The beginning of 2013 had a slow start to my reading pursuits. I committed myself to studying for the Professional Engineering exam starting January 1st, which then encompassed the majority of my non working time. To give myself a bit of a break while studying I started off my reading a relaxing and interesting book by NFL linebacker Dhani Jones, who is also the star of the show Dhani Tackles the Globe. Once I got past studying for the exam I was able to pursue books requiring a bit more intellectual capacity.
Below is a list of the books I read in 2013 starting with the most recent, and ending with the first book I started in 2013. Enjoy.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway: This beautiful novel was about a man’s experiences during the great war. It is a love story wrapped up in the tragedy that is war and life. My thoughts as I finished this book was that life goes on, and sometimes it doesn’t. I should try my best to live each day to its fullest. We all have a clock ticking whether we realize it or not.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac: I loved this book, it reminded me of some of the favorite times of my life spent traveling. It never had so much to do with where I was going, just that I was going somewhere new, and the freedom of the whole thing. I discovered new beliefs and ideas, as well as new parts of myself I would have never known otherwise. It was in college during many of my travels that I found my love of reading and writing, becoming on many of my extended trips a part of my daily routine.
As Kerouac and his buddies bounced back and forth from coast to coast, they didn’t always know how they were going to get there, but knew that they would always figure it out along the way. This freedom of the mind allowed Kerouac the ability to read and write his gifts to the world, that I’m afraid we may have never received had he been locked away in some cubical… Through his writing you could see a brutally honest look at the human spirit, unabashedly exposed. A beautiful book and I can’t wait to read more of his work.
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift: In my reading I mainly stick to non fiction because I believe the human experience on this planet is exciting enough. Occasionally I read a novel just to give my imagination some much needed exercise. Gulliver’s travels was one of those occasions. I loved the ways he parodied the politicians and political theories of his day through such a well imagined adventure. I guess this book much have also struck the inner travel chord with myself.
The Big Short by Michael Lewis: Reading this book gave me a couple of different perspectives on the 2008 financial crisis. I knew all along it was mainly caused by the massive amount of sub-prime mortgages. In my mind I mainly blamed those who didn’t know any better not to sign up for a house they couldn’t afford. This book explained the pushing strategies by the big wall street banks to sell more and more of those horrid mortgages. It was a a two way street. Some thought they were taking advantage of the system by getting a house they could never afford. Others, a much smaller group, thought they were taking advantage of they system by selling bad mortgages to poor people in thinking they would be fine as long as real estate values always went up. They didn’t, and both groups paid a pretty heft price. That wasn’t even the main story of the book though.
The main stories of the book were about those that saw this giant catastrophe coming, shorted the right mortgage backed securities, and then made enormous financial gains. This is the second Micheal Lewis book I read, the first was Liar’s Poker, and I’m becoming a pretty big fan of his work.
Start by Jon Acuff: To me, this book had a ton of rah rah, you can do it, fluff. The one bit of advice that really stuck with me from this book was that if you are passionate about something, and really want to pursue a dream then you will personally sacrifice to do it. By sacrifice, he writes, not giving up time with family, or quitting your job, that would be selfish if you have a family depending on your attention and income. Instead he writes, you can be as selfish as you want at 5 o’clock in the morning before work and while everyone else is sleeping. You loose a couple hours of sleep, and that is the price you pay to pursue a dream, without making others around you suffer. I thought this was a great idea, and when I came back to Seattle from Texas, I tried my hardest to stick to Texas time so I could get up two hour earlier. It lasted less than a week. But hey, few ever hit the bulls eye with their first shot.
The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil: This book was like fertilizer to my imagination, causing new interests and ideas to pop up everywhere. Thus it got its very own post for a review. To read that click here. Final words on this book, READ IT.
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville: This was given to me as a gift from my future father in law, who is quite well read himself, thus trusted his choice and went to reading. The text was clearly written by an intellectual giant of his time. I was 27 or 28 at the time I read it, and the author was around 25 when he wrote the book. This had me looking up, and fairly regularly saying, “I wish I was as smart as this guy at 25.” It was a beautiful text, from the view point of a french man analyzing our democratic experiment called America with fondness as he traveled around the country. Many times I felt the passage were a bit above my grasp, but I enjoyed they perspective.
Inside the Box by T.J. Murphy: Murphy’s book was written about his experience as an out of shape writer jumping into a CrossFit box. This made for a great analysis of the sport, as well as the fitness program. It showed, with good humor, the pluses and minuses from a beginners perspective. I would recommend this book to anyone who has not tried CrossFit, but is interested in giving it a go.
Seeking Wisdom by Peter Bevelin: Seeking Wisdom is, in Bevelin’s own words, a look at how our thoughts are influenced, why we make misjudgements and tools to improve our thinking. No doubt a deep undertaking, to accomplish this Bevelin aggregates thoughts from the world’s greatest thinkers ever recorded rather than try to reinvent the wheel himself. Regularly interspersed throughout the book is the philosophy of Charles Munger, Warren Buffet’s right hand man. To best sum up his work he uses the words of the Roman Poet Publius Terentius (c. 190-159 BC), “Nothing has yet been said that’s not been said before.” He then condensed what others have said and added his own conclusions. Many of the ideas presented in this book could support their own thesis, and because of that I will leave this review at that. This is one of my all time best reads, and worth reading again.
The Sportsman by Dhani Jones: As I said above this book was started to provide mental recuperation between studying sessions for the PE Exam. With that said, I really enjoyed this book. Dhani Jones has a extremely open mind, and this book is about his travels around the world learning new sports and making new friends. He is an incredible athlete and quickly adapted to whatever sport he attempted. This book jived well with me because I love to travel, to learn, and appreciate sports.