Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book came highly recommended by my mom. She said she has read it dozens of times. After her many suggestions, I decided to give it a go.
Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert, 2007

It’s basically a rich white lady’s midlife crisis. She embarks on a journey in order to deal with her emotional issues after a divorce. Along the way, she learns to practice several very interesting meditation styles while in  India. These include Kundalini and Vipassana as well as other meditative practices like group chanting, mantra, and other group meditation styles. I have been a practitioner of Kundalini for nearly two decades and I’ve always viewed it as very esoteric, so it’s cool to see popular culture talking about it like this.

She later goes to Bali and studies several very different and more simple styles such as just sitting and smiling, which according to the Indonesian medicine man will bring good energy in and push bad energy out.

The book gets pretty metaphysical, in a good way. She compares and contrasts important concepts such as divinity and non-self through the lenses of India and Indonesia.

All in all, it’s a good book and an interesting read. I will probably recommend it to people who are looking to get into more advanced meditation practices. It is a great primer on several really good traditions.

Broken Angels by Richard K Morgan

Broken Angels is a worthy successor to Altered Carbon. The only common factor is the story’s subject; Takeshi Kovacs. We find him on a new world with new people around him at the center of an entirely new conflict. It does a good job of escalating the story in an artful way.

Broken Angels

If you liked the first season of the show or the first book, then I’d recommend this wholeheartedly.  It has the same gritty cyberpunk feel but it’s a completely different story. You could go straight from the first season to this book. Just like with Game of Thrones, the first season follows the first book. There are some big differences but none of them have to do with this second book. It stands pretty much on its own. I like that in a sequel.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

I started this series by watching the first season of the TV show on Netflix. This was a really really great show which I can’t recommend highly enough.

Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan

As expected, the book is a much larger and richer story. Like many books adapted to TV shows, many characters have been combined or simplified in the show. The book offers a much clearer and more understandable universe versus the show.

I am a huge and a discerning fan of cyberpunk. This is probably the best recent cyberpunk genre literature I’ve found in a long time. The book is great, the show is great. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

There are two more books in the series which I can’t wait to finish! The author has hinted that he may decide to write additional books. I hope he does! Next up is Broken Angels.

❤️ Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

This was another amazing book by Neil Gaiman! 10/10. I only wish it was longer. There are so many other Norse myths which I would have loved to have heard him retell.

The audiobook in particular was great. It is read by the author and unabridged. He has the voice of an angel. I have already gone back several times and listened to stories as I fall asleep.

This is one book I will revisit over and over again.

❤️ American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is one of the few books I’ve read which I can confidently say I loved completely. I never felt like the author made any mistakes throughout the story, and I am usually a very critical reader.

This story is a great read for anybody who is interested in mythology or Americana, but especially for sci-fi fans. Also, the new show based on it is very good, though pretty different from the book.

Next up, I am already halfway through his more recent book Norse Mythology which feels like the perfect next book to read. Stay tuned!

Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey

Persepolis rising is the seventh book in The Expanse Series. It is probably the least eventful of the series, and the most predictable. As far as Sci-Fi books go; it’s a great book. Persepolis Rising was well written and excellently orchestrated.  There are a lot of really interesting situations and arguments involving the philosophy of power dynamics and political science, kind of in the same vein as Ender’s Game.

That said, everything in the book is sort of the next steps from the previous books. There are no major plot twists or unexpected turns. Everything happens exactly how you expect it to.

Persepolis Rising

I will freely admit that my expectations for this book were unrealistic, but I can’t help feeling disappointed. There wasn’t really anything new. All the same bad guys are still around. Lots of things went unresolved, like where is Phillip? How old must Avasarala be now? Bobbie Draper who is now an old lady, was just out of her teens calling Avasarala a grandma in previous books.

I still recommend reading this incredible series, but I was hoping for more from this latest installment.

It reminds me of the way the last Harry Potter movie was split into two parts, and how incomplete and underwhelming the first half seemed.  I came to the end of this story asking myself where the rest of it was.

Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov

This is the last book in The Foundation Series, chronologically. There are two more books by date of publication which are prequels to the series.

