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Books

A glance at what I've been reading lately...

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
by Peter Thiel

January 28th, 2017 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

The best book on entreprenurship and product creation that I've read to date. Thiel's relaxed, no-fluff style of writing breaks down many of the overarching concepts and themes that determine if a company will be sucessful in the 21st century. I listened to the audiobook version of this in 2015, but got much more out of it by re-reading a physical copy this month. Highly recommended.

Choose Yourself!
by James Altucher

January 13th, 2017 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived
by Laurence Shames & Peter Barton

January 10th, 2017 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Delivering Happiness
by Tony Hsieh

January 8th, 2017 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

2016

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
by Phil Knight

December 15th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

November 2nd, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window
by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi

October 28th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

The Obstacle Is The Way
by Ryan Holiday

October 11th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Ryan Holiday's third book, The Obstacle is The Way , sets out to infuse stoicism into the every day battle that many of us face when trying to overcome ruts in creativity or productivity. The short, punchy chapters walk the reader through how one should approach, analyze, and take action on a problem that lies ahead of them. For somebody who is already familiar with Stoicism and other techiniques that Holiday decribes, I found the book to be rather boring and somewhat fluffy. I would only recommend you pick this up if you have not read much about either subject.

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
by John Vaillant

September 19th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

A fascinating count of the hunt for a man-eating Amur tiger in the remote region of Easter Russia. Vaillant paints an extremely descriptive picture of both the animals and climate of the Taiga forest, but also of the Russian people and how they have developed the mentality and lifestyle that defines them today. The book was a bit long and slow at times, but overall was a great read.

The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman

August 28th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

You can't listen to more than a few episodes of the Tim Ferriss Show without hearing him pitch The Graveyard Book as a must-listen Audible track. I found his recommendation to be a good one, as Neil Gaiman produced a wonderful, spooky tale of Nobody Owens, the boy raised by the community of ghosts in the graveyard he wandered into as a kid. The range of emotions that the tale produced, along my inability to put the book down most days, lead me to give a strong recommendation for this short, easy, and fulfilling read.

Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
by Andrew X. Pham

June 19th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

I discovered this book on Amazon while looking for something to relate to while I motorbike across Vietnam over the next month. Pham's book came up and peaked my interest, and less than 36 hours later I had turned the last page. Riding his bike across the Pacific Northwest and across Vietnam, where his family fled via boat after Saigon fell in 1975, Pham hopes to make sense of his past and understand his roots. The adventure storyline isn't what I would have hoped for, mostly lacking in detail and overlooking notable destinations, but his quest to understand his cultural identity, along with the vivid descriptions of war-ridden Vietnam, had me unable to put the book down. One of my favorite books I've ever read.

Dune
by Frank Herbert

June 11th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

My close friend Elon Musk recommended the Dune series for a dip into the sci-fi world and this book did not disappoint. Set on the desert planet of Arrakis, Herbert develops a compelling plotline in which you follow House Atreides and their young Duke, Paul, on a justice mission against the imperial emperor and the other great houses of the galaxy. A great break from non-fiction that has me chanelling my inner Paul in the stressful situations of real life.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
by Yuval Noah Harari

May 23rd, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

An incredibly interesting and thought provoking overview of the history of humankind and how we have become what we are today. Harari takes you through the three great revolutions (cognitive, industrial, scientific) and examines the changes that our species has undergone as a result. The latter part of the book was a bit winded, taking me a few weeks to finish it, but overall an incredible read that raises some important questions about our future.

Losing My Virginity: The Autobiography of Richard Branson
by Sir Richard Branson

May 19th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

A fun, exciting read that takes you through the life of British business magnate Sir Richard fBranson as he built Virgin Group into what it is today. He takes you through his unique childhood, numerous business successess and failures, and personal adventures without losing your interest through simple writing with a bit of racy humor thrown in. When you think of Richard Branson, you think of 'fun' - and this book follows that to a tee.

