August Reading Romp

Your boy got a ton of reading done during the month of August. A fair mix of heavy reading, some introspective shit, and just good fiction. Oh, and some Hemingway. Always some Hemingway. Here’s the August Reading Romp.

The Writers Journey

This has been recommended to me a few times by my friend and mentor, John Romaniello. He’s responsible for turning me onto Joseph Campbell, and because of him, I’ve slowly been working through Campbell’s book and listened to nearly every hour of the 50+ hours worth of Campbell lectures on Spotify.

Vogler’s book is basically a modern day application of Campbell’s monomyth, highlighting how all stories follow a nearly identical formula. It’s a bit more digestible than reading Campbell, and thanks to modern examples it’s easier to make sense of.

If you’re unfamiliar with the monomyth, or The Hero’s Journey, you may be a bit disappointed to learn how almost all stories follow an identical structure. Almost cheated, in a sense. But this couldn’t be more wrong.

The proper way to look at it is by recognizing that this formula speaks to something deep within us, and it resonates to the point that this formula is our preferred way of learning.

I could not be more serious when I say that if you’re interested in learning about how to tell a good story, writing, or how to properly view yourself as the hero of your own life, and subsequently make it through trials by following the formula, then you absolutely must read this book.

The insights are next level, the reading is easy to follow, and altogether it’s a highly impactful book that you will probably find yourself referring back to over and over.

You can grab it here.

To Have and Have Not

It’s not really a secret that I’ve got a massive Hemingway fetish, and for good reason. He’s one of the greatest of all time. In my well-read opinion, most of us who make a living by putting words down are all living in Hemingway’s shadow, and will never get out of it. And I’m entirely okay with that.

This is one of his lesser-known books, at least in comparison to some of his mega-hits, but early on I started to get the feel that this book might be my favorite of his that I’ve read up to a point, and I’ve read damn near every single one.

Much like his other books, his storytelling prowess is on full display and doesn’t waste a single word while doing it. Unlike most others, this book doesn’t center on a story of love. Love is an aspect, but not the central theme of the book.

Instead, we see the seedy underbelly of Cuba and Miami and follow the life of a good man who has been forced to do some very bad things in order to make a living. It’s a fascinating read, full of gun fights, death, love, and loss.

For those of you who haven’t gotten into Hemingway yet, and are interested at all in organized crime, death, loss, and love, I think this would be a great place to start.

You can grab it here.

Philosophy 101

Over the past few years, I’ve read and listened to a fair amount of philosophy, on top of having previously taken philosophy in college. But I felt like it was a good time to reorient myself with the various schools of thought, since if you allow yourself to, it can be easy to get bogged down with all the various philosophers, theories, etc.

All in all, this is a solid read that will help just about anyone get a solid grasp of the various philosophical schools of thought, while also learning a bit about the major players. In that sense, I really enjoyed it.

However, it can become a bit dry after awhile, which is to be expected. You are reading philosophy, after all. And it can get a bit confusing jumping around from school to school, philosopher to philosopher, so be prepared to take more time than you may think necessary for a book that’s only a couple of hundred pages long.

Also, it doesn’t list any of the stoics. I don’t have a stoicism boner like some of my friends do, but I do enjoy the work of the stoics, and I know that quite a few people weren’t happy about this omission.

You can grab it here.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Words of Wit and Wisdom

I asked my buddy Robbie Farlow who the historical figure is that gives him the biggest boner, fully knowing my answer. When you think about it, it’s a tough question, because there are a number of badasses in history. But for me, the answer is easy: Teddy Roosevelt.

This book is really nothing more than a coffee table book. It’s full of quotes and excerpts from speeches. So don’t get it expecting to spend a few days engrossed in a story. Instead, it’s something that you get up and read from every single day. Because on every page, you’re bound to find a quote that resonates, teaches you a lesson, or inspires you to go punch the day in the dick.

In the entire book, I only found one glaring mistake, and that is that Roosevelt’s most famous speech, The Man In The Arena, isn’t included. Which, to me, is an absolute travesty. So, to make up for that, here it is:

If you want to grab the book and start off your day the right way, you can grab it here.

Theodore Roosevelt In The Badlands

I told you I had a Teddy Roosevelt boner, didn’t I? I’ve had this book for awhile, and I knew some of the stories from his time spent in the Badlands, but this book takes that understanding to an entirely new level.

For those who don’t know, Roosevelt lost his wife and mother on the same day, almost immediately after his first daughter was born. He had already been hunting in the Badlands of the Dakotas and was looking at getting a ranch there. This spurred him to take off and essentially spend the next three years in the wilderness.

The insights we’re able to gain into how this area shaped our future President is fascinating. It’s no stretch at all to say that without his time there Roosevelt wouldn’t have become the man, the President, or the conservationist we know him as today.

In the book, you’ll find a number of entertaining stories about Roosevelt, as well as a testament to just how much he believed in leading a strenuous life to become both a better man, but a better member of society.

There are also awesome stories about how much of a badass Roosevelt was, including a story about him chasing boat thieves down a river for 3 days.

I highly suggest giving this one a read if you’re into history at all. And if you want to join me in having a Roosevelt boner, you’re more than welcome. You can grab it here.

The Afghan Campaign

I pretty much only knew Pressfield for his book The War of Art, and then the follow-up books Turning Pro and Do The Work. I knew he was a novelist who wrote about war, but I hadn’t ever read any of his work before. Luckily I found a metric fuck ton of his work in a used bookstore and started with this.

The Afghan Campaign is a fascinating historical novel based on the accounts of Alexander The Great and his invasion of the Afghan kingdoms in 330 B.C. Except don’t expect to read it and only find yourself reading about death and destruction. Things get far deeper and more introspective.

Sure, there’s plenty of bloodshed. But you find yourself in the shoes of a foot soldier who is going through a transformation. Someone who is witnessing the atrocities of war first-hand, and you’re brought along for the ride as this soldier is forced to adapt to his new environment in order to survive.

On top of that, parts of the book read like they’re modern day war dispatches. There’s a certain poetic justice to reading about the western invasion into Afghan lands, and hearing how they handled it and fought in almost the exact same way that we see in our modern day.

The book is a highly entertaining, relatively short read. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can grab it here.

Snow Crash

Yo, seriously, I fucking loved this book. I had heard a specific quote, which happens to be one of my favorite quotes of all time, from this book. But like the jabroni that I can be sometimes, I hadn’t ever read it.

Oh, that quote, by the way:

“Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.”

Snow Crash is a book that legitimately will alter how you view and think about the world in certain aspects while also wrapping you up in the story so completely it’s all you can think about. Combining Sumerian myth, linguistics, virtual reality, and capitalism. The Sumerian myth and linguistics part alone was utterly fascinating to me, and I legitimately found myself wanting to read more.

On top of that, Stephenson has a writing style that is both highly entertaining, yet informative. Before you know it you’re wrapped up in his story, and find yourself wanting to learn more about how the hell they’re going to get themselves out of the pickle they’ve found themselves in.

It’s a bit of a mix between a Dan Brown novel, with a little Palahniuk feel, all while just being funky and cyberpunk at the same time. By far and away one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a very long time.

You can grab it here.