Not sure if it makes sense do these monthly or what but I did one in April and it was a nice way to check in on my recent reading.
This past week I was in New York and re-listened to Naval’s interview on The Knowledge Project. I’d count this as a top-10 quake episode—podcast episodes that got me to actually take action. In particular, this got me to start jumping between many books. He says he treats books more like blogs, some chapters are better than others and it’s okay to skip or some or just quit a bad book altogether.
That said, I do think I went too far to where books don’t provide a focused outlet for me. It’s too easy to jump between digital books. They’ve become too much like blogs.
To fix this, it should be helpful to write recaps like this and focusing podcast episodes around single books.
On to the books…!
Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
I finally finished this. And even recorded some unpublished episodes about the book. Still need to edit them or just record a fresh episode from scratch. In any case, it’s a great book capturing the path to mastery.
If I’m ranking it alongside other 1000 page books I’ve read, it’s the one that made me feel least like a dumbass.
I got to the speech in Atlas Shrugged kept looking for a paragraph break and then for the end of the speech and held like an entire novella between my thumb and index finger and then quit, on a plane if I’m remembering correctly. (I’m probably not.)
I read Infinite Jest and somewhere in the middle realized I’d need… okay well this wasn’t the feeling then but today it’s the feeling I got watching Tenet or Westworld and knowing I’d need to watch some YouTube theory videos afterward.
(The equivalent at the time being reading Aaron Swartz’s ending theory.)
There’s an episode in one of Simon Rich’s shows where the character is figuring out how to position Infinite Jest just right in his apartment before a date arrives. Watching that scene felt like the Predator had his laser sight centered directly on me.
Okay so I’ll re-word it. If I’m ranking Musashi alongside other 1000-page books I’ve read, it’s the one I enjoyed the most. Come for the sword fights (you’ll get them), stay for the journey through mastery and its worth against other things life offers.
You Can’t Lose Them All by Sal Iacono
Cousin Sal talks about his life through the lens of gambling. It’s a fun angle and, man, he does love gambling. If you’ve listened to him on Bill Simmons’s podcast, you’ll know what to expect. It’s definitely a “if you like him, you’ll like the book, if not, you won’t” books.
I like the book.
This will likely be a top-3 book I’d recommend on storytelling. (You know, if someday I ever get good enough at telling stories that I’m ever asked for that recommendation.)
He captures a period in his life that many will experience: you’ve reached a big goal (maybe a peak in life, even, or at least in a career) and you’re working on the next thing.
He also makes it clear what the self talk is like for other overthinkers. (My hunch: Anyone writing about themselves is likely someone who overthinks things, including me.) He even contemplates how he got to be one of these people who writes about their own lives for a living.
Sapiens popularized the idea that shared stories between enormous groups are what make us human. _A Million Miles in a Thousand Years_ explains why personal stories are worth sharing.
Okay I went a little long so I won’t write long notes for these but here are some in progress books.
- Alexander X: Sci-fi (or like modern fantasy?) about a secret group of immortals. Very fun book to listen to while walking Booster.
- Psycho-cybernetics: Re-listening (not sure how closely I paid attention the first time) after hearing Pat Flynn and Dan John mention it on their podcast. First steps in an effort in building up my mental fitness. (Enjoyed Shaan and Sam talking about mental health/mental fitness distinction.) Meditation for health, visualizations & mental movies for fitness.
- Save the Cat Writes for TV: I’m not writing a TV show but am realizing that if I want to take The Notepod podcast more seriously, it mostly means writing. Good book so far but I know I need to, you know, actually write.
- New Teeth: I look forward to any Simon Rich writing. This time he writes about parenthood. I’m hoping to enter that phase in the next few years so it’s very fun pre-reading.
Okay I’m writing this in a car now and am getting nauseous. I’ll finish by butchering a naval-ism: read books you enjoy until you enjoy reading!