What I’ve Been Reading

Books. More books.

1. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health by John Durant. A good introduction to all things paleo. I’m largely convinced that bad carbs are bad for you, and I’m trying to move to a more meat-heavy diet.

2. Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection by Ethan Zuckerman. Ethan is a longtime deep thinker on issues of the internet, and in his first book, he provides his usual astute analysis of what it means to live in the digital age. I enjoyed his emphasis on globalization and how that’s shaping our identities.

He makes some sobering observations about Americans’ lack of interest in international news. More broadly, he emphasizes that for all the talk of globalization, many trends still end up being local. Americans mostly fly to places within 900 miles of their origin point; Europeans mostly fly within Europe; Japanese within Japan; and so on. “The infrastructure of air travel is global, but the flow is local.” That applies to many things, Zuckerman argues. I lost focus in the second half of the book — there’s not one clear thesis that drives the book — but the early chapters were worthwhile reading.

BOOK-master180

3. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak. Hilarious. Just hilarious. One of the more entertaining collection of stories I’ve read — some as short as a few sentences long, some as long as several pages. You may not have heard of Novak, but you probably know his work from The Office and The Mindy Project (a very funny show). He’s a smart guy and the seriousness of some of the points he makes can catch you off guard amidst all the ha ha ha.

4. Terrorist by John Updike. A highly enjoyable novel that came out after 9/11, full of Updikean one-liners, with a plot that moves right along. While serious Updike watchers I don’t rank this among his very best novels, it’s hard to go wrong when you can enjoy paragraphs like:

“She has left undone the two top buttons of her paint-smeared man’s work shirt, so he sees the tops of her breasts bounce. This woman has a lot of yes in her.”

Or:

“Loving parents; a happy though not quite conventional marriage; a wonderful only child; intellectually interesting, physically untaxing work checking out books and looking up subjects on the Internet: the world has conspired to make her soft and overweight, insulated against the passion and danger that crackle wherever people truly rub against one other.”

5 Responses to What I’ve Been Reading

  1. This Wikipedia page killed any paleo-thoughts in me:
    link to en.wikipedia.org
    “the health secrets of our ancient ancestors” took them to a staggering 33-year life expectancy :)

  2. Huy says:

    Hey Ben,

    A quick few questions I have in mind:
    – Do you buy all those books or you read them in your kindle?
    – How can you find time to read so many books given your (I assumed) busy life?

    • Ben Casnocha says:

      Hi Huy,

      I buy some in print, and some on Kindle (for when traveling).

      In terms of finding the time…I make it a priority! :)

  3. Dave Carlson says:

    Excellent reviews. I think Terrorist may go next on my list. With all the serious science stuff I’m reading, I could use some good humor reading. P.S. You mentioned The Office and The Mindy Project. Any other comedies you’d recommend?

    • Ben Casnocha says:

      “One More Thing” is the humor reading, not Terrorist as much. :)

      In terms of comedies, I’m not as familiar with The Office. I like The Mindy Project, yes. Curb Your Enthusiasm is an old standby.

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