I’ll keep my 2021 update short. 2021 felt like a survival year, while the world turns toward chaos we have literature to help guide us. Reading histories like The Guns of August help give perspective on todays geo politics. Finishing Devotions by Mary Oliver helped calm my spirit by recentering it through inquisitive snapshots of Nature. My desire is that others can find the same enjoyment in reading that I do. It’s with this heart that I share my annual update.
1. Read 48 books.
2. Book Club continued with 7 excellent books discussed.
Looking into (in) 2022 there is a backlog of quality books sitting on my night stand that I plan to work through. Books like Foundation, Pride and Prejudice, Children of Dune, To the Castle and Back, among others. As always don’t hesitate to reach out with recommendations or to have a discussion about books.
One change to this years update is that I have added some of my favorite poems from the year. They are sprinkled throughout the post, I trust you will enjoy.
Truth by Marilyn McEntyre
Truth is elusive
Truth avoids institution control
Truth tugs at conventional syntax
Truth hovers at the edge of the visual field
Truth is relational
Truth lives in the library and on the subway and on the internet, if you look carefully
Truth is not two-sided; it’s many sided
Truth burrows in the body
Truth comes on little cat feet and slips down back alleys
Truth doesn’t always test well
Truth invites you back for another look
I & II: Dune by Frank Herbert | The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
When you look at my night stand there is consistently two or three science fiction books staring back at you. It all started in 2017 when I first dipped by toe into the world of Science Fiction by reading Enders Game. I was hooked. Several years later I have enjoyed reading Ready Player One, The Martian, The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis, Cats Cradle, and Star Maker by the great Olaf Stapledon among others. With the exception of Enders Game Dune and The Three Body Problem are by far the best science fiction books I have read.
Dune is a ecological (science) fiction masterpiece. In our modern economy we all understand the power of oil. I don’t think we give oil the credit its due. It has shaped the political and cultural landscape of the past 100 years. Names like Rockefeller and Putin jump to mind as men/families who became the backbone of world power and wealth because of their oil exploits. Frank Herbert centers his universe around the ecology of a single planet, Dune. Dune produces a rare substance simply called Spice that has sociologically enhancing properties. “He who controls the spice controls the universe.” Simply put who ever controls the ecology of this planet shapes the politics and culture of the entire universe. Frank Herbert is a master world builder who gracefully gives the characters the detail that they deserve and we desire.
The Three Body Problem is written by Liu Cixin one of the most prolific Chinese writers of the 21st century. If three objects are moved throughout space and time will they have the same reaction or will space and time change their reaction? This question is at the core of a Physics problem for which the book is named. The beauty of science is the pursuit of the unknown. What we know as fact today might be disproven, what we discount as fiction might come to life. The Three Body Problem follows several physicists through a future massive shift in scientific knowledge. The source of that knowledge is unknown and its ramifications of the greatest consequence. Think James Bond but with physicists.
Be prepared for many more Science Fiction works to grace my top ten lists in the near future.
III, IV, V, & VI: Harry Potter Series #4, 5, 6, 7 by J.K. Rowling
In 2020 I began the long awaited journey into the world of Harry Potter. The first three books were incredibly enjoyable. Coming into 2021, I was excited to get started on the final four books. Simply put they did not disappoint. They continued in their impressive world building through plot and character development. My thesis that Harry Potter represents the millennial generation unlike any other book/series has become more pronounced as I continue to have more conversations regarding this series then anything else I have read.
VII: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
When you have been asked, “how are you” have you ever responded with “busy.” If so this book is for you! John does a great job summing up the United States “busy” culture. He does so by breaking down the symptoms, consequences, and remedies for our involvement in this culture. This is a simple, quick read that will challenge your current acceptance of a busy life.
VIII: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
There is a book ever year that I struggle to get through but find myself constantly reflecting on throughout the year. Norwegian Wood was the book this year. Instead of writing my own review I wanted to share my college roommate and good friend, Davis Meadors, review of Norwegian Wood.
“The enchantments of the world surrounding Murakami’s characters inflected my experience of my own world not only while I was reading his novel, but for some weeks after. Some movies have challenged me to the point that I feel I am reading them. This was the opposite: a book that I watched. This quality inhered throughout the characters’ ambulatory Tokyo lifestyle, one of drawn-out wanderings punctuated vividly by food, music, and nightlife, but it was most astonishing in their ardent relating to one another. The great strength of this novel is Murakami’s ability to set a wordless tone for the characters’ contention with loss — a thing that words cannot approach without collapsing — as they come of age.”
IX: Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
Scientific overviews, a genre of book I wouldn’t have pegged myself as enjoying. However, I have found a couple books in this category to be thought provoking over the years. Breath reads like a podcast. It reviews the evolution of the mouth structure, history of breathing, and modern culture influences to help the reader understand why we breathe the way we do. It’s not profound in its discoveries but it did help me understand how to be steady, take a second, and breathe.
