Sinus surgery

At 2pm last Monday I was knocked out. It was done gently with an anaesthetic but once that wore off it certainly felt like someone very large has smacked me hard on the nose.

For a long time I’ve suffered from almost continuous head colds, one would resolve only to be promptly replaced by another. Eventually a referral to the otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) department at Dunedin hospital resulted in a CT scan and decision to give me a nose job and clear out my sinus cavities to get the air circulating around inside my head more freely.

According to the surgeon the procedure went well and overall I think the recovery has been OK. For the first four days afterwards I really did feel like I’d been hit very hard on the nose. That has now subsided and mostly I’d describe what remains as blood and bogies. The sinus cavities were packed with dissolvable packing which obviously has to come back out eventually. I’m still quite blocked up, just like a really bad cold or sinus infection!

Time will tell how effective all this is at easing my head cold problem, hopefully it turns out to be worth the discomfort.

Update, July 2018

It has been so long since I posted anything here that I thought the easiest way to get going again would be to do a general update on where I’m at currently. 


I’ve been reading a lot this year, and the content of my reading has transitioned over recent months to being dominated by Christian topics. I view this as a good thing as it reflects an underlying transition in my thinking back to being more God focused than I have been for a while. My reading does tend to follow the direction my heart is inclining, hence the eclectic selection in my lists of books I have read.


Earlier this year I bought a New Cambridge Paragraph Bible, which is the King James Version of the Bible with modern spelling (eg, ‘show’ rather than ‘shew’) and crucially, in paragraph format rather than having each verse begin on a new line. The paragraph format makes a huge difference to the readability of this version and I’ve been enjoying reading the version of the Bible which has made such a massive impact on the English language.

However, I’ve also gone in the other direction on Bible translations and returned to reading the NIV for my main daily reading. This has been like reuniting with an old friend as it is the translation I used for the first five years of my Christian life. I read the Bible a lot during this period so revisiting this translation is helping motivate me to read it a lot more now too. 

Social Media

I caved in and did open a new Facebook account at the start of June. I have only added 30 people as friends, all of whom I know well in real life but some I don’t see very often currently so this is a way to keep in touch. I’ve noticed though that most of these folks don’t actually post much to Facebook anyway so the ‘staying connected’ aspect is not all that useful.


Our kids are generally doing OK. One is about to change schools in the hope of getting more support for some particular learning needs. The decision to make this change has been a long time in coming and we have tried a lot of other options before making such a big change. In the end our priority is to ensure each of our kids gets an education that builds them up and gives them a good foundation for life. Each child is different so we are seeking the best combination of teachers, facilities and systems to fit each one.

One of our parents had major heart surgery in June. This was a very anxious time because even the surgeons were not confident of a positive outcome. However, so far, so good. The first week of recovery was tense, but there has been a steady improvement since.

Evernote expired

My paid subscription to Evernote expired last month and I chose not to renew it. The plan I was using allowed me to save over a gigabyte of notes each month so my habit was to use the web clipper tool to save any article I thought I might want to read from the web. Because of this my collection of notes was growing much faster than I could read those articles. Being a person who likes to completely finish things, I felt an internal pressure to read all the stuff I had saved. Since stopping that subscription I’ve changed my approach and now try to decide if something is worth reading before I even consider saving it. I try to read things immediately if they seem worthwhile, or park it in a browser tab. If I haven’t read it by the end of the day I close the tab on the assumption that if it is actually important I will stumble across it again or can do a search and find something similar. If I was not motivated to read it during the day, it probably is not relevant enough to me to bother saving.

Low tech evenings

Without setting out to, I’ve become mostly technology free in my evenings over the last few months. This has largely been a progression from committing myself to reading less off the internet and more books. Then my Kindle died so I got in the habit of reading hardcopy books, and my phone battery is also dying so it goes flat quick enough to dissuade me from wasting time on games or reading the news. I am also reading the Bible a lot more these days and I use a nice leather bound Bible so enjoy the experience of reading from that. (I did replace my old Kindle with a new one and do use it, I just enjoy real, paper books more).

The pleasant result of this coalescence of factors is that my evenings are less stressful than they were when using technology a lot – there are no crashes or slow internet issues, my eyes get less tired, and it seems much easier to think about important things rather than trivia when the world is further than a click or tap away. I am currently finding it more effort to login on the laptop than to grab my book from the shelf beside the couch. In my view this is a good thing.

We have three school aged children so life is no less busy for me than it was when I spent my evenings glued to screens, but it feels better now. My thoughts are able to follow a track to its conclusion rather then being interrupted or sidelined by some alert or glittery distraction. I’m able to concentrate better on books that require hard thinking to read them well, and I have quite a stack of this sort of books.

