In order to gain a better understanding of how I choose what to read, I’ll be doing monthly recaps of the fiction and non-fiction books I finished, and why.
In July, I was a part of two network launches, one a television network, and the other a book connection social network. Work at the former has been steady, with a few late nights and early mornings to prevent my routine from ossifying. With the launch of the latter comes the reduction of daily 7am Slack chats, which I will miss for the feeling of productivity that kicked off each day and the charm that comes from intercontinental cooperation. Now I have the freedom to reclaim my mornings for running and reading, or to rededicate them toward promoting and marketing the now-operational site. Or, perhaps the more likely outcome: some combination of the two.
In August, I expect a seismic life change or two that may capsize my carefully planned reading raft. While I prepare for those events as best I can, I intend to shift my reading back toward business, with a focus on design literature, as the next phase of adjustments to Connect A Book will all be front-end and user-centric (UX, typography, etc.) and I don’t have nearly as much experience in those fields as I’d like.
Nothing this month.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone – Though Connect A Book’s guts rely heavily on Google Books, the business model (at least for the early goings) leans on Amazon. Stone’s book is a thorough and unflinching look at Amazon’s growth (I’d say growing pains, but I think their growth has been more painful to others than it has to themselves), and anyone with an Amazon Prime account should read this so they know fully what they signed up for.
The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman – More and more I am becoming convinced that Diane Ackerman is the finest lyrical writer of natural history books. The book is an incredible survey of the many ways humans have changed the world, from the obvious and potentially apocalyptic to the subtle and curious. I found it a touch too optimistic, but its breadth far outweighs that critique. I recommend it in tandem with Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction for a good primer on just how significantly we’re shaping not only our own destinies, but the planet’s, too.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – A book as well-reasoned, impassioned and timely as this deserves your full attention.
The Road to Character by David Brooks – My book is full of highlights and notes and takeaways, and yet, I didn’t love its structure, one that fits neatly into this tiresome genre of book that seeks to extract meaning from what a set of historical characters endures (because they are characters when they are so reduced to a chapter). Cormac McCarthy gets at it best when he says “The ugly fact is books are made out of books.” Better, I think, to read full biographies and do the extracting yourself.
Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt – This book snagged my attention, as I’m currently making efforts to read more of The Economist each week than just the inserts and featured articles. Besides being a nice introduction to economics, it’s also interesting to see how he builds his argument chapter by chapter toward a coherent, persuasive end.
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make A Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau – The book’s title is basically clickbait to get you to a view a gallery of photos of people living lives on their own terms. You’ll be motivated by seeing that it is largely possible, but you’ll be left wondering just how exactly to do it yourself.
If you have any recommendations of books to read, either based on the books above, or on your own experience, please let me know.