Burmese Days
by George Orwell

May 12th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥 | Link

I bought a photocopied version of this book from a Burmese boy in Bagan for $1, hoping to make some connections as I spent the next two weeks in Burma. While the writing is solid, the plotline failed to hold my attention as it was focused more on the abhorrable aspects of British Colonisation in the country mixed with a dull story of love lost. The only connection I ended up making was that of the sweltering heat that existed then and certainly exists today (it is 108 degrees in Bagan as I type this).

Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad

May 10th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

I came across this book after reading An Artist of The Floating World a few months prior, not knowing what it was about or it's acclaim. While the language was a bit difficult at times, I absolutely adored Conrad's sharp style and quick-witted sense of humor. The ending could have been more fulfilling but as a short and compelling read with excellent narration, I give it five stars.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel
by Mohsin Hamid

April 26th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Don't let the title fool you: this book doesn't hold the key to financial success that you're looking for. Instead, the author takes a very interesting second person point of view to guide you through your life in an unknown developing Asian country. Full of love and loss, success and failures, you start to understand how true wealth is measured in the end. This was one of my favorite books I've ever picked up - you should read it.

The Fountainhead
by Ayn Rand

March 28th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

I started The Fountainhead with a healthy dose of internet-induced skepticism towards Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism, but still found the book to be both well written and very enjoyable to read regardless of political / philosophical positions. Rand creates strong characters and a fast-paced plot that forces the reader to think, feel, and question at every turn. While over the top at some points, with multi-page socialist speeches that feel forced and unrealistic, the complexity of and synchronization between the different plotlines show a streak of genuis in Rand as a writer.

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
by Ryan Holiday

March 2nd, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

A disturbing look into how the rise of the internet and the 24 hours news cycle has changed the way journalists create and spread content, reporting standards plummeting in the process. A bit winded, but Holiday provides very interesting anecdotes that show just how fake and/or manipulative a large amount of what see see online actually is. Chances are, his work has affected you, and you won't be happy about it.

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
by Rolf Potts

February 29th, 2016 | 🔥 🔥🔥🔥 | Link

A simple, refreshing discussion of the motivations and practicalities of long term travel in a world where most feel it's simply impossible to take extended time off. As I prepare to head to Asia in April for an extended period, I greatly enjoyed the calm and logical manner that Potts uses to ensure you that you aren't off your rocker for wanting to get out and see the world for what it is.

The Big Short
by Michael Lewis

February 20th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

An incredibly fascinating, midly infurating glance into the root of the 2008 financial crisis. Lewis is incredibly knowledgeable within the industry, it's big players, and their motivations in the years leading up to 2008. I struggled a bit throughout the book due to my limited financial speak, but a few Wikipedia queries set the record straight on the terms I didn't understand. Highly recommended.

An Artist of the Floating World
by Kazuo Ishiguro

January 28th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥 | Link

An old Japanese artist that helped contribute to Japan's imperialist movement that lead to it's involvement in WWII annotates his daily life in a more modern society, unable to shake the stain that his work in a previous life left on him and his family. I was recommended this after enjoying The Beach so much, and while it was beautifully written, I was left unsatisfied by the time I reached the end.

The Beach
by Alex Garland

January 21st, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

A captivating, psychedelic tale of a backpacker that discovers a hidden, Utopic island off the coast of Thailand where a small community lives off the grid. Garland takes you on a fast-paced adventure, alternating between reality and hallucination, and sending chills up your spine as often as he puts a smile on your face. This was one of my favorite books I've ever read - highly recommended.

Prince Ombra
by Roderick MacLeis

January 15th, 2016 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

My first dive into the world of fantasy writing, thanks to a recommendation by my friend & mentor, Dave. This fast-paced, emotional tale of a young boy discovering life's greatest joys and harshest realities in a series of mythological battles had me losing sleep as I kept allowing myself one more chapter. Highly recommended.

