What I Read: Q2 2024

Make Your Bed, Admiral William H. McRaven

A fast, fun and motivational read. Written in a friendly conversational style and filled with great life lessons that are illustrated by personal stories. His experiences as a Navy SEAL make this hit a little differently than other books of this genre. It helps to humble you a bit and put things into perspective. I especially liked the University of Texas commencement speech at the end. It helped to bring it all together.

Black Library Celebration 2022, Various Authors

A mix of short stories each from a different arm of the Warhammer universe. Most of them were okay but nothing special. The Reaper’s Gift, from Warhammer Horror, was my favorite. An eerie, desperate tale of a soldier on the run as he stumbles upon a small farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. It could easily be told outside of the Warhammer world. The other stories may speak to others depending on the flavor of story you prefer.

Passive Income Aggressive Retirement, Rachel Richards

This is pretty much a Millennial derivative of Your Money or Your Life with a focus on passive income streams. She covers the major passive income streams and analyzes which ones take more time or cash to start. It’s written in a very laid back, conversational tone which makes is super easy to read but makes it feel a bit less serious. There is a heavy bias towards rental income and though she discussed risk it felt like she left out a lot out. Overall, it was a fun, easy read but I don’t think I got much from it. This would probably be great for college students / recent grads.

Swim, Bike, Bonk, Will McGough

This was not what I expected. McGough, over confident and ignorant, registers for an Ironman. Not only will it be his first triathlon but he also has no experience running or cycling – though he was a strong swimmer in high school which works to his advantage. With no real idea of what it all means and only three months until the race, he starts off with incessant complaining about training, costs and triathlon culture. This didn’t start things off well for me. Most of the time I just wanted to skip ahead to see if he finished the race. The book’s chapters, as journal entries, count down the days to the race and by the time we get there the book has drastically changed. Through training, McGough developed some respect for the distance and even seemed to become (at least temporarily) a triathlete. The race report was great to read, I couldn’t put it down. His perspective of the race experience feels vivid and familiar, making me want to register for a race while feeling happy that I’m not there. Overall an interesting book if you’re interested in triathlons and the history of Ironman.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries, Heather Fawcett

This was just what I was hoping it would be! A cozy fantasy with a light romantic storyline, an incredibly enchanting atmosphere and fun characters. The descriptions of fae, the environments and the nature were simply amazing. The images in my head were so vivd as I read this. There were some darker themes, which made it feel even more complete and interesting. I can’t wait to read more of Emily Wilde’s adventures!

The Wisdom of the Bullfrog, Admiral William H. McRaven

After reading Make Your Bed, I needed more. In this book, Admiral McRaven provides some simple lessons on leadership – but simple doesn’t mean basic. He illustrates these lessons with powerful stories of success and failure from throughout his career. Each chapter is a valuable reminder of what being a leader really should be.

Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith

A book that looks at the philosophy of cognition by examining the brains and evolution of cephalopods. It was in the science section but had a self imposed disclaimer that it was a philosophy book. I’ve always been curious of octopuses and how they, for an animal so different from us seem to flirt with behaviors that are both close to us and also completely foreign. There was some thought provoking ideas about the nature of consciousness, and the evolutionary basis of aging. But this felt more like a biology book with some philosophy intertwined. I was hoping for the opposite. Some parts were a bit slow to read but still enjoyed it.

The Mountain In The Sea, Ray Nayler

This book had a really appealing premise but didn’t quite land for me. The setting is a bit cyberpunk with futuristic ideas of AI, androids and sophisticated machines. Imagination seemed wasted on the sci/fi which left the cephalopods feeling a bit flat. There were too many different storylines that came together a bit awkwardly. The climax was brief, felt forced and wasn’t very impactful. However, it was a fairly enjoyable read and I did like the philosophical and scientific themes. I just would have preferred a more current and realistic setting for the story.

Slow Productivity, Cal Newport

Newport suggests you slow down and create the space necessary to think through projects in order to perform your best work. He outlines three core tenets and provides actionable steps to apply each of them. Stories from famous knowledge workers help to bring them to life. I used to identify with much of the pseudo-productivity mindset he describes: a feeling of constant busyness and exhaustion from the fast pace of knowledge workers in the twenty-first century; A world where we idolize being busy and those in the knowledge sector are often judged based on tasks and projects completed rather than whether or not the worker is applying their unique skill set to the role. It’s unproductive and unhealthy. In the past 5 years, I have transformed into much of what Newport lays out in this book. In my current role, we call it “aggressive patience”. I have never been more productive and more fulfilled, so I definitely subscribe to what he is presenting. All in all, it’s about a healthy approach to being productive and avoiding burnout.

Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh!, Nate Crowley

A really fun and captivating read. Amusing, entertaining, hilarious and terrifying. A clever and wild story, part interrogation and part ork history, it was perfectly told through a small collection of really enjoyable characters. I quickly became absorbed in the story and couldn’t put this one down. Best Warhammer book I’ve read yet!

The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff

If I read this a few years ago I wouldn’t have enjoyed as much as I did now with a 2 year old daughter that loves Pooh. It’s a quick read, clever, humorous, and with a fair amount of criticism of Western culture. Supplementing it with the audio book makes it really fun. The Illustrations sprinkled in make it even more fun. Recommended if you want a short-and-sweet dose of Eastern philosophy.