d e t a i l s

  i try to make reading a daily part of my existence. there are a number of reasons for this but i imagine you're interested in exactly zero of them. so deem yourself spared. as for how i choose what to read, i use a genre-based rotation. the rotation changes from time to time but below is the present pattern:

POPULAR FICTION (e.g. ken follet, dan brown, john grisham)
CLASSIC LITERATURE (e.g. alexandre dumas, victor hugo, charles dickens)
SCI-FI/FANTASY (e.g. isaac asimov, orson scott card, robert heinlein)
PHILOSOPHICAL (anything from raw philosophy to the merits of bhudism)
MODERN LITERATURE (e.g. upton sinclair, william faulkner, theodore dreiser)
INSTRUCTIONAL (something towards making a better me)
HISTORICAL BEST-SELLER (from the kahn reading project)
NON-FICTION (e.g. michael lewis, jon krakauer, bill bryson)

the purpose of the above serpentine is rut and glut avoidance. i am desperate to not become a boorish one-category reader and i also love (!!!) the sweeping arcs of subject matter landscapes this practice forces my mind to ambulate through. from a fox hole in WWII europe to solar systems not yet seen (and in times not yet conceived) to how to make your child laugh more to the roman forum at its peak the potential behind this exercise offers limitless candy and vitamins for your mind (and soul).

if you think i'm missing a category, i'd appreciate to hear your argument. and, i'm ever interested in hearing about people's favorite reads, so please hit me up with yours.

The Clan of the Cave Bear
Jean M. Auel

READ BEFORE BOOKS FROM : 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017


The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas

favorite passage:
As he said, he was ready to go to the end of the earth in quest of her; but the earth being round has very many ends, so he knew not which way to turn.

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Never Too Late to Bre Great (The Power of Thinking Long)
Tom Butler-Bowden

favorite passages:
You can't measure success in a year or two. Speculating on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis is fraught with uncertainty and dangers, but someone who takes a long-term view invariably does well.

Take the long view of your life, career or business, and much worry and angst is removed from the equation. You may be no better than someone else at what you do at the outset, but if you let time and experience play its part, and have a willingness to build these into the 'product' that you offer the world (whether this is a thing, a service, or you yourself), you will set yourself apart from your peers.

Fashions come and go, but quality and originality are always recognized. Don't despair if you feel like a lone voice in the wilderness, or if people see what you do as being out of setp with the times. Consider this radical idea: you do not have to depend on 'the times' for your success. Rather, by sticking to your guns, by being faithful to who you are and what you do, the times can be shaped by you.

The passing of time has a way of revealing truth. It lifts up to recognition those who stick to their guns, even when they face lack of recognition or opposition. It also puts in their proper place people who once seemed invincible and ubiquitous, and whose true merits can not be properly judged. It is never enough to be excellent or even extraordinary in terms of talents, technical skills or ability to motivate and command people. For a person to reach his or her potential, there must be a certain amount of self-reflection and willingness to correct character flaws or rackets. Self-reflection may not be compatible with the go-getting nature of fast success, but it is compatible with real, slow-cooked success.

Whether or not you accept the theories surrounding mid-life, it is difficult to argue that having spent four decades on the planet has no effect in terms of the ripening of personal character and skills, or the execution of successful ideas. By forty, we usually know what we are good at, but we may be more open to changing our ways if it leads to greater success. By this age we know the value of persistence, but are wise enough to keep experimenting in order to find 'what works'. Finally whatever pressures we felt when younger to conform to expectations or peers, teachers or parents, we are not our own person.

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How Children Succeed
Paul Tough

favorite passages:
As Karen Fierst observed, most Riverdale students can see before them a clear path to a certain type of success. They'll go to college, they'll graduate, they'll get well-paying jobs—and if they fall along the way, their families will almost certainly catch them, often well into their twenties or even thirties if necessary. But despite these students' many advantages, Randolph isn't convinced that the education they are currently receiving at Riverdale or the support they are receiving at home will provide them with the skills to negotiate the path to the deeper success that Seligman and Peterson hold up as the ultimate product of good character: a happy, meaningful, productive life. Randolph wants his students to succeed, of course—it's just that he believes that in order for them to do so, they first need to learn how to fail.