2015

The Bridge Across Forever
by Richard Bach

December 13th, 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Bach's Illusions is one of my favorite books, constantly finding myself re-reading and deriving new meaning in his approach the the simple yet complicated questions of how to live correctly. This tale tells of his coming into unwanted fame and the struggle he faced to remain true to his ideals while still actively living, including finding love along the way. Dave provided this excellent recommendation that resonated strongly with me during a time in which struggling with commitment and the concept 'diving in' was a central theme of my day.

Korea: The Impossible Country
by Daniel Tudor

December 6th, 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

I picked up this book as I was applying to the Fulbright Program as an ETA in South Korea. The author does a great job iterating through the history and culture of the Korean people while keeping things interesting and informative. While I was not accepted to Fulbright, I greatly appreciate Korea as a country and am excited to use this knowledge upon visiting in the near future.

Open
by Andre Agassi

August 25th, 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

An incredibly honest and captivating recount of Agassi's childhood, rise to fame, and struggles in between. From his abusive father, to hating tennis all along, to getting caught smoking crack in tour, the book never sees a dull moment. As a tennis player, his descriptions of the events and emotions of individual matches filled me with joy and made me want to be back out on the court. Highly recommended.

Darma Bums
by Jack Kerouac

August 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

My favorite work from the brilliant voice of the beat generation, Jack Kerouac. I was lucky enough to pick up this book whilst in the middle of a three week road trip across the country, camping in five national parks along the way. The slow and steady pace of writing talks of the beauty of simplicity: in life, in relationships, and in nature. Don't read this book if you don't want to question your everyday life; do read this book if you want to open your eyes.

On The Road
by Jack Kerouac

August 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

A timeless classic. A hot and sticky, first hand account of the underground world of drugs, jazz, sex, and rock 'n' roll that bursted from the seams of the 1950s in America. Sal speaks to you erratically, jumping from one topic to the next as him and his manic depressive partner Dean jet across the country, multiple times, in search of the 'good stuff' of life.

Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip
by Jim Rogers

August 1st, 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

An exciting and well written account of the round-the-world trip through 116 countries that Jim Rogers did with his wife back in 1999. He alternates between telling of the land and it's people while constantly being on the look out for investment opportunities across the globe.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
by Atul Gawande

July 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Far from my normal read, Being Mortal delicately and deliberately approaches the taboo topic of death and how to care for your loved one in the final days or months of their life. I highly recommend this book to anybody that is dealing with such an event, or generally is interested in the way we as society handle the topic of death.

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
by Mark Bittner

July 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

A heartwarming and engaging tale that has become a legend in San Francisco. Bittner, a dharma bum living on the streets of North Beach without steady job, becomes interested in a wild flock of rare parrots. The interest turns into a beautiful friendship that helps him get through some of his bleakest days.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
by Ashlee Vance

June 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

I almost put this book down in the first few chapters as I found it hard to stomach the God-like praise that Vance seemed to be putting on Musk. I'm glad I didn't as it turned into one of the most captivating and inspirational biographies that I've read thus far. Musk, as all know, is on separate level than most of us. The book does a great job of dissecting his success while simultaneously being honest about the negative implications that leading such a prolific life can bring. Highly recommended.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
by Jon Krakauer

June 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

A riveting and eye opening account of the 1996 Everest disaster as told by Jon Krakauer, the journalist brought along to document the climb. I found this book to be incredibly fascinating as it examines both the events leading up to the disaster and the psychological draws that bring people to such a dangerous peak in the first place. Multiple discrepancies about the truth behind Krakauer's version of events that day lead me to give it four stars rather than the five I originally gave.

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini

May 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation
by Thich Nhat Hanh

January 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
by Barbara Demick

January 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

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Outliers: The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell

January 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
by Nick Bilton

January 2015 | 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 | Link

2014

Coming soon