📚 Finished reading: Deep Work by Cal Newport.

Most of which I already knew from his podcast, but totally needed this reminder of all the things that I have been doing wrong this last year of transition to Canada.

📚 It’s taken me ages, but finally finished reading the masterpiece that is Berlin by Jason Lutes. It took him 23 years to complete and hopefully will live on in print for very much longer.

📚 Currently reading Craft Coffee: a Manual by Jessica Easto. I typically hate books on cooking (cooking via YouTube is game changing), but this page on coffee harvest times showed it was going to be an education.

📚 Just finished reading The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. This is a book that was written a few years before the Great Depression and is a number of simple parables collected in a book about personal wealth and how to manage it.

📚 This is a relatively ambitious list but would love to get through as many of these books across the next three months:

  1. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
  2. After The Fall
  3. Over the Edge of the World
  4. Unconditional Parenting
  5. Range
  6. The Antidote
  7. Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy
  8. 12 Rules for Life
  9. Brick by Brick

📚Just finished reading Enough by @patrickrhone. Been on my list for a while. Favourite idea is the unsent letters and fits well into my thoughts on sensible default.

📚 Just finished reading The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers. Great book that was both a great read and super educational. The history of coffee and how it spread easily being the highlight for me (although the escape from Yemen was also high up there).

📚 Currently reading The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes. I bought this book when it first came out in Dubai but never got around to it. Now that he has released his second book, really enjoying his perpective and writing.

📚 Just finished Final Incal by Alexandro Jodorowsky and José Ladrönn. It’s been a while since I dedicated some proper time to a graphic novel and this has been on my list for a while now since I bought it several years ago. Jodorowsky is one of my favourite writers in any medium. I would recommend the truly sublime Son of the Gun and The White Lama along with the epic Saga of the Metabarons.

What he is best known for however is The Incal. A mad space opera that set the foundation for a universe. I can see the reticence that Morbius had in returning to this world. Readers of the original series will understand.

This series was fun and mad, but honestly it wasn’t as compelling as the other works I’ve mentioned, which set an incredibly high bar. I’d like to say it’s me, but honestly the dialogue didn’t flow for me. Ladrönn‘s artwork couldn’t capture the emotion of the characters. While the story flowed, it certainly doesn’t feel ‘final’ in any way. Many of these characters can and likely will return in new stories. I’d give this one a miss and rather go for the other series I’ve mentioned.

📚 Been meaning to dive into David Epstein’s book Range for a while. I feel like my personal experiences follow his thinking (what I’ve understood from interviews), so will be nice to go deeper on this.

Finished reading: The Story Of The Lost Child by Elena Ferrante 📚.

This one I absolutely devoured. I can’t remember the last time I read three books in a series as quickly as this. Incredible series and one that stays with you long after you have put it down.

📚Humankind by Rutger Bregman is probably the best book I have read in the last 10 years.

Part of the reason for this is simply that it opened up a certain part of me that was yearning to come out. My optimistic side. I used to identify myself as an optimist, but slowly time beat that out of me as I became increasingly more cynical of the world and humanity around me. This view was somewhat amplified by any number of sources around me. News outlets. Friends. Family. Strangers. Life’s many experiences. A global pandemic.

What I needed was something uplifting. Something that could hopefully awaken the old me. Something that could help me work through and understand the injustices and terribleness that is so prevalent in our world today. The why is only the start of the process. The how can we change this for a better situation is far more interesting.

Will definitely be buying a paper copy of this book and run through some of the copious sources and counter arguments referenced throughout the book. If you are looking for something to present a different worldview than the one you likely have (which sometimes rubs you the wrong way because you want to believe in the alternative), then I highly recommend this book.

📚 Currently reading Human Kind. A Hopeful History. Just got to this amazing parable (apparently from the internet somewhere):

An old man says to his grandson: ‘There’s a fight going on inside me. It’s a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – angry, greedy, jealous, arrogant, and cowardly. The other is good – peaceful, loving, modest, generous, honest, and trustworthy. These two wolves are also fighting within you, and inside every other person too.’
After a moment, the boy asks, ‘Which wolf will win?’
The old man smiles. ‘The one you feed.’

