Book Recommendations Q4–2017

Happy New Year!

Another quarter, another assorted selection of reading. This quarter I covered business, spirituality, parenting and my constant obsession nutrition and health.

Previously book recommendations are found here:

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

If I do end up in another new startup these are the principles we will embody. As things get complex we have to own the shit we should own and empower others to be successful in what they do. Extreme Ownership is a collection of well-related examples of real-life, intense battles in Ramadi, Iraq that apply to growing and large businesses. There are many life lessons as well.

I also purchased and gifted Willink’s beautifully bound motivational book Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual. Wake up early!!

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

A classic. Everyone should read this book! Buy the book or get the audiobook and consume it. Repeat as necessary.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

If you like how the science evolved in this field you will enjoy this. It also cleared up some misconceptions around EI vs IQ. In a successful business it is said that only 20% can be attributed to IQ.

The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner

The Blue Zones is where the highest concentration of the longest living humans live. The book examines the lifestyle habits of these groups and distills the commonalities among them. This can inform how to best live our lives if we want to live a long, healthy life. There’s a TED talk that reveals the nine overlapping habits but the book tells some great human stories of some of these people.

Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell and Howard Jacobson

Whole digs deep into the distinction between reductive and whole science highlighting what we can glean and what we cannot glean from each in the area of nutrition. For instance, it is now commonly accepted that smoking can cause lung cancer which is an idea we have seen demonstrated repeatedly in large longitudinal studies and analyzing the patterns as opposed to reducing it to a cause and affect. We can’t say that smoking will cause lung cancer every single time, but we can say that the data shows that the risk is high. If the patterns are true more than 95% of the time and repeatable in different circumstances it is taken to be “statistically significant” and a form of associated proof of the veracity of the claim. Scientists can also take steps to remove confounding factors that may also contribute to the results which can harden or soften the claim. As I mentioned above this does do a deep dive and if you are interested in nutrition science this can clear the muddy water around many of the studies out there.

The Alzheimer’s Solution: A Breakthrough Program to Prevent and Reverse the Symptoms of Cognitive Decline at Every Age by Dean Sherzai and Ayesha Sherzai

Everywhere I look there are patterns in the habit we hold that can help or hurt our health. This is no different and the emphasis on the proven importance of nutrition on cognitive health is very highlighted. Some things were surprising (strong legs are associated with better cognitive health) and some things were not (whole food, plant based diet can prevent and sometimes ever reverse cognitive decline).

The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of 70,000 Ordinary Lives by Helen Pearson

I cannot stress enough the value and importance of these cohort studies on the health and welfare of people in the world. This book tells the stories of how the scientists came to begin, adopt and run these studies. It delves into some of the practical challenges and evolution of collecting and tabulating the data that spans 70+ years.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

One of my favourite all time books and when I had to go on a 6 hour road trip alone I downloaded the audiobook. There are so many meaningful insights in this book that I like going back to it often. Live deliberately.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp and Mark Reiter

If you’re looking to get and keep your ass in gear in your creative endeavours this is for you. The Creative Habit discusses Twyla Tharp’s, a successful New York choreographer, carved out rituals that empowers creativity in a high pressure industry. Tharp’s anecdotes demonstrate her passion for the arts and offers exercises to the reader to help get you in touch with your creative self.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Inspiring, hilarious, practical. As an aspiring writer I fell in love with this book. Lamott’s delivers touchingly funny anecdotes through a tapestry of subtle metaphors while giving real-world instruction on writing. If you’re just a fan of good writing you’ll love this book.

Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience by Sharon Salzberg

I pretty much can’t get enough of Sharn Salzberg. Her insight into human relationships including the one with ourselves continue to captivate and inform my life. Faith subtly reclaims the meaning of the word from the dogmatic.

The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl

I’m a new father and want the very best for my daughter so after catching a TED talk about Danish parenting and learning that Denmark has consistently been one of the happiest countries on earth it made sense to learn about their way of parenting which was enlightening in a few areas. This had some great take-aways around the language we use and the values we demonstrate in a practical way.

Sarah: A Novel by JT LeRoy and Billy Corgan And The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things: Stories by JT LeRoy

After watching the sordid but fantastic documentary, Author: JT Leroy I just had to read these books. I generally don’t read fiction, but I had to see what all the hubbub was about. It’s twisted and disturbing. I’m still not sure how I feel about them.

The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace by Pedram Shojai

I hate “hacks” but I enjoyed the book. General message is to know and live by your values specially when it comes where you put your money.

Stillness Speaks and Living a Life of Inner Peace by Eckhart Tolle

I like to be reminded to live in the now. Because nothing else really exists. Also I’m a sucker for Tolle.

The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection by Brene Brown

Again, I’m a new father and some of the best ways to teach important life lessons are completely counterintuitive. Brene Brown has some amazing TED talks on shame and vulnerability and this book has contains great tools and techniques on being a great parent.

The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy by Rainn Wilson

I got this on audiobook read by Rainn Wilson which was as much of a performance as one of acting roles. It was touching, insightful, hilarious and nostalgic in a way that brought me back growing up in the 80s even/especially down to the music. I laughed so much listening to this and highly recommend it!

The Long Run (Kindle Single) and I Swear I’ll Make It Up to You: A Life on the Low Road by Mishka Shubaly

I discovered Mishka on the Rich Roll Podcast and was curious. The author reads his own account of his spiralling, and further spiralling, and then some more spiralling into a world of drug and alcohol abuse. Then finally taking his life back and running ultra marathons. This is a roller coaster of emotion and at some points I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays by Joan Didion

After hearing about Joan Didion through my wife’s family and seeing the Netflix documentary I was intrigued and wanted to read her work. I was not disappointed. From the perspective of someone who is writing his memoirs while taking writing courses like I am, reading Didion is incredibly intimidating, but absolutely beautiful and inspirational at same time. I understand why she was honoured by Barrack Obama for her contribution to the arts.

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