Three Books You Need To Read This Fall

Three Books You Need To Read This Fall

Welcome to the first thing I’ve managed to write in months. It’s not that I haven’t been honing my writing—it’s that I have been doing so by reading ravenously. After all, the wise William Faulkner once said, “Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.” And one does not not listen to William Faulkner.

The Summer reading list of the “Crossing Borders Book Club” in July and your recommendations gave me a wide range of reading options to work through. That said, this past quarter I had a tough time with non-fiction. How did you fare?

On my end, I started with “The Power of One” and abandoned it after a few chapters in search of a book with more storytelling, more anecdotes. I landed next at “When Breath Becomes Air,” a memoir that I finished in less than a week and followed up with “The Age of Innocence” and “Bright Lights, Big City”. (I know. I plummeted out of our book club list and into a black hole of fiction, but the mind wants what the mind wants.)

For our Fall book club reading list, I’m renewing my vows to non-fiction and I’m hoping you’ll keep me honest. I have listed two of the three titles below—Diana’s top pick and my top pick:

  1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This is Diana’s selection. I’m excited to read this because The Birkman Method recently outed me as an introvert.
  2. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make The Most of Them Now by Dr. Meg Jay. This was my selection, passed on from my friend Stan who is in his twenties and raves about this book. Sadly I am no longer in my twenties, but he assures me Dr. Jay’s advice is still worthwhile.

We want your help picking the third book. Please send us your recommendations for the third book in the comments below or post them on the book club Facebook page. We’ll be keeping a running list until the day of our in-person meeting (date TBD, but we’re aiming for a weekend in the next two weeks) at which time we’ll vote on one.

P.S. We’re really excited to meet you and hear your thoughts on the books we read this past quarter! From my brief conversations with Diana, her experience over the last three months and her perspective on the books is completely different than mine so you know it’s going to make for great conversation!

Shake Up Your Reading List, Join Our Book Club

Shake Up Your Reading List, Join Our Book Club

Are you looking to shake up your reading list? It’s your lucky day! My friend Diana and I are launching a book club and we want you to join us.

Over the last year, you have been an amazing reading buddy. You’ve graciously accepted my reading recommendations, shared some of your own, and engaged with me in light yet educated discussion on the themes covered therein. Diana and I want to start a book club with you to build on our current momentum and give it a more formal structure.

The idea is simple. We will be releasing a new reading list once a quarter focused on professional, personal, and/or spiritual development. These are the themes we have already been covering in my seasonal reading lists. In fact, some of your favorites from past lists span the full range of topics: Who Moved My Cheese covers professional development, Option B covers personal development, and Why Buddhism Is True covers spiritual development.

Join-Our-Book-Club-Crossing-Borders-Miami

We want this book club to transcend borders, both literary and geographic. Diana and I are based in Miami but we want you to participate no matter where you are located. For that reason, we will be creating an online group, called “Crossing Borders Book Club,” where we will be releasing the quarterly reading list and moderating discussions. (We need your help figuring out which platform works best. Is it a Facebook group? Is it a WhatsApp group? Is it something we haven’t considered yet? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.)

We also want to see you in person! We are planning to organize one quarterly in-person meeting at a local coffee shop or bookstore so we can talk books over drinks and nibbles. Think quaint spots with yummy food like the Bookstore in the Grove and Books & Books. We promise to vary the meeting location throughout the Miami area to give everyone a chance to join us.

For our very first quarterly reading list (“The Summer Edition” if you will), Diana and I joined forces to bring you the following three selections:

  1. The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud
  2. Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin
  3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

We will be reading them in the order in which they are listed at a rate of one book per month through the first day of Fall (September 22) when we will release a new list. Feel free to skip around and to read them at your own pace. We purposefully picked books with minimal spoiler potential and in the online group, we’ll be working to separate discussions by title.

Please reach out to us—personally or in the comments below—if you are interested in joining. We’re excited to have you and to build future reading lists on your suggestions! Don’t forget to start compiling a list of books on your wish list. At our in-person meeting, each member will be putting a suggestion into a hat from which we will be drawing the titles for our next reading list. Until then, happy reading!

Miami-Book-Club

Three Books You Need To Read This Spring

Three Books You Need To Read This Spring

Folks, we’ve officially come full circle. As of this post, we have shared the joy of reading for four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and with today’s list, Spring!

This season has been about women-focused narratives for me. I traveled to Paris with The Dud Avocado, a gift from my friend Betsy who gave it to me for its Paris-based story—she makes a habit of reading novels that correspond with where she is traveling—and because the main character reminded her of me. She was right. The mischievous and adventure-loving Sally Jay is my spirit animal!

