July Reading Romp

For those of you curious, this was me last month.

But don’t you worry, baby. I’m back. My reading mojo has returned, and I killed it over the course of July. Thanks to a mix of some serious pleasure reading, a couple of shorter books, and some downtime due to travel.

Here’s the July Reading Romp, baby!

Mindset – Carol Dweck

This is one of those books that makes it onto seemingly every “must read” list you see in the great big world of the Internet. It was gifted to me over a year ago by an awesome client, and I just got around to reading it.

The entire book explores the differences between a growth and fixed mindset. Essentially, a fixed mindset is believing you have a fixed set of skills and circumstances. You shouldn’t seek out new challenges, because you’ll fail and it won’t be affirmation of how awesome you are. Fixed mindset people generally look for validation into how awesome they are, and avoid situations they might suck in. They also generally believe innate talent plays a gigantic role in success.

A growth mindset is believing that you aren’t your circumstances. You can overcome things, you can always improve, and learn. You seek out challenges. You understand you won’t be great at everything, but you’ll sure as hell try. Growth mindset individuals seek out novel experiences, attempt to constantly learn, and when faced with a challenge don’t shut down. They respond to the challenge, because challenges are fun.

My initial thoughts are this: I wasn’t blown away by anything in this book. But after I took a step back, I realized that was because a lot of the reading and podcast listening I do comes from people who are preaching this message. I had actually become a little desensitized to it.

And who did they get their message from? Carol Dweck.

There’s some interesting anecdotes in the book about her own struggles with mindset, and various leaders in business or other fields, and those who adopted a growth mindset vs fixed.

I especially enjoyed the book after pulling the veil off my own life and looking at areas where I have a fixed mindset, and how that’s limited my growth as an individual. All in all, good book. It’s short as well, so you can get through it over the course of a weekend. Just be ready to take notes.

You can snag it off of Amazon here.

Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuck

For those of you who don’t know Gary, I’m sorry. Gary is by far and away one of the most entertaining dudes on social media, and could teach a masters class on how to build a following, find your voice, etc.

I’ve read one of his books before, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Without even thinking though, I read his books out of order. Crush It precedes Jab, Jab. And for good reason.

Crush It is essentially a manifesto on how the world is changing, and if you don’t change with it, you’re screwed. Very few of us will be taken care of with a 9-5 manufacturing job, pension, and retire to get a gold watch. I think my generation understands that, but there are absolutely some who still won’t come around to this idea.

Crush It also goes into various ideas to start your own business, how to use the Internet to build your brand, and goes into detail of Gary’s story and how he got to where he is.

I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a quick read, though be prepared because some of the stuff is outdated (like info on Twitter and other social networks). Once you read it, then go snag Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – the penultimate guide on how to make yourself stand out amongst the masses.

You can grab Crush It on Amazon.

Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut

Now we’re really starting to get into my pleasure reading of the month. I’d mentioned previously that I’m falling in love with Vonnegut as a writer, and I planned to knock out all of his work over the rest of the year. I’ve been told Cat’s Cradle was a must read, and a fantastic work of his.

I was actually a little disappointed. I can see Vonnegut and his satire cutting through the truths of the world we live in. I see him commenting on the ridiculous things we do, but I just didn’t find this book to be all that gripping.

Cat’s Cradle takes a satirical look at the nuclear arms race, and follows the family of one of the co creators of the atom bomb, Felix Hoenikker. We find out during the book that Hoenikker had also created something known as Ice – 9. Ice – 9 is essentially super ice that rearranges the molecules of any water it comes into contact with and turns them into Ice – 9. I believe it also had a melting point of 118 degrees.

We then journey to the island of San Lorenzo, which is a beautiful place, but also a living hell. In this beautiful eden of misery is where the world comes to an end, all thanks to Ice – 9.

I totally get why this is an important work. Vonnegut rips apart our love of self destruction in a way only he can. I just didn’t find the book to be entirely gripping. But what do I know. Apparently the University of Chicago awarded him a Masters in Antrhopology for this book.

You can grab it on Amazon here.

