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.

Feb 2023

  • Wind River Adventures: My Life in Frontier Wyoming NOTES: found in a random used bookstore in Nevada, am planning on backpacking in the Wind River Range this summer. Fun book and the author painted a very respectful picture of the Native Americans he spent so much time with. Quotes:
    • Page 78, an Indian chief after meeting the POTUS: “Washakie no good talk. Washakie’s heart talks to great white chief. Washakie’s heart says he is glad, and asked Great Spirit to bless white chief and make his heart good toward the Indian.”
    • Page 227: “The Indian, when I first knew him, was far different than he is today. They they were proud, haughty, and independent; kings in their own domain with an empire for their hunting grounds. And until the white man said stop, they knew no ruler. The Indian, as a race, never knew what it was to be despised. Far from aspiring to be like the white man, he has looked forward with a feeling of dread to the coming of the day when he would lose his ethnic individuality.”
    • Page 229: His reflections on the American Indians, after being asked by an audience member if it was “… better that the white man has taken this country from the Indians” as he could “… see clearly the hand of God in the setting aside of the American Indian and the establishing thereon a higher and better religion and civilization.” His answer: “Friend, that is a pretty big question to answer.
      I do not know whether I can answer it or not but I will say this. If you look at it from a commercial standpoint there is no doubt but that the white man has made greater and more intensive use of this country than the Indian would perhaps in a thousand years. But if you look at it from the standpoint of right and justice and honesty and fair dealing, it takes on an entirely different appearance.
      Suppose there came from the west a race of people as much more numerous and powerful as we were over the American India and they swept us back into the Atlantic Ocean, setting our remnants aside on reservations here and there and establishing on the continent a higher and better civilization and religion — from their point of view. Do you still see the hand of God as clearly as you did before?”
    • Page 235, his concluding paragraph: “I believe I know the India and believe the Indian was a man before outrage and oppression made of him a savage. I have known him as a savage and as a fighting man in the pride and insolence of his strength. I have known him as a monarch whipped into submission…. I have smoked with him the pipe of peace and I have sat with him at his feasts and in his councils.
      And when I compare them all – the red and white race – calmly in my own mind, their vices and virtues, their sterling worth and their shortcomings, the Indian does not suffer by comparison. When you see an Indian sitting on a curb or standing on the corner with that faraway expression upon his countenance, indifferent to the fate or progress of the world, remember that the white man has taken his country and made him what he is today – a nation conquered and a people dispossessed. His pride is humbled, and his spirit is subdued.
      His heart is broken. As a race his sun is set.”

Jan 2023

Dec 2022

Nov 2022

Oct 2022

  • Coming into the Country NOTES: bought sometime after the Alaska trip last year. Took a couple months to complete, it’s slow, but good if you want to learn about some of the recent history of Alaska. Random quotes from the end of the book: “… Death is as much a part of life as breathing. People in cities seem to want life and death to remain at a standstill… They seem to think the animals up here are smelling the flowers. They use the word ‘ecology’ for everything but what it means. It means who’s eating whom, and when… Uncontrolled fear and deep respect are two different things.”

Sep 2022

Aug 2022

Jul 2022

Jun 2022

May 2022

Apr 2022

Mar 2022

Feb 2022

  • The Burnout Society NOTES: did not enjoy, super academic. One quote:
    • We owe the cultural achievements of humanity – which include philosophy – to deep, contemplative attention. Culture presumes an environment in which deep attention is possible. Increasingly, such immersive reflection is being displaced by an entirely different form of attention: hyper-attention. A rash change of focus between different tasks, sources of information, and processes characterizes this scattered mode of awareness. Since it also has a low tolerance for boredom, it does not admit the profound idleness that benefits the creative process. Walter Benjamin calls this deep boredom a
      “dream bird that hatches the egg of experience.” If sleep represents the high point of bodily relaxation, deep boredom is the peak of mental relaxation. A purely hectic rush produces nothing new. It reproduces and accelerates what is already available. Benjamin laments that the dream bird’s nests of tranquillity and time are vanishing in the modern world. No longer does one spin and weave.” Boredom is a “warm gray fabric on the inside, with the most lustrous and colorful silks”; “i]n this fabric we wrap ourselves when we dream.” We are “at home … in the arabesques of its lining.” As tranquillity vanishes, the “gift of listening” goes missing, as does the “community of listeners.” Our community of activity (Aktivge- metnschaft] stands diametrically opposed to such rest. The “gift of
      listening” is based on the ability to grant deep, contemplative attention which remains inaccessible to the hyperactive ego.

