This August 2015 I took a break from work and spent about 6 days enjoying some R&R down the North Carolina shore with my family. I managed to get through some of the books that were waiting for a long time for me to get to them, as well as try some new authors.
I forgot where I read about how the short story "The Sentinel" was the inspiration for "2001: A Space Odyssey", but being that I have always considered the latter a great book and movie, I managed to grab a copy of the anthology "The Sentinel" just so that I could read the short story by the same name and see what else Arthur C. Clarke "had to offer." Interestingly enough (to me), most if not all the other short stories included in this collection could easily be published today and still feel just as futuristic as they probably were back when they were first published! This was yet another one of the books that I read by the beach this Summer and though it didn't blow me away, it was still a very relaxing read.
This last June I got from my family for my birthday "John Carter of Mars" containing the complete series and I was just itching for a good opportunity to start reading it. That chance came up this week as I started reading some of Melville's short stories and found that I needed a bit of a "break". First off, I have never read Edgar Rice Burroughs before but I do have a copy of "Tarzan of the Apes" also awaiting for a chance, so I had an idea about what to expect from his style. Sure enough, reading "A Princess of Mars" felt like a taking a trip down memory's lane, back when it was easy to tell who the good and the bad guys were, and there was always a damsel in distress somewhere waiting to be rescued. I have to confess that it took me a few chapters to get re-acclimated with this style, but once I got into it, it was easy reading, which is exactly what I was looking for any how.
John Carter, the main character, shows all the expected, cliché virtues one would expect from a "hero" but one thing that bothered me a bit was the language he used to describe those who were different from him (which was mostly everyone in the story, since they were all Martians) and the way he treated them. It felt a bit abusive and even a but racist? I don't know if someone could get away with writing in the same style today, but then again I remembered that back then people were not as politically correct as we are today... or maybe I was reading too much into it? Anyhow, it was a fun read and I think I will try to add the next 4 books of the series in the coming months so that I can hopefully get a better opinion formed about the author.
This July 2015 I travelled to the Red Hat office in Brno, Czech Republic to spend some time with my teammates there, and I managed to get a lot of reading done between long plane rides and being jet lagged for many nights :) So I finally managed to finish up some of the books that had been lingering on my ToDo list and even managed to finally read a few of the books that together make up the Chronicles of Narnia, since I had never read them as a kid.
Out of all the books I read this month, I feel that All Quiet on the Western Front and The October Country were the ones I enjoyed reading the most, closely followed by Cryptonomicon, which took me a while to get through. The other books, with the exception of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, helped me pass the time when I only wanted to be entertained.
All Quiet on the Western Front takes the prize for being one of the best books I have ever read! I felt that the way WWI was presented through the eyes of the main character was a great way to represent all the pain, angst and suffering that all sides of conflict went through, without catering for any particular side or having an agenda. Erich Maria Remarque's style had me some times breathless, some times with a knot on the pit of my stomach I as 'endured' the many life changing events that took place in the book. Is this an action-packed book about WWI? Will it read like a thriller? In my opinion, even though there are many chapters with gory details about killings and battles, the answer is a very bland 'maybe'. I think that the real 'star' of this book is its philosophical view of the war and how the main characters, all around 19-20 years of age, learn to deal with its life lasting effects.
Now, I have been a huge fan of Ray Bradbury for a while now, and when I got The October Country for my birthday last month, I just knew that it would be time well spent reading it. For those of you who are more acquainted his science fiction works, this book will surprise you as it shows you a bit of his 'darker' side. All of the short stories included in this collection deal with death, mysterious apparitions, inexplicable endings and are sure to spook you a little bit.
Cryptonomicon was at times slow, some other times funny and, especially toward the end, a very entertaining book. Weighing in at a hefty 1000 pages (depending on the edition you have, plus/minus 50 odd pages), this book covers two different periods in the lives of a number of different characters, past (around WWII) and present, all different threads eventually leading to a great finale. Alternating between past and present, the story takes us to the early days of how cryptology was 'officially invented' and used during the war, and how many of the events that took place back then were affecting the lives of some of the direct descendants of the main characters in our present day. As you go through the back and forth you start to gather bits and pieces of information that eventually connects all the dots of an interesting puzzle. It definitely requires a long term commitment to go though it, but it was enjoyable and, as I mention before, it made me laugh at many places.more ...