I haven’t attained nirvana or transcendental bliss, I still can waste an evening reading crap on the internet. But now I notice the loss of that evening acutely and feel worse for the internet time rather than fooling myself that I’m ‘staying informed’. Most of what is published on the internet is garbage now, so it is hard to know what are reliable sources and what are not, and even the better ones are still often profit driven and rely on advertising so generate content to gain clicks not to publish quality journalism. Surfing the web is not an easy way to ‘stay informed’, books are easier.

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Who wants to give Facebook their nude pics?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been wondering if maybe deleting my Facebook account was such a good move – I’ve found out second-hand about a couple of happenings within my friends and family which I’d have picked up on much sooner if I’d been on Facebook. This had me reconsidering whether the benefit of keeping in touch with people might be worth the cost of my privacy.

Then I read an article today about a new Facebook pilot programme to protect people from revenge porn by teaching their software to recognise images of concern to users. The snag is that you have to first provide Facebook a copy of the image you want to block, effectively send all your nude pics to Facebook!.

I understand how this could potentially be a useful tool, but given the already shady reputation of this company it has very creepy overtones to it. If this was a government organisation or reputable non-profit who were recognised for their work on protecting people’s privacy I’d have a bit more confidence in the concept. Given that it is Facebook… nah, just seems wrong.

Fortunately I have no concerns about potentially incriminating photos of me surfacing on social media, but the sheer creepiness on this pilot scheme has me recoiling in horror from the Zuckerberg monster. I think I will stay away for some time yet.

People shouldn’t be able to share intimate images to hurt others
By Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety

It’s demeaning and devastating when someone’s intimate images are shared without their permission, and we want to do everything we can to help victims of this abuse. We’re now partnering with safety organizations on a way for people to securely submit photos they fear will be shared without their consent, so we can block them from being uploaded to Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. This pilot program, starting in Australia, Canada, the UK and US, expands on existing tools for people to report this content to us if it’s already been shared.

My team and I have traveled to nine countries across four continents, listening to stories about the abuse and cruelty that women face online. From Kenya to Sweden, women shared their painful, eye-opening experiences about having their most intimate moments shared without permission. From anxiety and depression to the loss of a personal relationship or a job, this violation of privacy can be devastating. And while these images, also referred to as “revenge porn” or “non-consensual pornography,” harm people of all genders, ages and sexual-orientations, women are nearly twice as likely as men to be targeted.

Today, people can already report if their intimate images have been shared without their consent, and we will remove each image and create a unique fingerprint known as a hash to prevent further sharing. But we can do more to help people in crisis prevent images from being shared on our services in the first place. This week, Facebook is testing a proactive reporting tool in partnership with an international working group of safety organizations, survivors, and victim advocates, including the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and The National Network to End Domestic Violence in the US, the UK Revenge Porn Helpline, and YWCA Canada.

People who worry that someone might want to harm them by sharing an intimate image can proactively upload it so we can block anyone else from sharing it on Facebook, Instagram, or Messenger:
– Anyone who fears an intimate image of them may be publicly can contact one of our partners to submit a form
– After submitting the form, the victim receives an email containing a secure, one-time upload link
– The victim can use the link to upload images they fear will be shared
– One of a handful of specifically trained members of our Community Operations Safety Team will review the report and create a unique fingerprint, or hash, that allows us to identify future uploads of the images without keeping copies of them on our servers
– Once we create these hashes, we notify the victim via email and delete the images from our servers – no later than seven days
– We store the hashes so any time someone tries to upload an image with the same fingerprint, we can block it from appearing on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger
This is one step to help people who fear an intimate image will be shared without their consent. We look forward to learning from this pilot and further improving our tools for people in devastating situations like these. (Facebook)

New (old) notebook day

I have just reached the last page of my previous notebook so rather than crack open a brand spanking new one I’m returning to one that I started using about a year ago but for some reason abandoned in my locker at work. This is a Moleskine ‘cahier’ lined pocket notebook, they are readily available and this format is an ideal pocket size.

Moleskine cahier notebook with Lami 2000 multi pen

I waver between using lined, unlined and dot grid notebooks. Unlined obviously offers the most flexibility, but I typically write short notes rather than drawing stuff and my writing is small enough to comfortably fit within most lines and grid layouts. In the end my main reason for choosing a particular layout is often just wanting a change from whatever I was previously using.

Another factor which can be important to me is the type of paper in a notebook. If I’m in the mood to be using a fountain pen I opt for Clairefontaine notebooks which are also great value for money. Pencil works well on most paper (but not well on the Clairefontaine coated paper!), with the Story Supply Co. paper being particularly good. Moleskine has mediocre quality paper, it is awful for fountain pens, OK for pencil and OK for ballpoint and gel pens.

