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The best of what I’m reading, watching, and exploring (September 2020)

Posted in the following categories: Life Lessons

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!

Quick announcement first: My wife Kathy is holding a free masterclass TODAY in about 4 hours (11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern). Kathy will teach you how to upgrade to a “pinch-me-now” career. As a coach, Kathy helps her clients go from a “great-on-paper” job that sucks their soul, to a meaningful career their future self with thank them for. You can register for the masterclass here.


Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. I have a soft spot for musicians from New Jersey. I listened to this book on audio and loved it. It’s really long—18+ hours—and dives a little too much into minutiae for my liking. All that said, it was wonderful to hear Springsteen’s story through his inimitable voice. I particularly loved how he admits his voice wasn’t going to win him any prizes, so he doubled down on what made him different from everyone else: His ability to write songs that capture the blue-collar spirit (“For my 19th birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat”), that show the distance between the American dream and the American reality (“Waste your summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets”), and that allow his audience to find pieces of themselves in his music (“I want to know if love is real.”).

City of Thieves by David Benioff. I bought a copy of this book at Broadway Books, my favorite indie bookstore in Portland (which is now open by appointment). The co-owner, Kim, told me that this is “the perfect novel.” She wasn’t kidding. The story takes place during the Nazi siege of Leningrad. The book veers from funny to terrifying and back to funny in a matter of pages. It also serves as a great reminder that, as tough as things are right now, they could be much worse.

Disclosure by Michael Crichton. I somehow made it through 38 years of my life without reading a single Michael Crichton book. I decided to fix that by reading Disclosure. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, hard-to-put-down, escape-reality type of book, this is a great read.

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger. Great life stories + insightful leadership lessons = Terrific read. “The ideas in this book strike me as universal,” Iger writes. “Not just to the aspiring CEOs of the world, but to anyone wanting to feel less fearful, more confidently themselves, as they navigate their professional and even personal lives.”

It’s Been a Good Life by Isaac Asimov. When I was growing up, I was a big fan of Asimov’s fiction, but I’ve never read any of his nonfiction. This is a collection of his essays, letters, and diaries on topics ranging from writing to religion. Reading this book is the closest thing to having a drink with him and learning how he managed to write or edit around 500 books (!), and how he held on to his childlike curiosity until the end of his life.


The Ghost Writer (Amazon Prime). I’ve been on a thriller kick these past few months (maybe because my life in quarantine has lacked thrills?). This is one of the best thrillers I’ve seen in recent memory, with a major twist I didn’t see coming.

The Ides of March (Amazon Prime). Put this in the category of “How come I’ve never heard of this movie before?” Star-studded cast (George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, and Paul Giamatti) in a timely political-campaign drama as we head into election season.

Always Be My Maybe (Netflix). We recently re-watched this hilarious movie, and it was just as good the second time around. This movie arguably has the best cameo ever and the catchiest original tune (bounce back like a tennis ball!).


Red Oaks (Amazon Prime). This is pure ‘80s nostalgic bliss. Think Caddyshack meets Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club. I wish there were more than three seasons.

Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu). Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon are brilliant in this miniseries based on the bestselling book of the same title. Engaging and provocative—everything you can ask for in a great drama.

Modern Love (Amazon Prime). Entertaining rom-com based on the weekly column with the same title published by the New York Times.

Run (HBO). I’d watch anything by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I was a huge fan of Fleabag, and this new series produced by her kept me thoroughly entertained.

Schitt’s Creek (Netflix). A great comedy series with an absurd premise (a wealthy family loses their fortune and must relocate to a small town they once bought as a joke). Excited for the next (and sadly, final) season, which drops on October 7th.


Roam Research. I’ve experimented with several note-taking apps in the past, including Evernote and Notion. A few months ago, I switched to Roam, and can’t see myself using anything else (so much so that I bought a 5-year membership as part of their “Believer” plan). Roam completely revolutionized how I keep track of my notes, to-dos, book reviews, and research. It’s hard to do justice to Roam with words, so if you’re interested in learning more, check out this video.

Brightland Olive Oil. Having grown up in the Mediterranean, I’ve been spoiled with great olive oil. I haven’t found anything in the US that holds a candle—until I came across Brightland. My favorite varietals are Alive and Awake.

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