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Monday, June 28, 2021

Notations On Our World (Weekly Edition): On #WhatIf's & Readings...

 It is the last week of June.
Our team chose two sets of #RandomThoughts courtesy of the Economist & the genius behind the Daily Stoic as we look to launching our 3rd Quarter.

Please Enjoy these #RandomThoughts as we look forward to our engagements throughout the upcoming weeks and months. 

We will be dark here in our Education Property Through the July 4 Week-End here in the United States. 

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You are what you eat: January 2035

What if everyone’s nutrition was personalised?

The mass adoption of personalised nutrition is changing people’s health—and the food industry

When I find myself getting stressed or burned out, I usually notice a common trend. I'm spending too much time on my phone, not enough time the evenings most of all. I heard a good rule recently related to this: At the end of the day, when you're fried and feel like you can't do anything but sit there and watch TV (or scroll on social), you know what you should do? You should go to bed. You're tired! Go to sleep! I would just add to that that a few minutes of reading before you shut off the lights can be the perfect part of the transition. 

Anyway, here we go with this month's recommendations, including some favorites we are carrying at my book store The Painted Porch (which you're all invited to anytime you're in Texas and of course, online). Thanks for your patience as we fulfill these early orders by the way. Your support means a lot. 


Must Reads
I first read Omar El Akkad's American War: A Novel back in 2016 and its haunting, prescient imagination of a future American Civil War will sober you right up. Same goes for It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis in 1935. Stop messing around people. This stuff is serious. On a relatedly serious note, I had the incredible honor of interviewing Dr. Edith Eger, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor who later studied under Dr. Viktor Frankl. Dr. Eger's book The Choice: Embrace The Possible is a MUST read (as is Man's Search for Meaning). We all have a choice about how we respond to what happens to us in life—we can choose to be heroic. On a more entertaining note, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss is an amazing narrative about the incredible life of Alexandre Dumas' father, a black general in Napoleon's army. And of course, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole is always popular in the store because, seriously, it is possibly the funniest book ever written. We also have some awesome shirts inspired by kids books in the store. My son wears this Everyone Poops one a lot—which of course is also a classic kids book. And this one features the cover image from another classic, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?—the book that began the great Eric Carle's career in kids books.

The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis
The blurb on the back of this book is "I would read an 800 page history of the stapler if it was by Michael Lewis." That about sums it up. As always, Michael Lewis finds the story behind the story, the unusual characters driving the history of the moment—in this case, of the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Great book. A must read alongside The Great Influenza. Seriously people, get vaccinated! Especially now with the delta variant. Also, my condolences to the tragedy that befell Michael Lewis' family recently. It is always terribly sad when someone who has created so much happiness for others is dealt a cruel blow by fate. 

Letters to a Young Athlete by Chris Bosh
I was lucky enough to help Chris bring this book into existence. Obviously, I am biased but I think this is a book that very much needs to exist and Chris is a wonderful thinker and philosopher about sports, craft, the drive to win and responding to adversity. You can listen to my interview with him (recorded at the front table at the bookstore) here, but do read the book. He's great. I think this is a future classic. 

Freedom by Sebastian Junger
I've never read a Sebastian Junger book that I felt could be any shorter. He gets right down to the essence of things and adds not one word more. This is a book about his long walks across the eastern United States and the musings it brought up about freedom, society, obligation and community. I also highly recommend his book Tribe: On Homecoming and BelongingYou can listen to my episode with Sebastian here as well. 

The Aeneid by Shadi Bartsch
Many years ago I read the Robert Fagles translation, but as I did with The Odyssey and the new Emily Wilson translation, I was always on the lookout for a new one. Shadi delivers here, as well as in my conversation with her about Stoicism (she is also a translator of Seneca). I also enjoyed her conversation with Tyler Cowen. Anyway, if you haven't read Virgil, you should try. Struggle with the great works of history. It's worth it!

Victory Over Myself by Floyd Patterson
In my recent readings about Muhammed Ali, Floyd Patterson came up repeatedly. Some of the books didn't treat him kindly, but I found him a much more impressive figure in his own way. His autobiography is perfectly titled as well. Isn't that what we're all trying to do? Isn't that real greatness? Anyway, it was fun reading this forgotten biography, and he is now a hero of mine. First heavyweight champion to regain the title after losing it. 

Over on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel, I made a few videos about my reading approachhow you can read more, and why you should read more. My birthday was on the 16th, and for going on ten years now, I have done a birthday piece on lessons learned, either from preceding twelve months or over the course of my life up to that point. This year, at 34, I focused exclusively on my failures and what they’ve taught me. I was fascinated with this article about a frisbee golfer who just signed a $10M endorsement deal. The future is bright if you can command an audience. And this Nicholas Casey piece about his father who disappeared when he was 7 was beautiful and heartbreaking. And this obituary of Eric Carle—who I mentioned above—was interesting and moving. 

We've been loving Here We Are as well as Outside, InsideMost People is another one the kids love and I've recommended to a lot of parents. Curious George (the complete set) has been read so many times I have almost all of it memorized. Baby's First Vaccine is one we read early, and of course very relevant as discussed above. My oldest loves to watch Kara and Nate videos (mostly their travels across the US in a van) and he remains obsessed with Brent's videos up at Cerro Gordo. When it's time to go to bed though, I put on something from the Daily Stoic channel and inevitably, watching me bores him to sleep.


With that, I hope that you’ll get around to reading whichever of these books catch your eye and that you’ll learn as much as I did. Whether you buy them at The Painted Porch or on Amazon today, or at your nearest independent bookstore six months from now makes no difference to me. I just hope you read!

You’re welcome to email me questions or raise issues for discussion. Better yet, if you know of a good book on a related topic, please pass it along. And as always, if one of these books comes to mean something to you, recommend it to someone else.

I promised myself a long time ago that if I saw a book that interested me I’d never let time or money or anything else prevent me from having it. This means that I treat reading with a certain amount of respect. All I ask, if you decide to email me back, is that you’re not just thinking aloud.

Enjoy these books, treat your education like the job that it is, and let me know if you ever need anything.

All the best,


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