My Most Recent Reads - May, 2014

May was a strong month for reading.  I found this surprising as I was busy with much end of the semester craziness along with an injury and other projects.  I read 32 books this month while still keeping atop the 365 short stories a year project.  I'm not sure how that happened but it did and I'll take it.  So let's take a look at the highlights!


iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up by Janell Hofmann

Book cover: iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up by Janell Hofmann.  Image source: http://www.janellburleyhofmann.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/irules_bookpreview.png
I'm a big skeptic of books about technology and social media that work from any vantage point that implies they are irrelevant, detrimental, or outright harmful.  That is, many works are written from a fear-based approach that denies youth's agency and often overplays supposed innocence.  Hofmann doesn't do this and that is refreshing.  Her guide addresses a variety of concerns around how to raise healthy children with regards to technology but the center of approach is dialogue, choice, and responsibility.  It's clear she advocates (and does so in her own family) for a clear structure and coming together about how technology is best used.  Equally important, she calls out much of the BS that other guides or parents seem to forget.  She's truthful and at times, says things like if cellphones were available when she was a teenager, she too would succumb to the selfie crazy.  That is, it is not a representation of the downfall of society but just a byproduct of teenage life.  Her genuiness makes her book much stronger than many of the other preachy tomes out there.  If you're working with youth or are a parent (or will be a parent), this is the book to get to help you and your family navigate tricky waters.  


The Art of Darkness: Meditations on the Effect of Horror Fiction by W. J. Renehan

The Art of Darkness: Meditations on the Effect of Horror Fiction by W. J. Renehan.  Image source: http://i0.wp.com/www.horrorsociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/The-Art-of-Darkness-book-cover.jpg?resize=333%2C500
Renehan provides a concise and clear discussion of horror and how it works.  Drawing upon some of the greatest horror fiction and films as well as some of the best scholarship, he hits upon the major facets of horror.  It's certainly a text I would consider for the next time I teach a horror-based course as it's brief but hits the major points that are worth noting about narrative that uses horror. It's a book I would recommend for anyone who doesn't get horror because Renehan breaks down the ideas that have long upheld horror into nice neat chapters.   





Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread— The Lessons from a New Science by Alex Pentland

Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread— The Lessons from a New Science by Alex Pentland.  Image source: http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Social-Physics-Alex-Pentland/9781922247551
Pentland paints a fascinating picture about the ways information moves in the world of big data and how we can use that to better understand how people act and influence one another.  It's not the first book to talk about this idea but it does pull together the various research already done and the research he has done to understand the big underpinnings of this emerging science such as how to measure, how to understand cause, effect, and correlation in this new landscape.  It's a great read that isn't too heavy but grounded in solid examples that can help people understand how new ways of knowing how people interact are emerging every day.  


So those are my major reads for the month.  As usual, below is a fuller listing of all the books I hit and the monthly breakdown.  

The current monthly reviews:

BOOKS

  • Great French Short Stories edited by M. E. Speare


AUDIOBOOKS

  • The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny by Peter McGraw
  • iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up by Janell Hofmann
  • Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment by Jim Sterne
  • The Art of Darkness: Meditations on the Effect of Horror Fiction by W. J. Renehan
  • White Male Privilege: A Study of Racism in America 50 Years After the Voting Rights Act by Mark Rosenkranz
  • A Simple Introduction to Data Science by Lars Nielsen
  • Browning Version by Terence Rattigan
  • The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media by Marcia Conner
  • Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread— The Lessons from a New Science by Alex Pentland
  • Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game that Changed Everything by Daniel Goldberg


GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Constantine, Vol. 1: The Spark and the Flame by Jeff Lemire
  • A.I. Volume 1: Human After All by Sam Humphries
  • Sheltered, Volume 1: A Pre-Apocalyptic Tale by John Christmas
  • Ghost Volume 1: In the Smoke and Din by Kelly DeConnick
  • Ten Grand Volume 1 by J. Michael Straczynski
  • Savage Wolverine, Volume 2: Hands on a Dead Body by Zeb Wells
  • Savage Wolverine, Vol. 1: Kill Island by Frank Cho
  • Wolverine, Vol. 2: Killable by Paul Cornell
  • Superior Carnage by Kevin Shinick
  • Cable and X-Force, Vol. 4: Vendettas by Dennis Hopeless
  • Cable and X-Force, Vol. 3: This Won't End Well by Dennis Hopeless
  • Wonder Woman, Vol. 4: War by Brian Azzarello
  • Uncanny X-Force, Vol: 3: Vendetta by Sam Humphries
  • Thunderbolts, Vol. 2: Red Scare by Daniel Way
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Core (Season 9, #5) by Andrew Chambliss
  • The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen
  • Angel & Faith: What You Want, Not What You Need (Angel & Faith, #5) by Christos Gage 
  • Hinterkind Vol. 1: The Waking World by Ian Edginton
  • X-Men Legacy, Vol. 4: For We Are Many by Simon Spurrier
  • The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 5: The Superior Venom by Dan Slott
  • Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem by Steve Niles

What about you?  What have you read of interest of late?



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