Books #2

Like I did for January, this post is a set of brief comments about the books I read during February. I’m having relatively unproductive months lately, so seeing that I did go through these is reinvigorating. ☺

As I said before, one of my objectives this year is to expand the set of genres I read even more — not only keep on reading fiction, but some philosophy and history as well. I didn’t pay an awful lot of attention to the philosophy classes during high school (we have those in Brazil), so it’s an obvious place to begin. That, and a friend’s recommendation. After reading a bit of Seneca, I’ve put his works on the brevity of life, happiness and grief on my reading list.

On anger

This is an essay from the roman philosopher Seneca. A friend recommended this book to me after seeing me lose my temper over small things. The result was surprising, I have to admit: Seneca’s style is very simple and there are a lot of situations and aphorisms that are easily remembered, even in bouts of anger. I recommend most of the books I put in these lists; this one I emphatically recommend.

On the tranquility of the mind

Another essay from Seneca, this time talking about how to tame anxiety and worry in order to become “happy”. I liked it a lot, I have to admit. The first essay felt like a slap to my face (or a punch to the stomach?), this one was more entertaining, equally useful, and less shocking.

Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine

This book has a cool story.

My major in college was control engineering, something similar (but not quite) to systems engineering in the US, as far as I could tell. We had several classes about Control Theory, including basic linear systems but also multivariate and non-linear ones, digital control, etc. In the first of these classes, the professor cited this book as one that “was pretty good but we wouldn’t be able to appreciate just yet”, referring to our plain knowledge of Control Theory. I obviously thought he was strong and decided to buy the book, later finding it was out of print.

Some years later I bought a used copy and tried to read it, to no avail. It is a hard book. I finally got around to reading it this year, with decent results. I still hope to re-read it, but I can say that it makes a lot of sense as a whole, while the chapters appear incohesive; the idea of cybernetics is how seemingly simple ideas like feedback and information can interoperate and control life as we know it.

I definitely need to re-read this book.

  • Wikipedia
  • Amazon. This edition, from Quid Pro, seems very nice. I have an old version from 1961.

The Miracle of Mindfulness

A book about meditation I bought in 2012. I mostly re-read it for remembering the breathing exercises.

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