Book review: The Naturalist

Book cover for The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

I like reading books by authors I haven’t read before. Every author has their own writing style, and each has their own perspective of reality. Reading a new author can be like seeing the world through another set of eyes.

The problem I have is that I can easily fall into a rut reading books by authors I like. The Amazon recommendation engine, my arch nemesis, doesn’t help either. Because it knows what I buy and what I read, it feeds me a steady diet of books by authors I’m familiar with.

Fortunately, there are a few ways I have of discovering new authors. One is the Amazon First Reads program where they offer up free books to Prime members. Most of the featured authors are ones that I’m not familiar with, but it can be difficult to find titles in my preferred genres. The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne was one such book that appeared on the list. It wasn’t in my preferred genre, but I decided to take a risk anyway and add it to my reading list.

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In the Office or Work from Home: One Size Does Not Fit All

I’ve previously made my opinions known regarding remote work, or as I like to call it, WFH (Work from Home). I didn’t envision wanting, or needing, to address the issue again, but a recent post that showed up in my blog feed caught my attention and caused me to revisit the topic. I just couldn’t help myself.

This may be a good time to get up, take a break, stretch your legs, refill your coffee, and settle in for my latest rant.

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Book review: The Extinction Trials

Book cover for The Extinction Trials by A.G. Riddle.

When I think of great storytellers, Hugh Howey and Blake Crouch are two authors that would be at the top of my list. They have a way of writing a story that draws you in immediately, keeps your attention, and captivates your imagination.

Another one of my favorite authors who I would put right up there with them is A.G. Riddle. I’ve been a fan of his starting with the The Atlantis Gene, which is the first book in The Origin Mystery trilogy.

I usually make it a point to have an A.G. Riddle novel on my reading list every year or two. The Extinction Trials was the book I chose to put on this year’s reading list.

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Water, gravity, and taking time off

Seth Godin’s blog is one of my favorite daily reads. Every day he offers up pearls of wisdom around marketing, business, and personal help. The posts are brief, yet powerful and inspirational. I found one of his recent posts about “The wisdom of the water tower” to be especially interesting. While the metaphor can be applied to many areas, I found it particularly applicable to caring for one’s self.

What could a water tower possibly teach us about caring for our self? Well, as it turns out, it can teach us a lot.

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Book review: The Suitcase Clone

Book cover for The Suitcase Clone by Robin Sloan

One of my favorite “under the radar” authors is Robin Sloan. He’s not a prolific writer, but he has written two of my favorite books: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore and Sourdough: A Novel. If you haven’t read either of these novels yet, I highly recommend. They are both fun, adventurous reads.

When the Goodreads newsletter announced that Sloan was coming out with a new book, The Suitcase Clone, I had to take a look. When I saw that it was part of the Penumbra-verse and a prequel to Sourdough, I had to read it.

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On comparisons

How many times have you went out to eat at a new restaurant, and the conversation has went something like this:

“The food is good, but it’s not as good as the food at <insert favorite restaurant name(s) here>”

“I love the ambiance here. It’s the best I’ve ever experienced at a restaurant.”

“The drink selection isn’t as good as the one they have across town.”

In my case, it happens a lot. I enjoy discovering great restaurants, so my natural inclination is to invoke comparisons with other places I like and experiences I’ve had. While comparisons are not all bad and necessary to make better decisions in the future, they do have a downside.

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Book review: Mindfulness

Book cover for Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman

I started meditating on a regular basis three years ago. Wait, let me rephrase that, I started meditating three years ago. Up until that time, I didn’t understand meditation nor did I understand the potential benefits. After a few fits and starts, I came to realize that meditation isn’t an exercise where you look for meaning or embark on a journey to a destination. Like exercising to stay physically fit or watching your diet to care for your body, meditation is a regular practice that you do to care for your mind.

Given that meditation is a regular practice, it can be easy to fall into and get stuck in ruts. Think about staying physically fit. You need to do different activities and exercises to continually challenge your body. With your diet, you need to mix foods for variety and to get the diverse set of nutrients your body requires. Likewise, with meditation, it’s good to learn about different tools and techniques that you can use to better develop and care for your mind. It’s what led me to reading Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman.

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Book cover for Dr. Rick Will See You Now

Progressive’s Dr. Rick commercials are favorites among me and the family. I suppose it’s because a lot of them hit just a little too close to home. I’ll be the first to admit that he’s nailed more than one of my mannerisms that’s had the kids giving me “the look.”

When I saw that there was a book coming out, Dr. Rick Will See You Now, imagine my surprise. The summary was that it was advice from Dr. Rick himself on how to not become your parents. I figured it would be a fun read. And when it was promoted as a free download from Amazon, I jumped on it.

Turns out, it wasn’t what I expected.

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Book review: Commander in Cheat

Book cover for Commander in Cheat by Rick Reilly

Many years ago, a good friend of mine had me read the Michael Murphy classic, Golf in the Kingdom. I knew how to play the game, but Murphy’s book helped me understand it. On the surface, golf is a silly game. You try to hit a little white ball into a small hole with a bunch of crooked sticks. But at a deeper level, the game can teach you a lot about yourself, people around you, and the world in general. Golf in the Kingdom helped me grasp the depth of the game.

That same friend recently gave me a copy of Rick Reilly’s book, Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump. The book is a collection of stories and anecdotes detailing Trump’s involvement and interest in golf, both on and off the course. I thought it would be an interesting read to test my theories about golf being a generally good indicator of a person’s character.

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Children are not ours

Brad and Courtney Borodaty sitting in their car prepared to leave

I experienced a circle of life moment earlier this summer when Brad and Courtney relocated to Michigan. It stirred up memories of when I left my parents’ home to move to Southern California. At the time, I figured it was a temporary move. I thought I would spend a few years on the west coast and then move back closer to Pennsylvania.

Well, I’ve been in Southern California for over 30 years. So unless your definition of temporary is different than mine, I’d say my move was permanent. And while they will always be welcomed back, something tells me Brad’s relocation will be permanent, too.

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