How do they know?

With the rise of artificial intelligence and the complexity of machines, companies’ ability to customize ads and content to you as an individual can be a scary thing. 

Goodreads and Amazon are two of many who use algorithms and machines to map what you would like to read next. I buy my text books on Amazon and my front page is always full of business books about accounting and strategic marketing. They know which books I need before I know myself. This is our present and it will only get more tailored, more advanced in the future. The amount of information they have about our individual habits is beyond our imagination, and the more data they gather, the more accurate predictions and offers will be.

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How fascinating is that? As scary and creepy as it may seem, the capabilities of technology are unfathomably powerful and impressive. As someone who works in digital marketing, and in the IT industry at that, it is clear this is an area where the line of morality is becoming blurred and I, therefore, cannot wait to see where this will take us.

Data is the future and as an individual I can see how quickly data about me is collected, added, filtered and applied to push, or pull me, however you may see it, towards things I’m interested in. Paid media adverts push me towards a tipping point, they persuade me even if it doesn’t feel like it. I see audible ads everywhere, I see the tops I’ve been adding to my wishlist on my social media timelines, I get recommended books based on articles I’ve read at work.

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Overall, it does help me find books more easily, I am directed to services I didn’t know existed, services I didn’t know I needed and that has saved me a lot of time. I love research, I love information and having relevant, timely information sent to me is not something I’m complaining about. I’m fascinated and intimidated at the same time, as we should all be.

 

July in Books

 

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List of Books Read:

  • If I Stay
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • Pre-Suasion
  • Cinder
  • Blink
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Full Funnel Marketing
  • Adulthood is a Myth
  • Just one Night
  • The Universe Doesn’t Give a Flying Fuck About You
  • The Upside of Unrequited
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Shoutout to Malcolm Gladwell

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Malcolm Gladwell is an author, speaker, and journalist, with several insightful books up his sleeve. He was born in Fareham, UK (not far from my uni), but grew up in Canada and went to Trinity College in Toronto.

Since 1996 he’s been a writer for The New Yorker and he’s written a total of five books, all of which ended up on the NY Times bestseller list. His books often depict unexpected implications and are all based on academic research, most often rooted in the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology and anthropology. As a marketer, his books are especially enjoyable, as it allows me to understand people in a different ways and enables me to become a better communicator and listener.

I decided to start reading his books after I fell in love with the Freakonomics series by Levitt and Dubner as I love the anecdoty-style of writing I find in these types of books. Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, has been dubbed one of the best book of the decade, with good reason. Blink, his second book discussed how rapid, instant decisions make sense and not. Both the books were international bestsellers and over 4.5 million copies have been sold combined.

If you like to feel insightful and read books that make you go “Huh, that’s interesting, I never would have thought” you should check out his books. They’re easy, quick reads, and though it’s non-fiction it never feels complex or draining. I love the smart thinking genre, it challenges the way I think and Gladwell’s books have an excellent way of making me see patterns that I would never see on my own.

BOOKS BY GLADWELL:

  • The Tipping Point (2000)
  • Blink (2005)
  • Outliers (2008)
  • What the Dog Saw: and Other Adventures (2009)
  • David and Goliath (2013) 

“It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.”

For more information, visit his website

Have you read any of his books? What did you think?

Pretty Poetry #4

One day when we realize that our bones are made of the same dust as the planet’s, that our lungs are breathing the same air as the migrating birds, and that our blood is pumping because of the love and care of thousands. That’s when we’ll realize that we aren’t as broken as we think we are. We’re full of the world.

– fukhar

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“The Upside Of Unrequited” By Becky Albertalli

Following Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and a recommendation from a friend, I decided to give this one a go as well.

PLOT

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

WE HAVE ALL FELT LIKE MOLLY

Bilderesultat for the upside of unrequited fanartThe relatability level of this story baffles me. Albertalli has captured what it feels like when people around you are moving on and changing while you are not, which I’m sure many can relate to. The main character’s journey and her thoughts on relationships, friendships and other people in general were straight-up a relief to read. I loved it. It was so relatable. The characters were all well developed with their own strong personalities and stories. Specifically, the grandmother with all her bluntness and untimely homophobic, racist comments just added to the realistic feel of the book (and please do not let that discourage you, the old woman tries very hard).

