Happy summer, everyone! Here’s a list of my June reads and reviews.
Book #11: Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
Not many people know this, but before he wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis wrote a Space Trilogy in the late 1930s and early 1940s. It was inspired in part by a conversation Lewis had with his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, in which both men lamented the state of contemporary fiction. So they made a deal to attempt to write a science fiction story. Lewis ended up writing a story about space travel, which became The Space Trilogy, and Tolkien tried to write something about time travel. (He never completed it.)
This is the first book in Lewis’ Space Trilogy. I haven’t read a ton of science fiction, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. To be honest, it was a little bit of a let-down, but I’m told the series gets better as it goes on. As others have said, the book is not really concerned with technological speculation, and in many ways reads like fantasy adventure combined with themes of biblical history and classical mythology. If you’re into Lewis’ stuff I would check it out though.
Book #12: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This is by far the most fun book I’ve read in a long time. I cruised through it in about a week. Someone described RPO as “The Matrix meets Willy Wonka,” and they couldn’t be more right. Fun fact: Anyone who starts a job at Facebook-owned virtual-reality company Oculus is given a copy of this book.
The story takes place in 2044, when the world is a dismal place and people spend most of their social time inside a virtual world called the OASIS. The founder dies and announces in his will to the public that he’s left an Easter egg inside OASIS, and the first person to find it will inherit his entire fortune and the corporation. The story follows the adventures of Wade Watts, starting about five years after the announcement, when he discovers one of the three keys pointing to the treasure.
RPO is a quirky love letter to the 80s and especially to video game/nerd culture. Gen Xers will really dig it, but the story is approachable enough for anyone to enjoy. And get ready: Steven Spielberg is directing the movie, slated to premiere in the spring of 2018.
Book #13: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
Ever since I read Outliers, I’ve been a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan. And then he released a podcast called Revisionist History, and I upgraded myself to official fanboy status. (If you haven’t listened to it yet, you must.)
In my humble opinion, Gladwell is one of the best non-fiction writers alive. He has an uncanny ability to weave powerful storytelling, scientific research, and practical principles together in a way that is approachable and compelling.
In this book (Gladwell’s first), he defines a tipping point as “that magical moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” In this widely acclaimed bestseller, Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon.
Some of my favorite stories and case studies include the rise in popularity and sales of Hush Puppies shoes in the mid-1990s, the steep drop in New York City’s crime rate after 1990, the story behind Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues, and the reason why Paul Revere is remembered and William Dawes isn’t. Gladwell provides some powerful principles that people in any industry can benefit from: namely, the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. (Gotta read the book to find out what they’re all about.)
I still like Outliers a little more, but if you’re a Gladwell fan you’ll definitely dig this book.
Book #14: Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the Word’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard or seen a TED talk. In this book, Gallo studies the best TED speakers and talks to find out what makes them so memorable. I’ve always been fascinated by public speaking and great presentations, so this was a fun little read for me.
If you’re looking to up your presentation game, this is a good one to start with.
What have you been reading this summer? Leave your answer in the comments below.