📚 The Spy Who came in from the Cold by John Le Carré is the first book of 2021. Excellent novel, certainly worthy of your attention. Recommendation came from Ben Rhodes on the Pod Save The World podcast. I guess I totally missed this but Le Carré died a little over a month ago. Fitting tribute by reading the mans best. Although thinking about reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy next.

📚 I don’t typically like to give up on a book but Essentialism by just could not keep my attention. My cardinal rule when reading a non-fiction book is that it has to inform me and delight me by stretching my brain. Not in its prose but rather in the message and thoughts it is trying to convey. In this instance, even though I read 50% of the book it just isn’t very well written. It lacks a confidence. It lacks a unique sense of style.

📚 Currently reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown. While the thesis found inside is fine (although not particularly earth shattering), I have found the writing to be less refined when compared to the writing of Cal Newport or Seth Godin. In fact as I am reading things in a more concentrated manner these last few months I have been able to compare styles of writing when comparing similar topics. Even Ryan Holiday’s style meanders a little too much into what seems like superfluous examples.

📚 Just finished reading Fortunately, The Milk (the Scottie Young edition). This interview is a great ‘directors commentary’ and the reason for writing it.

📚 Finally finished reading Binti yesterday night. It’s been a really long time since I’ve not been able to put a story down, ‘school night’ be damned.

📚 Just finished reading Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Glad I made it all the way to the end but it was tough reading. Not because it was badly written but because much of the subject matter was hitting a raw nerve. Need something a little lighter for my next read.

📚 Finally finished Atomic Habits. Great book that I’m actually running through again to try and see how I can best benefit from all the wisdom inside it’s covers. I’ve managed to tweak some of my behaviours such that I am journaling every day without fail. I’m also hoping to get 30min writing ever morning before the day really starts. Tidying up the kitchen before putting the kids to bed. Flossing. The big one I am struggling with is the daily exercise.

📚 Autumn reading. Second Ryan Holiday book this year. I still need to write the notes from my previous two books. Maybe this week.

Manhood for Amateurs

📚 I finally finished a book this year, Michael Chabon’s Manhood for Amateurs. The book was written back in 2009 (which I believe is now being followed up with a sequel of sorts) and was the right book to read, as the words have resonated with me, as a newly minted father of a second son.

I started it around the time my Ryan was born and it’s taken me 6 months to complete these 300 pages. I love to read, but clearly I don’t carve enough time to carry the action out. My reading has been pretty scattered across multiple books that I never seem to finish. I’m hoping this signals a return to a more regular reading pattern.

What I also realised was that I’m not happy with how I’m reading. Or more accurately, the lack of taking notes or capturing the most interesting parts of books I read.

Here are some key quotes:

Art is a form of exploration, of sailing off into the unknown alone, heading for those unmarked places on the map. If children are not permitted - not taught - to be adventurers and explorers as children, what will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?

Why else had they done it - built it all up so they could then knock it all down? After a marriage breaks, there is nothing more pointless than the child, to that child, of that marriage.

The song has to take you by surprise, catch you when your guard is down, when you aren’t expecting it - ideally, when you aren’t even listening to the radio at all. A bright little piece of your life passes you by in a car with the windows rolled down, wells up in the pain-relief aisle of a Rite-Aid. That kind of chance encouter can’t happen as readily on an iPod you’ve programmed yourslf.

While I’m on this Dyson kick, he’s got a new book coming out later this year called Dyson on Design. I can’t seem to find a Kindle version of his autobiography, I’m going to need to hunt down a paper copy. 📚

Currently trying to finish off Michael Chabon’s Manhood for Amateurs - bought it at my favourite second hand bookstore and it’s been a really great read so far. 📚