The Left Hand of Darkness   Ursula K. Le Guin

  This book is so good. I haven't read fiction in a long time, and this hit me in the exact same spot that it used to. It's, of course, a really good primer for thinking about nonbinary gender, but it's also a really well-made sci-fi universe, and a really compelling story about governments and alienation.
  If you've read this, or care about gender theory on its own, the afterword, published nearly 2 decades later, in 1994. Le Guin reflects on the choices, mostly surrounding gendered language, she made while writing the book, and makes a lot of really good points about neopronouns and gender theory as a whole. You can read it here if that interests you!

An Apartment on Uranus   Paul Preciado

  I picked this up in Chicago, and I LOVE it! I recommend this one to everyone; it's very well segmented (on accounts of being written, for the most part, for blog-style publication), so it's a great book to jump into, read a little of, and jump out.
UPDATE AFTER FINISHING: Preciado is a genius at broaching and preaching a subject at the same time. In a relatively short section, he will discuss something of which I've never heard at such detail, with such attention to importance, that by the end of the passage, I believe and support it as strongly as he does. Of course, I'm already sort of primed to agree with him in most cases, but even on discussion of things that have irked me in the past, like new-age bioengineering, I found myself hanging on every word nonetheless. Recommend even more than when I said that earlier.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra   Friedrich Nietzsche

  Really goddamn weird book! It's really good though, I only just got to Zarathustra's discourses, and I like them a lot - the Camel-Lion-Child bit has been reverberating through my head since I read it.
UPDATE AFTER PART 1: Also very sexist? it seems? It's interesting how a writer can be SO ahead of their time in some ways, and then so behind in others. The general consensus is that Nietzsche was just legitimately an incel, and he felt so spurned by women that he hated them (like many philosophers), but of course, that's not an excuse. I'm hoping that when I read Nietzsche and Philosophy, Deleuze can make it make sense for me.
UPDATE HALFWAY THROUGH PART 4: I'm almost done, and this book is GREAT. I recommend it to everyone. It's a little verbose, which is difficult at first, but the key is to understand that Nietzsche, much like his post-structuralist redeemer, Deleuze, writes less to get everything down that 'needs to be down,' (like would a textbook, or an analytic philosopher) but rather to pepper you with the overall vibe in such a way that you leave with new insight. If you don't try to understand every line, and rather try to understand each section as both a singularity and a piece of the whole, you'll get something from it.
  And anyway, it's not like every book has a core truth that needs to be pulled out in order to say that you've read it. The core educational system is flawed in many ways that I will not repeat here, but one of them is that it makes it seem like literature is unapproachable except from a scholarly, analytical, right/wrong perspective. There is no right way to interpret literature; there is only what you do with the information you get from it, the summation of all your experiences where you think (consciously or unconsciously) about what you learned from that teacher (intentionally or unintentionally). The difference a book makes to you is precisely the difference a book makes to you, not how correct you are about the author's intentions.

How to Be a Stoic   Penguin Classics

  This one is a compilation work of a few sections of a few authors' main works: Epictetus' Enchiridion, Seneca's On the Shortness of Life, and Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. Each one is pretty short, and the whole thing clocks in at around 120 pages; I'm mainly using this as a quick Greek buffer before Sinopticon shows up from the internet and I begin a sci-fi rabbit hole with that and my new Le Guin.
UPDATE AFTER FINISHING ENCHIRIDION: My biggest problem with the Greeks is that in their childlike innocence about human nature, yet to be disproven by mass-reported public atrocities, they can be really myopic. Stoicism is my favorite of the Greek disciplines, but it still reeks of that ancient Greek privilege. Every other chapter, he talks about the insolence of his or someone's slaves, and it puts something of a rain cloud over his whole "everything is temporary, so external conditions don't matter" thing. It rubs me the same way as someone whose family has a personal shopper and a nanny saying that they don't understand how people can't save money. It's really easy to say that one has achieved peace with life when one's life was never that tumultuous anyway.
  That's not even to say it's not worth reading; there's a lot of useful advice in it. Stoicism is incredibly useful in a lot of cases. It just loses steam in the face of the neoliberal-capitalism war machine, IMO.


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