Thursday, May 9, 2024

books
An actual photo of the actual state of my books. And this isn’t all of them…

About two years ago, I admitted that I had a book problem. I’ve heard that the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that you have one.

Plot twist: That didn’t work. I still have a book problem — a major one — and it’s starting to spread to other physical media.

Of course, all the Kindle books are rattling around the cloud because I can’t seem to choose a format and stick with it. Sometimes, I want to hold a physical book, and sometimes, I want to go digital.

Admittedly, adding to my growing zettelkasten is easier with a digital book, but there is still a great benefit to writing down my notes and entering them in the system.

Two years ago, my TBR on Goodreads was around 1,500 books. It’s floating around 3,000 now, which I know sounds ridiculous until you learn about the concept of the antilibrary, and then 3,000 books don’t seem like such a big deal.

Here’s the real issue: the school year is coming to a close, and I will have way more time to read than I have in the past few months, so I’m getting a little excited and have books on my mind all the time.

Or, maybe I’m still trying to make up for nearly 20 years of doing what other people thought I should do before figuring things out for myself. Maybe one day, I’ll figure it all out.

Until then, I’ll just keep reading…

Quote of the Day

Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.

“Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.” -Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

Musical Interlude

I love Kacey Musgraves’ voice, and this cover of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know provides ample room for her vocals.

Long Read of the Day

In our era of electronic communications, we’ve come to expect that important innovations will spread quickly. Plenty do: think of in-vitro fertilization, genomics, and communications technologies themselves. But there’s an equally long list of vital innovations that have failed to catch on. The puzzle is why.

Why do some innovations spread so swiftly and others so slowly?

Video of the Day

I know you’ve been asking yourself, “I’d love to know they make Japanese swords — from the gathering of the iron sand to the smelting of the steel to the forging of the blade.

Have no fear, here’s your answer:

Final Thoughts

Is it Friday yet?

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Greetings Starfighters,

Among the treasures we discovered as we cleaned out my grandparents’ old home was a Hasselblad 500C/M camera. Some of you may know what that means, many of you likely don’t, just know that Ansel Adams used a Hasselblad 500 model at times in his career.

First, a word about my grandfather. The man was obsessed with gadgets, just like I am. He shelled out over $1200 for an early VCR, had every form of home video recording equipment, and even bought a light that was allegedly the same model used on the Space Shuttle to better stage our family Christmas movies. So, having a Hasselblad just sitting in the top of a closet collecting dust isn’t necessarily a surprise.

I’m playing around with it and hope to take some shots with it soon. I was a little surprised that you can still purchase film and even get it developed but I’m also watching some videos and looking for tools to develop at home if I need to.

Once more, the Internet proves that, with a little effort, you can find and learn how to do just about anything.

Quote of the Day

Without memory, it’s impossible to build the future. – Umberto Eco, A Library of the World

Musical Interlude

A number of years ago, Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates fame began a show recorded at his home studio with various guests. “Live from Daryl’s House” has had several homes over the years, but it seems they are uploading more and more to Daryl’s YouTube channel.

Here’s the episode with Lisa Loeb, including a great version of her classic, “Stay.”

Long Read of the Day

“In 1303 CE, a monstrous earthquake ripped through the Eastern Mediterranean. The trauma shook glittering casing stones loose from the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt—the most ancient of our Seven Wonders—and brought the remains of the youngest, the towering Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria, crashing to the ground. The Great Pyramid embodied enormous effort for the sake of one, virtually omnipotent man. Alexandria’s Pharos Lighthouse had been a public beacon to keep travelers from four continents safe, and to announce a repository of all the knowledge that was possible for humankind to know.

But across that complex arc of experience, spanning nearly 4,000 years, from the vision of a single, almighty human to a network of human minds, no human-made Wonder could prove a match for the might of Mother Earth.”

What Makes a Wonder? On the Human Need to Map Out Monumental Greatness

Video of the Day

Final Thoughts

May 1 means that it’s very nearly Star Wars Day. If you haven’t heard, The Phantom Menace is returning to theatres this weekend. My kid and I have watched it I don’t know how many times here at home. Friday afternoon, we’ll catch it on the big screen. I was in the crowd on opening night 25 years ago, and I think I’m just as excited now as I was back then.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

The Best Books I Didn’t Read in 2023

a sea of books

Last week’s newsletter focused on the best books I read in 2023. This week, I’m taking a little different trip down the literary road…

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First, let’s discuss the idea of an “antilibrary” and why it’s important.

