Back to blogging in 2020!

Reviews of some books by neat ladies

Hey Internet, I just wanted to tell you about some nice books I read recently.

1. Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal
I first came across Jane McGonigal when I was writing a paper claiming my game PhotoCity is a "hybrid alternate reality game with a purpose". Then she started popping up all over the place, giving talks and writing books, such as this one. I went to her book signing at UW and even nervously chatted with her and she wrote a strange scribble in my book that I eventually discovered said "Fiero!"

Anyway, people I know are divided on this book. Some like it and some hate it. I loved reading it. The message is basically that games make people feel good and productive, and that if we made games that made people feel good and have fun but were also beneficial in some/many ways to the people or society in general, that would be really awesome and really powerful. There are some cute quirky game examples in the book, and even a few paragraphs about Foldit ( which I know first/second-hand to actually be making scientific advances as a game.

I think the same message (part of it, anyway) worded more darkly has to do with this generation's young people feeling purposeless and unfocused and bored. And thus they turn to video games and drugs and bwaaa, society is going to collapse!! So if you could give them "good" video games (not that video games are bad, Jane actually makes a good point that regular old games can teach people to cooperate or relax them when they're stressed out), or at least make their own lives fun and challenging and stressful yet rewarding, that would be good.

2. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
Totally unrelated to the book above. Omg, I love love love the montages in tv shows and movies of astronauts preparing for space travel. Like that one episode of the Simpsons and the movie Armageddon and this movie that I loved when I was younger but turned out to be painfully awful when I re-watched it, Rocket Man.

This book is the extended version of that, plus it's factual and super detailed. There's a story about an astronaut on a space walk not wanting to return to the spaceship because he's so euphoric floating there and looking at Earth, and chapters on poop and space sex and space sexual relation drama (e.g. what happens in space stays in space). Also, after reading this book, I do NOT want to go to space myself because it sound super gross being in a tiny smelly spaceship where gravity and toilets and showers don't work properly. But the book itself, I highly recommend reading it. Everything you wanted to know about space travel and it will make you super sad to get to the end and realize/remember that the SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM is now OVER. Here's the tweet to sum that up: If you watch NASA backwards, it's about a space agency that has no spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on moon.

3. Bossypants by Tina Fey
I'm sure glad I read this book on the kindle because the cover with the big man arms really freaks me out.

One of many parts that made me chuckle was towards the end when Tina's describing her relationship with her daughter. Her daughter picks out a book about a working mom witch who spends a lot of time at her witch work and sometimes gets mad when her daughter goes near her cauldron... and Tina gets sad and thinks she's a bad mom... and eventually she confronts her daughter who's just like, "Mom, I can't read. I thought it was a Halloween book." I think I think it's funny because I picture a tiny articulate Tina Fey who can't read but still says snarky things.

Also in this book, I learned about the rise of women in comedy and how it was/still is a male dominated field (much like computer science) because dudes think ladies can't be as funny. But Tina and her buddies sure showed them! I also very much enjoyed reliving the Tina Fey as Sarah Palin times from 'behind the scenes'.

End book review! Well, that was fun. Time for us to get off the internet and go read some books.


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