Because of the middling quality of the Moleskine paper, and mainly because I haven’t been using it much lately, I’m pairing up this notebook with my favourite ballpoint pen. This is a Lamy 2000 multi pen, actually the most expensive pen I own but excellent for carrying around in my pocket. I’ve replaced the Lamy D1 refills with Zebra JSB 0.5 refills in royal blue, black, carmine red and emerald green. The ink in these flows immediately and is nice and smooth to write with. They are not very economical refills because of their small size but for the way I use the pen it is an ideal set up – four colour options, no skipping or false starts and no problems with accidental leaks in my jeans pocket.

Pocket notebook with pencil board and Lami 2000 multi pen

Another idiosyncrasy of my notebook is that I taped a ‘pencil board’ (shitajiki) inside the front cover to stiffen it a little. This particular one was designed for a larger notebook so has been trimmed a little to fit. It does make writing notes while on the move a bit easier, I forgot I had done this so am glad to have found this notebook again.

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Master list of books I have read

This list is in the order of author surname. I began keeping lists of the books I read each year in 2004 but even then did not record every book I read until more recently so this remains a somewhat incomplete list.

Multiple dates after a book indicate that I’ve read it several times.

  1. Lloyd Alexander, The Arkadians. January 2006.
  2. David Allen, Getting Things Done. January 2008.
  3. James Allen, As a Man Thinketh. July 2017.
  4. James Altucher, Choose Yourself. August 2016.
  5. Giselle Liza Anatol (Editor), Reading Harry Potter (Critical essays). April 2004.
  6. Kristen Jane Anderson and Tricia Goyer, Life, In Spite of Me. 2012.
  7. Anonymous, Embracing Obscurity.January 2013, April 2018.
  8. ‘BB’, Brendan Chase. (with illustrations by D.J. Watkins-Pitchford), June 2006 (ISBN 0-416-58830-1).
  9. Craig Ballantyne, How To Set Goals. January 2017.
  10. Arnold Bennett, How to Live on 24 hours a Day. April 2016.
  11. Ingrid Betancourt, Even Silence Has an End. January 2011.
  12. Steve Biddulph, Manhood. January 2009.
  13. Steve Biddulph, Raising Boys (2nd Edition). February 2005.
  14. Steve Biddulph, The Secret of Happy Children. November 2005.
  15. Steve Biddulph, 10 Things Girls Need Most. June 2017.
  16. Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby, Hearing God’s Voice. January 2018.
  17. L.L. Barkat, Rumors of Water. April 2017.
  18. Mark Batterson, Circle Maker. May 2013
  19. Susan Rose Blauner, How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me. July 2014.
  20. Steve Bloem and Robyn Bloem, Broken Minds. May 2012.
  21. Micha Boyett, Found. 2015
  22. Tyler Braun, Why Holiness Matters. December 2016
  23. Wayne Breitbarth, The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success. October 2017.
  24. Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck, Live Your Calling. December 2014.
  25. Mary Helen Briscoe, Preparing Scientific Illustrations. June 2004.
  26. Susan McGee Britton, The Treekeepers. October 2004.
  27. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code. July 2004.
  28. Randy A Brown, Easy Bible Marking Guide. August 2014.
  29. Sally Brown, Liz McDowell and Phil Race, 500 Tips for Research Students. April 2004.
  30. Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets. March 2011.
  31. John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress. November 2008, March 2013.
  32. John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. October 2008, January 2009.
  33. David D. Burns, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. May 2014.
  34. Timothy Butler, Getting Unstuck. May 2008.
  35. Tony & Barry Buzan, The Mind Map Book. January 2005.
  36. Susan Cain, Quiet. February 2016.
  37. Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. August 2012.
  38. Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff at Work. April 2005.
  39. Captain E.G. Carre, Praying Hyde. January 2018.
  40. Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries. October 2016
  41. Harry E. Chambers, My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide. July 2017.
  42. Francis Chan, Crazy Love. December 2009.
  43. Tim Chester, The Message of Prayer. June 2009.
  44. Catherine Chidgey, In A Fishbone Church. November 2005.
  45. Catherine Chidley, Golden Deeds. January 2006.
  46. Dorie Clark, Reinventing You. April 2018.
  47. Geoff Coffey & Susan Prosser, FileMaker Pro 8 The Missing Manual. April 2006.
  48. Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. April 2008.
  49. Danny Cox and John Hoover, Seize The Day. February 2004.