Jan 2022

Dec 2021

  • Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic NOTES: my one day Christmas read. 2 quotes:
    • Page 247: “The court’s opinion was unanimous. It declared, “Democracies die behind closed doors.”, similar to the Washington Post slogan, which was added the same year (2017) I got to visit headquarters on a sales call.
    • “The newsroom was full of journalists who believed in holding the powerful accountable, reporters who persevered in the face of people, obstacles, and forces that threatened to derail their efforts. This hometown newspaper instilled a David-like confidence that when you’re on the right track, the Goliaths of money and power could neither intimidate nor stop you. It was keeping sustained outrage alive.” Emphasis mine. There’s something negative about sustained outrage for news and media consumers, but I think there’s something wonderful about it for driving change. Maybe it’s sustained and focused outrage, rather than just outrage at everything, which is debilitating.

Nov 2021

  • How to Watch Soccer NOTES: I wanted it to be more technical than it was, but a good book to broaden your understanding of soccer.

Oct 2021

  • Why We’re Polarized NOTES: great book, lots of quotes:
    • Page 39: “… a growing urban-rural divide. There is no dense city in America that routinely votes Republican. There are few rural areas that vote Democratic…. the dividing line is about nine hundred people per square mile: above that, areas trend Democratic; below it, they turn Republican…. Today, as political scientist Jonathan Rodden shows in his book Why Cities Lose, the density of the place we live has become a powerful predictor of partisanship.”
    • Page 44: “Different studies categorize people in different ways, but the common thread is that openness to experience – and the basic optimism that drives it – is associated with liberalism, while conscientiousness, a preference for order and tradition that breeds skepticism toward disruptive change, connects to conservatism. People high in openness are more likely to enjoy trying new foods, traveling to new places, living in diverse cities, keeping a messy desk…. This is why Whole Foods and Cracker Barrel locations track deep partisan divisions.”
    • Page 50: “… the way we treat people we decide aren’t like us isn’t a product of our specific culture or experience but something deeper, something that reflects how humans think, organize, and bound their social worlds. The most important principle of the subjective social order we construct for ourselves is the classification of groups as ‘we’ and ‘they’ and once someone has become a ‘they’, we are used to dismissing them, competing against them, discriminating against them and … we will do that even if there is not reason for it in terms of our own interests.”
    • Page 63: “.. All of this points toward an important principle: the most engaged experience politics differently than everyone else…. the least-engaged voters tend to look at politics through the lens of material self-interest (‘what will this policy do for me?’) while the most-engaged look at politics through the lens of identity (‘what does support for this policy position say about me?’)…. As we become more political, we become more interested in politics as a means of self-expression and group identity.”
    • Page 96: “As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valuded groups, idinvidiaul subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values. Elsewhere, he puts it more pithily: “What we believe about the facts, tells us who we are. And the most important psychological imperative most of us have in a given day is protecting our idea of who we are and our relationships with the people we trust and love.”
    • Page 125, on what’s acceptable to talk about and who gets to talk about uncomfortable things: “I call it the democratization of discomfort, says Richeson. There were whole swaths of people uncomfortable all the time. Now we’re democratizing it. Now more people across different races and religions feel uncomfortable.”
    • Page 135, a summary of the first half of the book: “The human mind is exquisitely tuned to group affiliation and group difference. It takes almost nothing for us to form a group identity, and once that happens, we naturally assume ourselves in competition with other groups.
      The deeper our commitment to our group becomes, the more determined we become to make sure our group wins. Making matters worse, winning is positional, not material; we often prefer outcomes that are worse for everyone so long as they maximize our group’s advantage over other groups… The parties used to be scrambled, both ideologically and demographically, in ways that curbed their power as identities and lowered the partisan stakes of politics. But these idelogically mixed parties were an unstable equilibrium reflecting America’s peculiar and often abhorrent racial politics. The success of the civil rights movement, and its alliance with the national Democratic party, broke that equilibrium, destroyed the Dixie-crat wing of the Democratic party, and triggered an era of party sorting… Today parties are sharply split across racial, religious, geographic, cultural and psyhchological lines. There are many, many powerful identities lurking in that list, and they are fusing together, stacking atop one another, so a conflict or threat that activates one activates all.” Emphasis mine.
    • Page 149: “The old line on local reporting was ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ For political reporting, the principle is: ‘If it outrages, it leads.‘ And outrage is deeply connected to identity – we are outraged when members of other groups threaten our group and violate our values. As such, polarized media doesn’t emphasize commonalities, it weaponizes differences; it doesn’t focus on the best of the other side, it threatens you with the worst.”
      Again, emphasis mine.
    • Page 166, on the media and coverage provided to politicians, and why: “I remember the Bush and Obama administrations begging the press to pay attention to this or that policy announcement. But when Trump sends out a misspelled tweet slamming Elizabeth Warren, it dominates cable for the rest of the day. The answer, simply, is that Trump understands what newsworthy really means, and he uses it to his advantage. In theory, newsworthiness means something roughly like ‘important.’ The most newsworthy story is the most important story.
      But if that were true, front pages and cable news shows would look very different from how they do now: more malaria, fewer celebrities. In practice, newsworthiness is some combination of important, new, outrageous, conflict-oriented, secret, or interesting.”
    • Page 265, on what we pay attention to (with a shoutout to this story): “… we give too much attention to national politics, which we can do very little to change, and too little attention to state and local politics, where our voices can matter much more. The time spent spraying outrage over Trump’s latest tweet – which is, to be clear, what he wants you to do; the point is to suck up all of the media oxygen so that he retains control of the conversation – is better spent checking in with what’s happening in your own neighborhood.”
    • I liked this quote because it applies to me as an introvert: “… My first job in journalism was at the American Prospect, where Mike Tomasky took a chance on me, despite my total lack of actual journalism experience, and then took the time to teach me how to be a journalist. Pick up the damn phone – or PUTDP, as I came to think of it – rings in my head years later.”

