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.

 

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?

Reading Across Borders

f0492898d0b7658a39ac9348f555f11e936b5068_2880x1620I recently watched Ann Morgan’s TED talk; “My Year Reading a Book From Every Country in the World.” Go watch it if you haven’t already (link here). I am a lot like she was when it comes to reading. For the most part I read books from the US and UK. Reading a book from Norway, my own country, is what I would call changing things up. Right now, I am reading a series from Sweden and I think that is really going outside my normal circle, which is a ridiculous thought. I want to read books from other countries and I want to read more books from Norway. I want to be able to say I read a wide range of books, and I want it to mean I do more than just read mainstream books from different genres. If any of you know any books from other countries and cultures that you enjoy please comment, because I want to broaden my horizon.

reading-the-worldAnn Morgan’s search also further demonstrates the power of the Internet and social media. Imagine how hard this would have been two decades earlier. People support projects like these and make an effort because they want to. It is so fun to see people from all over the world communicate and make things happen. I was watching a TV show last night about a girl who travelled across the world, her flights were pre-booked, but she relied on other people to give her food and shelter. She used her social media channels to get in touch with people who were able to help. There was someone everywhere, wanting to help, wanting to show her their life. It is fascinating to see what people do because they can. The power of word of mouth astounds me as well, and both these projects have really shown its global scope.

Ann’s project has really motivated me to diversify my reading habits and I know a lot of people say that a book’s significance is lost in translation, but that is not always true. As a teenager I would read quite a few books in Norwegian as well and English and while it is different, the meaning, or the intent of the author, is certainly not always lost.

Based on this, do you have any books to recommend me?finger-passes-along-book-spines-library-animated-gif

Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once – a Goodreads list

This is a list on Goodreads, link to it is here .

As of lately, I have been getting into classic novels and enjoying the different thoughts they provoke, which is why I wanted to have a look at the books included in this specific list. I have read 26 of the 100 books, while 17 are currently on my to-read list.

I love this list because I find that it includes a lot of the books featured on any list of the same nature and therefore I find it quite accurate.

I thought I would look at the top 5 and see how I feel about where they are placed:

TOP 5 ARE:

  1. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
    This book is one of my favourites and I absolutely agree that it is a book everyone should read. The issues it deals with are very important and Lee’s writing style is utterly captivating.
  2. HARRY POTTER
    HP is my favourite book series of all time without question. The series has been vital in my development as a reader and means so much to me as a person. The sheer vastness of the Harry Potter universe, along with the dedicated fan base proves the success of the series and shows it belongs in the top of this list.
  3. 1984
    I have not gotten around to reading 1984 yet, but of course I plan on doing so quite soon. This summer, I read Animal Farm and it blew me away, so I am quite excited to read more from Orwell.
  4. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
    I read this over the summer too, but sadly, I was not a fan. While the book was ahead of its time, I feel it is not that relevant today and did not really capture my interest. I found the plot to be uninspiring and uneventful. Then again, my friend loves everything about it. I suppose this one just isn’t for me.
  5. ANNE FRANK’S DIARY
    This book should be read because of all that it represents. The reality of this story is so vital in modern history and should be read in an attempt to understand what it was like for a child in that time.

It is important to remember, and I tell myself this all the time, do not get too caught up on the lists. There have been times where I avoid books not on this list for the sheer reason that they are not on the list. Books should be purely qualitative, not quantitative. Do not let your need for completion or need to tick off a box overshadow your love for books. I worry about that all the time, because I have been prone to let it happen in the past. While I sometimes use this specific list to find new books, I am careful to also search for unknown ones, because I know for a fact they can entice me just as much as the most classic classic.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS LIST? WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

Paperback, audiobook, PDF: does it affect how much you like the book?

I wonder if the format in which we read a book affects how we feel about it. I usually buy my books at the bookstore, listen to an audiobook or find a PDF of it somewhere. This summer I read a lot of books in different formats and I found that I was more likely to enjoy the book if I bought it in the bookstore than if I found it as a PDF online. 

THE GREAT GATSBY 

Take the Great Gatsby for example. I found it as an audiobook on YouTube and also on pdf. The audiobook had annoying piano music in the background, which I found disruptive, but I nonetheless listened to it while reading along.

I had already seen the movie, which I absolutely loved. The set was amazing, costumes, casting, music was all great. The book however, I did not love. It was good sure, but I never felt that warm sensation when you know you’re reading something special to you. On the other hand, I had that feeling when I watched the movie.

After finishing the book I felt sort of disappointed. I had expected to love it, to fall in love with the story again, but no. Instead it feels already forgotten, like it’s never happened. Would it have been different if I had read it in paperback? What if the annoying piano music hadn’t been there? Would I have given it a higher rating if I had read it in a different format?

HOW ABOUT THE OTHER WAY AROUND?

The same applies vice versa. I bought Lord of the Flies in paperback form, another classic, albeit more recent, and I loved it. Now, if I had read it as a PDF on my laptop, I wonder, would I have liked as much? Of course my experience is different, but could it have been so different that I hadn’t given it such a high rating? Could The Great Gatsby have been rated higher?

IT IS ALL RELATIVE

Of course it matters what sort of book it is, how much I want to read it, what my expectations are, which is why buying the book won’t automatically mean I’ll like it better, but I believe it gives the book a better chance to get praised. Of course, to purchase a book is to invest in the experience, which in turn makes it more likely that you have researched and chosen to read a book you know you’ll enjoy.

We all like different genres, relate to different people, see things differently. Reading is subjective. A book can be good objectively, but the core of how you feel about a book is based on your subjective experience. The book might be a classic, a new release, an unknown story. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make sure you’re reading in a way that will not undermine the experience of reading that specific book. The feeling you’re left with is your feeling and you need to create an atmosphere that will justify your attitude towards the book.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?