Every once in a while a book comes along that many people talk about wanting to read or bragging
about having read and I often find it hard to get myself excited to read them.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century has come up in various discussions, radio
programs, and articles over the past couple years. I have a background in economics and an interest
in books that take very long term perspectives so this naturally made it on to my reading list. I
have been putting it off for a while and finally just decided that it was time to get down to it. An
exceptional book if only for the reason that he made the effort to collect the data and put forth a
systematic analysis of wealth and income inequality throughout the world and over a span of more
than 200 years. His interpretations of the data are not necessarily full-proof nor are his
moral assumptions strictly universal, but this does not detract from a great piece of scholarly
Country of My Skull is a very good book both in content and style. I had never
heard about the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) or maybe I had but did not remember the
details well enough. We went to the Apartheid museum in Johannesburg and I made an offhand remark
while watching one of the video clips that I found this TRC thing to be interesting. Taya was
shocked at my lack of knowledge about it and thus recommended I read Country of My Skull as a good
overview of both the TRC as well as to fill in more details about the fall of Apartheid.
I thoroughly enjoyed Guns, Germs, and Steel as it presented a narrative that was based on the
entirety of human history. This long time frame approach is appealing when I approach the subject of
history because most other time slices seem to be artifical. Sapiens: A Brief History of
Humankind similarly takes this very long view in an attempt to cover the entire
history of the human race starting with early homonids and progressing to an undestanding of how
homo sapiens specifically has taken over the world.
I was recommended to read one of the books in this series, so I chose the first one,
The Color of Magic. It is super weird. I am not really sure how I feel about it to
be honest. There were large chunks that just made no sense. I mean that I understood what the author
was trying to do, but the random introduction of arbitrary concepts did not add to my enjoyment of
I have delayed writing this post for over a month now. I read
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying because the Tibetan Book of the Dead was
always on my list of books to read. However, after reading about reading that, I found the
recommendation for an outsider to read the former book as it is much more approachable and useful
than the latter. I am glad I made this choice because even this book was a bit unuseful at times
because of constantly refering to the need to speak to a mentor about the ideas.
On Writing came to my attention through an interaction with a friend. I have
always loved the creative process of writing, both fiction and nonfiction. However, I have never
really dedicated myself to writing anything of any substance. I find myself paralyzed at the
beginning, unsure how to start, even though I have what I consider to be a good idea for a story.
This book gave me a lot of ideas and tools for how to move forward and perhaps actually finish
something for a change.
I think I ended up reading The Good Girl because it was on the list of free books
from Amazon for July or August. It was a decent book, at times trying way to hard to be better than
it is, but there was enough there to keep my interest and want to know how it was going to end.
The last non-book post I wrote was on New Years. Some things have happened in my life since then.
Shit a lot of things have happened. I started skydiving in mid January. I have done that a lot. I
found out I was not going to do the thing I thought I was going to do around April. This led me to
think about what I wanted to do for work as I had to actually think about that again. I started BASE
jumping in May. That is really a special thing, but I am taking it really slow. I turned 31 in July,
and that did not really change much. I moved to Paris and started working at a startup here in early
July. That has been quite the change. I fell in love, and that is pretty amazing.
I am dragging this year on my reading. Part of that has to do with skydiving taking up a lot
of my time. Part has to do with that I recently moved to Paris. Part has to do with the fact
that I am talking to humans again. Part is that I got lazy and was watching movies, convinced
that I should read something in french to help learn the language. But, I need to learn the
language more before I embark on that because it took me like half an hour to get through the
first page of a french book when I tried a few weeks ago. I read Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephensen
a little while back and thought it was pretty good, so I added another of his books to my list,
Snow Crash. As it turns out, I thought this one was even better.
I kept hearing about or seeing Water for Elephants so that I came to the
conclusion that it must be worth checking out. Overall it was an interesting book with a decent
story, but not something I would classify as great. As a quick read I would certainly recommend it,
but do not expect to be blown away.