Those of you who know me know that I am a huge book reader and spend most of my free time reading several books at the same time. One could say that reading is one of my passions, and having wasted so many years after high school completely ignoring this passion (in exchange for spending most of my time trying to learn about Linux, get an education, a job and, let's be frank, chasing after girls), I decided that something had to be done about it, and starting around 2008 I 'forced' myself to dedicate at least one solid hour of reading for fun every day.
I find it funny to say that I had to force myself, but this statement is very much true. Being so used to spending all of my time sitting in front of a computer and getting flooded with information every single minute of the day (IRC, Twitter, Facebook, commit emails, RSS feeds, etc), I found it difficult to 'unplug' and spend time doing nothing but focusing on only one thing. I was so used to multitasking and being constantly bombarded with lots of information that sitting quietly and reading didn't feel very productive to me... sad but true.
Anyhow, after several 'agonizing' months of getting up from my desk and making a point of turning off my cel phone and finding a quiet place somewhere in the building (or at home during the weekends), I finally got into the habit of reading for pleasure. I actually looked forward to these reading periods (imagine that, huh?) and eventually I realized that if I skipped this 'ritual' even one day, my days felt like they got longer and I felt stressed out and irritable for the remaining of the day. Reading became not only a good habit but my mechanism for relaxing and recharging my energies during the day!
Well, this passion and appetite for reading has only gotten bigger, and with time I have to say that it has become a pretty big part of who I am today! In a way I am happy that it took me this long to get back into the habit of reading... I mean, I feel that getting older was an important part of preparing myself so that I could really appreciate John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury and the likes of them! Would I have truly appreciated The Grapes of Wrath when I was younger? Perhaps... but it took me around 40 years to get to it and I'm happy that when it did I was able to appreciate this amazing piece of art!
These last few months I decided that I wanted to start tracking all the books that I read, buy or receive as a gift every month (see my reading progress on GoodReads and add me as a friend), and jot down some of my impressions and motives for reading or buying them. Those familiar with Nick Hornby will probably associate this post (and hopefully others that will surely come) with the work he has done writing for the Believer Magazine ... and this would be correct. My intention is not to copy his style or anything like that, but I thought that the format he chose to report on his own reading 'adventures' would fit in quite nicely with what I wanted to get across to my readers... and I'm sticking with the format as long as it works for me :)more ...
For my last post of 2014 I wanted to show, with pictures, the books I read and spent so much time with this year.
Back in January of 2014 I set out to read 30 books as part of my Reading Challenge. I wanted to focus on reading Brazilian authors early on as I felt that I really needed to learn more about Brazilian literature and this time, read books for fun and not because I was told to back when I was much younger.
Making a quick pit stop to mark this milestone in my professional career: today is my 3-year anniversary at Red Hat! Time has certainly flown by and I really cannot believe that it has been three years since I joined this company.
I know it is sort of cliche to say "I can not believe that it has been this long..." and so on and so forth, but it is so true. Back then I joined a relatively new project with very high ambitions, and the first few months had me swimming way out in the deepest part of the pool, trying to learn all 'Red Hat-things' and Clojure for the existing automation framework (now we are fully using Python).more ...
Woke up this morning and, as usual, sat down to read the Books section of The New York Times while drinking my coffee. This has become sort of a 'tradition' for me and because of it I have been able to learn about many interesting books, some of which I would not have found out on my own. I also 'blame' this activity to turning my nightstand into a mini-library on its own.
Currently I have the following books waiting for me:
It was around 2005 when I started doing translations for Free and Open-Source Software. Back then I was warmly welcomed to the Ubuntu family and quickly learned all there was to know about using their Rosetta online tool to translate and/or review existing translations for the Brazilian Portuguese language. I spent so much time doing it, even during working hours, that eventually I sort of "made a name for myself" and made my way up to the upper layers of the Ubuntu Community echelon.
Then I "graduated" and started doing translations for the upstream projects, such as GNOME, Xfce, LXDE, and Openbox. I took on more responsabilities, learned to use Git and make commits for myself as well as for other contributors, and strived to unify all Brazilian Portuguese translations across as many different projects as possible. Many discussions were had, (literally) hundreds of hours were spent going though also hundreds of thoundands of translations for hundreds of different applications, none of it bringing me any monetary of financial advantage, but all done for the simple pleasure of knowing that I was helping make FOSS applications "speak" Brazilian Portuguese.more ...
My parents were eagerly awaiting our arrival on an early Spring morning, and when our plane finally landed after the almost 10 1/2 hours flight and we made our way to the luggage claim area, the reunion was filled with a lot of hugging, laughter and a huge sigh ...more ...