Books (Including Snippets)

Parts of Books that I Love

There are certain parts that have gotten lodged in my head forever. These are some of my favorites that I was able to post.

From 2021

  • I wrote about Figuring, by Maria Popova. This wonderful book reads like a 500 page poem of interpresed quotes and content. It’s a story that meanders through topics of history, science, poetry, and feminism to paint a holistic view of the world.
  • I have a lot to say about When Breath Becomes Air. In summary, Paul Kalinithi wanted to understand what it means to be human. As a neurosurgeon with a background in literature, he had a unique perspective. Additionally, he was dying from cancer and finishing up his residency at exactly the same time, giving him the perspective of both doctor and patient.
  • Thy Neighbor’s Wife is Gay Talese’s jaunt into the history of American prurience and sexuality. Talese, the great magazine writer spent many months experiencing the Sandstone Retreat to research the book. It’s a crazy and fun book but it drags a bit at times. I got most of the way through it and then got bored.
  • The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Bob Iger is a light book, mainly focusing on Iger’s acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and Viacom. I was most interested in the Pixar story which was the most difficult and most important. Disney needed Pixar to revitalize Disney animation. Iger needed to convince Steve Jobs, who was fighting with Michael Eisner, to partner with Disney, eventually buying the company.
  • The Motive is a short business parable by Patrick Lencioni. he writes these little fictionalized business stories (his most famous being The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) that highlight some key lessons about business. This one was particularly interesting because it’s about people who think they want to be CEO but don’t really want to be. Though that’s the most prestigious job in the company, it’s not for everyone.
  • What You Do Is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz offers some great lessons into business culture. My favorite part of the book is that he didn’t define great culture a prior by great companies. When you do that, you just come up with lessons on the world’s most successful companies. My review of The Halo Effect talks about that. Horowitz’s book talks more about how cultures are built from nothing, like in slave cultures or prisons. I have a lot of my favorite pieces here which I’ll quote from in the future.
  • Datacylsm by Christian Rudder. This is a book that I needed to read both as an audiobook and a regular book at the same time. While I love audiobooks and wouldn’t have read through this just in a print version, it’s chock full of charts. Christian wrote a good summary of what you can learn from the book, like how men think a woman is old at 25, women think a man is old at 40, and even on a job search website, women are judged mainly on attractiveness. Here were some other interesting lessons. There’s a lot of good data-based thoughts that I should use and include when I write my book.
  • Aliens in America by Sandra Tsing Loh, is a nice little one-woman monologue about growing up in a half-German, half-Chinese family. It was fun because I love monologues.
  • Yearbook by Seth Rogan is a surprisingly good comic memoir. Rogan isn’t just the pothead stoner from his movies. He’s a thoughtful and hardworking guy. The audiobook has 83 voices reading it. We learn some interesting tidbits about his life (like that he has 2 half brothers because his father donated sperm to lesbian friends of his) and his thoughts (like that if you want to show unnecessary nudity in a movie, it’s best to cast a porn star because they’re cool with the nudity and relish the chance to act). In terms of big picture stuff, Rogan also takes us through the journey of creating and releasing his movie The Interview.
  • Nine Nasty Words by John McWhorter is a wonderful little volume of profanity (the nasty words you’re not supposed to say in public.) McWhorter takes us through the history of profanity, starting with words about G-d, moving to bathroom/sexual words, and ending with today’s racial/sexual slurs (like the n-word). McWhorter does a wonderful job of showing us how today’s nasty words were part of the everday lexicon like Gropecunt Lane. Also, as one of the country’s top linguists who happens to be Black, McWhorter gives a very thoughtful treatise about the n-word.
  • The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell was created an audiobook and then later transformed into a physical book. As a lover of audio and of Malcolm I’m a bit of a sucker for this book. It’s the story of the fight between the Air Force strategiests (led by the Bomber Mafia’s Haywood Hansell) and the Air Force classic warfighters (led by Curtis LeMay). Gladwell tackels the limits of technology in its early years and even highlights one of the most expensive analog computers, the Norden Bombsight.
  • I’m really enjoying the audiobook of B. J. Novak’s One More Thing. It’s a great humor book in the style of Woody Allen and Steve Martin. To give you a flavor, the first story is a sequel to the fable The Tortoise and the Hare where the Hare kicks the crap out of the Tortoise. I picked up this book because B. J. is Mindy Kaling’s best friend. I love most of Mindy’s books but this last one, Nothing Like I Imagined, is a little thin (but free with Amazon Reading!) The first piece, Kind of Hindu, where Mindy wrestles with religion is the best.

From 2020

From 2016


1 Chuck Yaeger is the pilot who had more of The Right Stuff than anyone else. Micheal Lewis tells a great version of the Yaeger story in How Tom Wolfe Became … Tom Wolfe. Wolfe writes in the book that the low key Appelechean accent that most commercial pilots use when talking to passengers is all an imitation of Yaeger. If you want to hear what Yaeger sounds like, you can listen to this interview of Yaeger that starts with a Wolfe anecdote about the accent.
2 If you’re looking for similar books, Leo Janos co-wrote two autobiographies. Yaeger dives deeper into the life of Chuck Yaeger. Skunkworks is the memoir of Ben Rich, the second leader of Lockheed’s super-secret military aircraft division.