|sources: Lumosity, IMBD, Steam, personal pictures|
Some of you seem to have enjoyed the first round-up of random favorites, so I have decided to make a sort of series of it, just because some finds are worth sharing. This round-up is mostly cultural, after all summer calls for long reading afternoons and binge-watching series when it's too hot outside.
An App: LumosityLumosity is a cerebral training programme put together by neuroscientists and based on the science of neuroplasticity, meaning the fact that the brain can improve when trained. Long story short: they offer daily mini-games to improve your brain capacities. Focus, speed, memory, divided attention... I have registered for one year and I find these little games fun and actually useful. I suspect the neuroscientists in question to use the data from Lumosity users for their research, but that's fine for me.
What I liked: Getting 10 minutes of fun everyday, either on PC or tablet/phone. Feeling like I'm actually improving over the weeks. Feeling like I keep growing, despite being an adult out of school.
A Book: Daniel Gilbert | Stumbling on HappinessContrary to what you may think, this isn't self help, but a psychology book. I already mentioned Dan Gilbert through the amazlingly informative TED talks he has given over the years - about the science of happiness, predicting our future needs and taste etc. Many of these topics are gathered in Stumbling on Happiness, where he broaches the subjects of the many brain biases that make us see the world the way we do. With a light, tongue-in-cheek writing style, he makes the subject not only interesting but actually fun to read.
What I liked: Understanding how my own mind works to try and make better choices in the future - even though it seems knowing about these biases does nothing to remove them. Gilbert's writing style is very entertaining too, and I probably missed many jokes by my lack of knowledge of US pop culture.
Another Book: Isaac Asimov | FoundationI have made my mission to read as many science-fiction classics as I could these days, starting with Ender's Game at the end of last year. The latest one in my reading list is the Foundation series by Asimov, a space sci-fi series about the rise and fall of galactic civilisations. It may sound dull, but it isn't.
The concept: a famous pyschohistorian, Hari Seldon, has been able to take psychology to a new level and predict the actions of large human populations thanks to mathematics and statistics. And he predicts the fall of the Galactic Empire, followed by 30.000 years of chaos and war. Gathering a group of top class scientists, he creates the Foundation, a small organization tasked to create an Encyclopedia of all human knowledge, in order to preserve the science and allow the rise of a new Empire in only a thousand years. From there, Asimov takes us through the centuries and predicted crises, showing how the Empire falls, and the Foundation grows.
What I liked: Well, first, Asimov thought of the science of Big Data 60 years ago, basically. That's impressive. Then, I liked the narrative - each part of several chapters follows a key character of that generation, who helps nudging the Foundation toward the direction predicted by the psychohistorian, showing at the same time some basic properties of human societies and minds. Fascinating.
A Game: Borderlands 2I received Borderlands, the Handsome Collection as a birthday present earlier this year: a PlayStation 4 remastered version of Borderlands 2 and the Pre-sequel. These games are co-op based role-playing game shooters, with a system of classes and skills, and tons of different guns to blast the face of enemies. The graphics are very "comics-like" with a drawing feeling (cell shading), the universe is a bit off-the-wall and quite fun, in a Mad Max like post apocalyptic way, and I loved the shooter/RPG blend.
What I liked: The fun post-apocalyptic universe, the RPG mechanics, the weird characters (special mention for Tiny Tina).
A beauty product: the solid soapNot much to day about this, I didn't quite discover the most innovative product ever. I tried out some hand-made solid soap from small artisan Carnets de Savon, and I was conquered. Zero waste, natural, leaving both my skin and hair healthy, what else? Of course, this particular brand isn't quite easy to get if you don't live in France - or in Lyon to be precise - , but I'm sure there are tons of artisans making this type of soap all around the world.
A TV series: The BridgeThe Bridge ("Bron/Broen", 2011) is a Swedish/Danish dark crime series starting with the murder of a Swedish woman, left on the bridge connecting Copenhagen to Malmö, right at the border between the two countries. Inspectors Saga Noren from Malmö police, and Martin Rohde from Copenhagen police, have to collaborate to find this killer, who is only getting started...
What I liked: With this series, you can find the typical dark and cold thriller the Scandinavians are so good at. In only one season, we get attached to characters, even the weird ones like Saga, who seems to have a serious lack of social skills. The plot is well thought and the finale... well, you'll see.
Another TV series: ResidueResidue (2015) is a British mini-series taking place in a futuristic UK metropolis, where an explosion has rendered a whole district contaminated by some strange sickness. Questioning the reality behind this quarantined zone or witness of paranormal phenomena, several survivors of the blast decide to find out more...
What I liked: First, I loved the cyberpunk-ish dark futuristic universe and aesthetic, the kind you encounter in some comicbooks. Then, I liked how the story unfolds, through the eyes of the photographer who has a eye for detail, the grieving cop, the member of the ministry... All of this with some doom and gloom-ish atmosphere, and a healthy dose of paranormal/fantastic.
That's it for this month's favorites. Do you know any of these, did you like them too? What did you discover and like this summer?