Every time a new month begins, I start looking for something different to do. Something that would create a memorable milestone in the journey of life. Unfortunately, when I reach the end of the month, I realize that I often fail at this simple goal. It is not easy to break the routine and create something memorable every 30 days.
But July was not one of those months. In fact, when it started, I was sitting at a beach bar in Attica, Greece, looking at the moon reflecting on the nigh sea after the first day of the company retreat (to be precise, the first retreat after the pandemic pause).
I always feel weird being in these situations. I am constantly divided between my love for people, my insecurities, my travel anxiety, and the fact that I am not used to social interactions because I work from home for the rest of the time. Nevertheless, I managed well, and I am delighted I joined. It was about time (the last work retreat was in March 2019), and in the previous years, the team grew a lot, so there were many new people I was eager to meet in person for the first time.
(I also managed to dodge once again the COVID bullet, so everything went better than planned.)
However, after I came back, very little had changed. For once, Italy is still totally crushed under a never-ending heatwave and drought. And I have not felt in top physical and mental condition for almost all the rest of July.
Nevertheless, even without exceptionally high moments, the trend of life is going in a good direction, and I am moderately optimistic for August.
Let’s see if I can manage to complete something for once.
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Finally, a month in which I read almost according to schedule! In July, I read four books:
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. — Not a great fan. It is not bad, but it quickly becomes too much “self-helpy” and “feel-goody” for my taste. The overall message of “the best life is the one you are living” was a big turn-off.
- Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. — I gave this book five stars out of five on Goodreads. It is… weird. But weird in a perfect way. It reminded me of some kind of strange side-story from a Dark Soul game. I don’t want to spoil much because I think it is the kind of book that shines when you go into it with as less knowledge as possible.
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau. — This is a classic of mid-19th century American philosophy. A fascinating slice of life. I will probably say something more next month (I am in the middle of other Thoreau essays).
But the book I want to talk about this month is West of January by Dave Duncan, published in 1987. The reason is that I have some history with this book.
The story begins many years ago when I was 15. At the time, I had finally conjured the idea for a story that fascinated me so much that I thought of writing a novel for the first time. It was the first time I felt I had anything valid enough to be worth to be written.
It was the story of an almost tide-locked planet (that is, a planet that always shows the same face to its star) whose inhabitants were forced to “follow the sun;” constantly migrating to the West to remain in the dawn, chased by a land scorched by almost perennial daylight, and moving toward a frozen wasteland emerging from decades of night.
Anyhow, I will not go so long with this story. The point is that, right after I started writing, I casually stumbled on West of January, a book that – guess what – had the same exact idea: narrating the story of a semi-tide-locked planet.
I was royally pissed off.
It took me a decade to finally find the right mood to read it. Finally, this month I read it for the second time and with much less spite and more experience. And it was worth it.
West of January is a genuinely original book in the sci-fi genre. It is fascinating, gut-wrenching, and inspirational. But most importantly, it is a page-turner (except for one part that I really think drags along too much). It is not perfect, of course, but it is a fun read.
And at the end, other than the tide-locked planet concept, it is very different from my story. So I have held this grudge for so long for nothing. :D
This month I’ve finally got on par with Stranger Things. With the collaboration of 4/5 days in which I had no mental and physical strength to do absolutely nothing, I binged Season 2 to 4 in record time.
It was a worthy endeavor. Stranger Things is truly an adorable show, and it ticks all my boxes. Even if the last season is a constant descent into utter sadness, and even if it is the most disturbing season, so far. Yet, despite all this, it maintains a baseline of happiness and joy that I find hard to explain.
So, with Stranger Things out of the way, I started recuperating For All Mankind. The problem is that the quality of writing kind of dropped tremendously in this second season. I am kinda shocked. I hope it will get better soon. I’ll keep you updated next month.
Following my Stranger Things marathon, it is not surprising that artists from the 80s skyrocketed to the top in my music habits.
It is unclear from the album grid (where old albums with 8-10 tracks get totally obliterated by newer albums with 15+ tracks), so I will also post the artist grid.
As you can see, I also returned to the old Heavy Metal from the 80s and 90s. It is a genre I was super-into in my teens, but I have not re-explored it in a long time. So it was really fun to get back into it.
This week I started playing games again. For a bit. Then PowerWash Simulator came, and my life partner coopted the Xbox for exclusive use. So, I think I will have no more access to gaming for a bit.
This cover all I have to say for July. I have achieved a new record of wordiness. Let’s hope to have something new on the blog before the end of August. Otherwise, see you in September.
Other Interesting Things
- 🎥 Does the Past Still Exist? - Sabine Hossenfelder produces some of my favorite Youtube content about science. This short video is my July favorite, but, in reality, this is just an excuse to suggest to you her entire channel. Don’t forget to like and subscribe!