This book made me sad. It felt gratuitous and contrived. I don’t think his heart was in it, though after reading this entire enormous series, the last paragraph of this book was SO worth it. What an ending. I will never stop thinking about it for that reason.

This book picks up at the exact second the previous book leaves off. The explorers head out to find earth. They encounter very gratuitous and graphic descriptions of sex, and a rather underwhelming adventure compared to the previous books.

In the prologue, Asimov seems to say he only wrote this book because the publisher offered so much money for another Foundation book.

It does tie the many Asimov serieses together, and serves a satisfying role in that regard. But on its own, it is an unimpressive and disappointing book. :[

That said, the last page of the book is probably one of the best he ever wrote. It leaves you asking a million questions which you know will never be answered. I feel like this is a book which a fan or Asimov must read, but one which I don’t see myself reading again.

Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov

Written thirty years after the previous book, Foundation’s Edge is a worthy successor to the trilogy which holds the Best Series of All Time award.

Foundation’s Edge comes at a time when the author was able to get a better perspective on the future of information technology which was only just starting to condense in the early eighties. This new book adds more realistic future-tech to an already amazing story. His inclusion of direct mind-interface computing and direct-gravitic propulsion are things which are still on the horizon, forty years later.

I especially liked his description of the feeling of terror which overcomes a user when they disconnect their mind from the computer. They suddenly lose touch with the vastly expanded perception of a starship and its wealth of information. This was a masterful element early on in the story. This is already something we see today when a person is tragically — if momentarily — pried away from their smartphone. They seem to suddenly devolve into a feral australopithecine in desperate search for the life-giving charger cord which will end their torment. I can only imagine the effect if our connection to smartphones imparted all the things Cavil opined for in Battlestar Galactica;

I don’t want to be human. I want to see gamma rays, I want to hear X-rays, and I want to smell dark matter. Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can’t even express these things properly, because I have to—I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid, limiting spoken language, but I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws, and feel the solar wind of a supernova flowing over me. I’m a machine, and I can know much more.

It’s also worth noting that this story connects to not only Asimov’s Robots series, but also his Eternity series. This was a really great book which I will recommend time and again. I can’t wait to finish the rest of this series and the two others I mentioned. Then I can reread them all and finally connect all the dots!

Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov

This is the third of five books in the Foundation series. It introduces Asimov’s mentalics motif in the main; we meet many characters who like the Mule, have the power of telepathic emotional control over others. We learn a lot more about Seldon and his plan. The plan and those who execute it are forced to consider and implement tactics regarding individuals for the first time, rather than simply large groups. And we see the resurgence of a defeated foundation facilitated in large part by an unwitting teenager.

Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov

In the first half of this book, the Mule at the head of the defeated First Foundation is desperately seeking the Second Foundation, the only force which he believes could eventually threaten him.

In the second half of the book, we see the Second Foundation looking for direction as the plan hangs by a thread and it tries to grapple the various factors conspiring against the plan throughout the galaxy.

This was a really great read. I don’t know why I waited so long to get this far in the series! 10/10.

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

This is the second book of Asimov’s Foundation Series. This is a worthy sequel to a great start. 10/10.

One of my favorite parts of this book is the way he chooses words and phrases, which seems different from his other books. He might describe two politicians who hold the same office; one who is a wise and strong leader who rose to the challenge of the times and took office only after some hesitation, and a second who seems inept and only in office because of nepotism.  For the first, Asimov might use a word like “office” to describe his physical workplace, but for the second, he might use a phrase like “palace,” appealing to motifs from Rome before the fall. The latter says things like “I am the state,” infamous late words of The Emperor Napoleon. There are many interesting motifs throughout the book used to differentiate characters whose ideologies place them on either the rising or the falling side  of civilization.

Isaac Asimov - Foundation and Empire

At the beginning of the book, we find the Foundation several centuries into living out Seldon’s secret plan for them. The first half of the book is about a general who comes to conquer the Foundation. The second half is about the rise of a new menace. There are several MAJOR surprises which become existential plot twists. Like Seldon, I won’t give too much detail, but buckle up because this one is a more traumatic read than the first book.