The summer and beginning of the new school year proved busy, but I managed to squeeze in some reading.
Mindset - Carol Dweck
This book is the spark of a recent trend in education and psychology that confirms what we've all long suspected: The key to success is believing you can grow and change. The author breaks the world into two groups. The first is those who believe that nothing about their personal character is 'fixed'. Instead they believe that their intelligence, strength, charisma, and other character stats are--to some degree--malleable. The second...well...doesn't.
You can guess who this author is rooting for.
The premise is a great one, and--like so many non-fiction books--the first few chapters are riveting. Still, Carol Dweck spends the majority of the book showing the reader how the growth mindset can be applied to sports, businesses, relationships, education, and countless subdivisions thereof. The result is monotonous, with lots of evidence supporting Dweck's research, and very little practical application beyond the implied, 'believe you can change.'
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
This may be the worst book I've ever loved. At its core, the story is of a young man who finds himself suddenly in the running to win a life-changing contest. The heart of the novel, though, lies in the author's artisan command of esoteric 80s trivia. It's a light read that is enjoyable for the same reasons the movies of your youth were: it sheds all pretension and devotes itself to being fun.
Readers beware, though--reading this book WILL compel you to download dozens of hours of 80s movies that you will spend the next month forcing your wife to watch.
Elon Musk - Ashlee Vance
Elon Musk is a fascinating character, and this book does him justice. Compiled from hundreds of interviews with those who have had contact with Musk (Musk himself was resistant to a biography), and finally confirmed, amended, and added to by Musk himself (once he saw that publication was inevitable), the result is a long yarn following Musk from his childhood in South Africa, through PayPay, Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City.
The final product--like Musk himself--is a well-weaved tale of risk, failure, success, and--possibly--triumph.
My wife and I spent a large part of this summer travelling between Greece and Turkey. The trip was a good one, but--like most travel books--these proved to only prepare us at the most superficial level.
The joy of travelling is thinking on your feet as you encounter new situations. The sites are fine, but the best parts of our trip were speaking with young disenfranchised Greeks living in a country on the verge of economic collapse, and (later) running with Turks as a demonstration at the heart of Istanbul was broken up with canisters of tear gas.
While both of these texts provided a good satellite view of where we would be going, they were largely ignored as we stumbled between the two countries.
Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, and Ender's Shadow - Orson Scott Card
I'm not sure why I haven't come to Orson Scott Card and Ender before this. I fell into Ender's Game sometime early this summer, and tore through it. The story captured me from the start, and I delighted in following Ender through his trials.
The books take a decided dip after this, though. Ender's shadow--while offering iFodors ts own perspective--is not the book that Game is. Speaker is its own animal entirely (and--according to Card, the novel he originally set out to write). Neither live up to the original.
The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
This is the most riveting book I've read in years. I tend to steer away from fantasy because the imagined worlds of their authors often have too-high of entry costs and I grow impatient. Rothfuss was recommended to me enough over the past year, though, that I could no longer ignore him. I'm very glad I made the plunge.
Rothfuss does many things well, but he writes about love and heartbreak in a startlingly beautiful way. His scenes where his main character falls in love are so poetic and pure that I found myself reading them aloud to my wife. It is testament to Rothfuss that she didn't grow tired of this.