Sep 2021

  • Travels in Alaska NOTES: still in progress.
  • Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update NOTES: still in progress.
  • Walkaway: A Novel NOTES: another dip into science fiction, this with an author (Cory Doctorow) I used to read back in the blogging days. Worth the time to stretch your brain about how life might work in the far out future, heavily relying on tech from today (3D printing, open source, wikis, AI, etc). Quotes:
    • Page 119: “… The best way to be superhuman is to do things that you live with other people who love them, too. The only way to do that is to admit you’re doing it because you love it and if you do more than everyone, you’re still only doing that because that’s what you choose.”
    • Page 203: “… these hacker wizards who produce better code than anyone were often so hard to work with that they made everyone else’s work worse, buggier, and slower. The amount of time they had to spend fixing that code slowed them down so much, it ate up their virtuosity gains. Attempts to put together the Manhattan Project teams made from wizards without normal dumb-asses like me showed exactly the same effect. They footnoted one study, one I did read — an ethnographic survey of projects that went to shit, even though they had brilliant programmers. The authors found there were two major causes of failure. The first was some wizards were colossal assholes. Asshole was what they called it, because the phrase came up from three different teams. It’s impossible to work with assholes, even brilliant assholes. Don’t work with assholes is great advice, but it’s also a duh moment, because if you haven’t figured that out by your second or third team, you might be the asshole.”
  • Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life NOTES: was hoping (or just thinking) that the book would be more focused on personal life, but it ended up being mostly about how he thought about his company. Quotes:
    • Page 49, on his view of investing: “Investing is all about long-term ownership of businesses. Business focuses on the gradual accumulation of intrinsic value, derived from the ability of our publicly owned corporations to produce goods and services that our consumers and savers demand, to compete effectively, to thrive on entrepreneurship, and to capitalize on change. Business adds value to our society, and to the wealth of our investors.”
    • Page 163, on building a company: “Rule #1: Make caring the soul of the organization. When I first spoke to our Vanguard crew in 1989, I used these words: ‘Caring is a mutual affair, involving 1) mutual respect from the highest to the humblest among us: each one of you deserves to be – and will be – treated with courtesy, candor, friendliness, and respect for the honorable work you perform. 2) Opportunities for career growth, participation, and innovation: while Vanguard is an enterprise in which so many are asked to do the jobs that are routine and mundane but always essential, the simple fact is that we need your enthusiastic participation in your job – if we are to make Vanguard work effectively….”
    • Page 173, on persistence: “If there
  • Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism NOTES: stole this one from my dad. Not the greatest book to read if you’re looking for a positive view on the world, but helpful to understand why things are the way they are in the US and in other countries in 2021. Quotes:
    • Page 18: “… He described both far-right and far-left ideologues who sought to promote either class passion, in the form of Soviet Marxism, or national passion in the form of fascism, and accused them both of betraying the central task of the intellectual, the search for truth, in favor of particular political causes. Sarcastically, he called these fallen intellectuals clercs or clerks, a word whose oldest meaning link it to clergy. Ten years before Stalin’s Great Terror and six years before Hitler came to power, Benda already feared that the writers, journalists, and essayists who had morphed into political entrepreneurs and propagandists would goad whole civilizations into acts of violence. And so it came to pass.” Reminded me of the reference to “clerks” in the movie “The Good Shepherd” but I think this is a completely different meaning / reference.
    • Page 74: “Radically different from the reflective nostalgics are what Boym calls the restorative nostalgics, not all of whom recognize themselves as nostalgics at all. Restorative nostalgics don’t just look at old photographs and piece together family stories. They are mythmakers and architects, builders of monuments and founders of nationalist political projects. They do not merely want to contemplate or learn from the past. They want, as Boym puts it, to “rebuild the lost home and patch up the memory gaps.” Many of them don’t recognize their fictions about the past for what they are: “They believe their project is about truth.” They are not interestd in a nuanced past, in a world in which great leaders were flawed men, in which famous military victories had lethal side effects. They don’t acknowledge that the past might have had its drawbacks. They want the cartoon version of history, and more importantly, they want to live in it, right now. They don’t want to act out roles from the past because it amuses them, they want to behave as they think their ancestors did, without irony.”