The last few weeks I’ve been reading Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman. It’s not a book I would have picked up on my own. My colleague Juliany lent it to me unprompted and after reading the synopsis, I decided to try it as a means of broadening my perspective. I had a hard time getting past the first seven chapters because they paint women as victims and I don’t share that opinion. But, I powered through and made it to the second half which, except for the chapter on abortion, is full of insightful and hilarious anecdotes about the woman experience.

While I have enjoyed both books, I haven’t stopped my pursuit of knowledge on personal and professional development. In fact my library has quadrupled since my last reading list post. Below are the three books at the top of my Spring reading list:

1. Conspiracy

Author Ryan Holiday—you may remember him from Four Newsletters You Need In Your Inbox—breaks down the fall of Gawker Media as a case study of how power works in the 21st Century. In a time when we question everything we hear on the news or from the government, I am hoping this book on conspiracy, patience, strategy and revenge can help us be more judicious about what we believe and don’t believe.

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow

I first encountered the intellectual beast that is this book on human psychology and the human brain at 4 a.m. when Betsy and I were walking through the hallowed halls of Miami International Airport after our redeye from Utah. She asked, “If a ball and a bat costs $1.10 and the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?” Tired and fully aware of my challenge with math, I nearly killed her for asking such a question. However, when I had my “Eureka!” moment after a few cups of coffee, I was fully committed to reading the whole book.

3. Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within

This year I finally stopped mooching off of other people’s Netflix accounts and thank the lord because they are offering better shows and movies (or at a minimum, I got better at finding them amidst all the crap). One of the mini-series I have most enjoyed recently was Wild Wild Country which documents the Rajneesh’s controversial arrival to Oregon. Regardless of what you think of the Osho from the events recounted in the series, he is one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century and I want to learn from his wisdom. He published his teaching across numerous books. I started with creativity because it is a skill I am working to improve.

Three Books You Need To Read This Winter

Three Books You Need To Read This Winter

Welcome to the first day of winter. As with past seasons, it is time for your friendly reminder to freshen up your personal library. (Here are my book suggestions from this past summer and fall, in case you missed them.)

This series of posts is my favorite to write because I love reading/sharing quality books. I also love that you’ve responded so positively to my suggestions and that a lot of you take this opportunity to give me your own. Some of you have gone so far as to send me books. Apparently you’ve realized sending me books is the quickest way to get me to like you. Kudos.

Unfortunately, it seems my library is expanding at a quicker rate than I can find time to read. The last time I counted, I was actively reading four books at once: 1. The Comic Toolbox, 2. Los Presidenciables, 3. The Ecstatic, and 4. What The Dog Saw. So in this season’s list, rather than include books I have read or am reading, I have decided to include the books I will be reading next. Proceed with caution.

Here are the three books you need to read this winter:

1. What The Dog Saw

I know I said this list includes only books I haven’t read and that I said I am actively reading this. The reason it qualifies as both is because I haven’t even finished the first chapter. I picked it up at a friend’s house a few weeks ago when I was waiting for him to finish a phone call. (Malcolm Gladwell’s name called to me amidst the hundreds of books in his library. It’s a compilation of 19 articles Gladwell published in The New Yorker focused on psychological and sociological topics.) I had just enough time to read the first few pages and am excited to keep going once I have the chance to order myself a copy.

2. The Swamp

As a Floridian and environmental professional, I am shocked I haven’t yet read this book. According to David Lawrence Jr., a former Miami Herald editor that sent me a copy after I joined him on a tour of the Everglades, it is the best book he knows for basic Everglades understanding. I consider it my right of passage into full Miamihood and also a critical part of my preparation into becoming a South Florida National Parks Trust ambassador in 2018. (I received word last week that I was selected into their inaugural class! I’ll share more about what it means in a future post.)

3. Why Buddhism Is True

The moment my friend Victor realized I am more high strung than he initially anticipated, he sent me this book about the transformative practice of meditation. He hasn’t read it but he has read other works by Robert Wright and was impressed by his intellect. Both Victor and I are huge fans of analyzing the human experience—he’s a philosophy major, I’m an aspiring psychology major—so there is no question that Wright’s New York Times Best Selling assessment of the “human predicament” is going to be right up our alley.

And now, for your quote of the day:

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what book he reads.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Three Books You Need To Read This Fall

Three Books You Need To Read This Fall

I’ve gone book crazy. It’s been building since the summer (see my summer reading list), but it has recently reached a fever pitch. It hasn’t helped that in the last few weeks I have found myself in actual brick-and-mortar bookstores—yea, they still exist—starting with the West Kendall Barnes and Nobles last month and ending with the Books and Books in Coral Gables last weekend. To add fuel to the fire, I took an incredible storytelling workshop with Miami writer Anjanette “Anja” Delgado which resulted in no less than 10 book recommendations curated just for me. Alas, all of my money has been invested in knowledge, imagination, and stacks of paper of varying heights neatly glued together.