  50. Carolyn Crane, Mind Games. November 2016
  51. Matthew Crawford, The Case for Working with Your Hands. September 2016.
  52. Michael John Cusick, Surfing for God. October 2017.
  53. Ed Cyzewski, Pray, Write, Grow. January 2017.
  54. Suzanne Davis, Ten Interesting Things About Human Behavior. January 2017.
  55. Jeremy Dean, Making Habits, Breaking Habits. January 2013
  56. Edward De Bono, Simplicity. June 2008.
  57. Edward De Bono, Sur/petition. February 2004.
  58. Kevin DeYoung, Crazy Busy. May 2014.
  59. Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Twitter for Good. August 2012.
  60. Waris Dirie, Desert Dawn. May 2009.
  61. Garry Disher, Writing Fiction: An introduction to the craft. January 2004.
  62. Joni Eareckson, Joni. April 2004.
  63. David & Leigh Eddings, The Elder Gods. November 2016
  64. Robert Edric, Peacetime. April 2005.
  65. Nir Eval, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. March 2017.
  66. Fiona Farrell, Book Book. October 2005.
  67. Laurence Fearnley, Edwin + Matilda. 2012.
  68. Sinclair B. Ferguson, In Christ Alone. April 2010.
  69. Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Grace of Repentance. January 2017.
  70. Tim Ferris, The 4-Hour Work Week. 20 March 2018.
  71. Jonathan Fields, Uncertainty. 2015
  72. Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett, When Helping Hurts. September 2012.
  73. Neil Fiore, The Now Habit. July 2008.
  74. Graeme Finlay, God’s Books, Genetics & Genesis. April 2005.
  75. Kenneth C. Flint, Isle of Destiny. November 2016
  76. Pat Flynn, Let Go. 2015
  77. Pat Flynn, Will It Fly?. April 2017.
  78. Janet Frame, Owls Do Cry. April 2004.
  79. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning. by 2012.
  80. Lawrence M. Friedman, Curt Furberg and David L. DeMets, Fundamentals of Clinical Trials. May 2004.
  81. Robert Fulford, The Triumph of Narrative. October 2004.
  82. Steve Gaines, Pray Like It Matters. September 2017.
  83. Peter Garrett, Big Blue Sky. January 2018.
  84. Michael E. Gerber, The E Myth Revisited. January 2004.
  85. Camilla Gibb, the petty details of so-and-so’s life. September 2004.
  86. André Gide, The White Notebook. January 2018.
  87. Francesca Gino, Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed. 2015
  88. Jocelyn K. Glei, Maximize Your Potential. 2015
  89. Seth Godin, The Dip. April 2008.
  90. Jeff Goins, Wrecked. September 2013
  91. Larry Gonick and Woollcott Smith, The Cartoon Guide To Statistics. May 2004.
  92. Robert Greene, Mastery. February 2016
  93. Chris Guillebeau, $100 Startup. 2012.
  94. Nicky Gumbel, Questions of Life. March 2004.
  95. Lee Gutkind (Editor), Keep It Real. March 2016
  96. Johann Hari, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression. March 2018.
  97. Harvard Business School, Time Management. March 2006.
  98. Sally Helgesen, Thriving in 24/7. March 2006.
  99. Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea. 2012.
  100. Todd Henry, Louder Than Words. November 2015
  101. David Hieatt, Do Open: How a simple email newsletter can transform your business. May 2017.
  102. Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. January 2017.
  103. Susan D. Hill, Closer Than Your Skin. June 2008.
  104. Jim C. Hines, Libriomancer. October 2016
  105. Charles D. Hodges, Good Mood, Bad Mood. May 2014.
  106. Mark Holloway, The Freedom Diaries. January 2018.
  107. Anne Holm, I Am David. December 2005.
  108. Mark Hurst, Bit Literacy. July 2013
  109. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World. November 2017.
  110. Bill Hybels, Too busy Not to Pray. July 2004, February 2005, May 2006.
  111. Eileen Jay, Mary Noble & Anne Stevenson Hobbs, A Victorian Naturalist, Beatrix Potter’s Drawings from the Armitt Collection. January 2018.
  112. Nancy Kehoe, Wrestling with Our Inner Angels. February 2016
  113. Cathy Kezelman, Innocence Revisited. 2015
  114. Bernadette Jiwa, Meaningful. 2015
  115. Bernice Koehler Johnson, The Shan: Refugees Without a Camp. 2012.
  116. Charles Johnson, The Way of the Writer. March 2018.
  117. Christine Johnston, The Shark Bell. October 2005.
  118. Christine Johnston, Goodbye Molly McGuire. September 2005.
  119. Christine Johnston, A Friend of Jack McGuire. September 2005.
  120. Christine Johnston, The Haunting of Lara Lawson. September 2005.
  121. David Jones, Pharmaceutical Statistics. May 2004.
  122. Robert Jordan, The Eye of the World. January 2016.
  123. Robert Jordan, The Great Hunt. February 2016.
  124. Robert Jordan, The Dragon Reborn. March 2016.
  125. Robert Jordan, The Shadow Rising. April 2016
  126. Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven. April 2016
  127. Robert Jordan, Lord of Chaos. April 2016
