Originally Published: 2019-10-02
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Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It, Gabriel Wyner: This book proposes three basic keys to language learning:
- Learn pronunciation first
- Don’t translate
- Use spaced repetition systems (an “SRS”, like Anki)
It also has some other things building on those, but the main focus is on using an SRS to achieve your goals. Helpfully, it goes into how to use what are basically flash cards to learn more complex mnemonic devices, as well as abstract concepts and grammar. This is really where the book shines. It could however benefit from more non-English examples just to act as full L2 example cards. It does, surprisingly and refreshingly, argue for the benefits of creating your own cards instead of downloading or reusing someone else’s. Overall, a lot of practical language-learning advice that I look forward to experimenting with.
- We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Cult of the Dead Cow, Joseph Menn: the book’s subtitle (“How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World”) is a little oversold, and the newsmaking Beto O’Rourke revelations are probably the least interesting thing about it, but if you lived through the 90’s computer hacking scene even as an interested outside observer, this is a pretty good read.
- Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
- Legion Versus Phalanx, Myke Cole: Myke Cole capably synthesizes a variety of sources and practical experience, turning potentially dry material into a compelling and informative read. Really looking forward to his next history book, The Bronze Lie: Shattering the Myth of Spartan Warrior Supremacy.
- The Vegetarian, Han Kang
- Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino: an excellent book filled with excellent writing.
- Classics: A Very Short Introduction, Mary Beard: OK, to clarify, this is not really a very short introduction to classical history, but rather a very short introduction to “Classics” as a field of study, which I did not realize going in. It also takes a good while to really get going, and while it makes some good points, I think it suffers from now being slightly dated in this regard as well (it was first published in 1995).
- Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit
- The Royal Art of Poison, Eleanor Herman: wanna read a whole lot about the history of poison, poisonings, and things people thought were poisonings but were probably something else? This is the book for you! Discovered via this thread on Twitter.
- The Expendable Man, Dorothy B. Hughes: I went into this completely blind on the strength of Hughes’ absolutely incredible In A Lonely Place, and I don’t think I’ve ever been slapped so hard across the face by an unexpected book “twist” before in my life. Hard to discuss it more without giving much away, but if you do want to read it I think it’s worth reading as little as possible about it beforehand, as contradictory as that may seem.
- Outline, Rachel Cusk: I found this to be really excellent, with a unique voice and amazing, penetrating writing. I’m surprised the reviews of it seem to be so divided. I believe I came across it on Twitter in the context of someone recommending it for people who like the work of Elena Ferrante and Sally Rooney. Personally, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the “Outline Trilogy” (and am already mostly through the second book, Transit).
- The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett: yes, for some reason, I decided now is the time for me to read a Discworld novel for the first time ever.
- People Are Already Reporting Collisions With Tesla’s Driverless Smart Summon Feature: “Be especially careful around quick moving people, bicycles, and cars.” Darn those pesky quick moving people and bicycles!
- How Tesla Tries To Keep the Media on Autopilot
- WeWork and the Great Unicorn Delusion
- Watch Martin Scorsese’s Long-Unavailable 1970 Documentary ‘Street Scenes’
- Latin Hell and Shitizens United, Sententiae Antiquae
- Malcolm Gladwell’s Penn State Rabbit Hole Isn’t Very Deep
- Children, stop yelling at me, or I will make certain the climate changes for the worse
- Unplugged: what I learned by logging off and reading 12 books in a week
- Shane Gillis, ‘SNL’ and the Myth of ‘Cancel Culture’
- Don’t Worry, These Gangly-armed Cartoons Are Here to Protect You From Big Tech
- US should drop concerns around state planning