I knew the diner would be chilly so I wore an extra sweater and scarf. I liked the food there but I wasn’t particularly in the mood for it now. When the waitress came, I just ordered the same thing he did and waited somewhat unenthusiastically for the food to arrive.

The conversation was light but pleasant. There wasn’t a moment’s breath between us as we waited. When it finally came, I listened with interest as I sliced my pancakes into thin, even rectangles. I didn’t use butter and hardly enjoyed the syrup, but he paused for a moment midway through the slicing and shrugged away an irritated, familiar sigh.

“Why does it bother you so much?”

He looked up again and shrugged. “The way you eat pancakes? Why do you have to cut them in little squares like that? Why can’t you just eat them? It’s just so…”

He hesitated, debating whether to continue or to change the subject.

“It’s just so… well, it’s just kind of childish.”

I have to break things into parts before I can digest them.

I do the same thing with tortilla chips except I use my fingers instead of knives.

I do the same thing with books, with new information, and with chores.

I do this when I’m anxious, nervous, worried, scared, but especially when I’m angry.

I do this when I’m working towards a large project or a big goal that’s more than I can chew at once. I do this intentionally and strategically so that I can complete, progress, move forward, or learn.

During the holiday season I like to revisit goals I’ve already been revisiting. I think through the ones that have been successful and those I’ve failed to reach.

I want to read more!

I want to read the way I did when I was little, back when reading was Christmas. Back when its gifts stayed with me for more than a season.

I’m making a list (and checking it twice) of all the things I’d like to do, see, experience, and read next year (actually just the books. Listing that other stuff would be weird, right? I dunno).

THE BOOKS (in no particular order and with no particular preference):

 Books on Global Politics

  1. The Better Angels of Our Nature (by Steven Pinker)
  2. The Great Transformation (by Karl Polyani)
  3. Manias, Panics and Crashes (by Charles Kindleberger)
  4. Rules for the World (by Martha Finnemore and Michael Barnett)
  5. Nimo’s War, Emmar’s War (by Cynthia Enloe)
  6. Ruling the Void (by Peter Mair)
  7. Essence of Decision (by Graham Allison)
  8. Nations and Nationalism (by Ernst Gellner)
  9. The Anti-Politics Machine (by James Ferguson)
  10. Our Enemies and US (by Ido Oren)

Recommended by Neil deGrasse Tyson

  1. The System of the World (by Isaac Newton)
  2. On the Origin of Species (by Charles Darwin)
  3. Gulliver’s Travels (by Jonathan Swift)
  4. The Age of Reason (by Thomas Paine)
  5. The Wealth of Nations (by Adam Smith)
  6. The Art of War (by Sun Tzu)
  7. The Prince (by Machiavelli)

 Recommended by Barack Obama

  1. The Underground Railroad (by Colson Whitehead)
  2. Gilead (by Marilynne Robinson)
  3. The Three-Body Problem (by Liu Cixin)
  4. Song of Solomon (by Toni Morrison)
  5. A Bend in the River (by V.S. Naipaul)
  6. The Naked and the Dead (by Norman Mailer)
  7. One Hundred Years of Solitude (by Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  8. The Golden Notebook (by Doris Lessing)
  9. The Woman Warrior (by Maxine Hong Kingston)
  10. Gone Girl (by Gillian Flynn)
  11. Fates & Furies (by Lauren Groff)

Recommended by Warren Buffett (more on that later) 

  1. The Intelligent Investor (by Benjamin Graham)
  2. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street (by John Brooks)
  3. The Outsiders (by William Thorndike)
  4. Common Stocks & Uncommon Profits (by Philip A. Fisher)
  5. Where Are the Customers’ Yachts? (by Fred Schwed, Jr.)
  6. Essays in Persuasion (by John Maynard Keynes)
  7. Dream Big (by Cristiane Correa)
  8. Little Book of Common Sense Investing (by Jack Bogle)
  9. The Most Important Things Illuminated (by Howard Marks)
  10. Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises (by Timothy F. Geithner)

Recommended by Bill Gates

  1. Business Adventures (by John Brooks)
  2. Tap Dancing to Work (by Carol Loomis)
  3. Life Is What You Make It (by Peter Buffett)
  4. Awakening Joy (by James Baraz)
  5. Where Good Ideas Come From (by Steven Johnson)
  6. Moonwalking with Einstein (by Joshua Foer)
  7. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (by Richard Arum & Josipa Roksa)
  8. That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented & How We Can Come Back (by Thomas L. Friedman & Michael Mandelbaum)
  9. Deng Xiaoping (by Ezra F. Vogel)
  10. The Most Powerful Idea in the World (by William Rosen)

 Recommended by Ta-Nehisi Coates

  1. The Fire Next Time in Collected Essays (by James Baldwin)
  2. The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life, His Own (by David Carr)
  3. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (by Edward E. Baptist)
  4. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the Civil War (by James McPherson)
  5. Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960 (by Arnold R. Hirsch)
  6. Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (by Beryl Satter)
  7. Confederate States of America – Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union (from Avalon Project, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School)
  8. Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court nomination That Changed America (by Wil Haygood)
  9. American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (by Edmund S. Morgan)
  10. Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life (by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields)
  11. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (by Paula Giddings)
  12. Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching (by Paula J. Giddings)
  13. Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (by Thavolia Glymph)

Recommended by Elon Musk

  1. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (by Walter Isaacson)
  2. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (by Robert K. Massie)
  3. Einstein: His Life & Universe (by Walter Isaacson)
  4. Howard Hughes: His Life & Madness (by Donald L. Barlett & James B. Steele)
  5. Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants (by John D. Clark)
  6. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway)
  7. Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down (by J.E. Gordon)
  8. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (by Nick Bostrom)
  9. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (by Peter Thiel)

What are yours?


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