Here’s a list of books that I’ve been reading. I’ll try to keep this updated as I go, send me an email if you think of one I might enjoy based on what you see below!
Queued: on my Amazon wishlist.
- In Praise of Wasting Time (TED Books) NOTES: yet another reminder to turn off the computer, TV, and iPhone.
- How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos NOTES: damn… floods (check), heat (check), drought (check), hurricanes & tornadoes (check), wildfires (check)… social breakdown? The book is only more terrifying with 2021 a little more than halfway done… and don’t forget the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
- Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West NOTES: great history book for anyone who’s visiting Yellowstone or Glacier National Park. Quotes:
- Page 77, on the Fort Laramie Treaty (we visited Fort Laramie on our trip): “The open question, of course, was whether the United States, having pledged its honor, would live up to the terms of its newest treaties. The answer, consistent with historical pattern, was yes — until the higher cards of economics and politics came into play.”
- Page 105: “America in the first century of its existence case a frequent and insecure eye toward Europe. With Europe’s millennia of civilization and culture, how could the upstart United States hope to measure up? The answer, for a growing number of American intellectuals, was to emphasize what the United States had that Europe did not — wild places. As the nineteenth century progressed, more and more Americans came to realize that wilderness contributed not only to their nation’s treasure but also its character. Wilderness defined America and made it different from Europe. Indeed it was wilderness — and a frontier spirit — that defined the American people themselves, setting them apart from their ancestors of the Old World.”
- Page 128: “Like Lucy Audubon, Grinnell viewed the primary purpose of self-denial as the protection of future generations. Lucy’s focus was intimate — her own family. Grinnell, who married late in life and would have no children of his own, applied the principle more globally — the conversation of natural resources for all generations yet to come. Grinnell invoked the motto of the New York Association for the Protection of Game: Non nobis solum. It means ‘Not for ourselves alone.’
- Page 205, which could have been written about the current year or years: “What Grinnell had come to realize by the winter of 1894 is that there is no crisis more pernicious than the slow-motion disaster. Human nature, and with it the American political system, are geared to respond to the immediate, the proximate, and then tangible. The gradual, the distant, and the abstract are the enemy of action. When it came to the destruction of the buffalo, Grinnell had succeeded in making people aware that it 2was happening – he had even succeeded in making Americans care that it was happening.”
- Page 232: “The buffalo today is a fixture in American history and lore. We emblazon its image in our most iconic displays – state flags, official seals, commemorative coins – proud to parade this mighty animal as a symbol of ourselves. Less consciously, but even more profound, we embrace the buffalo as a metaphor for a wildness and freedom in our past that remains vital to any understanding of our national character today.
- Sidecountry: Tales of Death and Life from the Back Roads of Sports NOTES: interesting aggregation of a bunch of NY Times stories by John Branch, a couple of which I had already read. Quotes:
- Page 66, about Tommy Caldwell: “I have a very distinct goal all the time that I’m working toward, and I love the way it makes me live. Most of the days of the year I wake up wit this on my mind, thinking, what am I going to do today to get one step closer? It gets me outside every day in the mountains in beautiful places, pushing myself.”
- Page 83, I liked Caldwell and Jorgenson’s answers to why they climbed the Dawn Wall: “… For me, I love to dream big, and I love to find ways to be a bit of an explorer. These days it seems like everything is padded and comes with warning labels. This just lights a fire under me, and that’s a really exciting way to live.”
- Page 292, on Steve Kerr: “With an educated and evenhanded approach, he steps into discussions that most others in his position purposely avoid or know little about, chewing through the gray areas in a world that increasingly paints itself in bold contrasts…. The truly civilized man is marked by empathy, by his recognition that the thought and understanding of men of other cultures may differ sharply from his own, that what seems natural to him may appear grotesque to others.”
- Invisible Man NOTES: in progress.
- The Time Machine NOTES: in progress.
- Seveneves NOTES: in my opinion, even better than Snow Crash. Great book.
- Raising Your Money-Savvy Family For Next Generation Financial Independence NOTES: in progress.
- Snow Crash NOTES: hard to believe that this was written 21 years ago, great book.
- Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman NOTES: re-read from 2013.
- Winsome Conviction: Disagreeing Without Dividing the Church NOTES: somewhat academic but so necessary in this day and age. Relevant quotes:
- Page 82, “In each instance where resolution was achieved , compromise of some kind was required; but for compromise to occur, both sides need to acknowledge the concern of others. Nicole Roccas wisely notes that, ‘all of human development can be summed up as the process of learning we are not the sole protagonist in the story — other people exist.'”
