July wasn’t the prolific month of reading that June was, partly because I didn’t travel as much, which removed a lot of down time. However, I still got quite a few great books in that I’m excited to share with you guys. Here is the July Reading Romp.
Ego Is The Enemy
I have a rule that if Ryan Holiday writes something, I read it. It doesn’t matter if it’s an article or a book, what it happens to be I’m going to read it. This was Holiday’s 4th book, and it might go down as my favorite one yet.
Written as a corollary to The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy explores the ego and the destruction that can manifest in our lives thanks to said ego.
This book isn’t exploring the ego in the Freudian sense, though. Instead, it’s exploring the lives of historical figures who became their own worst enemies by falling into the trap of believing in their own greatness.
And on the flip side, we have protagonists who cast their ego aside, and as such went on to unparalleled success.
This is an outstanding book, and early on I found out I was getting slapped in the face with cold hard truth in how I had conducted myself in certain situations in my past, being forced to confront certain things about myself, and subsequently learning from them.
If you’re at all interested in living a better life or being a better person, this book is a necessary read. You can get it here.
The Two Towers
For those of you who read the June Reading Romp, you know that I’m making my way back through Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings series, albeit slowly.
In The Two Towers we learn more about the backstory behind the ring, and we learn more of the imminent danger that Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn, and the others find themselves in. Along the way also learning about the various alliances that have been forged within Middle Earth, either to battle Sauron, or to join him.
There’s not much to add as far as the book itself is concerned because nearly everyone has seen the movies or read the books. But what is worth noting is just how marvelous it is to fall into the world of Tolkien.
He was a veritable master at building out an entire world with various races, languages, and customs. It’s not a stretch at all to say that without him, we wouldn’t have things like Game Of Thrones or Harry Potter today, and to read the work of the master himself is truly a magical experience for any writer.
You can grab the book here.
Steal Like An Artist
I’ve heard about this book for close to a year now, and finally got around to reading it. I had always heard the famous T.S. Eliot quote that inspired the book:
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
Once I finally got around to reading the book, I couldn’t have been happier with my decision. It’s a really short and very easy read with lots of pictures, diagrams, and lists. Not to mention the entire book is in a font that looks like handwriting.
But as far as the lessons are concerned within the book, he doesn’t need many pages to get them across, but they pack a serious punch. Kleon does a wonderful job of talking about the artistic process, the traps that befall creatives, and the always tricky tightrope walk of being inspired and stealing other people’s work.
For writers, artists, or creatives of any type this is an absolute must read, if only because it’s highly entertaining and also enlightening. You can grab it here.
The Republic of Pirates
I found this book while wandering through the bookstore to kill time, and the cover alone sold me. And holy shit. I’ve always thought pirates were super interesting, as have most people I would imagine. But we don’t exactly learn a ton about pirates in traditional schooling.
This book did an amazing job of pulling back the veil on the world of pirates. And we’re talking famous pirates like Blackbeard, Calico Jack, Charles Vane, and others. It was an amazing read solely because of how thoroughly researched it was, in turn offering amazing insight into the life of a pirate.
What I found seriously fascinating was how the pirates of the early 1700’s were a bit anarchistic, in that they rebelled from the imperial forces of England, France, and Spain, but they were also incredibly democratic. Going as far as to free slaves, give all members aboard the ship equal rights and equal votes.
On top of that, it turns out that a lot of the pirates weren’t near as terrible as we like to think. They absolutely plundered and stole, but they rarely raped, killed, and tormented people quite like we thought. In fact, much of that narrative was built upon the back of one pirate named Charles Vane during a 3 week run of terror.
The book is a little dry at times because it’s written almost as a history book, but the info is fascinating, and the life the pirates led is something that I found seriously interesting. You can grab it here.
The Sun Also Rises
Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises, cemented him in the pantheon of the great writers. The book offered an introduction to the laconic writing style that Hemingway would become known for, and something that many of his peers at the time were trying to replicate for themselves. Hemingway was just better at it than anyone else.
The book is a true account about a group of expats living in Paris, which was a popular scene for many American expat writers at the time, and their time spent in Paris, as well as going to Pampalona, Spain to watch the bull fights and take part in the fiesta.
As with most other great Hemingway books, there’s also a tragic love story involved that leaves you aching, frustrated, and just plain pissed off at times.
What’s probably the most fascinating thing about the book is that every single character is based on a real life person, and you can find out who they all were. Not only that, but the book is a true life account of their time in Paris in Spain. So true in fact, that many of the characters who were portrayed in the book were pissed off when it came out.
If you haven’t read Hemingway I’m not sure what you’re doing with your life, but this is a good place to start. You can grab it here.