  128. Robert Jordan, A Crown of Swords. May 2016
  129. Robert Jordan, The Path of Daggers. May 2016
  130. Robert Jordan, Winter’s Heart. May 2016
  131. Robert Jordan, Crossroads of Twilight. May 2016
  132. Robert Jordan, Knife of Dreams. May 2016
  133. Robert Jordan, The Gathering Storm. June 2016
  134. Robert Jordan, Towers of Midnight. June 2016
  135. Robert Jordan, A Memory of Light. June 2016
  136. Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis. March 2009.
  137. Howard M. Kanare, Writing the Laboratory Notebook. April 2004.
  138. Josh Kaufman, The Personal MBA. 2015
  139. Guy Gabriel Kay, Tigana. April 2018.
  140. Crawford Kilian, Writing for the Web. February 2018.
  141. Carolyn King, The Natural History of Weasels & Stoats. May 2004.
  142. Carolyn M. King, Habitat of Grace. July 2005.
  143. Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book. June 2005.
  144. John Kirwin, All Blacks Don’t Cry. 2012.
  145. John Kirwin, Stand By Me. 2016.
  146. Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad. 2015
  147. Ruud Kleinpaste, Backyard Battlefield. January 2006.
  148. Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe. January 2018.
  149. Dean Koontz, Breathless. January 2018.
  150. Gregg Krech, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness. May 2014.
  151. Danielle LaPorte, The Desire Map. January 2016
  152. Nigel Latta, Before your kids drive you crazy, read this! March 2009.
  153. Nigel Latta, Fathers Raising Daughters. June 2011.
  154. Joan Leaf, Fatal if Swallowed. April
  155. Yashua Levine, The Corruption of Malcolm Gladwell. July 2017..
  156. C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet. March 2005.
  157. C.S. Lewis, Perelandra. July 2005.
  158. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain. April 2005.
  159. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. May 2008.
  160. Nick Loper, Buy Buttons March 2017.
  161. Angerona S. Love, When Darkness Comes. July 2012.
  162. Brian Lomas, Easy Step by Step Guide to Stress and Time Management. March 2006.
  163. Tremper Longman, How To Read The Psalms. June 2011.
  164. Greg Lucas, Wrestling with an Angel. August 2011.
  165. Gordan MacDonald, The Effective Father. May 2009.
  166. Hugh McGuire and Brian O’Leary, Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto. September 2013
  167. Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God. November 2012.
  168. Juliet Marillier, Daughter of the Forest. August 2005.
  169. Gary Martin, Devotional Catalyst, Inspiration For Busy Christians. September 2012.
  170. Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories. April 2014.
  171. George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones. December 2016
  172. George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings. December 2016
  173. George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords. December 2016
  174. George R. R. Martin, A Feast for Crows. January 2017. 
  175. George R. R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons. February 2017.
  176. Sarah Martin, How to Breed a Rabbit. April 2017.
  177. Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. 2015
  178. Jeffrey J. Meyer, Time Management for Dummies. March 2006.
  179. Peter Michaelson, Why We Suffer. November 2012.
  180. Mike Michalowicz, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. September 2017.
  181. Jonathan Miller, Demonsouled. February 2018.
  182. Jonathan Milligan, The 15 Success Traits of Pro Bloggers. 2015
  183. David Murray, How Sermons Work. September 2012.
  184. David P. Murray, Christians Get Depressed Too. 2012.
  185. Watchman Nee, Let Us Pray by. February 2017.
  186. Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View. October 2017.
  187. Richard O’Connor, Undoing Depression. May 2014
  188. Kevin M. O’Doherty, The Little Book of Thinking Errors. April 2017.
  189. Sean O,Neill, How to Write a Poem. July 2017.
  190. George Orwell, Animal Farm. January 2015
  191. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four. 1986, 1998, December 2017.
  192. Averil Overton, Stress Less. June 2008.
  193. JI Packer & Carolyn Nystrom, Guard Us, Guide Us. October 2009.
  194. Frank Page, Melissa: A Father’s Lessons from a Daughter’s Suicide. 2015
  195. Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country. January 2010.
  196. Pamela Paul, My Life with Bob. February 2018.
  197. Ted Peters and Martinez Hewlet, Evolution From Creation to New Creation. May 2005.
  198. Jim Phelps, Why Am I Still Depressed? April 2017.
  199. Doris Pilkington, Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence.
    September 2016
  200. John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life. March 2008, November 2009.
