The problem with Kindle

I got my first Kindle a decade ago. I got my second and third Kindle in the years since, but while the divide is amazing (and imho, I wouldn’t even want more out of it at this point), it’s the library that is bumming me out.

When it comes to my physical books, I have a similar problem of over-accumulation. And yet, every year or so, I can go through it and clear out roughly an entire shelf, donate it, and have the satisfaction of looking at a diminished collection, perhaps a collection where I know where things are.

There is absolutely no way to do the same with my digital collection. I visited my Kindle library today and found a list of undifferentiated 290 titles in there.

Yes, there are collections.

Yes, I can go through the list and tag it with one or more collections.

That’s not good enough. I want to be able to see fewer items when I want. I wish I could get rid of old ebooks, just so I don’t feel burdened by looking at this list.

Back to Neal Stephenson ….

I think the first Neal Stephenson book I read was Snow Crash, though it was some sort of partial online copy and I didn’t finish it all the way through. This was sometime in the late 90s. I liked it, didn’t fully get it, and I forgot it.

Then I read Anathem, and it blew me away, and I still think it’s my favorite. Not so much for what happens in the story itself (in fact, I’m forgetting the ending as I write this (and I’m not sure he does a good job of endings in general, hmm …)), but more about the world in it, all the wonderful details, and how they’re revealed.

Then I read Snow Crash again, and I loved it this time, and … this “linguistic superpower meta-meme” went into my mind and embedded itself there, one of possibly only three or four others like it (the meta-meme of psychohistory being another old, deep idea, but more on that some other time).

Then I read the Baroque trilogy, and was thrilled to bits. This was on my Kindle (new at the time to me, I’m talking about a decade ago from today), and created a side-passion of etymology for me (I’d been lost in the endless link-following of Wikipedia earlier, this was the same but for word-origins …). (Also, I don’t think I would’ve been able to read them in their paper forms, which I realized when I saw a copy of The System of the World (my favorite of the three, I think) in a bookshop and realized there was no way I was going to lug that around with me.)

Anyway, I was aware of him continuing to write but hadn’t really read any fiction in many years, and while a colleague had recommended Seveneves to me last year, it had languished on my wish-list … until this week, when I started reading it again (in e-book form, if you must know).

Not much of a spoiler alert to share the very first line of the book: The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason. So yes, a compelling reason to keep reading. And about 7% of the way through, I’m enjoying it (small observation though: this definitely belongs in the pre-2016-age-of-innocence era when it comes to describing human beings).

When I’m done I think I’ll revisit everything else he’s been up to lately (D.o.d.o and Reamde), which means I have several months of reading pipeline filled up …

Lisp Books

This is something I’ve always pieced together bit-by-bit, and I’m sure a lot of other people have done the same by combining occasional blog posts, reviews on Amazon, perhaps a few mailing lists, and so on.

Adam Tornhill has reviewed a bunch of these, and I’ve read them and agree with most of them, so here is an index to some of them:

(My own current path is slightly different, btw. I had read SICP many years ago and definitely need to re-read it, but I started with Conrad Barski’s “Land of Lisp” and am now slowly working through Graham’s “ANSI Common Lisp”, hoping to move on to PAIP once I’m done)