Reading List

Acid for the Children by Flea


Acid for the Children

This book reads even better the second time around. Perhaps in my first read I was more interested in Flea, the wacky and iconic bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, rather than Michael Balzary — the lost child inside him who had to navigate the world in the absence of reliable parents and role models. This is a book about his formative years, interwoven with stories of family dysfunction, finding his ultimate purpose and meaning in art, and getting high (as you can tell from the cover). I teared up more than a few times as I read, and this is one of those books that force me to take in every word, so that I could enjoy just how beautifully written the prose is.



1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro



1606 was a year of great social and political anxiety in England. There was the plague. There was resistance against the king’s desire to unite Scotland and England. And there was the failed terrorist plan to blow up the Parliament, known as the Gunpowder Plot. Meanwhile, in his 40s, Shakespeare was considered past his prime, as he was no longer as productive as he used to be. Going through these turbulent times, he decided to make the best of them — he took a good hard look at them and thought of what to say. And what resulted were three of his most legendary tragedies: King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra



Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed


Tiny Beautiful Things (10th Anniversary Edition)

Author Cheryl Strayed is the voice behind the Dear Sugar column in The Rumpus magazine, where anyone could write to anonymously for advice on just about anything under the shades of life and love. Over the years, people have shared their deeply personal struggles, and in response, so has Strayed, as she gives her comfort and counsel. This book is a collection of some of the best writings from the column, and it makes nothing short of a hopeful and achingly beautiful read. 



Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain


Kitchen Confidential

“Writing anything is a treason of sorts,” says the late Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential. Though this book wasn’t intentionally written as an exposé, Bourdain details the dark, savage and drug-fueled side of working in a high-end restaurant kitchen. He shares his intimate stories, his hard-earned survival lessons and sheds light on the inner workings of a restaurant — for one thing, he would never order his beef well-done, as you would be typically given a cheaper cut, and higher quality cuts are usually reserved for rarer options. On the brighter side, though, he also discusses the joy in food and cooking, which got him started on his culinary journey.



Notebooks by Leonardo da Vinci



At some point last month, I needed some inspiration, so I re-read Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. It’s always amazing to think about how close Leonardo felt with nature, that he was perennially in a state of awe and wonder with the world around him. You can easily see this in his notebooks, which are filled with sketches, descriptions, reflections, and even to-do lists of the things he wanted to learn on a given day. At least for me, Leonardo is a great reminder that learning is much more than just getting a degree or a job, and that learning should primarily be done for its own sake. 



Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck


Of Mice and Men

I hadn’t read Steinbeck’s books for quite a while, but they’ve always had a special place in my life. Steinbeck was the first writer that I remember being able to relate to. Especially as a teen back then, it felt as though his stories were personally written for me, like I had a friend who understood everything I was feeling. Of Mice and Men is one of my favorite Steinbeck novels. Set in the Great Depression, it is a tragic story about the fragility of dreams, as well as the value of companionship.

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