Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer
This is a highly entertaining look at the world of memory champions.  Foer begins by covering memory events, and then decides to train to become a memory champion himself, eventually winning the US championship and winning induction into an elite memory club. Similar to method acting, Foer describes this work as participatory journalism, and I’m sure this is how I would want to write books. Key phrases of the book for me were “remembering more means being more human”, and “The more you know of the world the more you can remember, because you have more to link new memories to”. The big technique memory champions use is to come up with creative visual cues in a memory palace (real life locations) to enhance your ability to pull back a memory.
Black Elk Speaks told by John G. Neihardt
Perhaps the best know book by an american indian, Black Elk was an Oglala Lakota medicine man who was there at Custer’s last stand and the battle of the little bighorn. It’s crazy how the settlers chased them up and down the Black Hills trying to kill them in the late 1800’s. The most powerful part of the story for me was the pattern of Black Elk having a strong recurring fear, followed by a vision, followed by a ceremony that helped his tribe (the description of these events are quite detailed). It is also noteworthy that much older men were always available to help Black Elk with mentorship as he came of age as a holy many around 18 years old. Another Indian characteristic that made an impression on me was the emphasis on bravery and talking about past brave deeds, and the concept of the nation as an unbroken hoop or circle.
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette 
This book goes through historical and psychological examples of the four masculine archetypes. As men, we have all have a mix of these ideal and the darker polarized expression or immature expression of these archetypes.  I identified most with the lover and magician archetypes and could see the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ qualities of each that I carry.  I really liked is the last part of the book, which tells you how to enhance an archetype that you want more of – for example you can read more about the Pharaoh Ramses II or Abe Lincoln to as role models for the king and warrior.
The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships by Neil Strauss
This is the most important book on relationships I have ever read and I have been talking about it non-stop with my friends. Strauss is the NYT bestselling author of The Game, and he takes us through his years long quest to discover if he can be in a committed monogamous relationship.  He takes us through his time in rehab for sex addiction and experiments with alternative non-monogamous and polyamaorous relationships. He attempts to answer big questions such as “Is it natural to be faithful to one person for life?” “How can we keep romance and passion fro fading over time?” And “what draws us to the partners we choose?”
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
What I loved most about this book was the focus on really trying to create something new rather than incremental improvements (going from 0 to 1, vs. going from 1 to n).  If it is not 10X better, should you really start? Can you make your new venture a monopoly because it is so good? The 0 to 1 idea is a big part of the Art of Adventure – how can you contribute to the world by having an adventure into totally new territory?  Thiel recommends starting your business with the goal of dominating a small market rather than trying to grab a small share of a giant market. I loved one of his interview questions: “What is an important truth that most people disagree with you on?”
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
If you are looking for more rationalization of the power of reading, look no further than this book by the great storyteller and author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini. Amazing insight into how Conroy collects words that he later wants to use, to the influence of his great high school English teacher in getting him to write how he really felt, and their lifelong friendship. I loved the vivid story about the rare bookstore he used to hang out in in Atlanta and throw book launches for all the great southern authors of the day.
The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire by David Deida
A great book about being a man recommended to me by my friend and relationship coach, Dave Booda. How to not be a pushover at work and in relationships (stay true to your purpose), how to come from a place of integrity and purpose, how to set boundaries, and how to deal with feelings and desires.

 

Honorable Mentions (Books that I will likely come back to again and again): The Celestine Prophecy , Two Lifestyles, One Lifetime (by my mentor Les Leventhal) , The Power of Now, Man’s Search for Meaning, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, and Iron John: A Book About Men

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