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

Books

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. This book tells the true story of Atilla Ambrose, a Hungarian professional hockey goalie (one of the worst in history) who, in his spare time, drinks whiskey, puts on a disguise, and robs over 25 banks and post offices. Ambrose became a folk hero in Hungary for his charming and polite demeanor as a robber—he would send police bottles of wine and give flowers to bank tellers. Hilarious, outrageous, and really well written.

Mike Nichols: A Life by Mark Harris. A terrific biography about one of the greatest directors of all time. Born in 1931 to Jewish parents in Berlin, he immigrated to the United States with his family in 1939 to escape the Nazi regime. He went from being an outsider to American culture to becoming one of its shapers through his plays and films, including classics like The Graduate and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Although the book—like most biographies of this type—veers into too much minutiae at times, it’s still a great read that left me with lots of insights about what goes into a life well-lived.

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz. If you’re looking for a hard-to-put-down thriller, this is a good read. It’s about two college friends who get into serious trouble while backpacking through a foreign country. The book started out really strong, but then began to drag on with detailed and repeated reflections of the same events. I still enjoyed it.

Podcasts

Smartless. I’m loving this podcast by hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes. I find myself laughing so loudly when listening to this that my wife Kathy often comes out of her office to ask what’s going on. Some of the episodes I loved include Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, Jennifer Aniston, and Ricky Gervais.

Films

Summer of Soul. (Hulu) This is the best documentary I’ve seen in a very long time. In the summer of 1969, just 100 miles south of Woodstock, the Harlem Cultural Festival was held featuring performances by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, and Nina Simone. Even though the event was videotaped, it was left untelevised—until now. Deeply moving.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain. (Amazon Prime | Apple TV) Another great documentary. Even though I knew very little about Bourdain, I loved it. It’s a beautiful tribute to a complicated man.

Gunpowder Milkshake. (Netflix) If you like Quentin Tarantino movies, you’ll love this action flick by Israeli filmmaker Navot Papushado. It’s about a group of women assassins who find themselves in the center of mayhem.

TV

The White Lotus. (HBO Max) One of the most compelling series I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s about a tropical resort vacation gone wrong. The writing and the acting are spectacular.

Hacks. (HBO Max) A terrific comedy series about the partnership between an aging Las Vegas comic and a young comedy writer. Filled with non-stop wit from the opening credits to the closing. Really well done.

Tools

Readwise. If you’re anything like me, you highlight relevant sections of the books and articles you read, but then you promptly forget about them. Enter Readwise. The software syncs the highlights from my books and articles, and sends me a daily digest of 10 random highlights. It’s a great way to retain more of what I read and make connections between my highlights that I otherwise would miss. It’s one of the few tools I use every day. If you sign up with this affiliate link, you’ll get a 60-day free trial (instead of the usual 30).

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