Booknotes: February 2024

In which I briefly comment on the books I read each month, so a few years from now when I’m trying to remember one I think I read, I’ll be able to find it here. I’m also not going to limit this just to books. Maybe you’ll find something interesting, too?

Let’s find out!

Book Notes

{STAR} Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

  • (4.5; print) Deeply researched and smartly constructed, Range joins a small handful of invaluable, well-written nonfiction that validates and clarifies some strongly held beliefs. It’s been a while since I’ve dogeared and highlighted as much of a book as I did with this one. Highly recommended!

Black Hammer Volume 3: Age of Doom Part 1 by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart

  • (3.5; print) Solid pastiche who’s potential to be more is constrained by its original periodical format. The Omnibus collections are probably the best way to read these, but the underlying problem would remain. I guess I’m just not a periodical superhero guy anymore, regardless of who the publisher is.

Xenos by Dan Abnett

  • (4.0; print) A brisk, surprisingly accessible read. It surely helped that I spent a few months exploring the Warhammer 40k setting before starting to read this, but Abnett deserves props for his storytelling skills. I’m looking forward to the rest of this brick (aka, Eisenhorn: The Omnibus), but will read something else between each novel rather than plow through it all in one straight read.

Media Notes

When I started doing this last month, I briefly considered calling it Media Notes, but I’d read an unusually high (for me) number and variety of books in January, so I mistakenly figured making it book-centric would be fine. It’s the exact kind of thinking I mock “book people” for, so it’s the old “three fingers pointing back at you!” trick.

  • Dark, Season One (Netflix): This was a rare suggestion from my wife, and we went into it cold, not even watching a trailer first, so I didn’t realize it was a German original with subtitles, which should technically count as reading, too. (Sorry, but if listening to an audiobook is reading, then READING A TV SHOW is absolutely reading, too.) It pulls off an amazing feat of casting across three time periods —like Moonlight, but the entire cast gets the Chiron and Kevin treatment — and unlike a lot of Netflix originals, they’re all good actors. The story features a murder board and also requires one to fully keep track of everything and everybody, especially when you’re reading all of the dialogue, too. I’m assuming they knew they were getting a second season because the first season wraps up ZERO threads while introducing one more big one.
  • The Marvels (Disney+): I’m pretty much over the MCU and don’t imagine I’ll see another movie in theaters ever again, but I was curious about The Marvels mainly because Iman Vellani was such a delight as Kamala Khan in her TV debut. The movie’s nothing special, featuring of the MCU’s pros and cons, but I was mostly entertained and really hope they commit to building towards the Young Avengers rather than falling back on nostalgia. I hate Deadpool and have zero interest in bringing any of the original X-Men back, but I’m fully expecting that’s where things will go. If Disney+ wasn’t included in the Hulu + ESPN bundle, I’d have canceled it by now.
  • Football Manager 24 (PC): I purposefully held off jumping into the latest edition of the greatest RPG ever until late January because I wanted to finish up indulging in my 2023 GOTY, Inquisitor — Martyr, and it’s partly why I read fewer books in February. This time around, I started in Spain’s third tier with Córdoba CF — a team I know nothing about IRL, based in a city I visited briefly two years ago — and through my usual combination of free agents and a patient offense, got them promoted in my first season — arguably a season too soon to ensure survival. We were just above the relegation line for the first half of our promotion season when Montreal (MLS) tapped me for an interview, quickly followed by Atlanta United and LAFC, after I publicly expressed my interest in making a move. I ended up joining Atlanta, and after figuring out MLS’ byzantine roster rules and FM24’s janky implementations of them, we ended winning both the Open Cup and MLS Cup in my first season, and I was named Manager of the Year! I’m halfway into my second season there now, with ridiculously high expectations, and we’re firmly but unimpressively in the playoff hunt again. Meanwhile, “murmurs of discontent” are in the wind because we’re not dominating everything, which can quickly put you in the Sack Race because FM is also a survival game. Why do I play this game to relax?!?

Your Notes?

If you’ve read (watched or played) any of these, let me know what you thought. And if you have related recommendations you think I’d like, drop ’em in the comments like we used to do in the good old days! Some of you prefer email, which is cool, too. You do you!

PS: Notes on Notes

Where possible, I’m linking to as the least offensive online shopping option for books, although I’ve been disappointed to find some books I’ve read don’t have a listing there, as if the book I held in my hand didn’t exist. They’re affiliate links, but feel free to switch to your preferred local bookshop if you have one and decide to buy anything. Where Bookshop doesn’t have a listing, I’ll link to the publisher’s page, which is often the best place to purchase your books anyway, although it may be a little more expensive and less convenient. If you’re lucky, some of them may also be available at your local library, in print or digital format!

Despite my day job, I still mostly read in print, but I’m noting the format along with my rating for context. If the format has any impact on my rating, I’ll mention that, but it rarely will since I try to avoid reading ebooks of anything that has a visual element.

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