• Anastasia Hamurari

March in books

It is better late than never, right?

The past month and a half has been a bit of a crazy ride for me. I started working full time while managing to keep up with writing my bachelor’s thesis as well as preparing for my April trip (from which I am already back). This was not an excuse for not reading, though. I read four completely different yet equally worthy books which I would like to share with you.

It all started with the book I waited to come by mail the most, which was “What happened” by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I want to say from the very beginning that in case you are of a different political view than me and you are not open to a different one – skip to the next book.

I am well aware that there is a lot of controversy in this world about politics, especially when the elections period is close. Finding out the faithful results left the majority of the world feeling defeated and hopeless. Reading this book, however, made me understand on a much deeper level how Americans ended up with what they have and what actually happened.

It is important to keep our eyes on the news, but when it comes to these types of major elections nothing you see or hear can be trusted. That is why I wanted to find answers for my questions from the person I admire. Hillary, as many others, did not expect failure. However, as the song states, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. The thorough analysis of her election campaign’s establishment, decisions and overall journey is on this book’s pages. The joy of potentially implementing policies so many have been waiting for. The dreadful morning after elections followed by “life keeps going” attitude with so many more meaningful speeches on ongoing issues. The encouragement of inspired ones who did not loose their “stronger together” spirit. The marches with the most passionate and change seeking citizens ever. Gun violence, absence of jobs for white males in coal industries, racism, sexism, expensive healthcare, college tuition fees. The so many insights on family values Hillary herself possesses being a daughter, mother, grandmother and a wife. The acknowledgment of mistakes. The bitter disappointment and hope for a better tomorrow. You better grab a copy for yourself in case you want to learn about what media does not and never will cover on twenty sixteen’s election.

Next book I grabbed was “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. I can say without a doubt that I have never read a prose like this before. Probably that is why it took me a bit to understand Trial’s meaning, which is, by the way, not one. Everyone interprets it according to his own perceptions, which makes it even more questionable (what else could one expect from Kafka anyway).

To be frank, the whole book tells the story of a man working in a bank who gets arrested for something no one knows anything about. He is struggling to find his way out of the court by searching for people who can help him. In order to understand the delirious situation you have to think “out of the box”, since it is an allegory. The mystery is that this man’s arrest lets him live the way he lived before, although he is brought to court several times a month for hearings. No one knows what he is accused of, nor anyone has heard of advocates who can ensure his freedom.

This whole story can be interpreted as a world we live in today, where one is brought to this earth questioning his existence, not knowing the rules of the game nor the date when he is going to die. Yet we are trying to make the sense of it. Life can be equated to the prose’s name – Trial, which never actually takes physical place. What hit me out of a sudden was the ending, which is what got me looking all over the internet for its different views. If you are down for it to trigger your mind – do not hesitate too long.

“The handmaid’s tale” by Margaret Atwood is something I knew I have to read before watching.

When I read its description – I was instantly hooked. The fiction takes place in twentieth century, in the Republic of Gilead, where handmaids’ duties were to breed. No deviations were allowed, otherwise you will be hang at the wall or sent out to die in colonies.

They are stuck with families of the same rules and norms where their obedience is obligatory. Offred, the main character, was living a normal twenty first century life – she had a career, loving husband and a daughter. Everything seemed perfect until religious organization came into power and changes started happening. From taking away Offred’s right to use her card thus making her dependent on her husband till not ever seeing her family again and getting stuck with a man who was given enough power to use her for his needs, this book is a roller coaster.

Society they live in does not let them talk to each other, let alone look at others; so they have to whisper in order to get some sense of what conversation might look like and have the same everyday routines of shopping for their commander’s wife. No individualism is allowed, hence the absence of education is present. State owns women and utilizes their bodies as machines that are supposed to deliver new lives. It is a miserable reality they cannot escape but have to get used to.

I absolutely loved Margaret’s style of writing, which made this book even more enjoyable yet horrifying at the same time. The thought of existence of such society drives me nuts, although we can see some seeds of that with the new elected American president (oops). That is another story, though. For now – get your hands on this book and let me know what you think about it.

Have you ever thought about machines/robots taking over the world? Have you ever thought about when, how and what are the consequences of it? If yes, then

“Life 3.0. Being human in the age of artificial intelligence” by Max Tegmark is for you.

With growing globalization technology seems to take over big parts of our lives, it is captivating to wonder about how it is going to evolve in the next 10, 50 and even 10000 years. How did artificial intelligence appear? Can it memorize, compute, learn and experience just as humans do? Is it capable of feelings and emotions? What are the possible scenarios of us living with AI? Is AI going to leave humans unemployed because of the newly created cheap automotive machines? If so, what will give us the purpose to live? What actions can humans take in order to ensure beneficial outcome for our society? These and so many more provocative questions are being discussed in this book.

People are getting used to digital world, hence it is in our hands to make sure that it will not turn against us, but rather collaborate with us. With all the breakthroughs in technology, bugs are inevitable, which can constitute a big danger when it comes to nuclear weapons. So many things could go wrong, although AI should not scare you, it should instead make you think and do your own research for the future generations to flourish with the easily available technology. Max pushes us to brainstorm and be in the know of the always evolving AI so the actions taken by governments and individuals themselves would not trigger war, but peace.

Please, let me know in the comments below if any of these books are of an interest to you. Maybe you have already read some of them and want to share your thoughts? I am curious to know!

Image credit: Mike McQuade

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