Category: reading

Recent Reads: Carnegie, Dune, a do not, & a must

Four days ago, I finished two books.

Two weeks ago, I finished an 800 page book in two days.

Two days ago, I finished two books.

Uh, what, LP? You ask.

Blessed audiobooks, that’s what!

Andrew Carnegie: The Biography (audio book)

This was fascinating. It was a really well-done biography (not always easy.) The author did well against Carnegie’s own widely read autobiography, against the myth and legend of the Carnegie name, and Carnegie’s wife’s fiercely protective work on his legacy.

I really enjoy learning how household names get their start. Carnegie came from NOTHING and got dang lucky with money. It really was like he was meant to have it. (This was also at the time before insider trading was illegal. It was par for the course for anyone in business. He saw opportunities and took them, major. He also took some massive risks – like, literally risked ALL.)

The most interesting part for me, aside from how one chooses to live with all that wealth, were the paradoxes contained in Carnegie: he didn’t want to give his workers raises or better hours, but he gave them, their communities, and communities around the world libraries and other donations that would drastically improve their quality of life. He was the least ruthless of the major capitalists of that age (by comparison), yet he made the most profit. Carnegie was a huge advocate for world peace, but considered making bullets and did make armor for warships. This poor immigrant had no political or formal education, but ended up with incredible access to multiple Presidents – to the point he annoyed them by being a doddering old man who injected his “thoughts” into major world events.

He was the richest man in the world, and the first millionaire to pledge to give away his millions.

I think history has tilted for Carnegie because of the huge impact donating his riches has had on the world (especially to libraries! Yeah!) Nonetheless, it was fascinating to learn about his many facets.

Dune (audio book)

FINALLY. I’ve been intending to read this book for about 10 years. Why hadn’t I? I have no idea.

It was … weird. It was science fiction, so of course it was weird. (Do the sand worms make it fantasy?)

I can see why it might have been amazing back in the day. Before ecological annihilation were mainstream. Before Eastern philosophy was so pervasive in Western vernacular.

Its top quote on Goodreads:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

The book is essentially how one Jesus-type figure grows up, and then confronts the apocalypse and return. Some of it is confusing and too esoteric. And some of it, like the quote above, were definitely probably revolutionary back in the day. In the current generation, it’s mainstream. Everything comes from somewhere, eh?

The main female character (the Mary figure) gets a bit annoying. Her inner life is portrayed as a little repetitive and anxious. Especially once her son comes “into his power.” He is still like 15, and she is supposed to be a highly trained, revered master? Yeah …

There was also one chapter where the author mentioned “her unborn child” like 97 times. I almost threw my phone across the room.

The ending was also a bit amorphous. I understand there’s a huge series after the original, but I would like to feel like I got some sense of what was going on after (especially since diary entries from the future were dotted throughout this book …)

I’m glad I’ve read it.I intend to look into a bit more about why it’s such a BFD.

No More Mr. Nice Guy (eBook)

This was an interesting book that I read for an online group. It is a quick read, with really in-depth exercises. (While it ostensibly aims at men, it applies to women too!) The author suggests meeting with a group and/or accountability partner, which would of course take longer. I’ve also done a lot of the work outlined in the book, so that probably helped speed things along.

I liked his no-BS style and his ability to cut to the core of issues. Most of which are fear, fear of abandonment, and feelings of inadequacy. His final chapter is on career, so that hit me pretty hard and gave me some good things to think about. I’d recommend it for a friend going through a transformational phase, who is willing to look at this stuff.

Top quote, via Goodreads:

“In general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy.

Humans connect with humans. Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.”

The Senator’s Wife (audio book)

Did you know that women struggle with how they look? Their changing roles as wives, child-bearers, and in the workplace? Did you know that childbirth is really painful? That famous men cheat? That it’s one-sided, and women have no autonomy or power in a relationship?

Then … don’t read this book.

I was looking for something “light” and I got it, alright. Blech.

Desert Solitaire (paperback)

This was my favorite of the bunch. I bought it at Terry Tempest Williams’ home book store, in Moab, the town at the center of the book’s geographic world. He wrote it while a park rangers at my favorite park down here, Arches.

I held on to the book for about six weeks after buying it, waiting to read it until I could savor it, and I am so glad I did. I’ve been reading it in bed and in coffee shops and over tea.

It’s a beautiful meditation on the region I’m in right now. The author, Edward Abbey, is basically the Thoreau of the Southwest. He is writing in the 1950s, a fascinating period of social change, when America shifted from a focus on the natural, the outdoors, to the cubicle and the city. He’s writing about a region that is some of the most remote and challenging in the country. He does it in a very focused and poetic way.