When Duckworth talks about character, as she did that day at the KIPP workshop, she often cites William James, the American philosopher and psychologist, who wrote that the traits we call virtues are no more and no less than simple habits. "Habit and character are essentially the same thing," Duckworth explained to the KIPP teachers. "It's not like some kids are good and some kids are bad. Some kids have good habits and some kids have bad habits. Kids understand it when you put it that way, because they know that habits might be hard to change, but they're not impossible to change. William James says our nervous systems are like a sheet of paper. You fold it over and over and over again, and pretty soon it has a crease. And I think that's what you at KIPP are doing. When your students leave KIPP, you want to make sure they have the kind of creases that will lead them to success later on."

According to Duckworth, conscientious people don't go around consciously deciding to act virtuously all the time. They've just made it their default response to do the "good" thing, meaning the more socially acceptable or long-term-benefit-enhancing option. In any given situation, the most conscientious path is not always the smartest option. On Carmit Segal's coding speed test, for example, the students who scored highest worked really hard at a really boring task and got nothing in return. One word for that behavior is conscientious. Another is foolish. But in the long run, it serves most people well to have conscientiousness be their default option. Because when it does matter—when you have to study for a final exam or show up on time for a job interview or decide whether to yield to temptation and cheat on your wife—then you will probably make the right choice, and you won't have to exert yourself and exhaust yourself in order to do so.

Recently, two labor economists at the University of California, Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks, analyzed surveys of time use by college students from the 1920s through the present. They found that in 1961 the average full-time college student spent twenty-four hours a week studying outside of the classroom. By 1981, that had fallen to twenty hours a week, and in 2003, it was down to fourteen hours a week, not much more than half of what it had been forty years earlier. This phenomenon transcended boundaries: "Study time fell for students from all demographic subgroups," Babcock and Marks wrote, "for students who worked and those who did not, within every major, and at four-year colleges of every type, degree structure, and level of selectivity." And where did all those extra hours go? To socializing and recreation, mostly. A separate study of 6,300 undergraduates at the University of California found that students today spend fewer than thirteen hours a week studying, while they spend twelve hours hanging out with friends, fourteen hours consuming entertainment and pursuing various hobbies, eleven hours using "computers for fun," and six hours exercising.

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The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
Deepak Chopra

favorite passage:
Not only is the human nervous system capable of becoming aware of the information and energy of its own quantum field, but because human consciousness is infinitely flexible through this wonderful nervous system, you are able to consciously change the informational content that gives rise to your physical body. You can consciously change the energy and informational content of your own quantum mechanical body, and therefore influence the energy and informational content of your extended body—your environment, your world—and cause things to manifest in it.

This conscious change is brought about by the two qualities inherent in consciousness: attention and intention. Attention energizes, and intention transforms. Whatever you put you attention on will grow stronger in your life. Whatever you take your attention away from will wither, disintegrate, and disappear. Intention, on the other hand, triggers transformation of energy and information. Intention organizes its own fulfillment.

The quality of intention on the object of attention will orchestrate and infinity of space-time events to bring about the outcome inteded, provided one follows the other spiritual laws of success. This is because intention in the fertile ground of attention has infinite organizing power. Infinite organizing power means the power to organize an infinity of space-time events, all at the same time. We see the expression of this infinite organizing pore in every blade of grass, in every apple blossom, in every cell of our body. We see it in everything that is alive.

In the scheme of nature, everything correlates and connects with everything else. The groundhog comes out of the earth and you know it is going to be spring. Birds begin to migrate in a certain direction at a certain time of the year. Nature is a symphony. And that symphony is being silently orchestrated at the ultimate ground of creation.

The human body is another good example of this symphony. A single cell in the human body is doing about six trillion things per second, and it has to know what every other cell is doing at the same time. The human body can play music, kill germs, make a baby, recite poety, and monitor the movement of stars all at the same time, because the field of infinite correlation is part of its information field.

What is remarkable about the nervous system of the human species is that it can command this infinite organizing power through conscious intent. Intents in the human species is not fixed or locked into a rigid network of energy and information. It has infinite flexibility. In other words, as long as you do not violate the other laws of nature, through your intent you can literally command the laws of nature to fulfill your dreams and desires.

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Notes from No Man's Land
Eula Biss

favorite passage:
I would often wonder, during my time in that town, why, of all the subcultures in the United States that are feared and hated, of all the subcultures that are singled out as morally reprehensible or un-American or criminal, student culture is so pardoned. Illinois home owners propose ordinances against shared housing among immigrants, while their sons are at college sharing one-bedroom apartments with five other boys. Courts send black teenagers to jail for possession of marijuana, while white college kids are sentenced with community service for driving while intoxicated, a considerably more deadly offense. And Evangelicals editorialize about the sexual abominations of consenting adults, while very little is said about the plague of date rapes in college towns.

