The Reading List - May 2017

Funny thing about last month. It flew by. I didn't think I could keep up last month's reading pace, and for most of it, I figured I slowed down. However, looking over this list, I not only kept pace, but I read some of my favorite things this past month (and even wrote something new!). I guess when you're deep into a book, time plays funny tricks on you.

So without further ado, welcome to the this month's Reading List, a collection of what I've read, skimmed, watched or written over the past month.

Everything mentioned below is something you can feel confident about clicking on. I've read the book, skimmed the article or watched the video/movie/documentary and they are on here because I recommend it

Hope you enjoy this month's reading list. - Dan

Read

The Tsar of Love and Techno - This collection of short stories travels all over Russia, from the harshness of early-Soviet Moscow to the idyllic, bombed out countryside of war-torn Chechnya in the early part of the 21st century. Along the way, the narrative moves through a complex cast of characters that include an artist who puts his talents to use as a Soviet censor, a disgraced ballerina wrongly accused as a spy, two brothers that share a fierce love and bond and a couple torn apart by war.  I had a chance to hear Anthony Marra speak about his process of writing fiction. He reads and reads non-fiction books about a subject, soaking up knowledge months before he is ready to write. When it's time, he injects facts into fiction. You do get a real sense of Russia, how complex it is from reading this book. I highly recommend his other book, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena too.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Although Stephen King doesn't have any major awards attached to anything he's written, that hasn't stopped him from writing and publishing a book a year (even through a car almost did). So as a prolific writer, he knows a thing or two about the craft. In On Writing, he retells times in his life, shares daily habits and gives you rules to live by that shaped him into the successful writer he is today. At times I laughed out loud, while others, I drank up the practical advice he dispensed. It's more than a book; it's a conversation with Stephen King, who by the end of the book, will seem like a long time friend. I'll leave you with his first (and best) commandment: "If you want to write, you have to read." 

So You've Been Publicly Shamed - The US government banned stocks and pillories for the public shaming of non-violent crimes by the 1800s, but they live on today in social media. As benign as it sounds, send off one ill-worded, off-color joke, and the Twitter mob will come after you. The vile underbelly of the internet springs to action spewing hateful, dangerous rhetoric in your direction that could cost you your job and much more. It's a phenomenon that Jon Ronson, himself shamed by a spambot, explores in his newest book. He travels the globe exploring this new/old trend, meeting with people publicly shamed in the social media age. Remember Jonah Lerher, who got caught plagiarizing Bob Dylan, or Justine Sacco, who sent out a tweet to her 170 followers before she boarded an 11-hour flight? They are both in here. Ronson explores what happens afterward, chronicling the shame that eats inside them and the long road to recovery (if there is one). While there may be no happy ending, this book will make you think the next time you see a social media mob forming. 

Skim

Is It Last Call For Craft Beer?  - Since 1981, craft breweries have grown from less than 100 in the US to more than 5,000 today. While that is a good thing for you and me as beer drinkers, 90% of those 5,000 breweries are consolidated into two huge conglomerates. Hello, oligarchy.

To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old -  Think your best ideas are behind you? think again. The average inventor submits a patent by 47 years old, while the highest-value patents come from 55-year-olds. Your best ideas are yet to come.

What Happened When I Tried to Cut the Negative People Out of My Life - You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. One man tries to live by this rule for 30 days, cutting out people who aren't helping him achieve his goal in the hopes of improving himself. What ensues is an exercise everyone should do.  

How to Not Create Traffic Jams, Pollution and Urban Sprawl - The simple answer: parking spaces. Why are some city's densely populated, while a town over, buildings are surrounded by a sea of parking spots? It's called parking minimums and local governments choose to enforce these on developers, raising the cost of development while putting public transportation infrastructure on the back burner.

Why You Should Read Books You Hate - How else are you going to move that brain muscle of yours? We all gravitate toward books that entertain us, that are fast reads (guilty as charged), but if we want to burst out of our bubble, gain a little bit more perspective or even confirm our biases, the best medicine is to pick up that book you hate.  

Being Lazy is the Key to Success, According to Author Michael Lewis - "I'm busy." It's the new evolution of the saying, "Keeping Up With the Joneses." We see it in the media and on our social media feeds. If you're not doing something, you're wasting your time and so you end up doing anything to keep yourself busy. Maybe that's not the right approach. What opportunities are you passing on by being busy? Thank you, Michael Lewis for giving me the excuse to be lazy.

How to Stay Informed Without Driving Yourself Crazy - Many of you have asked how I read so much every month. When it comes to articles and being informed, I listen. Also included is a framework to help you become more informed.

Watch

Economics of Airline Class - Airlines have made quite a few headlines this past month, with coach travelers feeling the brunt of injustices due to overbooking (a tired, outdated practice) and rude flight attendants. That's because we're there just to fill the back of the plane. 

That's it for this month. How you read/watched/devoured anything good lately?