My library has tripled in a few short weeks. When I moved in April, I kept a paltry 15 books including a 200-page manual for using my Canon. Today I am the proud owner of 45 books, with a couple more on their way. My apartment looks like a bomb went off with half-started books on every surface: the two nightstands, the coffee table, the dining table, even the floor is not safe. I couldn’t wait to get to them so I started and am reading several at the same time.

Here are the three you need to read this Fall:

1. The Comic Toolbox
This is the last book I started and my favorite one on my fall reading list by far. It arrived on my doorstep yesterday so I’ve only made it through the introduction and it has made me laugh nonstop. Plus, the concepts that the writer discusses made me think completely differently about writing. I am a person that loves rules. In only four pages this book has convinced me to toss them out the window when it comes to writing. Read the passive voice excerpt on pages xiii and xiv and see if you don’t feel the exact same way.

2. How To Read Literature Like A Professor
While I love literature, I have had a hard time since middle school getting all heady about the deeper literary meaning of a text. In fact, as recently as my storytelling class this past weekend, that type of banter makes me roll my eyes so hard they hurt. I am hoping that this book, which on its back cover claims to be “lively and entertaining”, will open my eyes to what other people see or experience when they are engaging in those types of discussions. I’ve got nothing to lose.

3. Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Poetry is another subject popular with literary types with which I have never connected. During elementary school, I participated annually in poetry reading contests and I only remember Margarita, está linda la mar by Rubén Darío, most likely because it includes my name. Then, Anja read us The Book of Genesis According to St. Miguelito on pages 349 through 351 of this collection of poems. It was so powerful, so captivating, so approachable, so memorable that it completely changed my opinion of what poetry can be. I’m excited to see what else is hidden between its covers.

P.S. If you don’t feel like committing to a book but you want to exercise your brain, I occasionally take breaks from reading to do the daily workout on the brain training app, Peak. It probably comes as no surprise given how much I love writing that my favorite game is called “Word Fresh”. And now, for your quote of the day:

“You’ll only get out of this book what you put in. Or to put it another way, the more you pay, the more it’s worth.” —John Vorhaus on The Comic Toolbox

Three Books You Need To Read This Summer

Three Books You Need To Read This Summer

As evidenced by my current commitment to read and apply the principles in Dale Carnegie’s How To Make Friends & Influence PeopleI’m really into books about human psychology and (*cringe*) self-help. It’s ironic because since I was a teenager, my mom has been trying to get me to read books in this genre. She probably gave me every version of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul which is not only a “thing” but also comes in four volumes. I was (and, as far as the Chicken Soup series, still am) completely uninterested in reading the books she gave me. They gathered dust for years before I moved out of my college dorm and donated them all to my local library.

I am unashamed at my newfound appreciation for this often dismissed category because there are hidden gems that are worthwhile and I’ve figured out how to mine them out. There are more than I could have ever imagined. In fact, my Amazon Prime account has been doing some heavy lifting the past few weeks, pleasantly surprising me with a new delivery at my door almost daily.

I started this post with the intention of sharing all of the books I’m currently excited about with you, but I feel overwhelmed with my too-long reading list and I want this to be fun, not give us anxiety. For that reason, I have narrowed down my book recommendations to my top three selections. I’m talking about the three books you need to read this summer, whether you’re tanning at the beach, lounging by the pool, or sipping your pre-work coffee.

I hope that you enjoy them as much as I think I am going to and that you’ll share your thoughts with me in the comments below or by engaging with me on Twitter. Please also share your must-read books of summer! Here are mine, in order of how excited I am about them:

  1. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. When I told my mentor Eric that I was reading Dale Carnegie, his eyes lit up for five seconds before he asked, “Have you read Who Moved My Cheese?” I can see why he recommended it. The book provides insight on dealing with change in your professional and personal life, teaching you how to reduce stress and find success despite circumstances you can’t control. This advice is key even if you don’t work in a politically-driven climate like me.
  2. How Risky Is It, Really? by David Ropeik. Surprisingly, my work in the environmental field is centered on the concept of risk. Take climate change, for example—addressing it is essentially an exercise in risk reduction whether you’re talking about mitigation or adaptation. I therefore want to understand how the human psyche perceives risk and why our fears don’t always match the facts. Beyond my job, it will help me understand why I freak out on airplanes, but have no hesitation about getting behind the wheel in the crash capital of the world.
  3. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. This pick was courtesy of my mom and I am just as shocked as you are that it made it onto this list. That said, its focus is very apropos for where I am in life. As I catapult into my 30s this September, I am undergoing paradigm shifts in personality and what I want out of life that are rocking me to my core. I am looking forward to Sheryl’s personal insight on recovering and rebounding in the face of hardships, big or small.

And now, for your quote of the day:

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” —Joseph Addison