There’s a chapter he has on the National Parks System, automobiles, and Industrial Tourism that is amazing. You can read it here (not the same Lauren.) It really made me think, especially considering my own recent trip and what I’ve seen in the parks, from both the administrators and tourists. This chapter also made it ironic as hell that the Park Service is selling it in National Park gift shops. I’m sure that one has Abbey howling in his desert grave, either in indignation or appreciation for the double underline that does to his point.

I don’t often reread books, but because Abbey brings to life the atmosphere of this region that I love, it makes me want to dive back in again. I highly recommend it, and would venture to say it’s a must-read for college students.


What books are you reading? Which books should I read next? What are the best atmospheric nature books? The best biographies? What niche genre do you love?

Happy pages!

Book Reccs

Every so often I come across a list of recommendations that makes me want to place holds at my library immediately. Today, it was this list by Jon Mixon, a response to a Quora Q:

  1. The Bible
  2. The Qu’ran
  3. Great Expectations
  4. King Lear
  5. Parallel Lives – Plutarch
  6. The Upanishads (This alone could take year or more)
  7. The Decameron
  8. Aesop Fables
  9. A Treatise on Human Understanding – Hume
  10. War & Peace
  11. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  12. The Stranger – Albert Camus
  13. The Art of War – Sun T’zu
  14. A Tale of Two Cities – Dickens again
  15. The Rainbow – DH Lawrence (not the usual DH recc-LP)
  16. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  17. The Canterbury Tales
  18. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
  19. Romance of the Three Kingdoms – Luo Guanzhong
  20. One Thousand and One Nights

Pain in the neck. Literally.

One of my biggest fears about this trip is discomfort. Specifically, for me, the discomfort of long car rides, sleeping on the ground, hiking without a readily available hot tub, etc.

I’ve had back pain for a long time. Then, two years ago, I started getting increasingly bad right trapezius (top of shoulder) pain (coinciding with doing much less yoga, a job that tied us to our desks all day, and some super-stressful family and life-decision situs).

For the last year, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor at least every other week. The pain wasn’t subsiding reliably, so I started seeing a physical therapist twice a week about a month ago for exercises to take with me for the trip. It’s been helping, for the most part.

Last Tuesday, I went to this information session for an EWBP workshop, which appears to be based off the Yuen Method. My friend evangelized about it, and it seemed right up my alley. It looks at the root causes of pain – it puts forth that pain is but a symptom, the body telling us something, and that we need to look under it for the causes and conditions. It was pretty cool, if a bit hard to grasp on the first go.

I think I had expectations that it would perhaps cure my pain? Because, in proportion: the next day, my shoulder was ON FIRE. Probably some of the worst pain I’ve ever had in it. I’ve been using a lacrosse ball on it, per PT, but zoinks. Perhaps I was going too hard? The levator scapulae (I’d find out later, from my chiro) was ground zero for that pain, and it can be especially inflamed by stress (holding our shoulders up around our ears). It is the muscle that pulls our shoulder up (leva = raise!)

I was woken up twice by it, and in near-tears until my 1pm physical therapy appointment, so I called my friend who’d recommended the workshop. I thought it might have to do with how a pond gets muddy when you muck up the dirt at the bottom, and I knew I could talk to her about my more “woo woo” ideas on this. She asked if I’ve ever seen Louise Hay’s affirmations for pain. I have not, and when I did, I was floored.

I’ve looked at chakras, somatics, etc. but I’ve never seen such a simply laid out (read: simple does not equal EASY) guide to what could be under our pain (when it’s not as obvious as a sports injury/etc.)

Here are two resources for immediate perusal. I, of course, am going to get the book:


I haven’t actually read any of Louise Hay’s books, but I do listen to her videos on YouTube before I fall asleep, and I’ve taken some Hay House courses, and I really admire her energy and the empire she’s built.

What other things like this have you seen that have helped you? Do share! I’ll take all the help I can get. Anything is better than pain that brings you to tears.


