I will be honest, since graduating college in 2007, I had only read a handful of books. Anytime outside of my busy post college/startup/active life I would try to sit down and read a book, I would instantly fall asleep. I was probably over partied, over worked, and exhausted from trying to keep a few bike lengths ahead of my active friends.
Upon setting off on The Long Cruise, I promised myself I would not fall into a complete surf and beach-life induced coma and attempt to read more of the books I had made lists about. Since most of the books I have read up until this point have been recommendations from friends, I figured I would try to return the favor to you with this post!
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
by Yuval Noah Harari
A book about our Species from the beginning of time to the near future. While we may have slight cultural and skin differences, we are 99.99% the same which rings home in times like now where we are being pushed farther apart by those who fear the larger tribe. The books talks about our deepest animalistic tendencies, creation and evolution of religions, to modern commerce. Fun fact about the domination of our species and the animals we cultivate: the domesticated animals of the world weigh about 700m tonnes, compared with 300m tonnes for humans, and fewer than 100m tonnes for large wild animals.
"As far as we can tell, from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan, and if planet Earth were to blow up tomorrow morning, the universe would probably keep going about its business as usual. As far as we can tell at this point, human subjectivity would not be missed. Hence any meaning that people ascribe to their lives is just a delusion. The other-worldly meanings medieval people found in their lives were no more deluded than the modern humanist, nationalist and capitalist meanings modern people find. The scientist who says her life is meaningful because she increases the store of human knowledge, the soldier who declares that his life is meaningful because he fights to defend his homeland, and the entrepreneur who finds meaning in building a new company are no less delusional than their medieval counterparts who found meaning in reading scriptures, going on a crusade or building a new cathedral."
Bolivar: American Liberator
by Marie Arana
I wanted to get this book finished before crossing into Colombia as it builds a base for the history of a continent that was pretty much skipped in all of my earlier education. The book reads more like a Game of Thrones book than a history piece. Complete with as much or more womanizing, rise and falls, political jousting and epic battles to decide the fate of free people. Bonus points for now knowing who all the streets are named after down here!
“King Carlos IV made it very clear that he did not consider learning advisable for America: Spain would be better off, and its subjects easier to manage, if it kept its colonies in ignorance.”
“IN THESE FIRST glimmers of liberty, we begin to see the character of a continent. The American-born were hungry for liberties, yet unaccustomed to freedom; resourceful, yet unacquainted with self-rule; racially mixed, yet mistrustful of whatever race they were not.”
The Goldfinch: A Novel
by Donna Tartt
This was my first effort at getting into modern fiction, and understanding what a Pulitzer book might be like to read. The story is an interesting mix that so many youth of today can relate to. Being rich, being poor, being in love and being not in love with anything. While it was a bit slower and richer in detail than I was used to, I did end up enjoying the read and look back at it almost as memories I had growing up.
"If your deepest self is singing and coaxing you straight toward the bonfire, is it better to turn away? Stop your ears with wax? Ignore all the perverse glory your heart is screaming at you? Set yourself on the course that will lead you dutifully towards the norm, reasonable hours and regular medical check-ups, stable relationships and steady career advancement, the New York Times and brunch on Sunday, all with the promise of being somehow a better person? Or—like Boris—is it better to throw yourself head first and laughing into the holy rage calling your name?"
NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories
by Jeff Alulis
Punk rock is not dead, but the people who have been carrying the flag for the movement are getting old as fuck. This book is as much about a band’s painfully slow rise to fame as it is about the story of growing up in in America. We are all faced with demons handed down to us either genetically or through nurture, but it is up to us to decide how we want to let those manifest in our daily lives. This book pulls no punches and gives a peak into a world that was right in front of you but you didn’t know existed.
"None of this was happening the way I thought it was supposed to happen. Tour was supposed to be fun. Fights weren’t supposed to break out. Guns weren’t supposed to be drawn. Beer wasn’t supposed to equal money. Drummers weren’t supposed to destroy everything. People weren’t supposed to die."
Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
In a previous, more stationary life, I was working on next generation augmented reality goggles that were touted not only to be the future of computing, but our daily lives. This book is one version of what that world might look like if that technology comes to fruition. Part Sci-fi part adventure and part coming of age novel, this book has a certain sting to it now with all of the current discussions about net-neutrality and the increase of game-culture amongst kids and adults.
“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn't know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real”
by A. C. Weisbecker
This book is just pure fun. It somehow twists together low brow humor with quantum physics in a meaningful way. Being a bandito is an earned title and one must consistently fight for the right to be called one. A perfect book to read while sipping on Mezcal under a shady beach palapa.
"I couldn’t tell whether he was just extremely drunk or Out-of-Control Bandito Drunk, which is like the hyperspace of drunkdom"