Skip to main content

Summer recommendations (July 2021)

Posted in the following categories: Motivation

From time to time, instead of my usual email with one big idea you can read in 3 minutes or less, I share with you the best of what I’m reading, watching, and exploring. Enjoy!


Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Summer means vacation, and vacation is a great time to read fiction. Dark Matter is one of my all-time fiction favorites. Crouch manages to weave quantum mechanics into a mind-bending story that kept me reaching for the book every time I had a few minutes to spare. If you like sci-fi or gripping thrillers, or you simply want to get your mind blown, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I’m not a fan of biographies that cover every little detail about the life of their subject. You know what I mean (“At age 4, he stubbed his toe. . .”). For that reason, I was reluctant to pick up this 900-page tome about Lincoln, but it turned out to be a terrific read during a vacation in Mexico (yes, I have an unusual definition of “beach reading”). I loved how the author widened the lens to tell Lincoln’s story—not just through his eyes—but also from the perspective of his rivals for the Republican nomination. “In the mirrors of his colleagues,” Goodwin writes, Lincoln “comes to life.” This is one of those books that lingers with you for a long time.

Decoding Greatness: How the Best in the World Reverse Engineer Success by Ron Friedman. From the book cover: “To reverse engineer is to look beyond what is evident on the surface and find a hidden structure. It’s the ability to taste an intoxicating dish and deduce its recipe, to listen to a beautiful song and discern its chord progression, to watch a horror film and grasp its narrative arc.” This was a fascinating (and entertaining) read with lots of practical takeaways to drive breakthroughs.


I say very little about the plot of the films that follow—in large part because I don’t want to ruin the fun. I refuse to watch trailers—or even read film descriptions—because I want to be surprised from minute one.

Together Together. (Amazon Prime | Apple TV) An unconventional anti-romantic comedy about parenthood. Really well done.

Doctor Strange. (Disney+ | Amazon Prime) This is a superhero movie for people (like me) who don’t normally like superhero movies.

Prisoners. (Hulu | Apple TV) Disturbing, but deeply captivating, thriller about the abduction of two young girls.

Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists. (HBO Max | Amazon Prime) This was a terrific documentary about Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill, two of the greatest journalists of all time. Lots of interesting insights on writing, journalism, and New York City history. This has a well-deserved 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


Mare of Easttown. (HBO) Great whodunit series. Kate Winslet hits a home run as a small-town American detective (and makes you forget she’s actually British).

The Friends Reunion Episode. (HBO Max) Admittedly, I had low expectations for this one, but it was surprisingly good. I want to be friends with Matt LeBlanc.

Dark Season 1. (Netflix) I love anything related to time travel. Really enjoyed the first season of this German TV series.

Handmaid’s Tale Season 4. (Hulu) This old favorite continues to captivate. Elisabeth Moss is brilliant.

The Contrarian Handbook
The Status Quo.

Get a free audio training from Ozan and learn 3 simple strategies to make giant leaps in your life and work.

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe.

Development Alchemy + Aim