It’s been a while since I have posted a reading update, so let’s fix that and post the first one of 2018.
Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf
This book came as a recommendation from a work colleague. He’s the one who has gotten me into Terry Prachett, and recently he suggested I would enjoy this book. I’m only a little ways in, so I can’t comment too deeply, but I’m enjoying the neurological look at what happens when we read that this book provides. I’m also enjoying the case being made for reading as a tool to grow our cognitive faculties.
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos by Jordan Peterson
I am going to get some flack about this from some of my friends. Jordan Peterson is a divisive figure in Canadian discourse. While I don’t align with him on some of his political views, I first came across him through his taped YouTube lectures. It was because of him that I started reading Carl Jung’s work and took an interest in the notion of stories being an important route to deriving meaning in life. I’ve also enjoyed Peterson’s visits to some of the podcasts I’ve listened to, so it seemed only natural to check out his book. I’ve been enjoying the book, and I personally feel like I’m getting something out of it. I don’t think this book is going to be for everyone, but it speaks to me on a level that I find compelling.
Principles by Ray Dalio
Much like the book above and the next entry, Principles is making the rounds through the self-help/business/personal development spheres. It’s been a bit of a slower read because I need to take time to digest his ideas and insights. Nevertheless, I’m finding his book interesting and useful as it provides a framework for decision making and business. I try to be wary of advice dispensed by the rich and successful since it tends to not be very applicable outside of the lucky breaks the author found themselves in, but I find this book to be fairly objective and refreshingly introspective. I think Dalio’s principles make sense and are a good guide to follow.
Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss
What can I say? I enjoyed all of his books so far (including last year’s Tools of Titans), so I naturally pre-ordered this one when it was announced. Much like how Tools of Titans was a book that piggy-backed off of his podcast guest’s work, Tribe of Mentors follows a similar route by running the same set of questions through various big names in different fields to a.) see what their answers are; and b.) to find what commonalities are found in aggregate. One side of me rolls my eyes at how simple the idea is (and how little relative effort it would take to make the book), and yet the other side of me appreciates what Ferriss has done in creating the book. His book intends to give you access to some of the best mentors in the world, and he delivers it in full.
I knew relatively little about Fermi before I started this book. I knew that he was a physicists, that he was attached to the Manhattan project, that there is a paradox named after him, and that he’s known for a particular kind of method for problem-solving and estimating. However it was the last tidbit (the Fermi problem) that nudged me to buying this book. I’m only about a third of my way through the book, but it’s been a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a genius who, when you broke things down, was necessarily all that smarter than everyone else. Much like Richard Feynman, Enrico Fermi had discovered ways of learning more effectively, which made him able to tackle interacted problems from the first principles of a field. He worked to understand the rules of the system, which in turn allowed him to combine them in new and insightful ways. I really enjoy reading biographies, and I’m glad I picked this one up.