Recommended Reading and Stuff – December 2017

recommended reading december 2017Here is some great material for your year end wind-down and new year wind-up. I’m recommending a couple of good fiction books – the kind that get you thinking. Also, a nonfiction book to do the same.

There are some other goodies in here too. I’m hoping that you have some time to relax and recuperate toward the end of the year. These may help you find an escape. And also to plan your re-entry for a grand and prosperous new year.

Here goes…


Ready Player OneReady Player One: A Novel. I hadn’t heard of this one until the dust kicked up this summer about the upcoming movie. Everyone said to read the book before the movie comes out. So I did.

It’s a great techie/geeky adventure with a heavy 80s and video-gaming theme. What I really enjoyed was that this book is all about the future and the past at the same time. And, ultimately, about timeless lessons of humanity that are evergreen and completely independent of technology and cultural trends. It’s a fun read, fast-moving, and thoroughly enjoyable if you grew up in the 80s and played any sort of video games at any level.

Sourdough. I loved Robin Sloan’s debut novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore so I immediately got a copy of his new novel, and jumped at the chance to meet him in Boston during it’s launch. His stuff is also sort of techie, but in an old-timey sort of way. Which I find really enjoyable.

This novel is set in modern day digital San Francisco but harkens back to the centuries old analog craft of cultivating sourdough starter and the artisan ethos of bread making. Another fun and quick read.

win bigly

In the nonfiction realm, I recommend that you check out the latest work by Scott Adams, Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter. I really enjoyed Scott’s last work of nonfiction, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. I thought his insights and lessons were clever and useful. I like when people share ideas that help me to think differently.

This book is more of that. I followed Scott’s blog during the 2016 presidential election and was amazed by his bold predictions and captivated by his teachings. Maybe I was simply being persuaded exactly as he intended.

Still, I found revisiting much of that as well as much new material in this book to be very helpful. He offers the idea of different “filters” into reality and how that effects how we think and act. Many stories can explain a set of facts that have already happened. But few “filters” can predict what is likely going forward. I highly recommend this provocative read.


In the spirit of Win Bigly, I’ve got to point you to this great article about the season finale of one of my favorite shows, Nathan for You. The Comedy Central show is funny, but it’s much more than that. In many ways, it’s profound.

It’s an often uncomfortable exploration of awkward circumstances created to explore interesting fringes of human interaction. But also, often, our most core and basic nature. As the New Yorker article puts it, “Maybe ‘Nathan for You’ is ultimately about our unfettered capacity for credulity—not just the suspension of disbelief but the acceptance of the preposterous.”

The “Nathan for You” Finale, My New Favorite Love Story


You should definitely watch the season four finale of Nathan for You. Or peruse some of the other episodes from any of its seasons. Some are better than others. But I guarantee you haven’t seen anything quite like it.

Netflix has a great documentary on The History of The Eagles. I’m merely a casual fan, but I found their story to be captivating in many ways. There are many lessons about creativity, work ethic, and interpersonal relationships.

I also re-watched an older, but even more profound documentary: Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian. It’s an unflinching look at what it takes to become a great stand up comic. And it shows how that process and the emotional challenge never dissipates, even if you’ve already made it to the top. Lots of good lessons here, and terrific behind-the-scenes insights.


Regular readers know I’m a huge Stones fan. But it’s not just because of all the great music they’ve created. It’s also because of the great music that they keep creating and playing. Mick’s tweet from the studio, where they are working on a new album, is awesome. They are all in their 70s and going strong. Creating. Doing. Sharing.