An antilibrary, a collection of unread books, is seen as a valuable tool for intellectual growth. It’s a reminder of what you don’t know and a symbol of potential knowledge to acquire. It’s not a sign of intellectual failure but a testament to your curiosity and desire to learn more.

And so, to the dismay of my bookshelves and perhaps my wife, I keep buying books. I’ve tried to switch to only buying ebooks, but there is something about being surrounded by physical books; the reminder that no matter how I try, I’ll never be able to read them all or know them all.

That feeling is similar to the one I get each time I think about Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. As the earth hangs in a sunbeam, surrounded by the inky blackness of the infinite universe, so do I sit as a small speck of learning in an infinite ocean of knowledge when surrounded by books.

It’s humbling and puts the world in perspective if you let it. Surround yourself with books, even if you’ll never get to them all.

I try to read more books every year, but I’ll never get through them all. I embrace this incredibly Sisyphean task, mostly because I already have a backlog of nearly 3,000 books on my list and because those silly publishers keep putting out new books.

Yet, I persevere.

There are a number of great books published in 2023 that I’d like to get to but haven’t yet—one of them is staring at me now as I write this piece. Here are some of the best books from 2023 I haven’t read (yet), but they’re now in my ever-expanding to-be-read (TBR) list:

James McBride, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store

This novel by James McBride tells a story rooted in family, faith, and the search for understanding. It explores the lives of diverse characters whose paths intersect at a small grocery store, revealing the complexities of human experience through lyrical prose and deep emotional resonance.

David Grann, The Wager

David Grann’s “The Wager” is a gripping tale of adventure and survival. It recounts the harrowing story of shipwrecked sailors in the 18th century, who make a desperate bet for survival. The book is a thrilling blend of history and narrative, showcasing Grann’s talent for uncovering forgotten stories.

R.F. Kuang, Yellowface

“Yellowface” by R.F. Kuang delves into the controversial topic of cultural appropriation in the literary world. It’s a provocative exploration of identity, authorship, and the blurry line between homage and theft, framed within an engaging and thought-provoking narrative.

Matthew Desmond, Poverty, By America

In “Poverty, By America,” Matthew Desmond offers a groundbreaking examination of poverty in the United States. The book challenges conventional views, revealing how systemic forces and policies contribute to economic hardship and argues for fundamental changes to address this persistent issue.

Lauren Groff, The Vaster Wilds

Lauren Groff’s “The Vaster Wilds” is a beautifully written novel that transports readers into a world of nature and mystery. Set in an enigmatic wilderness, it weaves a tale of self-discovery and connection to the natural world, marked by Groff’s signature lyrical style and deep, reflective storytelling.

Timothy Egan, A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them

Timothy Egan’s “A Fever in the Heartland” is a gripping historical account of the Ku Klux Klan’s insidious attempt to infiltrate American society in the early 20th century. The book also highlights the courageous efforts of those who fought against the Klan, focusing on the pivotal role of one woman.

Michael Finkel, The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession

In “The Art Thief,” Michael Finkel narrates a riveting true story of an infamous art heist. The book blends elements of romance, crime, and suspense, offering an inside look into the high-stakes world of art theft and the obsessive love that drives it, all set against a backdrop of international intrigue.

Benjamin Labatut, The MANIAC

Benjamin Labatut’s “The MANIAC” is a dark and compelling narrative exploring the mind of a genius on the brink of madness. This novel blends historical facts with fiction, delving deep into the psyche of a brilliant but troubled character, set against a backdrop of scientific discovery and moral ambiguity.

Salman Rushdie, Victory City

“Victory City” by Salman Rushdie is an epic tale spanning centuries, centered around a mystical city that rises and falls through the ages. Rushdie’s storytelling weaves together history, mythology, and magic, creating a vivid tapestry of human triumphs and tragedies, resilience, and the power of imagination.

Jonathan Eig, King: A Life

Jonathan Eig’s “King: A Life” is a comprehensive and insightful biography of one of the most iconic figures in American history. The book delves into the complexities of his life, exploring his achievements, challenges, and enduring impact on civil rights and social justice, painted with meticulous research.

Alright, there’s the list, although it’s quite incomplete. Hundreds of great books came out in 2023, and it’s our job to go out there, find them, read them, and share them with the world.

Maybe you’ll start building your own antilibrary in 2024. If so, I’d love to hear about it.

See you next year!


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!