Books I’ve read since my last review

So my illness wasn’t polycystic kidney disease after all, according to both an ultrasound and then an MRI. My symptoms of pains and peripheral neuropathy still remain and I suspect type 2 diabetes now. I was doing fasted cardio followed by eating a big meal everyday and I believe the spikes in blood sugar this caused may be the culprit. Though I am far from sure and it may be something worse, like heavy metal toxicity or some kind of autoimmune disease. As Sherlock Holmes said “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” I have gotten a blood glucose monitor but hesitate to prick myself just yet, as I get faint at the sight of blood. However it must be done soon, and I am happier to deal with almost anything rather than PKD which is a nightmare disease like something out of a horror movie.

I amaze myself that I was able to do anything at all these past six months, much less read several books, but somehow I did. Let me try and remember:

Over The Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen

An account of Magellan’s voyage, whose real name was Fernão de Magalhães. He was a Portuguese captain sailing for Spain, and Magellan was the Spanish version of his name. Most of this is based on the journal of Antonio Pigafetta who accompanied Magellan.

The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie

This is the best history book I’ve ever read and the second best book I’ve read since starting this wordpress. Unlike most writers of historical fiction, Kim MacQuarrie is only focused on the Incas. He has lived in Peru for years and really knows his subject matter. Vividly and intelligently describes the collision between the Spanish and Inca empires, as well as delves deeply into the key individuals, their personalities, and motivations. Francisco Pizarro really comes off as a manipulative sociopath hellbent on acquiring gold to avoid having to work for a living.

Hulk Hogan: My Life Outside the Ring by Hulk Hogan and Marc Dagostino

And this is the best book Ive read since starting this wordpress. Not the most verbose or intellectually written, but the most interesting in terms of readability. I really could not put this down and that’s rare for me. Not only is Hulk Hogan an interesting person in general, but the story of his rise and fall is spellbinding.

The Gates of Thorbardin by Dan Parkinson

Somehow right after I read the best book, I read what I think so far is the worst book. This is set in the Dragonlance shared universe. Dan Parkinson was primarily a writer of westerns. The goblin race here seems to equal Native Americans and I found this book racist in that members of the goblin race are always evil, stupid, smelly, and are gruesomely murdered by the heroes. Maybe a fourth of the book consist of a subplot where a gnome named “Bobbins” builds a flying machine that can’t land. He comes down to hover over the other characters, gives them information, and takes food, and then the flying machine which isn’t under is control zooms up into the sky again. This happens over and over.

The Social Animal by David Brooks

An excellent social psychology book exploring how our families, societies, schools, and cultures exert a huge influence on us throughout our lifetimes.

Somewhere Inside by Laura and Lisa Ling

Journalist Laura Ling illegally enters North Korea and is detained for about six months. This is her story and how her sister Lisa Ling and the US government brought her home. It was better than a thought, recommended.

The Light of Other Days by Author C Clarke and Stephen Baxter

This book is notable for being the most depressing book I’ve ever read. I don’t think it was trying to be depressing either. It’s a cold, hard science fiction novel exploring the time viewer concept, like time machines except, only a camera can go back in time and send back audio/visual, not actual people.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Here is another depressing book, but I think he was trying to be dark and depressing. Reminds me of a combination of Samuel Delany and Clive Barker. Lot’s of sex, drugs, and violence, and a creepy illusionist character named Peter Rivera. Beautifully written though. Really instead of cyberpunk I think the genre most descriptive of this is sci-fi/horror. There’s a lot of coffee drinking and references in this book, even the robot that guides Molly through the Villa Straylight is manufactured by Braun. I wonder how many cups of coffee Gibson was drinking a day when he wrote this.

Invisible Enemies by Jeanette Farrell

A nonfiction book about the discovery and attempts to treat, cure, and eradicate seven diseases. Smallpox, Tuberculosis, Malaria, HIV, Leprosy, The Black Death, and Cholera. This one’s depressing as well, terrifying actually.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The most useful book I’ve read since beginning this. Duhigg shares the latet developments in the science of habits. From the neurophysiology (habits are stored in the basal ganglia) to the components of habits (cues, routines, and rewards) to habits in organizations and how to change your habits easier. This was really a practical book and one I’m trying to make use of now to rid myself of my chess, poker, and overeating habit. Let’s see if Ive made any progress by next time I update this blog. Hopefully there will be a next time.

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