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What I’ve Been Reading
The Sun and The Moon and The Rolling Stones by Rich Cohen
This is by no means a definitive account of the Stones, but it’s the best I’ve read. I was thoroughly impressed by Rich Cohen’s book “The Fish That Ate the Whale”, and I admire how he manages to succinctly weave his personal stories with the wide range of subjects that he writes about. Here, he draws from his lifelong admiration for the band, and his backstage encounters as a young reporter. In this wild ride of a book, Cohen welcomes you into the topsy-turvy world of the Rolling Stones : their friendship that started it all, the tragic loss of one of their founding members, their life of excess and also their rebirth, and their undying love for music and performing that has kept them going almost 60 years strong.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Okay, I picked this book up as a Rolling Stones fan, because it is the basis for their song “Sympathy for the Devil”. Naturally, I couldn’t help but hear Mick Jagger singing “Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name!”, the funky woo’s, and the entrancing samba beat during this entire read. But in itself, it’s an amazing book. It was written to criticize the Soviet Union and their atheistic and fear-based policies. And as the Devil in the book says, “Manuscripts don’t burn” — good art outlives us, and its impacts are indestructible.
Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy is widely known as “The Father of Advertising”. Honestly, judging from the title, I thought this was going to be a book about amoral marketing tactics. It turned out to be the opposite. In fact, this book isn’t exactly a confession, but a sharing of the lessons that helped him be successful in the advertising industry — by being honest and genuinely caring for the consumers. I scribbled notes in almost every page, because it’s just that good. I have way too many favorite lines in this book, but for the sake of picking one, Ogilvy wrote, “The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife. Don’t insult her intelligence.”
Letters From an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson
You know a person is great in his craft if he could explain it in a way that is practical and understandable for an outsider. Years in rigid schooling had hardened me from learning physics, or most sciences for that matter. This book has helped me to open up again, to find joy in learning these things and being curious. In this collection of response emails that Neil deGrasse Tyson has written, he shows that astrophysics is a truly humbling domain. It never stops reminding us of how small this world really is, and how insignificant most of our concerns and quarrels are.
The Practice by Seth Godin
There are still a lot of myths regarding creativity. A lot of us are tempted to believe in things like “The Muse” or even writer’s block, when a lot of these things are just excuses for us to not work when we don’t feel like it, or our fear of putting out bad content. In his latest book, Seth Godin discusses this in detail. He advocates on honoring the “practice”, which is simply showing up and doing the work, without too much emphasis on the outcome or on perfection.
What I’d Been Watching
A friend of mine suggested this movie. It inspired him to get his work done, even though it was 2 in the morning. This movie certainly made me laugh, and it has helped me see my life with a lot more clarity. It’s a story about a man who hungers for a second chance to live, and it made me realize that life is too short to suffer. It’s too short for me to give weight to things I can’t control, or to wallow in my misery. Since then I’ve started cycling again, and most recently, I’ve been starting out on a new project called “Read To Live” (@r.eadtolive) to encourage the youth to read more. One particular line from the movie always tugs at my heart : “I’m just afraid that if I died today, my life would have amounted to nothing.”