Tag Archives: Humour

ChatGPT and Reader’s Advisory

The cover of Programming the Microsoft Bot Framework by Joseph Mayo

I’ve been testing ChatGPT lately and wondered about its ability to perform RA services. So with my Help! I’ve finished the Discworld Novels post in mind I gave it this query:

“Hello ChatGPT1, I really enjoyed the Discworld Novels, but I’ve finished them all! Can you give me some recommendations for what to read next?”

I left it deliberately open. I didn’t ask for details or state how many books I was looking for, and, notably, didn’t say why I enjoyed the Discworld novels.

Here’s the response ChatGPT came back with (Links added by me):

“Certainly! If you enjoyed the Discworld novels, you might also enjoy these other fantasy series:

  1. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss: This series follows the life of Kvothe, a legendary magician and musician. It’s a beautifully written series with a rich and complex world.
  2. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson: This is an epic fantasy series set in a world of magic, monsters, and political intrigue. It follows the lives of several characters as they try to save their world from destruction.
  3. The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie: This series is a dark and gritty take on the fantasy genre. It follows a group of flawed and morally ambiguous characters as they navigate a world of war, politics, and magic.
  4. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan: This is a classic epic fantasy series that spans 14 books. It follows a group of characters as they try to save their world from an evil force known as the Dark One.
  5. The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson: This series is a complex and sprawling epic fantasy that spans multiple continents and hundreds of characters. It’s a challenging read, but incredibly rewarding for those who stick with it.

I hope you find these recommendations helpful!”

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One e-Read Canada: Tatouine

The Cover of Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Réhel

Do you enjoy reading e-books? Yes? That’s the only response I’ll accept 😛 A no just means you haven’t tried it yet or did in the days of the abysmally difficult-to-use Adobe Digital Editions. These days e-books are amazingly easy to use on just about any device, and if you’ve got a Kobo, they can be downloaded directly to your reader without going through extra software. You owe it to yourself/your gas budget/your eyes/your reading addiction1 to try out an e-book. And with One eRead Canada happening, you have no excuse not to try one! Throughout the month of April, Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Réhel is available through Overdrive to everyone who wants to download and read it without waiting. Additionally, the campaign has two national events around the book. An English discussion with the translators on the 19th and a French interview with the author on the 25th.

Tatouine is a poignant and often humorous novel about an unnamed protagonist in his thirties navigating life with cystic fibrosis. Despite the challenges that come with his illness, including bouncing between dead-end jobs and losing his apartment, he remains upbeat and uses humour and daydreams to cope with his day-to-day struggles. These dreams often revolve around escaping to the fictional planet “Tatouine,” similar to but distinct from Tatooine, due to his love of the Star Wars Franchise. On this planet, he’ll make sand angles and play Mario games all day. This is a novel that is not shy to reference real-world media. The protagonist even names his new basement apartment in Repentigny “Dagoba.” And despite its dinginess, the move has an upside – a friendship with the new landlord.

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(Science + Maths) * Absurdity = Laughter

Laughter comes from many places and takes many forms. That passenger on the bus is chuckling at a well-written quip in a good novel. The giggling fit from the other room is your family reacting to the hero of an action-comedy making a pratfall. Raucous laughter reverberates through the house at 3 am as you watch yet another YouTube video starring a funny animal. We all enjoy a good laugh*, and sometimes we’re okay with brainless cat videos*2; other times, we want our laughter to come with a side of enlightenment, or at least a new factoid we can use to impress our friends.

Before I get into the funny books*3, I’d like to draw attention to Ha! the Science of When We Laugh and Why by Scott Weems, which examines exactly what it promises with that title. It isn’t a funny book in and of itself; sure, there are jokes scattered throughout, but they’re there to support the book’s scientific approach to humour. Besides exploring what makes us laugh, Weems also examines what laughter does to our brains. Did you know that “getting” a joke fires the parts of our brain that deal with conflict resolution? Or that laughter therapy is a legitimate treatment in hospitals*4? It also lightly touches on how humour changes across cultures around the world. While it’s a pop-sci style book, don’t go into this one expecting a light and breezy read, as Weems doesn’t shy away from getting technical. This book won’t make you funnier or draw out a hearty guffaw, but it will help you understand why you’re laughing at the next couple of books.

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