    • Page 110: “In the more open societies of the West, we have become smug about our tolerance for conflicting points of view. But for much of our recent history, the actual range of those views was limited. Since 1945, the most important arguments have usually unfolded between the center right and the center left. As a result, the range of possible outcomes was narrow, especially in democracies like those in Scandinavia that were most inclined to toward consensus. But even in the more raucous democracies, the field of battle was relatively well defined. In the United States, the strictures of the Cold War created partisan agreement around U.S. foreign policy. In many European countries, a commitment to the EU was a given. Most of all, the dominance of national television broadcasters, -the BBC in Britain, the three national networks in the United States-and broad-based newspapers that relied on broad-based advertising revenues meant that in most Western countries, most of the time, there was a single, national debate. Opinions differed, but at least most people were arguing within agreed parameters.” This same reasoning came up in the “Why we’re polarized” book above.
    • Page 114: “If you click on perfectly legitimate anti-immigration YouTube sites, for example, these can lead you quickly, in just a few more clicks, to white nationalist sites and then to violent xenophobic sites. Because they have been designed to keep you online, the algorithms also favor emotions, especially anger and fear. And because the sites are addictive, they affect people in ways they don’t expect. Anger becomes a habit. Divisiveness becomes normal. Even if social media is not yet the primary news source for all Americans, it already helps shape how politicians and journalists interpret the world and portray it. Polarization has moved from the online world into reality. The result is a hyper-partisanship that adds to the distrust of “normal” politics, establishment” politicians, derided “experts, and “mainstream” institutions including courts, police, civil servants-and no wonder. As polarization increases, the employees of the state are invariably portrayed as having been “captured” by their opponents. It is not an accident that the Law and Justice Party in Poland, the Brexiteers in Britain, and the Trump administration in the United States have launched verbal assaults on civil servants and professional diplomats. It is not an accident that judges and courts are now the object of criticism, scrutiny, and anger in so many other places too. There can be no neutrality in a polarized world because they can be no nonpartisan or apolitical institutions.”
    • Page 135, on how websites / “news” are being created to manipulate the world, in this case Spaniards: “…. Both Alto and ISD noticed another oddity. Vox supporters, especially the group identified as abnormal, high-activity users, were very likely to post and tweet content and material from a set of conspiratorial websites, mostly set up at least a year before the 201g election. These sites, sometimes run by a single person, looked like normal, local news sites but they mixed “ordinary” information with highly partisan articles and headlines that were then systematically pumped into the social media networks. The Alto team found exactly the same kinds of websites in Italy and Brazil in the months before those countries’ elections in 2018. In each case, the websites began putting out partisan material-in Italy, about immigration; in Brazil, about corruption and feminism-during the year before the vote. In both countries, they served to feed and amplify partisan themes even before they were really part of mainstream politics. They were not necessarily designed to do that, their real goal is more sophisticated. They are designed to create false narratives, to repeat themes and to hammer them home, to cherry-pick the news and emphasize particular details, to create anger, annoyance, and fear, over and over again.
    • Page 142: “With our powerful founding story, our unusual reverence for our Constitution, our geographic isolation, and our two centuries of relative economic success, modern Americans have long been convinced that liberal democracy, once achieved, was impossible to reverse. The founders themselves were not so certain: their beloved classical authors taught them that history was circular, that human nature was flawed, and that special measures were needed to prevent democracy from sliding back into tyranny. But American history, to most modern Americans, does not feel circular. On the contrary, it is often told as a tale of progress, forward and upward, with the Civil War as a blip in the middle. Cultural despair does not come easily to a nation that believed in the Horatio Alger myth and Manifest Destiny. Pessimism is an alien sentiment in a state whose founding documents, the embodiment of the Enlightenment, contain one of the most optimistic views of the possibilities of human government ever written.”
    • Page 158: “… there lies another America–Buchanan’s America, Trump’s America — one that sees no important distinction between democracy and dictatorship. This America feels no attachment to other democracies; this America is not “exceptional.” This America has no special democratic spirit of the kind Jefferson described. The unity of this America is created by white skin, a certain idea of Christianity, and an attachment to land that will be surrounded and defended by a wall. This America’s ethnic nationalism resembles the old-fashioned ethnic nationalism of older European nations. This America’s cultural despair resembles their cultural despair. The surprise is not that this definition of America is there: it has always existed. The surprise is that it emerged in the political party that has most ostentatiously used flags, banners, patriotic symbols, and parades to signify its identity. For the party of Reagan to become the party of Trump for Republicans to abandon American idealism and to adopt, instead, the rhetoric of despair, a sea change had to take place, not just among the party’s voters, but among the party’s clercs.

