Next to science fiction, the short story format is one of my favorite types of fiction to read. I love how an author can capture your imagination and compress an engaging story into a compact form. I especially like how a really good short story comes to a close but leaves you with unanswered questions. It forces me to replay the story over and over in my mind and allows me to fill-in the blanks.
Amazon, my nemesis, has been doing a great job putting together short story collections. After reading their Forward collection, I recently finished reading the six short stories of their Hush Collection. Instead of reviewing each of the books individually, I’m going to focus on my favorite of the group, which was Slow Burner by Laura Lippman.
You can see my ranking of all the books in the Hush Collection here: Ranking the Amazon Hush collection of short stories
It’s amazing how fast life can change. When I think back 20 years ago, I spent time online, but not all the time. I would regularly check emails, and I might use the internet occasionally in the evening to check sport scores, read up on current events, or do some research. At most the internet was a diversion, a source of entertainment.
These days the internet is a pervasive, integral part of my life. I couldn’t do my work without it, and even when not working, I spend time online researching articles, or doing what I’m doing now – writing on my blog. Even when I’m not on my computer, I carry the internet around with me on my smartphone (currently using a Pixel 3 playing for Team Android). Not only does my phone keep me connected through voice calls and email, but I use it a lot for text messaging to keep in touch with friends and family.
For some, the connection goes even deeper. They are glued to the apps on their phone, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, or whatever the latest social network du jour is. It begs the question, is there a point where you can be over-connected?
Our attitude towards the events that happen in our lives and around us has a huge impact on our outlook on life. It affects our mood. It determines our level of success (or failure). The choices we make determine if we are going to help make the world a better place or contribute to making it worse.
In Your Greatest Power, J. Martin Kohe examines the power of choice and how to use it to make a positive impact in your life, the lives of those around you, and the world in general.
Goodreads tells me I’ve finished 29 books so far this year, but the pace has been very uneven. Some have been a slog that felt more like work. I almost gave up on one or two, which I rarely, if ever do. Others have been a breeze. Fortunately, my latest read, The Term Sheet by Lucas Carlson, fell into the breezy category. It took me less than a week start-to-finish, which is a good pace for me.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve developed an interest in Stoicism. I’m not sure how it started, although I’d bet it had a lot to do with Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman’s book The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living, which I read in 2018. What triggered me to dig further was the relevance of the passages in the book. They were written by philosophers over 2,000 years ago and are just as applicable today as they were then. It’s a testament to the constant of human nature. The times, the problems, and the technologies change, but the way we are wired is constant.
To develop a better understanding of Stoicism, I decided it was time to read the writings of the more notable Stoic philosophers from ancient Rome and Greece. I’ve read plenty of quotes from Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca, Socrates, Zeno, Cato, and others, but I wanted to read the books and letters where the quotes originated since it’s not uncommon for quotes to be taken out of context.
For my first in depth reading, I choose On The Shortness of Life, which is a collection of three letter written by Seneca.
Projecting technology ten years into the future is a challenging task. Just look back over the last 10 years. The advances in phones, tablets, electric vehicles, home networking, machine learning, and medicine have been amazing. As a wise person once told me, we over estimate how technology will advance over the next year, but we under estimate the advances 10 years in the future.
So imagine projecting technology advances hundreds of years into the future. Impossible, you say? Well, Peter Hamilton takes a shot at in Pandora’s Star, the first book of the Commonwealth Saga.
I’d been vaguely aware that the ability to tell a good story was important to building your business. People like to be entertained. People can relate to stories.
What I didn’t understand was how to tell a good story. In the past, when I’ve tried to tell a story about my business, it fell flat. It was a meandering tale that I had a hard time condensing into a narrative that would capture someone’s attention. Basically, my stories lacked structure.
It turns out there is a formula that good books and movies use to tell a story. I had no clear concept of this formula until a close friend suggested I read Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. In his book, Miller walks you through the formula that writers use to capture and keep their audience’s attention. As he does so, he shows you how you can apply it to create a strong brand message and grow your business.
So how do you tell a good story, why does the ability to tell a good story matter, and how does it help you grow your business?
Life is full of ups and downs. It seems like a fundamental law of life. When things are going well, something bad happens. And when things aren’t, they can’t get any worse. They can only get better, right?
What if there was a way to break this law? Would it be possible for one to experience an abundance of good things in life? Is it possible that we are at the root cause of the valleys in life because we don’t know how to handle or are afraid of achieving ever higher levels of success?
In The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks explores how we define the limits of our success. He examines the actions and tricks our minds play to keep us in our comfort zone, or ‘Our Zone of Excellence’ as he likes to call it. Above all, he proposes that we are capable of enjoying ever increasing levels of success and love in our life. He shows how we can make the big leap into our ‘Zone of Genius.’
If you’ve spent anytime on my blog, you know that I am a fan of Blake Crouch. Wayward Pines, Dark Matter, Summer Frost, Abandon. I’ve liked them all. He is one of my favorite science fiction writers of this generation.
His latest work, Recursion, has been on my reading list since it came out last year. I was determined to get it to this year, but it was a ways down the list. When my oldest daughter told me she finished reading it, I decided it was time to move it up in the queue. And when my middle daughter said she wanted to read it too, well, that sealed it. I moved Recursion to the top of the heap.
Two of my primary reading genres are classic science fiction and short stories. Therefore, I should not have been surprised when my nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, suggested I read Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick. And of course, being the compliant subject of our artificially intelligent overlords, I complied and added it to my reading list.