  201. John Piper, Future Grace. February 2008.
  202. John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching. August 2008.
  203. Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times. October 2017.
  204. John Preston and Julie Fast, Get It Done When You’re Depressed. February 2014.
  205. Warwick Pudney and Judy Cottrell, Beginning Fatherhood. February 2009.
  206. Kit Reed, Mastering Fiction Writing. January 2004.
  207. Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. March 2018.
  208. David Rees, How to Sharpen Pencils. July 2016.
  209. Michael Reeves, Enjoy Your Prayer Life. 2015
  210. Vaughan Roberts, Battles Christians Face. June 2017.
  211. Marilynne Robinson, Gilead. 2012.
  212. Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication. July 2008.
  213. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. October 2004.
  214. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. February 2005.
  215. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. October 2005.
  216. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. June 2005, December 2005, June 2009.
  217. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. July 2005, September 2005, July 2009.
  218. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix. June 2004, July 2005.
  219. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. August 2009.
  220. J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. January 2018.
  221. Derek Rowntree, Statistics Without Tears. May 2004.
  222. Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project. June 2014.
  223. Antoine de Saint Exupery, The Little Prince. September 2016
  224. Rosemary Sassoon, Improve Your Handwriting. April 2016
  225. Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World. July 2012.
  226. Hugh Scott, The Shaman’s Stone. May 2004.
  227. Gerald Seymour, Condition Black. January 2016
  228. Julien Smith, The Flinch. January 2017.
  229. Sean Smith, J.K. Rowling (A Biography). March 2004.
  230. Sherwood Smith, Wren To The Rescue. October 2004.
  231. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. April 2009.
  232. R.C. Sproul, Can I Have Joy in My Life? August 2017.
  233. Kio Stark, Don’t Go Back to School. 2014.
  234. Roger Steer, George Müller, Delighted in God. September 2008.
  235. John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men. June 2016
  236. Pamela Stephenson, Billy (The Complete Life Story Of A Comic Genius). August 2004.
  237. Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ. July 2005.
  238. William Styron, Darkness Visible. May 2011.
  239. Jon Swanson, Anticipation: An Advent Reader. January 2017.
  240. Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place. June 2004.
  241. Kyle Tennant, Unfriend Yourself. May 2013
  242. Lysa TerKeurst, Unglued. July 2016
  243. Mark Thornton, Meditation in a New York Minute. July 2008.
  244. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. June 2004.
  245. Leo Tolstoy, The Death Of Ivan Ilych. October 2012.
  246. Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves. October 2004.
  247. Paco Underhill, Why We Buy (The Science of Shopping). February 2004.
  248. Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts. February 2011.
  249. Denis Waitley, Timing is Everything. January 2004.
  250. Daniel Walker, God in a Brothel. 2012.
  251. Sheila Walsh, Loved back to life. March 2018.
  252. David Watson, Fear No evil. April 2004.
  253. Bill Watterson, The Authoritative Calvin & Hobbes. Finished May 2004.
  254. K.M.Weiland, Outlining Your Novel. August 2016
  255. Edward T. Welch, Depression, A Stubborn Darkness. July 2011.
  256. Sam Wellman, Amy Carmichael: Selfless Servant of India. April 2016
  257. Elie Wiesel, Night. December 2009.
  258. Christie Wilcox, Bethany Brookshire, Jason G. Goldman, Science Blogging. April 2018.
  259. Samuel C Williamson, Hearing God in Conversation. April 2018.
  260. Wendy K. Williamson, I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar. 2012.
  261. Douglas Wilson, Wordsmithy. January 2017.
  262. Rebecca Wilson and Bronwyn Evans, A Passion for Life (Young New Zealanders Doing Business). January 2004.
  263. Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove, The Wisdom of Stability. March 2017.
  264. Ben Witherington, Jesus and Money. January 2016
  265. James Wood, How Fiction Works. May 2018.
  266. Desiree Woodland, I Still Believe. June 2012.
  267. Tony Woodlief, Somewhere More Holy. April 2011.
  268. William Paul Young, The Shack. 2012.
  269. Mary Frances Zambreno, A Plague of Sorcerers. November 2004.
  270. Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan, The Demise of Guys. August 2017.