Marcus Aurelius’s Guiding Principles: Meditations Book 1

As mentioned, I’ve been reading “Meditations” by Aurelius. Book 1 reads like a thank you/gratitude letter. Below, I break up the values that resonated with me by who he learned them from:

Male family members

  • decency
  • mild temper
  • modesty
  • masculinity
  • private school
  • good teachers
  • spend lavishly on good teachers

His adoptive father 

  • generosity
  •  no wavering
  • no need for honors
  • stamina and perserverance
  • ear for anyone with any proposal for the common good
  • knowing where to tighten and where to relax
  • foresight for the longer issues
  • unfussy control of the least detail
  • enjoy the comforts of life without

His mom  

  • piety
  • generosity
  • simplicity of living
  • avoid wrong-doing … and thoughts of it

Tutors and other philosophers

  • don’t pick sides in sports
  • tolerate pain
  • feel few needs
  • work with your own hands
  • mind your own business
  • ignore gossip
  • avoid empty enthusiasms
  • disbelieve ‘miracle mongers’
  • don’t be excited by animal fights
  • tolerate plain speaking
  • have an affinity for philosophy
  • listen to Baccheius, Tandasis and Marcianus; read Epicetus’s Discourses; understand Thrasea, Helvidius, Cato, Dio, Brutus
  • write essays
  • love simple furnishings
  • “wanting treatment and correction of my character”
  • avoid a taste for rhetoric, especially your own
  • use simple language
  • wear unaffected/simple clothes
  • forgive easily 
  • be the same man no matter what happens to you
  • be proof a person can “combine intensity and relaxation” 
  • have a kindly disposition
  • live life according to nature
  • practice tolerance
  • have an agreeable manner with all
  • never give the impression of anger or any other passion
  • praise without fanfare
  • wear great learning lightly 
  • don’t leap on the grammatical mistakes of others
  • to never say “I’m too busy” 
  • don’t ignore a friend’s criticism
  • work to restore a friend’s good will toward you
  • love family, truth and justice
  • equality and freedom of speech in the commonwealth
  • liberty 
  • benefience, generosity, optimism
  • confidence in affection of your friends
  • open likes and dislikes so no one needs to guess
  • self-mastery
  • good cheer in all circumstances, including illness
  • gentle, dignified
  • uncomplaining energy for what needs to be done 
  • to never be hurried or hesitant 
  • never downcast, cringing, angry or suspicious

Inspiration from this weekend

Alan Watts’ message in The Wisdom of Insecurity is parallel, apparently, to that of Stumbling on Happiness: Be present. – Brainpickings

I also (naturally) loved this quote:

“all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.” -Henry Miller

Then, from Chapter One of The Denial of Death, which I really intend to get through soon:

Sibling rivalry … “expresses the heart of the creature: the desire to stand out, to be the one in creation.”

“An animal who gets his feeling of worth symbolically has to minutely compare himself to those around him.”

Quote: From the opening of Denial of Death: 


Listened (& amazing light show, see below): RATATAT.

Ate: Awamat, Lebanese Taverna

Saw: Revenant & The Big Short. Leo’s trying too hard, in the first; the second, we’re not trying hard enough to ensure something like that never happens again. SIGH.

Weather: The hot tub is frozen. Winter is here.

Big fuzzy warm hugs to you all! 


Here’s what I’m listening to: 
Tim Ferris’s Podcasts with Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova, and Peter Diamandis.
Kathy & Mo’s back catalog

-Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations
-John Updike’s Travels with Charley

On deck: 
Stumbling on Happiness, Vagabonding, The Taliban Shuffle.

Thinking about: 
-How Obama mentioned the prescription drug crisis in the first two minutes of SOTU last night (but didn’t elaborate later. What a missed opportunity, with that platform. SIGH.)
-My future

4HB diet 


Friday Funday

Book: Unbroken, Laura Hillibrand
I’ve never read any of her books, but the opening is crazy, and I’ve never wanted to run as much as when I was reading the beginning (and I hate running.)

Listening: iTunes Radio Pop. Sometimes you just need some solid pop music, and I like the introductions I got to it last night.

Eating: Blue Apron. (Well, not me, I’m still eating TJ salads, heh.) BA is all the rage with my friends, and Justin cooked us an amazing, healthy casserole with this seasoning that mixed Old Bay AND Cajun seasonings. SO yum.

Inspiration: Farnam Street, What book has the most page for page wisdom?
Relationships: Jane Gaparick, A love that keeps you hanging
Life: Google searching ‘Life purpose and financial insecurity’

Joined up with NaNoWriMo.
NWW (novel writing workshop) exercises.
HWWF MOOC exercises.
1st session of poetry coaching today at noon!

Positively. Take the positive tack, if the negative one starts to crop up.

Scarves, headbands, colored jeans, fat rings, yoga clothes for class later today.

Hope you are having a great day & have a great week ahead!

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