Fun summer book reading suggestions?

Hey everybody, I’m looking for some fun books (mostly fiction) to read this summer. What would you recommend? One book I recently enjoyed was The Martian, a novel about an astronaut stranded on Mars who needs to figure out how to survive and get home with minimal supplies. It was a little heavy on the science, but I liked learning a couple things while reading it. I also enjoyed Flash Boys by Michael Lewis, even though it wasn’t fiction.

I’m not much of a fantasy reader (normally I prefer sci-fi), but I did enjoy The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and his follow-up book, The Wise Man’s Fear. Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane was satisfyingly haunting–highly recommended.

Almost anyone in the tech world would enjoy Hatching Twitter, by Nick Bilton. I like almost anything by Jon Ronson as well. Likewise, Ramez Naam and Lee Child and Daniel Suarez are good bets for me at least. I enjoy just about everything by John Scalzi, although Redshirts got a little too meta for my taste.

I also enjoyed The Last Policeman by Ben Winters, about a policeman who stays at his post in the months before an asteroid is predicted to collide with the Earth. I’m not a horror fan, but an unexpected delight was the comedy-horror novel This Book Is Full of Spiders by David Wong.

When I asked for reading recommendations in the past, here’s the description I used:

Okay, I’m looking for fun, light reading for my vacation. I don’t want search stuff, I don’t want heavy reading, I don’t want geopolitics or history.

Things like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Or Terry Pratchett. Or early William Gibson. Cheesy cyberpunk if they don’t get the computer stuff too wrong. Neil Gaiman. Transmetropolitan.

So, what fun books have you enjoyed recently? Tell me what books you’ve really enjoyed!

30 day challenge for June: treadmill desk!

Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Let me tell you about the 30 day challenges I’ve been doing and what I learned:

- March 2014: I went back to doing no external email, and I learned this one weird, simple trick that helped. In previous “no email” challenges, I relied on sheer force of will not to reply to email. That didn’t work so well. In March, I tried something different: I used Gmail filters to take outside email, add the label “march2014″, and then made the outside emails skip my inbox.

It turns out that getting those emails out of my default view was critical. A while ago when I was losing some weight, I noticed that small nudges could make things easier. Instead of leaving chips or snacks lying in plain sight, I tucked them away where I wouldn’t see them. The principle of “out of sight, out of mind” can really work for you! Even better was to skip buying certain snacks. In theory, I could get in the car and drive somewhere if I really wanted a treat, but in practice I rarely did.

Archiving email out of your inbox has the same effect. Now if I’m done with my internal work-related email, I might click through to check out the outside email at the end of the day, but it doesn’t sit right in front of me begging for a reply like it did before. I’ve kept up this practice after March.

- April 2014: This is going to sound crazy, but I wanted to figure out how to make quirky eyebrow expressions (watch what Emilia Clarke can do with her eyebrows–it’s crazy!). Unfortunately, I only practiced in front of a mirror once or twice, so April was a total crash and burn. But so what? I still tried a couple times, and not every 30 day challenge has to be deep or meaningful. Fun is fine! Maybe I’ll circle back around to this one again down the road.

- May 2014: My challenge for May was to get eight hours of sleep a night. I only hit that goal about half the nights. But I became much more aware of when I was trading off sleep for a meaningful activity, like getting up at 4 a.m. to drive to Vallejo for a triathlon. Or more often, I realized that I was trading off sleep to answer emails or surf the web. As a bonus 30 day challenge, I biked into work almost every day in May.

Which brings me to my 30 day challenge for June! In previous months, it would take me about three hours a day to battle email to a standstill, and I’ve also noticed that I end up surfing the web for at least a couple hours a day. All told, I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer, which might not be the best for my health.

For June 2014, I’m going to try to convert some of that computer time to at least an hour a day with a treadmill desk. I have a treadmill at home and I slapped a couple plastic risers and a piece of plywood across it–instant treadmill desk! So the incremental cost was only like $20. I set the treadmill speed to one mile an hour, which is fast enough that my Fitbit can detect I’m walking, but slow enough that I can still think and work. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Is there any new habit or experiment you’d like to try for the next 30 days?

css.php