November was a busy month. I left Atlanta, which meant moving halfway across the country. There was a Thanksgiving holiday, 5 days of which involved my dear friend Alicia staying with me. But nonetheless, I still got some solid reading done. Other months may have more books, but each book this past month was a strong choice, so the quality wasn’t lacking at all.
Check it out.
48 Laws of Power
This is one of those seminal books that you see on the bookshelves of the most powerful people in the world, hear mentioned all the time, and feel like is something you have to touch on at some point in your reading journey. For no particular reason, I hadn’t ever read it. I had the book for over a year but finally got around to cracking it.
First, I will say that Robert Greene is dense. He crams a lot of information into a 450-page book. The layout of the book also lends itself to more information than normal, with anecdotes in the margins, additional stories, and the like. I felt like the book is more of a course in human interaction than just a book on power. And after binging hard on Robert Greene interviews, I learned that was his intention.
But I will say that while Greene is dense, his writing is full of interesting stories from history. So he does a great job of keeping you interested while explaining how each law of power was at work.
Now, as far as the information is concerned, there is a very interesting paradox. When reading, there’s a strong chance you’re not going to come across anything that is like a piece of information you had never once heard before. In fact, most of it is stuff you might implicitly understand through years of human interaction.
However, where Greene succeeds is framing the laws that govern human interaction in a manner that helps you exploit them, and in turn, influence the people you want to influence. Which, to some people may feel a little slimy. Which, to those people I would say, grow the fuck up. Welcome to the world. Lots of weird shit goes on here.
Seriously, though, this was a fantastic read that went far more quickly than the dense material and sheer volume would suggest. It was a book I constantly found myself coming back to, underlining, writing in the limited margin space, and is one that I will undoubtedly return to at various points in my life. And more to that point, it also made me excited to read more Robert Greene, because the guy clearly understands human nature on a level that most only hope to reach.
If you’re interested in influencing people in your life, advancing in your career, or becoming more powerful in general, grab the book here.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
I finally revisited the magnum opus of one of my four favorite writers of all time, Hunter S. Thompson. I had first read this bad boy when I was in high school and just thought it would be fun to read a rambling story about incessant drug usage out in the middle of the Nevada dessert.
As far as that is concerned, not much has changed. I still enjoy reading about a couple of dudes going on a drug binge that would likely kill mere mortals, running from the cops, and all of the other fucked up shenanigans they get into.
But when it comes to the writing prowess of Thompson, his ability to weave a story, describe scenery and harrowing scenarios in excruciating detail? Well, this once again proved to me that there is no match when it comes to Thompson. And that’s why I love him.
Fear and Loathing is the story of Thompson and his attorney as they head to Vegas to cover a now defunct dessert race, and in the process wind up doing nearly every single drug known to man. It reads exactly like a rambling drug trip where Thompson uses his prodigious vocabulary to describe in vivid detail the sheer terror and exhilaration he was experiencing.
If you haven’t ever read this classic piece of modern literature, you need to get your shit together. Get it here.
It wasn’t until this year that I started reading Cormac McCarthy, and that is something I sorely regret. I finally read what became a classic piece of work, The Road, and it took all of 15 pages or so before I was enraptured.
McCarthy manages to paint a picture of a bleak post-apocalyptic world full of heathens, death, and destruction. And in the middle of this barren wasteland, we are privy to a first-hand account of the love that can only be shared between a father and a son.
I’m of the firm belief that just about anything about a dystopian future will do well, but this is next level. McCarthy is a master with his words in how he manages to paint a picture that clearly depicts a destitute world that begins to creep into your very soul. It’s not long before you’re viewing the world like those who travel the road view the world, and the only bright spots in life are when you see examples of the love between the man and the boy.
This book truly was a pleasure to read, and one that I devoured in no time at all. It’s incredibly well written, the story draws you in immediately, and before long you find yourself walking alongside the man and the boy as they make their way down the road, and maybe even hanging out in underground bunkers with them.
Please go read it. You can grab it here.
A Joseph Campbell Companion
Ready for a hot take? This might be my favorite book of 2016. There’s absolutely no hyperbole in that statement. I fell in love with every single piece of this book. I spent weeks marinating on this book. Writing in the margins, underlining passages, reading and re-reading.
I’ve been slowly working back through Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces, and been listening to his lectures on Spotify. But this book was exactly the book I needed at the exact right time in my life.
Much of the content is transcribed lectures from Campbell, many of which you can find on Spotify, but the organization and flow of the book is where a lot of the magic is. The book becomes a great mid-level entry point for many of those who are interested in the mythic world, spirituality, and how those very deep and metaphysical concepts apply in our modern world.
Concepts involving transcendence, purpose, and how different cultures go about finding those is something that fascinates me. And often times, the myths that are passed down through those generations can tell you much about why their preferred method of reaching transcendence has become the go to.
Campbell does an amazing job of walking you through the meaning of myths, delving into symbolism, how they apply to our lives, why we love them and using mythic and spiritual concepts to guide your life in the direction that you want it to. It’s classic Campbell in every sense of the word, and that’s why I loved it so much.
I urge you to buy this. I’ll likely carry this book with me everywhere I go over the next years and have already been revisiting it even though I’m technically done.
Go get it here.