In this day and age, I am always seeking diversity in the books I read, and Albertalli does not disappoint. She covers different sexualities, has multiple POC’s and deals with body image issues wonderfully. Also, the twin girls and their little brother were all conceived using a sperm donor, which is something I’ve never read about and it was fascinating to get a feel for the dynamic of the family.

Again, similarly to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this book is great. It’s classic YA, full of well-written characters, it’s hard to put down and the diversity of the book makes it all the more enjoyable. I recommend!

“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.” – Molly

“Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” By Becky Albertalli

Hi all!

It’s been a while, I’ve been busy with exams and then a big move, followed by the start of a new job. Now that I’m a bit more settled in, with more time to read, I will also be posting more. Hopefully. Because June was Pride Month, I have been looking for an LGBT+ friendly book with gay main characters and I landed on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It had quite a few good reviews on Goodreads and everyone seems to be reading Albertalli’s other book, The Upside of Unrequited these days(which I have now also started). There is a possibility this will just turn into a rant about the difficulty I have in finding good, well-written and relevant LGBT fiction, but I will try to keep this post about the book itself (I might go off a tangent in a separate post at a later point though).

PLOT

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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

‘CLASS’ YA

This book is good. I really liked it.

First of all, the Simon character is a good guy. Fundamentally, he is likable, he has good friends and he’s coming to grips with his sexual identity without losing himself in the process. His friendships with Abby, Leah, and Nick were immensely fascinating to read. I sympathised with Leah as she was sort of pushed aside, and at the same time completely understood that Simon simply found another person he could connect with, which there’s nothing wrong with. (I’m happy to say that Leah will be the main character of Albertalli’s next book. Whoop whoop! Can’t wait to read more about her. You’ll feel the same way once you’ve read this one I promise.)

tumblr_nxfg1sijc21u8fbs9o1_500The primary love interest is Blue and his identity remains a mystery until the end. The buildup to his reveal had me on the edge of my seat and I struggled to put the book down. I simply had to get to the end! And it was worth it. YA books are great because they are easy to read and they hold an emotional significance and relatability that is easily felt. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of those books and will be left standing as one of my favourite YA books. Simon and Blue’s relationship is built gradually, intently and anonymously. The purity of their relationship and depths of their conversations were aspects I greatly enjoyed. I also recognised myself in Simon in that manner as I have built trust in the same way in the past.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of the better LGBT+ books I have read, it’s realistic, relatable and well-written. Overall, it’s extremely enjoyable, it is YA-y, fluffy, diverse and full of friendship. If you like books like I’ll Give you the Sun and Lola and the Boy Next Door, this is the book for you! 

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Shoutout to Victoria Hislop

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Victoria Hislop is a beautiful 58-year-old English author. Born in Bromley, she would go on to attend St. Hilda’s College in Oxford. Like many other authors, she worked in publishing and journalism before becoming a full-time author. Though she lived in London for a long time, she has now settled in Sissinghurst.

Her books are normally set around Greece with a focus on historical events. She has no Greek roots or any idea where her love for the country comes from, but it is clearly the love reflected in all her books. In an interview, she stated it is a place where she feels a deep belonging, it was love at first sight: “The sky here has a unique translucence, the sea is especially blue, the stars are brighter and the landscape is dramatic, particularly in Crete where I have my house.”

The first Hislop book I read was The Island, and it blew. my. mind. I was quite young, at a stage where I mainly just read fantasy books. Anything else was mind-numbingly boring in comparison to stories about magic. My aunt borrowed it to me because she loved it. Barely even a page in, and I was hooked. The storyline was captivating and intense, characters complex and realistic, writing intoxicating and enjoyable. My aunt’s book had a wonderful perfume smell, (don’t get me wrong, book smell is still the best smell in the world) and it really created a whole experience around that book. Every time, I smell the perfume I am reminded of it, and how much I enjoyed reading it. When I later bought my own copy, it was with a sadness I read it without the reminiscing smell.

BOOKS BY HISLOP:

  • The Island
  • The Return
  • The Thread
  • The Sunrise
  • Cartes Postales from Greece

“Being passive doesn’t mean being subservient. Her power lay in how well she chose to respond. There was no subservience involved.”