  • Billy Collins, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems.
  • Billy Collins, Ballistics
  • Billy Collins, Picnic, Lightning.
  • Shirley Deuchrass, River Calls Me Home.
  • Robert Frost, A Boy’s Will.
  • Dave Harrity, These Intricacies. April 2018.
  • Seamus Heaney, District and Circle.
  • Seamus Heaney, Human Chain.
  • Patrick Jones, darkness is where the stars are.
  • Mary Karr, Sinners Welcome.
  • Philip Larkin, Collected Poems.
  • Owen Marshall, The White Clock.
  • Lynley Millar, The Catlins Collection.
  • Andrew Motion, The Customs House.
  • Emma Neale, Spark. February 2018.
  • Emma Neale, Tender Machines.
  • Bernard O’Donoghue, Farmers Cross.
  • Sylvia Plath, Ariel.
  • Luci Shaw, Scape.
  • Kenneth C. Steven, Iona.
  • Monica Taylor, Paper Boats.
  • Brian Turner, Taking Off.

Yearly reading lists:

Some of these posts contain more detail on what I thought of the books I’ve read.

Dead trees make better books

My 4th generation Kindle device died a miserable death several weeks ago. I was annoyed because I was enjoying a good book when the screen froze and refused to let me read any further. To finish the book I resorted to using the Kindle app on our laptop and on my phone, neither of which is good for my eyesight or posture.

The device itself was about six years old, probably an acceptable lifespan for this sort of technology (though for the sake of the planet they should be built to last much longer). I quite liked the simplicity of that model of Kindle as it has no touch screen so the reading experience relies on physical buttons to move forward and back through the pages of a book.  As Craig Mod points out, Kindle on iOS is a bit of a pig, the touch screen causes unnecessary confusion.

I’ve been using Kindles on and off ever since they launched. Our relationship has been contentious but I’ve always been seduced or re-seduced by their potential. At their best, they are beautiful devices. At their worst, infuriating. They are always so close to being better than they are. (Craig Mod)

A couple of the infuriations Craig mentions are accidental page turns and accidental bookmarks. I’d also add accidental highlighting and unintentional dictionary lookups. Maybe I’m odd, but I never lookup definitions of words on my Kindle, I have a much better dictionary app on my phone, or the good ole OED. Which brings me to the reading experience.

What I’ve noticed since my Kindle device died and I’ve returned to hardcopy books is that reading is so much easier in a paper book. Everything is where I expect it to be, I can refer to the table of contents while keeping a thumb at the place where I was reading from, flipping forward or back a few pages is effortless and intuitive. The rest of the time all the meta information of the book stays out of the way and I can read undistracted. Yet there remains a heap of information about what I’m reading on each page and in my hands that I process subconsciously and helps orient me to the context of what I’m currently reading. This occurs in ways that an electronic gadget does not replicate well.

What do I mean? Page numbers are an obvious thing, but they are given extra meaning by the weight of pages on each side – it’s easy to judge how far through the book I am without consciously looking. Print books don’t have 20 extra pages of filler crap at the end to pad out what is really just a pamphlet, that costs money in a physical object. Any additional pages at the beginning or end of a paper book are there for good reason.

More subtly, each page in a printed book gives information about context by the page layout, indentation, paragraph breaks, typesetting. Ebooks attempt to replicate these things, but aside from paragraph breaks, the fluid text flow of an ebook usually ruins the effect. Even paragraph breaks can become hard to spot in some ebooks.

It seems that what is being attempted with ebooks is to abstract the content of books away from the physicality of the book form. This is necessary to allow the text to reflow into the various container forms of differing devices. If we processed data in the same way as computers this might be effective for humans, but we are embodied beings with a long history of interacting with a physical world. Our senses and minds interpret information in context of a physical world of objects, people and the environment. Books may rely upon ideas, but I wonder if we maybe hunger to keep those ideas in a physical form, a specific book with a particular cover illustration underlined using my favourite pen while sitting on our blue sofa on an overcast day.

I’m glad that we have ebooks, they make books far more accessible to more people than ever, but I don’t think they are as good as physical books made of paper and cardboard. When I can afford it I will probably get myself a new Kindle device because I have hundreds of unread Kindle format books that I’ve previously purchased. The device is also great to have on hand if I may have time to read but don’t want to lug around five different books because I’m unsure which one I will want to read in a waiting room.

For convenience the Kindle is great, for a good reading experience paper is better.

Books I should read

I already have a list of books I’ve bought and need to read in order to justify spending money on them. That list alone is rather long, but then there are books that I know I should read because they are a significant part of the heritage of English literature, are classics, or would be good for me. I know that such a list of books one should read could easily get out of hand, everyone has some book they think everyone else should read, so I’m trying to limit this list to books that are strongly recommended by numerous sources.

