Mini Reviews

Here I am, once again, with mini reviews. This time, surprisingly, both of the reviews are from nonfiction. A genre I try to read more of but ultimately fail inevitably. Oh, well. Both the books were entertaining and educational in their own way. While one almost put me in depression and gave me enough anxiety that it took me forever to finish, the other I almost flew through because it was super engaging and I just wanted to know what happened next.

So, here are the two books I read recently.


The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

Title: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Author: David Wallace-Wells

Publisher:  Tim Duggan Books

Published Date: February 19th 2019

Length: 310 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, Environment, Science, Climate Change

Rating: 3.5/5

It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, “500-year” storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually.

This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await–food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today.

Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation.

+++++

This book talks about one of the most important issues right now. Something we should be talking about more on a global scale instead of getting entangled in politics, if I am being honest. However this book also gives the truth at its worst? In the sense, that the author lays everything out and tells us exactly how very wrong we have been about the sheer scope of global climate change. It’s a scary thing as it is, to realise that we, as humans, have messed up our planet to this degree but to read it in detail as to what is probably going to happen is, frankly, nightmarish.

There’s a reason it took me such a long time to finish the book and a while to put together my thoughts in a manner that didn’t involve me just screaming with terror. While this book really delved into how the climate change will affect different parts of the world and what the conditions of living/not living we could have, I personally feel, it could have been done without being so pessimistic (yes, I realise how this sounds but I am just a pessimist by nature and even my standards, this was a bit much) and the alarm bells that the author meant to ring were never rung at all, in fact, what happened was it gave me more anxiety than I had felt in over six months and that’s saying something. I am a generally anxious person and reading it made me continually feel like the whole world was going to collapse in on itself at any given moment.

I have to admit that he brings all the valid points and I appreciate all that I learned when I read the book, I just wish I wouldn’t have had the feeling of being pressed from all sides while I did it. (Perhaps that was the motive, to feel anxious and terrified but I could have done without it, no, seriously.)

Uncanny Valley by Anna Weiner

Title: Uncanny Valley

Author: Anna Weiner

Publisher:  MCD

Published Date: January 14th 2020

Length: 288 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Autobiography, Science, Technology

Rating: 4/5

The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age

In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial–left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress.

Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building.

Part coming-age-story, part portrait of an already-bygone era, Anna Wiener’s memoir is a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power. With wit, candor, and heart, Anna deftly charts the tech industry’s shift from self-appointed world savior to democracy-endangering liability, alongside a personal narrative of aspiration, ambivalence, and disillusionment.

Unsparing and incisive, Uncanny Valley is a cautionary tale, and a revelatory interrogation of a world reckoning with consequences its unwitting designers are only beginning to understand. 

+++++

This memoir was something I only came to about via a podcast and I am so grateful that bookish podcasts exist. The author left a job in the publishing house at twenty five years age to work in a e-book app institute and from then, her life changes irrevocably as she moves from New York to Silicon Valley. Weiner describes how different traditional publishing was to the new way of reading and how much of actual reading the tech sector was actually interested in. The answer, not very much.

As she comes to understand things, she realises exactly how naive and sheltered she had been in her life, in a way. While at the publishing company, she was an assistant and didn’t do much of what she actually wanted to do, when she starts working in the book app start up, she found out that it was a very different world. Not better or worse but vastly different. While the publishing world wasn’t booming, the start up world of Silicon Valley was flourishing. At least, according to her bosses.

This book is such a readable and refreshing take on a memoir that I must admit if she were to write anything else, I would be reading it. It is thought-provoking and intelligent and while she never names names, we can easily get the hint. She also discusses how much capitalism and tech boom affected people who actually lived in the area. She handles the issues of working a male-dominated field and sexism in a way that doesn’t shy away from the truth but doesn’t demean the issue. Overall, I really enjoyed this one and it was such a different to what I generally read, too.


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