For more information, visit her website

 

Pretty Poetry #3

Keepsakes

If you lend me your heart
I vow not to break it
I’ll keep it safe within mine
so no one can take it

and if ever you are lost
with nowhere to roam
reach for my hand
and I’ll guide you home

– Shelby Leigh

This is by Shelby Leigh, featured in her collection “It Starts Like This.” I think it is such a lovely read, making me feel comforted and at ease. I found this through her Tumblr and I’ve had it among my likes for a long time, but I felt it needed more sharing.

Rereads and Personal Growth

This is not a review as much as a quick discussion post. I recently read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell for the second time. The first time I fell in love with the story and strongly recognised myself in the character Cath. I feel I’ve changed quite a bit over the past few years, therefore, I wanted to see if it was as awesome as I remembered.

You know when you love something only because you used to love it so much? That’s what High School Musical is to me. I re-watched HSM2 a while back and I hate to say it, but it was torture. It’s iconic now, I have to love it, but the films themselves are bloody awful. I suppose I wanted to see if it was the same case with Fangirl.

Fangirl was great, but not as magnificent and fantastic as it was the first time, though nothing really is. It’s interesting to see how my perception changes however. I read it the first time before going to uni, and now I’m almost done with second year. My first year at uni was drastically different from Cath’s first year of college, being more like Wren’s (though not as extreme thank god). This has allowed me to see Cath and my past self from a different perspective and I find I have developed in a different way from what I expected back then. I’m shy and quiet in the same way Cath is, and I too lose myself in literature easily, especially when I’m in new situations or want to hide away. Though I never had a twin, I will also form strong attachments to a few friends, often letting them take the charge. I’m still all those things, but to a healthier degree, as I have grown a lot from moving to a new country and forming new relationships with no-one to lean on. That is definitely a good thing and I’m very happy to be where I am at the moment.

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HAVE YOU REREAD BOOKS FOR THE SAME REASON? HOW DID YOU FEEL AFTER?

Top 5 Inspiring Female Authors

In honour of International Women’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge some of the most influential female authors in history. Trust me, I would have liked this list to be longer, but there is always next year.

  1. J.K. ROWLING

    I’m sure it comes as no surprise that J.K isBritain Scotland Celebrities part of this list. The Harry Potter novels have impacted millions of lives and is considered the most successful book series of all time. The Harry Potter universe has grown to include a range of books, films, a play, a studio tour, a theme park, an interactive website and a lot more. She has worked incredibly hard to get where she is and she only continues to inspire us.

  2. HARPER LEE

    03-harper-lee-2-w750-h560-2xLee only ever wrote two books, but her huge impact on literature is clear. To Kill a Mockingbird is an incredible novel and an instant classic. She debated racial inequality and injustice in the purest way possible, through the eyes of children. Lee won a Pulitzer for the book and was in 2007 awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature.

  3. JANE AUSTEN

    Jane Austen died 200 years ago this yearjane_austen_coloured_version (if you
    find yourself in the proximity of Winchester, I recommend you attend the Jane Austen 200 exhibition this summer). Her writing has inspired women everywhere, and her discussion of women’s dependence in the pursuit of a socially and economically successful marriages is incredibly important. Her face will be on the new £10 note, which will be released this summer. It is clear she is one of the most influential female authors in history.

  4. SIGRID UNDSET

    undsetsakUndset was a Norwegian novelist who wrote a trilogy about a woman living in the middle ages. In 1928 she won the Nobel Prize for Literature for the series. She tackled issues such as women’s emancipation and other ethical issues. She was also catholic, which was highly unusual in Norway, a primarily Lutheran country, and she received a lot of criticism for her religion. This inspired her in her writing later and prompted her to participate in several debates, giving her the nickname “The Catholic Woman” and “The Mistress of Bjerkebæk.”

  5. LAURA INGALLS WILDER

    Wilder wrote the Little House on the Prairie series. My laura_ingalls_wilder_cropped_sepia2mother received these books when she was a child and when she passed them on to me, I fell in love instantly. It is such a compelling story and has remained one of my favourite children’s book series. Her writing  would inspire many authors of children’s books later. The hit TV-series, Little House on the Prairie, from the 1970s-1980s was based on her book series.

 

WHICH FEMALE AUTHORS HAVE INSPIRED YOU?