What I Read: Q1 2022

Courage is Calling, Ryan Holiday

I’m a longtime reader of Ryan Holiday and a fan of his thought proviking style of writing — typically in the form of short chapters (2–3 pages long) where each chapter focuses on a story in history that is meant to teach a lesson. Like his other books, this isn’t meant to be a manual or a self improvement book. This is philosophic and is meant to make you think. The afterwards is worth reading. It’s ironic that Ryan said he almost didn’t include the afterword, because I think it’s the strongest (and most down-to-earth) part of the book.

The Push, Ashley Audrain

I picked this one up from an online book club I’m a part of. It is a multilayered, complex and chilling psychological drama that ventures into horror territory. Emotionally draining and compulsively readable, it exposes and challenges many of the social norms around motherhood and parenting. This is not a happy book. It is brutally honest and raw. It will rip your heart out. It will make you feel the pain of a mother fighting her own thoughts and worries. It will move you deeply.

Bringing Down the House, Ben Mezrich

This book is the basis for the movie 21 starring Kevin Spacey. It is the (mostly) true story of a group of young M.I.T. students who are brought together as a blackjack counting team. They use their mathematical intelligence and bold personalities to earn millions of dollars from the casinos. I love these kind of “David and Goliath” / rags to riches stories. The fact that a book is based on something that actually happened adds a bit more value to my read.

Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir

Thoroughly imaginative, scientifically sound, and emotionally stirring, Project Hail Mary slayed me and is destined to become one of my all-time favorite books. It’s a fun, addictive book that you’re not going to want to put down. Truly accessible sci-fi at it’s best!

Something to Live For, Richard Roper

Previously titled How Not to Die Alone, this is a story about love, loneliness, and the importance of taking a chance when we feel we have the most to lose. While this started out a bit slow, I found myself intrigued by the story. As the pages turned the story got deeper and I felt emotions start to light up. It is a bit of a thinker that will give you the feels at the end. It does deal a lot with topics surrounding death and loneliness which might be a little too dark for some, but amidst all the pain and sorrow in this novel there is great hope about the resilience of the human spirit, and how just one simple connection with another human being can save a life.

The Antisocial Network, Ben Mezrich

This book is a collection of accounts that lead up to WallStreetBets meme stock revolution in early 2021. If you followed the events in real time, this book might not be for you. But if you were vaguely aware of the story and now want to know more, this is a good place to start. I found the disconnected storylines a little tough to read but as the book progressed it became more cohesive. Most of the important stuff seemed to be fairly accurate while there were some fluff stories sprinkled in to emphasize the human element.

The Expectant Father, Armin Brott

This covered everything from month one all the way through postpartum and how to prepare for the first year. It spoke directly the things I was worried about in becoming a father and supporting my wife (sometimes it felt like it read my mind) while also educating me on things I would have never known. The humorous style made it accessible and conversational. The book was well organized and could be read sequentially or as a general reference book. I will recommend this book to any soon-to-be father.

The Martian, Andy Weir

After reading Project Hail Mary I had to see if lightning could strike twice, and it did. Andy Weir does this incredible thing where he makes the reader feel the isolation that Mark Wagner feels, and he does it so subtly, we don’t even realize that he’s doing it until it’s done. The Martian completely captivated me. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next, and I never wanted it to end. I’m excited to pick up Artemis next.