Reading List #2

Here are 10 books I’ve read, with a few comments. They’re not necessarily books that you should read, though some of them might be. One of them, definitely not.

  1. Choose Yourself by James Altucher. This is the best “self help” book you’ll ever read. Mostly because it doesn’t read at all like a self-help book. And besides that, James is laugh-out-loud funny.
  2. Gilgamesh, trans by Herbert Mason. The story from ancient Babylon about a god who becomes human and a human who becomes a god — and then dies. The ancient near east’s version of Noah’s flood, the ancient epic poem takes on the meaning of grief in the face of mortality and loss. Hard not to see echoes of modernity in this one.
  3. Tao Te Ching, trans by Jonathan Star. Less is more. This translation is simply the best one out there.
  4. A Week In Winter by Maeve Binchy. A novel weaving together the stories of a woman who opens a bed and breakfast house in West Ireland and the people who gather there for its opening week. Not exactly a “can’t put it down” read, but a thought provoking one with a fell-good ending.
  5. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. Easily one of the best books I’ve read in the last year. Gladwell is a fantastic story-teller. His arguments about advantageous disadvantages, strength drawn from adversity and the limitations of power draw from connecting the anecdotal to the scientific via the unexpected.
  6. Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich. An eye opening look at the havoc the “positive thinking” movement has visited upon everything from breast cancer treatment, to the economy, to religion, to the integrity of scientific research.
  7. Silas Marner by George Eliot. The classic that used to be assigned reading for High School English. If you haven’t read it, or read it back then only because you were required to (as I did) and don’t remember anything about it other than, “There was this guy named Silas Marner,” it makes better reading after you’ve lived a little. Great story.
  8. God Has a Dream by Desmond Tutu. An amazing reflection about holding onto hope when things seem impossibly bad, by one of the leaders who brought down Apartheid.
  9. The Measure of a Man by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Two sermons from 1955, and parting words from April 3, 1968. Reading the whole thing takes about a half hour and you’ll know why he was able to do what he did.
  10. Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky. You could get almost as much out of this book reading the table of contents as you can get from reading the whole thing. It should be 1/4 its size. Lots of generalized anecdotes and name-dropping.