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  • Writer's pictureDavid Harold

Christmas Book Recommendation

“There was something about Christmas Eve, they both felt, that demanded company; one needed somebody to whisper to, during the warm beautiful dream-taut moments between hanging the empty stocking at the end of the bed, and dropping into the cosy oblivion that would flower into the marvel of Christmas morning.”

It's that time of year when either you have left present buying so late that your only option is to gift a Kindle book, or you finally have time to catch up on your reading. So this time I'm recommending some books that I enjoyed this year.

Whichever holiday you are celebrating, enjoy, and I look forward to speaking with you again in 2024.

Shortlisted for an FT Business Book of the Year Award this is a trip inside alt-right-ish Clearview AI, “a mysterious startup selling an app that claimed it could identify anyone using just a snapshot of their face”. An ideal follow up for those who have read The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff.

Yes, it’s the tale of two Naomi’s, but in some ways it’s about the strange split that happens to each of us when we project ourselves into the world of social media. Like Face/Off but with intellectual barbs not bullets.

The title and very long subtitle on this book don’t leave much left for me to say. Obviously, very in sync with this newsletter’s reason to exist. Even, better if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read this one for ‘free’.

This is a doorstopper (over 1K pages!) and I admit I might have skipped the odd bit of local politics, but it is more than full of gems and asides that make it worthwhile for those of us in, or in the orbit of, Silicon Valley.

Everything you know already is in there but certainly some stories that I didn’t. Yes, it tends to the hagiographic, and maybe we didn’t need Apple’s opinion on Arm’s sandwiches, but the research is impressive.

And a couple of Sci-Fi books…

Lords of Uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The last book in a fine trilogy, less weighty than his Children of… series, sort of like Star Wars if it wasn’t trapped in so many rules.

If you are one of those folks who are easily upset when everyone has pronouns on display this world of unrevealed gender and sie/hir/hirs will probably push your buttons, though this is a very utopian book rather removed from today’s identity discussions. For everyone else, this is beautifully written, probably about as close as anyone gets to the quality of Iain M. Banks right now, and the alien Presger are a fine creation. In a very big universe, belonging will matter greatly, and that is Leckie’s area of exploration.


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