The Summer of Reading: Part 1

Due to my rapid increase in free time this summer, stemming from long commutes to work and lengthy periods of downtime at the side job, I have decided to read as many books as possible. I half-ass attempted this last summer, but this summer I am committed to the cause. The first three books I read this summer were: The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions by Rainn Wilson and the folks over at SoulPancake. They all serve as great books to help kickstart your mind and the way you think in relation to art, life, and spirituality respectively. All three served as great jumping off points for the rest of my summer reading lists. Below you will find a short synopsis of each book and my review thoughts of the book.

The Icarus Deception

by: Seth Godin

icarus-deception

Seth Godin is a genius marketer and entrepreneur. Having founded companies like Yoyodyne and Squidoo, as well as having his hands in over 6 major projects in the last 5 years, his over 18 books provide a truly extraordinary look into the modern business model and marketing. I had the fortunate opportunity to hear him speak at my school; which was what lead me to reading his book. The Icarus Deception came from the myth of Icarus who flew too close to the sun and died, teaching everyone to never shoot for the stars. Godin focuses on how only 1/2 of the story has made it into the modern-day cultural lexicon. The myth also says how if Icarus flew too low, the ocean would ruin his wings and he would die as well. He is challenging readers to strive higher. He wants us to treat our work as art. He argues that in the new connection economy this is essential.

I am personally a huge fan of Godin. I am subscribed to his daily blog and feel that along with the likes of Malcolm Gladwell he is one of the premiere thinkers of the decade. This is why I was so excited to finally begin reading the book and commit his ideas into action. His thoughts on the change from an industrial economy to one based on human connection is refreshing. The book proved a quick read filled with plenty of examples of successful connections and thriving businesses. The book as a whole can be viewed as a success of the connection economy, because it was crowd-funded using KickStarter. He really stresses the idea of treating your work like it is art. I mean he REALLY stresses it. About 2/3rd’s of the way through the point begins to get belabored and dulled down. I assume the repetition needed is to really drive home the idea to the older working class, but being a part of Generation X a connection economy is all that I know. Besides that minor personal flaw, I find the book an absolute delight and cannot wait to read more of his work.

The Fault in Our Stars

by: John Green

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsArguably one of the most talked about young adult novels of this decade, The Fault In Our Stars is author John Green’s 4th novel and without a doubt his most successful to date. The story surrounds the lives of teenagers with cancer while dealing with topics related to death, coping, and living with a terminal illness. It has received rave reviews from the likes of Jodi Picoult while spending over 46 weeks on the renowned  New York Times Best Seller list. The book has been picked up by Fox 2000 for film adoption, which will feature Shailene Woodley(from ABC Families Secret Life of the American Teenager) as the narrator/protagonist Hazel Grace Lancaster.

I have been told to read the book ever since it came out. I’d get the appalled facial expression from the friend who found out I hadn’t read it yet. It seems like everyone in the world had read The Fault in Our Stars(TFIOS) and nearly every other book by John Green. I knew so little about Green though, until I stumbled across his YouTube channel where he produces content with his brother, Hank Green. I discovered this from Grace Helbig of Daily Grace and Hannah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen‘s involvement with a live show the brothers staged at Carnegie Hall in honor of the one year anniversary of TFIOS. Although, I did not actually purchase or read the book until 5 months later. After 5 long months of getting my hopes up, I finally read the book. To say that it met my expectations would be a wild understatement; it surpassed them by a longshot! It puts a delightfully realistic touch on the idea of growing up, death, and love. The main characters are far more wise beyond their years, stemming from their trials and tribulations with cancer. I finished the book in 24 hours because it was so riveting and I could not put it down the entire time. It really got me thinking about the fragility of life and how the little parts of life are really the ones that matter. I suggest everyone go and throw money at John Green and pick up as many copies of this book as you can ASAP!

SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions

by: Rainn Wilson, Devon Gundry, Golriz Lucina, and Shabnam Mogharabi

coverSoulPancake started as a multimedia site geared towards creating a conversation about life’s most important questions. The questions often deal with topics like spirituality, philosophy, art, culture, science, and humor. Everyone always jokes about the answer to, “What is the meaning of life?” but SoulPancake really looks to help you find an answer for that. Through activities, web videos, and similarly titled book, SoulPancake’s goal is to make people think and find inner sanctum.

I had long been a fan of their YouTube Channel and through that found out about the book. I knew it was something I immediately needed to get my hands on. I tore through the book in a week completing as many of the activities that I could except for The Reverse Pickpocket. I answered every question that I could and I have a special list of those that I could to think about for a while. It remains humorous while insightful, which is a hard balance to maintain through an entire book. The best part about the book is that it encourages revisiting; always coming back to the book and re-seeking out the answers to the important questions. This is an activity that I will do at several points throughout my life. If anyone is looking to start a journey of intellectual enlightenment  I HIGHLY suggest you give this book a read. It differs from the usual self-help book in that it doesn’t provide you with the answers to your questions, it just gets you thinking deeper about your own answers.

I am not sure what books I am starting next, but be sure to check back here for more updates on my summer reading! I leave you with a quote from The Fault In Our Stars.

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” – John Green

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