Before jumping into the books, I wanted to let you know that this week’s episode will be a day delayed. I have been out of town this week due to work, but am now back and getting caught up. Thanks for your patience!
I often find myself asking the question: What exactly is American culture? In what I consider some of the best reporting and writing I have come across in a long while, Pulphead is a series of essays by John Sullivan that answers that question–or that at least gives a few good places to look. Sullivan takes us from Christian rock festivals to animal attacks (hella scary essay about the increased animal attacks in recent years) to reggae to the original blues (“last kind words“). I originally came across this book by way of Warby Parker, the glasses company. They give great book recommendations, by the way (as you will see again below). I highly recommend Pulphead to all audiences.
If you listen to my podcast, you know that I am generally a proponent of Gladwell’s work. What the Dog Saw, which is also a collection of essays, proved to be much more hit-and-miss than I had anticipated. Yes I know, hit-and-missedness is the inherent risk of essay collections. Granted, I listened to the audiobook (narrated by Gladwell) driving to and from Vegas, which was perhaps more conducive to my wandering mind than had I read the physical book. My favorite essay highlighted Cesar Milan, aka the Dog Whisperer, and his methods for getting inside dogs’ heads. I found this essay extremely interesting and, as the owner of a 1-year-old Labradoodle, very helpful. If you are an existing Gladwell fan, this book is worth reading. If you are new to Gladwell, I suggest starting with Outliers or The Tipping Point.
Dharma Bums is another recommendation by Warby Parker. In fact, this one is required reading for new employees. Originally published in 1958, The Dharma Bums tells about Ray (based on the author) and his friend Japhy, two Western Buddhists, who hitchhike from coast to coast, hike, meditate, read poetry, study buddhism, and party like there’s no tomorrow. I’m talking parties that last 3 days, which involve eventual nudity (not sexual, but more “free-spirit” nudity). If you have any interest in Buddhism, meditation, or in simply gaining an alternative perspective on the American Dream, The Dharma Bums will not disappoint.
Other books I read in March:
What I’m reading this month: