Category Archives: Drivel

Reading Challenges

While I’m a lifetime member of LibraryThing, I hardly ever make it over there, even to add new books to my library list, which I use to find the Dewey call number for each volume. No, I don’t have my library organized by call number — yet — I attach a post-it note with the call number to the front of the book in preparation for the manic Saturday when I have nothing else to do, and can stand the disorder no longer.

Goodreads is my site of choice for books. Managing my reading queue seems easier with them, and I genuinely trust the star ratings and reviews that people leave, after being bitten hard by Amazon and “best sellers” reviews.

Matthew’s read book montage

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Leviathan Wakes
The Atlantis Gene
The Handmaid's Tale
Anatomy of the State
The Fountains of Paradise
The Line
I Shall Wear Midnight
The Man in the High Castle
Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
The Paris Review Issue 218
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth
The Secrets of the Little Blue Box
Machine Man
American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964
Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again

Matthew Royal’s favorite books »

Each year, Goodreads hosts a reading challenge, where you set a goal for yourself, then track your progress over the year. It’s amazing how little I actually read. The past few years, I’ve increased my goal by 5 books each January, and this year at 40 books, is the first year that feels like a lot. I love the reminder to read things on my list, I love seeing how much or how little my friends are reading (thanks, Facebook integration), and I love the meaningless statistics accumulated at the end of the year.

My Goodreads Reading Challenge results from 2016

  • Are the books I’m reading too short?
  • What is the knowledge density in these books, and how much am I really learning?
  • How can I read more books? (Many were read on cross-country flights, which decreased for me in 2017.)
  • Do audiobooks count?
  • Are these even good metrics? “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested,” but this seems to be fixated on page count in a world where no page size is standard.

For me, I’d hate to be held to it by a parent or school, but The Challenge encourages me to stall out in fewer books, and it scratches my list-making itch. I sort of wish there were Reading Challenges for other things in my life: writing little programs I’ve thought of, weeding my garden, perhaps.

Not quite gamification, but JUST ENOUGH social accountability in a fun way.

Delphic maxim a week

We live in a golden age of technology and possibilities, but we still repeat the same mistakes humans have always made. Around 29 centuries ago, the ancient Greeks analyzed a ton of these mistakes and distilled what they learned into useful tidbits for avoiding them in the future.

“Know Thyself” is the most famous of the Delphic maxims, ancient commands/advice attributed to either the Oracle at Delphi or the Seven Sages of Greece, but the other 146 maxims are equally striking.

Seven Sages
Seven Sages

Continue reading Delphic maxim a week

Hello, World!

Matt on a Segway
Photo of Matt on a Segway

This is my public brain.

Someone said you should never send an email longer than a few sentences, because if your time and energy are worth coming up with something great, you should share it where others can find it.

Then add a Donate button.