One reason for all this might involve the sign on Liberty Bank in downtown Iowa City that reads "Welcome Students!" Or perhaps it has more to do with the fact that those of us who own homes, and those of us who write laws, who demand ordinances from the city council, who lead congregations, see students not as Trojan soldiers hiding in the wooden horse of education, but as the quickly dying sparks of our former selves. And so we allow them their romp, believing that beer pong will lose its luster after four years and that these students will graduate, most likely, into a life of harmless drudgery, in which they will cease drinking loudly and begin drinking more quietly, quickly becoming the kind of thick, docile citizens the Midwest expects them to become.

link to this review


The Sacket Brand
Louis L'Amour

favorite passage:
As a general run, motives weren't hard to understand there on the frontier. Things were pretty cut and dried, and a body knew where he stood with folks. He knew what his problems were, and the problems of those about him were about the same. A man was too busy trying to stay alive and make some gain, to have time to think much about himself or get his feelings hurt. It seems to me that as soon as a man gets settled down, with meat hung out to smoke and flour in the bin, he starts looking for something to fuss about.

Well, it wasn't that way on the frontier. A man could be just as mean as he was big enough to be; but if he started out to be bad he'd better be big enough or tough enough, if he figured to last. Such folks were usually given time to reach for a gun or they were tucked into a handy noose. I've noticed that the less a man has to worry about getting a living, the more time he has to worry about himself.

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Dan Brown
popular fiction

favorite line:
The decisions of our past are the architects of our future.

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Echoes in the Dark
Joseph Wambaugh

favorite passage:
When Jack Holtz got Bill Bradfield back to the lockup in Harrisburg and took off the handcufs, his prisoner, who'd been as silent as fungus, decided to make life hard for him. Bill Bradfield just dropped down on the floor and lay there on his back.

Jack Holtz said, "If you're gonna act like a baby, I'll treat you like one."

But no baby ever got this treatment. Holtz reached down and grabbed two handfulls of Bill Bradfield's whiskers and curled him straight up until they were nose to nose.

Bill Bradfield gave Jack Holtz the stare, but Jack Holtz stared back and said, "That bullshit only works on intelligent people."

link to this review


The Inside of the Cup
Winston Churchill (not that one)
historical best-seller (1913)

favorite passage:
The rector of St. John's realized that a crisis had come in his life, —a crisis he had tried to stave off in vain. And yet there was a period during which he pursued his shrunken duties as though nothing had happened to him; as a man who has been struck in battle keeps on, loath to examine, to acknowledge the gravity of his wound; fearing to, perhaps. Sometimes, as his mind went back to the merciless conflict of his past, his experience at the law school, it was the unchaining of that other man he dreaded, the man he believed himself to have finally subdued. But night and day he was haunted by the sorrowful and reproachful face of Truth.

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The 8-Hour Diet
David Zincencko

favorite passages:
In today's world, control is the ultimate luxury—something all of us crave, but few if any of us really have. Being out of control leads to stress, frustration, and eventually, bad choices. We don't do the things we need to do for ourselves because we can't find the time or the will or we become overtaxed by all the demands on us and wind up doing dumb things—like skipping greens and doubling down on comfort foods. Either way, the more we feel out of control, the harder it becomes to look good, feel good, and truly enjoy life.

Something else happened when I began to eat according to the principles of the 8-hour diet. The food I ate tasted better. I was no longer grazing mindlessly; instead, I was eating mindfully. I focused on choosing food I really wanted to eat and enjoying each meal and snack. It was like going from listening to a scratchy transistor radio to having digital surround sound.

Maybe that's why eating the 8-Hour Diet way has been popular with the great minds of the last many millennia. The scientific evidence for this diet is new, but wiser men than me have been following a similar type of eating for eons. The Big Four of religion—Moses, Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad—all practiced and promoted fasting, and chances are they knew a thing or two more than we do. And while I'm not recommending 40 days and nights in the desert, the health benefits of giving your body a longer break between meals are undeniable. Smart people through history from Socrates to Hippocrates to Gandhi, found strength in skipping meals..

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