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What I’ve been reading and listening to

My spring and summer book and podcast consumption so far: Books: The Triumph of Christianity by Bart Ehrman – Good insight into how a small, outlier religion took over the Roman Empire in just four centuries. The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle – Really good. The subtitle is “The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups”. The […]

My recent reading

I chipped away slowly (usually no more than 20 minutes a day in the morning while my kids were still asleep) at Steven Pinker’s 453-page long Enlightenment Now and finished it recently. It’s a thorough—and I do mean thorough—survey of the key measures of human well being. And his convincing conclusion, backed up by charts […]

Tell less, ask more

A haiku from the author Michael Bungay Stanier summarizing his book, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever: “Tell less and ask more. Your advice is not as good As you think it is.” I need to print this and put it in a frame on my desk […]

On reading more books

My wife and I got new furniture for our bedroom last year. Instead of a traditional night stand, I got a lovely round table that I envisioned as a home to the stack of books I’m actively reading or planning to read soon. Unfortunately, my spacious bedside table is running out of space. I keep […]

Things fall apart: The Second Law and the meaning of life

I keep coming back to this feature I read last year on the scientific term or concept that scholars think ought to be more widely known. Here’s the scientist Steven Pinker’s response explaining why more people should understand entropy as described by the second law of thermodynamics: Why the awe for the Second Law? The Second […]

My favorite audiobooks of the past year

Listening to books became a more regular thing for me last year. I’ve got a monthly Audible subscription and download a new book each month. I favor biography and history for audiobooks. I’m not sure why, but I’m not as interested in listening to fiction. I would rather read it. It does feel kind of […]

The spectacular now

I’m reading Steven Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now. He makes the compelling case that the world has never been better for humans than right now. In, say, 200,000 years of human history we have never seen such low levels of violence, crime, war, disease, or famine. In 1800, the average life expectancy was less than […]

On not aiming for fame

I saw this New York Times column by Emily Esfahani Smith last fall and filed it away to reference later. I ended up reading her book, The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness. She makes the case that a good life is one that most likely looks quite ordinary and […]

Defying gravity

I get The Daily Stoic daily email. Today’s email quoted this passage from Walker Percy’s book, The Moviegoer: “I don’t know quite what we’re doing on this insignificant cinder spinning away in a dark corner of the universe. That is a secret which the high gods have not confided in me. Yet one thing I […]

What I’m listening to and reading

I recently listened to some fascinating interviews: Shane Parrish interviewed Naval Ravikant on Parrish’s podcast, The Knowledge Project. Ravikant is thoughtful and interesting and candid and often counterintuitive. And Parrish is a solid interviewer. He sets a good pace and does a nice job of facilitating and keeping the focus on the interviewee. Tyler Cowen […]

Invincible

“Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice.” –Epictetus, Discourses 1.18.21 (I came across this while catching up on my reading of The Daily Stoic, which has become a delightfully bracing start to most of my mornings.)  I had an interpersonal communication class in college where I […]

My beach read: The Name of the Wind

I had been shuffling through an increasingly large stack (hard copies and e-books) of partially read books, dipping in and out without making much progress on any one book. For my week off at the beach, though, I decided to go all in on this fantasy novel, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  And […]

Current fiction: Pressfield’s Tides of War

Non-fiction by day, fiction by night.  I enjoyed Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire, his excellent novel of the battle of Thermopylae.  His non-fiction masterpiece, The War of Art, remains a key influence in my approach to the creative life and is one of a few books that merits rereading regularly.  Fiction has been missing from […]

What I’m reading: Tom Holland’s Dynasty

I can’t get enough Roman history. I’m currently reading Tom Holland’s Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar. Holland previously had written Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic, which, paired with Dynasty, tells a comprehensive and compelling and, frankly, disturbing tale of how the dominant empire of the ancient world […]

Meathead’s new BBQ book

I have been a big fan of Meathead Goldwyn’s web site, AmazingRibs.com. It is my go-to source for grilling technique and recipes.  Meathead is actually something of a science egghead. He meticulously probes cooking methods and recipes to debunk myths and come up with the best possible results. Now, he’s published a book filled with […]

Alexander Hamilton: Too good to be ignored

We are at peak Hamilton. The broadway musical is all the rage. Tickets are impossible for the foreseeable future. The cast just graced the White House for a mini performance. And the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has a compelling story of his own along with charisma galore. I’ve had the soundtrack on repeat on my Mac […]

What I’m reading: Ron Chernow’s Hamilton 

  I’ve been missing a compelling read in my life.  I’m starting Ron Chernow’s acclaimed and hefty biography of Alexander Hamilton. There’s a lot of hype right now around the new Broadway show that was inspired by this book. And I enjoyed Chernow’s similarly epic biography of Rockefeller.  Some of my favorite books have been […]

My two favorite books of 2015

The best book I read last year was Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s an effectively audacious survey of all of human history. It’s grand scale doesn’t overwhelm and is remarkably concise. Harari fills the narrative with fascinating facts and profound insights (and some whimsy) as he details where we came […]

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