X: Sandworm by Andy Greenberg
Russia has shown that war between major powers is still possible in todays day and age. But what if I told you that prior to 2022 that all the major countries have been waging war. Would you believe me? Sandworm details the past twenty years of Cyber Warfare. This warfare is carried out in the shadows but still effects all of our daily lives more then we think. If you count technology and geo politics among your interest this is a must read.
Also, the title Sandworm is a reference to Dune!
The Poet Thinks about the Donkey by Mary Oliver
On the outskirts of Jerusalem
the donkey waited.
Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,
he stood and waited.
How horses, turned out into the meadow,
leap with delight!
How doves, released from their cages,
clatter away, splashed with sunlight.
But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.
Then he let himself be led away.
Then he let the stranger mount.
Never had he seen such crowds!
And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen.
Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient.
I hope, finally, he felt brave.
I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him,
as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward.
Full List of Books:
1. The Songs of Jesus by Timothy J. Keller
2. Gentle and Lowly by Dane C. Ortlund
3. Brave Companions by David McCullough
4. Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
6. The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey
7. The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell
8. Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre
9. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (#8) by J.K. Rowling
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (#7) by J.K. Rowling
11. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (#6) by J.K. Rowling
12. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (#5) by J.K. Rowling
13. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (#4) by J.K. Rowling
14. Breath by James Nestor
15. World Order by Henry Kissinger
16. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
17. Rerum Novarum (Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor) by Pope Leo XIII
18. Dune Messiah (#2) by Frank Herbert
19. Dune (#1) by Frank Herbert
20. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
21. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
22. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
23. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
24. The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre
25. The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
26. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
27. The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
28. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
29. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
30. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
31. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
32. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
33. There There by Tommy Orange
34. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
35. Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch
36. These Truths by Jill Lepore
37. Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
38. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates
39. Sandworm by Andy Greenberg
40. Boomerang by Michael Lewis
41. Devotions by Mary Oliver
42. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
43. The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield
44. The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman
45. The Second Mountain by David Brooks
46. The Making of a Miracle by Mike Eruzione
47. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
48. The Stranger by Albert Camus
Anglo-Saxon Protestant Heterosexual Men by Wendell Berry
Come, dear brothers,
let us cheerfully acknowledge
that we are the last hope of the world,
for we have no excuses,
nobody to blame but ourselves.
Who is going to sit at our feet
and listen while we bewail
our historical sufferings? Who
will ever believe that we also
have wept in the night
with repressed longing to become
our real selves? Who will
stand forth and proclaim
that we have virtues and talents
peculiar to our category? Nobody,
and that is good. For here we are
at last with our real selves
in the real world. Therefore,
let us quiet our hearts, my brothers,
and settle down for a change
to picking up after ourselves
and a few centuries of honest work.
I. As many of you know I enjoy whiskey. Some might call my enjoyment a obsession. But mostly I enjoy the art of whiskey making, the science behind the softness of a Single Malt versus the spice of a Rye. The search of knowledge is what keeps me coming back to distilleries across the US and Europe.
What might my obsession with whiskey have to do with articles? In the world of American Whiskey a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle is priceless… no really its actually priceless… a investigative journalist ( aka a guy with a pen and desire for Pappy) convinces his editor to give him $100 and a couple months to see if he can find the ever allusive Pappy at retail price.
This article reads like a mystery novel. So put on your best sherlock homes hat and pour a glass of your favorite scotch, I recommend the Shieldaig Speyside 12 year, and get reading.
Shout out to Jeff Zyskowski for Sharing this great article with me!
Craigslist, Back Rooms & Money Launderers: Two Months Hunting for the World's Most Wanted Bourbon
The other day I'm buying an exercise bike from a guy when I see his whiskey collection. It's a nice one, a few shelves'…
II. Warren Buffett loves reading… so you should to! Just kidding. Well kind of kidding. Warren does love reading, some say he spends half his day EVERY day reading. BUT this fun read from the Wall Street Journal is not about Warren Buffett. Its a overview of what happens to our brain when we read. Its free therapy, its basically sleeping, at this point why don’t you read?
The Therapeutic Value of Reading
This past year, I've found myself returning again and again to a line of poetry by Emily Dickinson: "There is no…
III. The first Millennials were born in 1977. The last time US inflation was above 5% for over a year was 1982. The oldest Millennials were 5 years old when inflation dropped below 5% and stayed that way for the next 40 years, even going negative (deflation) for nearly a year! With current inflation rates estimated around 7% and rising its good to educated ourselves on what inflation looks like and means for the wider economy. This quick read gives an overview of a concept that has not been faced for a long time.
Inflation, Specific and General - Phenomenal World
Concerns over a generalized "inflation" loom in the recovery. Yet the prices that most heavily factor into the cost of…
The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
Delivered on January 14, 2021
When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
We the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes we are far from polished.
Far from pristine.
But that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,
that even as we grieved, we grew,
that even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried,
that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade.
But in all the bridges we’ve made,
that is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb.
If only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth,
in this faith we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption
we feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter.
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert,
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was,
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation,
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain,
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy,
and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.
We will rise from the windswept northeast,
where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.