Reading List for June 2016

It’s the end of June already, and my writing streak is now 3 months long. I feel pretty good about that. But for the next 3 months I have decided to go a bit crazy. I’ve decided to push myself for 90 days physically and mentally to see what I can accomplish in “just 3 months”. It involves a mindfulness practice, P90X, and writing 6000 words per day. That’s not a typo.

I couldn’t imagine hitting that number before, but after one month of daily word sprints it seemed possible. After three months it seems doable. I will post about it further as I progress (possibly to meet a daily word goal – I’m not above cheating). If you have questions, tweet at me.

And as for the reading list:

The Fireman by Joe Hill (audio): Enjoyable story, and a breezy read for a 750 page book.

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders #2) by Robin Hobb (audio): Good, but I wish there were a cycle of opening and closing loops, rather than a constant flowing of story lines with no end in sight.

Ship of Destiny (Liveship Traders #3) by Robin Hobb (audio): This wasn’t the book I hoped for. It’s as well written as the others, with all the same great characters, and the ending is right, but to me it fell short. With such a long build-up to get here, it needed to be a 12 on a scale of 1-10.

Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini (audio): There is a lot of hate for this on Goodreads, but I found that to be unwarranted. Supposedly, the hate is because it’s a LotR rip off (I thought it was closer to Star Wars), but my guess is that it’s because this book was self-published before that kind of thing was acceptable. Fuck the haters. The only fault I found with this is that the ending was a little flat – not that it was a bad ending, only that it could have hit harder. If you like dragons and fantasy, this is a good read.

Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg (audio): Kind of a slog. I still don’t like Duhigg’s storytelling style. Some of the anecdotes are good, but the “universal principles” don’t seem terribly universal. If you’re making cars on an assembly line, don’t be afraid to pull the cord? Don’t fly a plane into the ocean? I don’t know what that means to me. Don’t make a shitty movie, make Frozen? Okay. Got it. [exeunt, grumbling]

Author 2.0 Blueprint by Joanna Penn: Great place to start if you think you want to be an author. You can read this in an hour, but the links included will direct you to more great resources.

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (Oz #4) by L. Frank Baum (audio): The wizard returns to Oz.

In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill (audio): I feel like I’ve read this story before.

The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali (audio): So much of this is gold. The mindset stuff, the philosophy of winning and losing, the work that goes into being the champ, the raw power of the writing itself. The audio book is mint. There’s plenty of bullshit too, but totally worth it.

The Ultimate Goals Program by Brian Tracy (audio): I *think* this is just the updated audio book version of his “regular” Goals! book, but with 8 cds/mp3s and a 30 page workbook. Some of this seems like Tracy dumping ideas on you in a semi-random order, but a few spots are targeted and on-point – like the “making a plan” section. Overall very good.

How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro (audio): Unfortunately, this is not an actual guide to cloning a mammoth. It is, however, a very good overview to all the ways in which scientists are currently working towards bio-engineering diverse species – including extinct species – to repopulate areas, or to hopefully fix the holes that humans punch in an ecosystem. I completely agree with Shapiro’s thoughts on fixing systemic problems in nature. I have considered myself a conservationist since a very young age, but I am at odds with those who are strict preservationists. Nature is not a museum, and should not be treated as such. I also believe that humans must take an active role in shaping the natural world – not towards our fancies, but towards its necessities.

Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson (audio): This is a collection of essays, and as such has its ups and downs. Some of it was very good, some was kind of a slog. If you recognize the author, you probably should give it a go.

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper (audio): Interested in Bitcoin? Start here.

Extreme Food by Bear Grylls (audio): This is a hunting and foraging guide for desperate times. Probably serves more as a fun read than a useful field guide. Especially seeing as how I went with the audio book.

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly (audio): Amazing! I think this is a book I’m going to have to go back to several times just to see what new ideas I get from it. Warning: it can be a bit scary to think about how technology will run your life in the future. But guess what – tech has run your life from your alarm clock to your coffee pot to your TV, computer, automobile, and mobile phone for all or most of your life. I was lucky enough to see Google go from kinda okay/kinda spammy search results to it now predicting long search terms after one word or even just a few letters because it knows me. It knows that other people have also searched for these terms, in this same order, and I am just the most recent one to connect these particular dots. I could decide that’s creepy and stalker-ish, but instead I feel like, “Hey, Google gets me.” In the end, isn’t feeling like we’re understood one of the cornerstones of life?