I have one on an end table in my living room. Another on the night table in the bedroom.
And thanks to the digital age, there’s the virtual pile on my Kindle app. And oops, there’s also a library wish list and an Amazon wish list.
I’m talking, of course, about my To Be Read (TBR) pile. Er, piles.
Like many of you, I read for a number of reasons. To escape for a while. To occupy my mind when I’m waiting for something (like for the kids to finish their karate classes). To help me stay sane. So, what have I been reading?
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel, by Mohsin Hamid. A short, bittersweet slice of life piece about contemporary Asia, written as though it were a self-help book. It’s an unflinching look at the rural/urban divide, the sacrifices required to get ahead, corruption, environmental degradation, opportunities, and change.
The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, by Dan Buettner. An eminently readable tour of several so called ‘blue zones,’ where people have long, healthy lifespans. Although fairly old now (published in 2010), it has some interesting implications for how we think about health care. Spoiler: There’s more to it than superfoods!
Astrofuturism: Science, Race, and Visions of Utopia in Space, by De Witt Douglas Kilgore. A series of essays discussing the American tradition of technological utopianism in art, as a response to the sociological upheavals in the 20th century. Or, in other words, what all that gee whiz sci fi stuff was about. A good read for a sci fi/space race nerd like myself.
Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, by J. Michael Straczynski. Best known for Babylon 5 and Sens8, this is Straczynski’s astonishing autobiography. Straczynski is a consummate storyteller, so it’s a compelling read, but not an easy one by a long shot. That he was able to survive his childhood and go on to make so many cool things is something of a miracle. I’m even more of a fan now than I was before.
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. This one had been in my TBR forever, as it was one of those books that is high on people’s recommended books list, but I never seemed to be in the right mood to pick it up. It’s an exploration of Hindu and Buddhist philosophies as told by one man’s journey through life. [As I’m writing this, it occurs to me that Hamid’s book (above) could be considered an updated version of Siddhartha.] I read an article in The Atlantic recently that suggested that a lot of Americans were exploring Buddhist practices like mediation as a coping mechanism. If that’s you, this might be a good starting point to learn the philosophies behind the practice.
The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market by Joseph F. Coughlin. This one wasn’t even in my TBR, as it was an impulse pickup at the library. An eye-opening read about how much media and marketing shapes our perceptions on aging, and how much potential those perceptions waste. Read this one now, even if you’re a long way from retirement, as it will help you consciously shape how you get older.
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. This one is a slower read at times, so don’t expect high adventure and derring-do. It’s an excellent meditation on leadership, however. Recommended for anyone who wants an example of how to lead by, well, example, even when you’re surrounded by the proverbial vipers.
What about you? What are you reading right now? Answer in the comments below.