A Farewell To Arms – Ernest Hemingway

I’ll preface this by saying this is actually the first bit of Hemingway I’ve ever read. For an avid reader like myself, I felt like I needed to start reading Hemingway at some point. My editor pushed me to make it happen, so I went into a book store and picked up the first book of his I found.

Little did I know I was picking up the book that Bradley Coopers character in Silver Linings Playbook was reading after getting out of the mental instition.

You probably remember the scene I’m talking about.

Guess which book he was reading? The book I read.

Holy shit was this book awesome, infuriating, and touching all at once. My God! I totally sympathize with B. Coop and his character. I wanted to do the same thing. I actually had to call up a friend and vent about how I felt that same very emotion when finishing the book.

I had no clue what I was getting into, and I actually had to force myself to get past the first 40 pages or so. Before I knew what had happened I was 250 pages in and totally immersed in this World War 1 love story.

The book sucks you in, takes you through an intense range of emotions, teaches you a bit about World War 1, and completely has you rooting for true love to win.

Then out of nowhere your heart is ripped out of your chest, stomped on, and then fed to a pack of hungry dogs wandering the streets of Switzerland. Hence the desire to throw the book out of a window.

I don’t care what your thoughts are on Hemingway as a person, this was a fantastic book. I could go back and read it again. It might be my favorite read of the month.

I highly suggest you grab the book off of Amazon here.

The Rum Diary – Hunter Thompson

Here is another one of those all time greats I’ve never read. I was talking with a friend about this, and we both admitted we were actually ashamed to admit we had never read any Hunter S. Thompson.

Sure, I’ve seen Fear and Loathing. Who hasn’t? I know all about Thompson, I know he and Johnny Depp were friends. I feel like I knoew a ton about his life, but I’ve never actually read his work.

Big mistake on my part. Books that involve copious amounts of drinking, vivid imagery, some mixed up emotions, fighting, more drinking, drugs, and sex are guaranteed to make for an awesome story. It’s a literary law.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story in The Rum Diary, and I’ll go read more Thompson because of it. I want to live the life of Paul Kemp and be a bit of a vagrant who travels around doing odd writing jobs,  meeting women with terrible morals, meeting terrible people, drinking at 9am and living on hamburgers.

I’m kidding about that, but only kind of.

The Rum Diary was an enjoyable book that made for an interesting read that caused a bit of self reflection. It wasn’t too dense, but it shined a light on struggles that we all go through, and to me those are the best books. Books that make you consider life differently while telling you a fantastic story are some of my favorites.

It doesn’t hurt taht drugs, sex, beaches, and alcohol are involved.

Go grab The Rum Diary on Amazon. Your life will be better because of it.

Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari

I picked this book up at the airport, solely because I love Aziz Ansari, and listened to him talk about this book on the Freakonomics podcast. So props to you for that podcast Aziz, it at least sold 1 book.

Modern Romance is exactly what it sounds like. An intense look at the current culture of love and dating. How did we get here, what does it involve, and how did our parents and grandparents do it?

Before you go laughing at the idea of Aziz Ansari writing a book, like I originally did, know that this is actually a fascinating look at the current world we live in. Aziz is a smart dude, who manages to add his own brand of humor in little sprinkles throughout.

Not only is Aziz a smart dude, this book is actually full of references from socialigists, relationship experts, studies on love and dating, and references to history. It’s kind of crazy. There’s a ton of interesting stats and graphs but my favorite one is this:

In 1967, something like 76% of women admitted they would marry a man they didn’t love.

Holy shit. Think about that. A full 3 out of 4 women would marry a man they didn’t love. That wasn’t that long ago. My how times have changed! Nowadays we’re enamored with the idea of finding the one, so much so that we get married 6-7 years later in life than our parents did. We’re much more willing to wait, to have our fun, and to find someone we really want to do life with over someone who we think can provide a roof, or serve as a baby making machine.

Another cool stat:

In todays world more people meet online than any other medium, combined.

Isn’t that wild? I knew online dating apps like Tinder were popular, but online dating is THAT popular.

Aziz does a great job at taking a look at the current world we love in, and I think those of us who do love in this world would be smarter to read it. You’ll learn a few things, see why other generations had it better, and then see why we have it better than ever.

Snag it off of Amazon here.