Aug 2021

  • Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians NOTES: bought as one of the books to read about while I was on the Alaska road trip this summer. Turned out to be semi-personal as my road trip buddy actually had a relative who fought up in the Aleutians during WWII. Yet another book that illustrates how hard and uncomfortable life was during the war and a great book to accompany you on a trip to Alaska, especially if you want to broaden your geographic horizon while on the ferry up the coast.

Jul 2021

  • Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors NOTES: picked this up in South Dakota at one of the visitor centers. Great book, especially if you’re visiting that part of the United States on a road trip or if you want to understand more about how the United States treated the Native Americans. Quotes:
    • Page 33: “Ambition was the key to the American character. It was the motive power that got the work done, and the one sentiment shared by all white Americans, who were otherwise so diverse. George Armstrong Custer knew it well; late in his life he wrote: “In years long-numbered with the past, when I was verging upon manhood, my every thought was ambitious – not to be wealthy, not to be learned, but to be great. I desire to link my name with acts & men, and in such a manner as to be a mark of honor – not only to the present, but to future generations.”
      In the end his ambition was directly responsible for his early death.”
    • Page 125, at the end of a short but really interesting chapter that compared the two men: “The ultimate difference between the two men was their mood. Customer was never satisfied with where he was. He always aimed to go on to the next higher station in society. He was always in a state of becoming. Crazy Horse accepted the situations he found himself in and aimed only to be a brave and respected Sioux warrior, which by the time he was a young adult he had been, was then, and would be. He was in a state of being. Custer believed that things could be better than they were. Crazy Horse did not.”
    • Page 323: “The point is that for all of America’s leaders’ sincere concern for the fate of the Indians, they had a higher loyalty. The men who made national policy, from the eighteenth century onward, supported by a broad consensus among the white population, have had as their first loyalty the doctrine of material progress. They have believed in that doctrine more than in their Constitution or their treaties or their religion. America’s leaders and America’s white population have allowed nothing to stand in the path of progress. Not a tree, not a desert, not a river, nothing. Most certainly not Indians, regrettable as it may have been to have to destroy such noble and romantic people.”
  • 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.

June 2021

  • 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.

May 2021

  • 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….
      1. Our duty to be civil toward others does not depend on whether we like them or not.
      2. We must come into the presence of our fellow human beings with a sense of awe and gratitude.
      3. Civility requires that we listen to others with the knowledge of the possibility that they are right and we are wrong.
      4. Civility requires that we express ourselves in ways that demonstrate our respect for others.
      5. 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.'”

April 2021

March 2021

  • 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.”
    • ….

February 2021

January 2021

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