Here are some of the latest books I’ve read in the last few weeks or so, along with my thoughts on each of them. Enjoy.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami
Billions director and writer Brian Koppelman called this book “the single best distillation of the kind of focus, commitment, and sense of mission it takes to become a great artist.” Murakami’s memior is really about running and training for the New York City Marathon, but the main point of the book is how to strip away the unnecessary, put your head down and get to work – which is both the key to running and the key to creating successful art. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in the creative field, or if you just enjoy running.
The Gray Man – Mark Greaney
After I finished the entire 26 book Jack Reacher series, I was left without a badass fiction novel centered on a guy who can kick ass and take names (one of the greatest saying of all time, btw). Then my dad handed me The Gray Man, which is exactly that. It’s almost identical to The Bourne Identity, but without the whole memory-loss thing. I’ve always been a sucker for a lone maverick assasin, and this one fit the bill. Just like the Bourne movies, Shooter, Mission Impossible, or John Wick. Keep ’em coming, and I’ll keep on buying.
Tao te Ching – Lao Tzu
I honestly had no idea what I was buying when I bought this book. But enough successful people recommended it that I had to give it a try. It’s a series of 81 poems/mantras about the Taoist philosophy and religion, which went on to influence Chinese philosophy, Confucianism, and Buddhism. It’s a quick read, and unless your in touch with your spiritual side, a lot of it is going to go over your head. But there are definitely some gems that hit me pretty hard:
We join spokes together in a wheel
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move
The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”
Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power
Let your workings remain a mystery
Just show people the results.
It sounds very Mr. Miyagi, but even if you just take a few nuggets of wisdom like those, it’s worth the quick read.
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves – Matt Ridley
Matt Ridley also wrote one of my favorite books, The Evolution of Everything. This book, however is about how life is better than ever. Similar to the Steven Pinker philosophy (The Better Angels of Our Nature); while it seems like the world is ending, our quality of life is the best it has ever been since humans have come to existence. Things like food availability, income, and life span are at their highest; while disease, crime, and child mortality are at their lowest. Ridley is also just an awesome writer so he makes boring subjects very digestible.
Bad Blood – John Carreyrou [Audible]
For my first audiobook, I had to check out the one everyone has been talking about for the past year. I may be a little late to the game on the Theranos kick but I haven’t seen the documentary yet, and I didn’t feel like buying the book. Long story short, it’s WAY crazier than you thought and it’s got a lot of good juice.
Never Split the Difference – Chris Voss [Audible]
My buddy Wex recommended this to me and said it was “one of the best books I’ve ever read. Well I listented to it on Audble, but same thing.” Yes, listening to a book counts too. I was never an Audible guy, but I just started it and I love it. Great for when I’m washing the dishes, going grocery shopping, or just doing laundry.
Anyway, this book is written by Chris Voss, who is a former FBI hostage negotiator – so he has some awesome stories. But the main lesson of the books is teaching you how to negotiate – since adult life is basically a series of negotiations: buying a car, asking for a raise, buying a home, renegotiating rent, deliberating with your partner. One surprising thing I learned so far: in a negotiation with someone, you want them to say “No” and “That’s right” as quickly and as often as possible.
Great Reads Across the Internet
- Two Professors Sent 80,000 Fake Emails to VCs to Study Gender and Racial Bias – Entrepreneurs with female and Asian-sounding names received a higher rate of interested replies than their presumed male or white counterparts.
- The Astros Give a Hard Pass to the Free Pass – is the intentional walk in baseball dead? [WSJ subscription]
- Why Mosquitoes Single You Out, And What to Do About It – basically, good luck…
Books I’m Considering Next