Tamara’s Reading List – NZ Summer Edition

Hey guys,

I’m still going through my Paihia/Cape Reinga photos, but once they’re processed, I’ll write a post on my weekend adventures :). In the meantime, here’s something a little different– I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading (not as much as I’d like, really), but more than usual. Here are some of the books I went through in the first two months, and my thoughts on them.

1) Fiction – Inferno, by Dan Brown

This was my “I have an almost 16-hour flight ahead of me” book. I had read the previous novels in this series, and knew what to expect– this was somewhat more of the same, just on a different tangent. Robert Langdon is really just a massive player who also happens to be a lecturer and has some of the worst and best luck in the world. I really enjoyed the main female character in this book though. She had a surprising amount of depth, which I really wasn’t expecting.

The next set is mostly about travelling and transportation– travelling, well, because I’m travelling, and transportation because I have a bit of a strange fascination with airplanes, airports, trains, buses, public transit… I love the act of travelling, maybe even more than the destination.

2) Non-fiction – Full Upright and Locked Position: The Insider’s Guide to Air Travel, by Mark Gerchick

Mark Gerchick is a pilot, so this book is part self-bio, part stories, and part information, but it’s worth it. He provides some straightforward context into the land of aviation, as well as some well-rounded opinions on what’s actually wrong with air travel today and how to fix it. There’s quite a bit of interesting information about the life of a pilot too, which isn’t necessarily common knowledge.

3) Non-fiction – Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel, by Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith is clearly not a pilot. The tone of this book actually comes off a bit bitter in parts, and is highly unapologetic about the faults and failures of the airline industry. That being said, he is also quite quick to point out the irrationality of most people when it comes to travelling by air, and is very straightforward about the steps everyone (passengers, pilots, travel advisory boards, etc.) can take to make air travel better. This one goes into more detail about the finances behind airlines and the industry as a whole, and also about how regulations and rules are made which govern the whole thing.

4) Non-fiction – Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, by Rolf Potts

I was a bit torn on this one, to be honest. I liked the first bit, which is about how to convince yourself and everyone around you to actually get out the door and travel. The second bit felt unorganized and alternated between giving advice and 10 slightly different ways of telling people to travel in the way which feels best for them. It was also quite short.

The next set is about startups, doing work you like, working in a way which benefits you, and other things related to these.

5) Non-fiction – The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, by Chris Guillebeau

Those of you in the startup circles have probably heard of this book– and if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard of his other book, called The Art of Non-Conformity (which I also own). If you haven’t heard of either of them, or of Chris, start here: http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/. This book is a collection of very straightforward advice and real stories from people who bootstrapped their way into their own successful businesses. Like AoNC, it’s also very re-readable, and you get different things out of it with every re-read.

6) Non-fiction – The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms, by Danielle Laporte

This one is… interesting. If you don’t have a clear set of “passions,” life goals, or career goals, the worksheets are really good for helping to narrow those down. Danielle’s writing style isn’t for everyone. I wasn’t a fan of it in some places, just for being a little too casual, but the content overall is really good. It’s mostly about business, but a lot of her advice can also be applied to life in general.

7) Non-fiction – Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters, by Jon Acuff

This book is mostly about two things: how to succeed, and how to fail. Some good advice, not a whole lot which I found directly applicable, but the biggest takeway I got was this: just start. Don’t get paralyzed by fear, just start.

8) Non-fiction – Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (the 99U Book Series), edited by Jocelyn Glei

This is a collection of advice from many different authors, grouped together into the three categories you see in the subheading there. I liked it, although the different writing styles are a bit jarring and the entries are actually annoyingly short. But there’s a summary at the end of each category which sums everything up nicely, and these were my favourite parts of the book. The last category deals primarily with how to either shut out technology or bend it to our will (rather than the opposite, which tends to occur. New Notification! New Email! New Message! Drop what you’re mentally doing and look at this RIGHT NOW!), which is very applicable in these days of ubiquitous screens and devices.

9) Non-fiction – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life, by Donald Miller

The oddball out. This one is really just about life and not really about business or travelling. The author wrote a book about himself, which got turned into a movie– he was involved in the creation process for the movie, and realized along the way that his life was really kind of boring. So he consciously set out to “write a better story” of his life, through many little decisions and smaller short stories. Along the way, he meets many interesting people who end up playing large parts in his new story, and he does some really cool things. The writing style is a little odd (if you’ve ever read Shelf Monkey, the style is very similar), but you get used to it as the book goes on. I thought it was an interesting way to look at life. What kind of story are you writing? What will you be remembered for? Those kinds of big questions are what it gets you thinking about.


So what’s next on the list for the NZ Fall season? On my wishlist (non-fiction unless marked otherwise):

– Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

– One Day by David Nicholls (fiction)

– Hands Across the Water by Peter Baines

– The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence by Josh Waitzkin (this is a re-read, but I’ve never owned the book)

Any other suggestions? Read anything awesome lately? Let me know in the comments 🙂



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