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Posts about reading (old posts, page 1)

Books I’ve Read, July Edition

Lots of fantasy, a lovely book of poetry, a beautifully written nonfiction book.
All this, on July’s list of books :)

July

  • Love Looks Pretty on You, Lang Leav
    (must read. in my imagination, leav is a talented younger sister, who has been through a lot more and writes her advice just for me, in her poems)

  • Working, Robert Caro
    (if you haven’t read the Power Broker, you should
    if you haven’t read the Lyndon volumes, you should
    this book is Caro’s account of the work, that went into those works.
    the ceaseless toil, the thankless years, the people and their stories
    Caro is Caro, master of the craft.
    There are only a few explicit lessons here.
    but plenty if you care enough to read between the lines
    plenty if you make this an annual read, like i will)

  • The Broken Earth Trilogy, N. K. Jemisin
    (if you love fantasy, this is an absolute read.
    world building at its finest.
    The journey she takes me on! The magic she creates! The world she imagines!
    It’s such a harsh world, but gosh darn it, I want to live there.
    Jemisin’s awesome.)

    • The Fifth Season
    • The Obelisk Gate
    • The Stone Sky
  • The Inheritance Trilogy, N. K. Jemisin
    (This was Jemisin’s older trilogy and it shows.
    The language is rougher and the characters drag on a bit
    Minor quibbles though. It was a really good read)

    • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
    • The Broken Kingdoms
    • The Kingdom of Gods

P.S. Subscribe to the mailing list to see what I read every month :)


epictetus-books

“Don’t just say you have read books.
Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person.
Books are the training weights of the mind.
They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.”

— Epictetus, The Art of Living

Books I’ve Read, June Edition

’Twas a good month for reading :)

June

  • The Song of the Bird, Anthony de Mello
    (absolutely read. buy and give people copies.
    this book for me, goes beyond a quake book.
    it has shaped my life, and thoughts, since boyhood, subconsciously then and with intent now.)

  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Poirot #1), Agatha Christie
    (re-reading my way through the Poirot canon.
    these books take me to the age I think I belong to, the late 1800s, early 1900s absolutely delightful)

  • Epigrams on Men, Women and Love, Honoré de Balzac
    (beautiful set of quotes)

  • Mother American Night, John Perry Barlow
    (a man who lived life. founder of the EFF and the FSF.
    and more importantly (to me), lyricist for the Grateful Dead)

  • Word by Word, Anne Lamott
    (must listen (it’s an old audiobook.)
    excellent companion to Bird by Bird.
    imagine Anne teaching you how to write using BbB as a text book.
    she’s awesome.
    the book’s awesome.)

  • Indian Love Poems, Peter Pauper Press
    (absolutely loved it)

  • Love Poems and Love Letters for All the Year, Peter Pauper Press

  • Flower Thoughts, Peter Pauper Press

  • Thoughts for a Good Life, Peter Pauper Press

  • Epigrams by Oscar Wilde, Peter Pauper Press

  • Murder on the Links (Poirot #2), Agatha Christie
    (need i say, you ought to read it :))

More lists of books to read? Subscribe!


Why You Need a Reading Plan

Jeremy Andenberg, on the importance of Reading Plans:

Creates room for mastery of a subject.

This is perhaps my favorite part of having a reading plan. We’ve made the case multiple times here on Art of Manliness that everyone should strive to be “T-shaped”; that is, you should have a breadth of general knowledge, but also mastery in a single topic or subject or skill. Such mastery provides satisfaction and self-confidence in spades.

So how do you achieve mastery?
One way is certainly by reading deeply into a single subject.
Whether driven by your career or your personal passions, having a reading plan is a surefire way to deepen your knowledge base.

Read more over at the Art of Manliness.
They also have a helpful list of several reading plans if you need inspiration.

P.S. If you like this, you’ll definitely enjoy my newsletter. Go, subscribe.


English is a “Phunnny” language (or When I Fell in Love with English and Reading)

As a kid, I read a lot of books above my level of comprehension.
More to show off and show folks my “smartness” and give off that snooty “I am a well read boy” air1 than from any sense of love or learning.

I know better now (I hope, I do) :)

But two books from those days will always stay with me.

One was my father’s science textbook, which I no longer have or remember the title of. I used it for four years in high school to understand what I was learning. The book was my secret weapon :)
The language in that old textbook was far more engaging and lively than the teachers in class. And it was beautiful with all those black and white line drawings, and anecdotes of the folks who made those amazing discoveries. (Faraday and Tesla and Watts and Madam Curie). It actually was a textbook from before science became “Science”; when it was Natural Philosophy
Despite years of searching, I haven’t found it again.
The closest textbook of that style I could point you to, would be Thompson’s Calculus.

The other book was a tattered copy of The Complete Yes Minister.2 I thought then, that the book was the real deal, an actual tell all, with its newspaper clippings and copies of memos. It took me a couple more years to realise what satire was. And it was a line in there, a really obtuse, verbose line that took my young brain a couple of days to “get”, that made me realise that reading was a dialogue, that a good book was not something to be just “read”. A good book is friend telling you jokes, a prankster scaring you, a father figure consoling you, a friend giving you advice and in this case a master exposing that language in general (and English in particular) was not something to be scared of, but just tools of expression, toys to be played with and enjoyed, and tools that could be expertly wielded.

It was this line and the delight I got in deciphering it, that turned me into a lifelong bookworm. You can see Nigel Hawthorne’s brilliant rendition, here.

This is what he said. “The identity of this official whose alleged responsibility for this hypothetical oversight has been the subject of recent speculation is not shrouded in quite such impenetrable obscurity as certain previous disclosures may have led you to assume, and, in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, the individual in question was, it may surprise you to learn, the one to whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of identifying by means of the perpendicular pronoun.”

“I beg your pardon?’ I said.
There was an anguished pause.
‘It was I,’ he said.”

Like our grand old thespian says, “English is a very phunnny language.”


  1. Aah, vanity! :) 

  2. Yes, I read the book first and discovered the show much later.