Lately I’m trying to break out of that shell, and expand my horizons. After all, read too much of one genre and you start to get jaded. You appreciate it less. You start seeing the tropes more than the story itself. If you find yourself needing to break away and just read something new, I suggest trying out some of these books:

  1. The New Kings of Nonfiction – I picked this up at Half-Price Books one day (which is really where digital books come up short, this kind of random serendipity) when looking for something to read on the plane. I love short stories on vacation, because they’re easier to put down and pick back up. If you’re a fan of This American Life pick this up. It’s edited and introduced by Ira Glass, and thus feels like This American Life.
  2. The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal – This is the book that The Social Network was based on.While the book lacks Aaron Sorkin’s dramatic touch, its still a very interesting read. It goes more into some of the backstory. I love the parts where Zuckerberg’s friends are partying and he’s coding. It seems so…right. I will say, that from an entertainment perspective, this is one of the few times the movie was better than the book. From an informational perspective though, the book was way better. I really enjoyed both.
  3. Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time – This is a heartbreaking memoir of a man who has lost the love of his life. While going through her things he finds a collection of mixtapes from their life together and remembers her and their love. It makes me hate digital music. Even CDs don’t have the careful planning of an actual cassette. Trying to start/stop the tape at the right time, trying to get as many songs as you can within the time, not wanting to re-write the tape because you don’t want to degrade the quality. Everything about a mixtape is a labor of love.
  4. A Working Theory of Love – I was interested in this book mainly because of the premise of trying to create an AI to beat the Turing Test. I was expecting a techie type book about a software engineer. Nope. The protagonist has more of data entry/tester role. He’s the son of the deceased man whose journals are being entered into a computer to create the personality of the AI. The book isn’t really about tech at all, its about a man learning more about his father just a little too late.
  5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – If you’re not a 20-something, this might have flown under your radar when it came out. You may have seen the trailer and written it off as some silly coming of age flick for the new generation, with its high school setting and indie rock soundtrack. And I’ll give you that its a coming of age novel, but so was The Catcher in the Rye.  It’s not “another” one and it’s certainly not “silly.” It deals with serious issues such as suicide and depression, interlaced with normal teenage angst. And at the upsetting end we end up with a weird sense of everything will be ok.And to my fellow 20-somethings: for the love of the written word people, it’s “we ARE infinite” not “we WERE infinite.”

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