Quick note: Vader arrives! Check out a fun little video I put together while volunteering this month at Farm Sanctuary.
I’ll go out on a limb and say it: Yeeeeeeehaw, spring is on its way! For the first time in a two years of trips into California, the hills are green. Even the awkwardly-named Blue Dick flowers in the photo above are in full mating mode
Dark still rolls in early though. Before summer hits and outside fun takes over like zombies in a Stephen King novel, there is plenty of opportunity to grab a good book and some hot tea.
I read a ton last year and plan to read even more in 2016 (my goal: 100 books). This will continue to be a mix of nonfiction, biography, sci-fi, and random fiction. It’s a big time commitment, but one of the most satisfying, perspective-expanding activities that I do. (For a discussion regarding the claims of speed reading, check out a great link in the comments by Leo R.)
Since I always appreciate a solid book recommendation, I like to pass along the love with my favorites. I digitally borrowed most of these as ebooks or audiobooks for free from the public library.
If you check my Goodreads profile, you may notice I rate many books 4-stars and usually don’t leave bad reviews. I’m not simply over-positive – it’s because the last thing I want is to waste time reading, so I screen books on Amazon or Goodreads. I think 2-star and 4-star reviews are the most helpful, since that strips away 1-star reviews from lunatic readers and the 5-stars from the writer’s best friends.
As always, please leave some of your recent favorite reads in the comments. I’m constantly looking for more great books.
Deep Work by Cal Newport – Looking to increase your ability to thrive in today’s world of scattered attention and crank out focused hours of creative time? Of course you are! Cal concisely presents compelling reasons to structure your life around deep work. If you read one nonfiction book from this list, make it this one: I guarantee you will learn something concrete and helpful. His blog is one of my favorites too.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson – There are often shouts for someone’s head after they make a dumb comment online, especially given how easy it is for quotes to be taken out of context and spawned all over the internet. This book talks about the aftermath for the people who were victims of these public internet hangings.
It’s a reminder to do some research before joining a screaming melee on Twitter or Facebook over an “outrageous” statement. A quote without the full source is often twisted by the media to manufacture clicks and advertising revenue. Nothing creates comments like someone who is pissed off.
Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday – This is a similar theme to the above, but from the side that profits from Internet Outrage. Ryan is one of my favorite writers/bloggers and this is the story of his manipulation of the blogosphere as marketing director for American Apparel and for personal clients. I consider myself reasonably well-educated about the way the internet works, but this was a total eye-opener.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown and Big Magic by Liz Gilbert – Both of these books are about creating work from a place of power. They’re both charismatic, funny, and insightful. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read or heard either of these women say.
The Stand (Unabridged) by Stephen King – Wow. I see why King fans consider this his finest work. Good vs. evil, mythological discussions, funny dialogue, complicated characters, dark magic, witty metaphors, and a story that kept me riveted. It’s long (1,150 pages!), but I listened to the audiobook (the narrator is versatile and nails the varied accents) and was so immersed that I woke up at 2:30 a.m. last night to finish it.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Foer – This book’s format and style is unlike any I’ve ever read. The main character, a young boy somewhere on the autism spectrum, is a hilarious and yet serious lens through which to view the post 9/11 aftermath.
Astoria by Peter Stark – A true tale of survival, exploration, and greed in the early 1800s. It’s set a few years after Lewis and Clark’s expedition and discusses John Jacob Astor’s plan to build a trading empire on the west coast. I enjoyed the history lesson on the U.S. and the connection with Oregon.
Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson and Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham – Biographies are an informative way to learn about history, and these two catch the U.S. at an important time. Both men remind me to continue pursuing all manner of interests – you never know where it will lead.
China’s Second Continent by Howard W. French – I had no idea that over a million Chinese have pulled up roots and emigrated to Africa. They leave to escape the crowds and pressure of their homeland and seek their fortune in a way that has completely changed the dynamics of many African countries.
The Sports Gene by David Epstein – Are there genes that simply give some athletes an unfair advantage? This author thinks so. If you’re into athletic performance and science, read this! I loved it.
The Truth by Neil Strauss – A deep look at relationships of all sorts. I found it painful, hilarious, revealing, and ultimately a confirmation that I’m glad I’m happily married. There are lessons for us all in here about self-healing and what makes us tick.
That’s a wrap! More recommendations coming your way sometime later this year. Please let me know if there’s a favorite book you’ve gobbled up lately. Happy reading, y’all.