- Page 98, “The importance of taking steps to understand how others perceive us is creatively called world-traveling by cultural critic Maria Lugones. She states that a world ‘need not be a construction of a whole society, it may be a construction of a tiny portion of a particular society. It may be inhabited by just a few people.’ To travel to another world is to understand how you have been constructed in the eyes of others.” I like that metaphor.
- Page 115, on preventing groupthink: “Select a leader who solicits differing opinions.. As a professor, when I want to really ascertain how my course is going, I’ll ask students to submit their feedback through evaluations with no names submitted… Select a leader who wants to hear all opinions of the group while protecting identities. Second, a leader an also ask certain members to specifically push back on the opinions of the group. I once worked on a complex project for an entire year. Just as the group was about to make our final recommendations to the administration, our group leader asked three of us to talk him out of the decision we were about to make. ‘Take the weekend and come up with your best counter arguments’, he said. You’ll present them to the group on Monday. A leader who isn’t afraid to receive pushback will in turn create a communication climate where others can voice concerns or objections.”
- Page 137, “Stephen Carter offers some insightful and provocative rules for civil discourse. These rules will not solve all of our social ills or eliminate power imbalances, either in the church or the broader society, but they contribute to an atmosphere that is more conducive to cooperative change and also more reflective of the love of Christ toward friend and enemy alike….
- Our duty to be civil toward others does not depend on whether we like them or not.
- We must come into the presence of our fellow human beings with a sense of awe and gratitude.
- Civility requires that we listen to others with the knowledge of the possibility that they are right and we are wrong.
- Civility requires that we express ourselves in ways that demonstrate our respect for others.
- Religions do their greatest service to civility when they preach not only love of neighbor but resistance to wrong.
- Page 139, a great phrase… “I was frustrated with some chronic problems we were having with the leadership team, and I finally blurted out: ‘I don’t mind having people problems, I hate with when people refuse to change!’ My friend paused for a moment to be sure I was done blurting. Then he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Rick, some problems have to be managed rather than solved.'”
- The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults NOTES: …
- In Patagonia NOTES: supposedly a book that “… redefined travel writing” but it was a bit of a push for me to get through. Worth reading for even the sparsest amount of history about Argentina, Chile, Patagonia, and the early 1900’s. Quote:
- page 185, “The Golden Age ended when men stopped hunting, settled in houses and began the daily grind.”
- American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 – 1964 NOTES: long book (just north of 700 pages) but surprisingly good. I learned quite a bit about our relationship to Japan, Korean, China, and the Philippines, and especially our (US) relationship with those countries. I had no idea how big a part MacArthur played in the reboot of Japan (just as big of an influence as Marshall in Europe, if not bigger), and how big of a part the US played in the Philippines. Quotes:
- Page 119, on rules: “… He clung to his principle that rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.”
- Page 314, his prayer for his son, which I’ve definitely come across previously: “Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee — and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past. And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom , and the weakness of true strength. Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain.'”
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking NOTES: really enjoyed this book, lots of “yep, I did that as a kid” moments for me. Useful quotes / snippets:
- Page 13, a list of assessment questions to see where you might fall on the introvert / extrovert spectrum: 1) I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities. 2) I often prefer to express myself in writing. 3) I enjoy solitude. 4) I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame, and status. 5) I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me. 6) People tell me that I’m a good listener. 7) I’m not a big risk taker. 8) I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions. 9) I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members. 10) People often describe me as “soft spoken” or “mellow”. 11) I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished. 12) I dislike conflict. 13) I do my best work on my own. 14) I tend to think before I speak. 15) I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself. 16) I often let calls go to voicemail.”
- Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime NOTES: short read but a reminder that while some things have changed (police departments are more integrated now than in 1970… in others (David Duke still around having a voice) they haven’t. Worth a read or a watch (it’s a movie now).
- Running Is My Therapy: Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, Ditch Bad Habits, and Live Happier NOTES: recommendation from a teacher at my son’s high school, specifically for teenagers… applies just as well to adults. 2 thumbs up, need to up my running game.
- The Tyranny of Metrics NOTES: good book, important read for anyone in leadership looking to put “accountability” or “transparency” in place, through metrics.
- Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and the Religion in the Matrix NOTES: in progress.
- Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions NOTES: great book, fun to read about how so many things in life can be reduced to algorithms, would be a great teaching tool for students learning about CS.
- The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds NOTES: Completed in about 24 hours, really enjoyed this book. Tons of notes / quotes that I’ll get around to posting at some point.
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living NOTES: in progress.