This list will grow and morph as I add books, read books and hopefully become better for it. Once I read books on this list I will add them to my list of books I’ve read and delete them from here (and my giant to read list if appropriate).

  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
  • Jane Austen, Emma
  • Jane Austen, Persuasion
  • Saul Bellow, Seize the Day
  • Thomas Bernhard, Wittgenstein’s Nephew
  • Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives
  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
  • Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night
  • Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
  • A.P. Checkhov, Ward No. 6
  • A.P. Checkhov, Rothschild’s Fiddle
  • A.P. Checkhov, The Lady with the Little Dog
  • A.P. Checkhov, The Bishop
  • A.P. Checkhov, The Seagull
  • J.M. Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello
  • Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
  • Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
  • Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
  • Denis Diderot, Rameau’s Nephew
  • F.M. Dostoevsky, Notes From Underground
  • F.M. Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
  • F.M. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
  • Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
  • George Eliot, Adam Bede
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes
  • William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
  • William Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom!
  • Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews
  • Henry Fielding, Tom Jones
  • Gustave Flaubert, Sentimental Education
  • Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
  • Theodor Fontane, Effi Briest
  • Henry Green, Caught
  • Henry Green, Loving
  • Knut Hamsun, Hunger
  • Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd
  • Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge
  • Thomas Hardy, Tess
  • Homer, Iliad
  • Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
  • Henry James, What Maisie Knew
  • Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
  • B.S. Johnson, Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry
  • James Joyce, Dubliners
  • James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • James Joyce, Ulysses
  • Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis
  • D.H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia
  • D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow
  • Sinclair Lewis, Babbit
  • Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
  • Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks
  • Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party and Other Stories
  • Guy de Maupassant, Pierre and Jean
  • Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
  • Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
  • Ian McEwan, Atonement
  • Robert McLoskey, Make Way for Ducklings
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
  • V.S. Naipaul, A house for Mr Biswas
  • Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
  • A.S. Pushkin, Eugene Onegin
  • Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day
  • Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
  • Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
  • Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March
  • Philip Roth, Sabbath’s Theater
  • Philip Roth, The Counterlife
  • Norman Rush, Mortals
  • Norman Rush, Mating
  • Jose Saramago, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis
  • W.G. Sebald, The Emigrants
  • Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  • Stendhal, The Red and the Black
  • Stendhal, The Charterhouse of Parma
  • Italo Svevo, Confessions of Zeno
  • W.M. Thackeray, Vanity Fair
  • L.N Tolstoy, Hadji Murad
  • L.N. Tolstoy, War and Peace
  • L.N. Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
  • John Updike, Terrorist
  • John Updike, Of the Farm
  • David Foster Wallace, Oblivion and other stories
  • Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
  • Virginia Woolf, The Waves
  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


Focussing on practice

I was reading Chris Bowler’s most recent email newsletter today. In the intro to it he makes the comment:

It has simply been a matter of waiting and looking for the right things to write about. And maybe to focus on practicing more than preaching (always a good thing).

I can identify with both searching for the right things to write about, and especially the focus on practicing rather than preaching. I did go through a period a few years back of literally preaching in church, and often my blogging has been somewhat preachy. My current phase of life one of trying to concentrate more on the practicing aspect.

I am reading the Bible more than I was a year ago, am absorbing what is taught at church rather than arguing with it, and am searching for what my role should be over the next five years or so.

As far as blogging or writing goes, I’m still finding my way. Obviously I’ve not written much over the last few months, instead I have been reading and slowly making a balsa wood toy boat for my son.

I’ve been learning a bit about science writing and creative nonfiction, a potential direction that makes sense of my background and training. However, deep down I would also really like to write fiction so I’m still not sure which direction to move in. I guess the sensible thing would be to do the best I can at one or the other in order to gain practice as the experience can be used whichever way I finally go in.

The price of knowing good and evil

In Genesis 2:17 God tells Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then in Genesis 3:5 the serpent deceived Eve into desiring the fruit of that tree, so she ate from it. Verse 7 states that the eyes of Adam and Eve were immediately opened to know that they were naked. Presumably this realisation of their nakedness is a result of knowing good and evil, so it was an instant impartation of the knowledge.

However, in thinking about this recently I started to wonder if perhaps the sin and evil which resulted from this event are the expected effect: Adam and Eve were already experiencing ‘good’ even if they were unaware of any other state of being. To understand the knowledge of good and evil they would also have to experience evil.

One of the fundamental questions people have regarding belief in God is, “How can a good God allow evil?” The explanation must surely be that evil was demanded by the first humans reaching out to take the knowledge of good and evil. We cannot have such knowledge without knowing both what good is and what evil is.

I assume that theologians have discussed this at great length and explained it far better than my stumbling thoughts, but this is a new idea to me.