Ex Libris Kirkland

Ex Libris Kirkland is my entirely self-centered way to keep track of what I read, what I like, and what I want to remember.

Recently Quoted

  • I don’t have time. The hunt begins in half an hour and I can’t miss it. I have too many questions and most of the answers will be carrying shotguns.

    an excerpt from The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, written by Stuart Turton in 2018

  • The future isn’t a warning my friend, it’s a promise, and it won’t be broken by us. That’s the nature of the trap we’re caught in.

    an excerpt from The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, written by Stuart Turton in 2018

  • Europeans—who generally like to think of themselves as being a pretty savvy lot—managed to forget and then rediscover this fact about vitamin C at least seven more times over the next five hundred years, including rediscoveries in 1593 CE, 1614 CE, 1707 CE, 1734 CE, 1747 CE, and 1794 CE, until the idea finally stuck in 1907.

    an excerpt from How to Invent Everything, written by Ryan North in 2018

Recently Noted

  • A really interesting magazine article that got stretched out to book length. But full of interesting stuff, all the same. I really loved thinking about - but not really believing - some of the ideas here. Like, before global reporting efforts (weatherwatchers mailed postcards in, and symbols literally pinned to a map), people didn't think of weather as a global system or even something you could conceptualize from above - but only local weather patterns that just appeared, locally, and didn't have meaningful connections with like, the weather in other places. A delightful idea, but... I kind of doubt this.

    an note about The Weather Machine, written by Andrew Blum in 2019

  • This is really an amazing, super clever puzzlebox murder mystery story. You wake up, you don't know who you are, you are in a decrepit manor house in a vaguely Downton Abbey setting, and you have to solve a murder to get out. You wake up again, and it's the same day, but you're in a different body.

    This has all the pleasures of an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, AND a time travel story where your choices ripple out in unexpected directions. And really, it's a great premise that might get a bit thin, but the author keeps peeling back a layer and exposing that the gear mechanism you thought you were working with is a part of a larger mechanism.

    It's also a kind of meta book: in the first section I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the story as being about the experiences of Author and Reader. That's clever and interesting, but could have worn thin for a long book, and it 100% did not.

    And the writing itself is pretty good! It's well done, there were a pile of clever metaphors (probably too many), the characterization is solid (which is super important for the story mechanism at use here). That also could have been a big risk for the audiobook, but the reader totally pulls this off without resorting to silly voices.

    I listened to this as an audiobook, and I was really surprised that despite the dry tone of the reader, this ended up as 17 hours of really compelling listening.

    an note about The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, written by Stuart Turton in 2018

  • This is a funny book in the guise of a nonfiction tome, in the vein of John Hodgman. But it's better! And I think mostly actually factual? I didn't check everything, but it's very entertaining while ALSO being chock full of amazing facts that make you want to read out loud to your spouse, who is falling asleep next to you and maybe doesn't care that all Haas avocados are direct descendents of a mysterious seed discovered in the 30s that nobody knows where it came from.

    an note about How to Invent Everything, written by Ryan North in 2018

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Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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