2023-01-24

What I Read in December

American Moonshot by Douglas Brinkley (notes) - Though this book lacked the technical bravado I was hoping for, it was interesting in a surprising way. Brinkley chronicles the life of John F. Kennedy and other major players in the space race, including former Nazi engineer Werner von Braun. I learned a lot about Cold War politics and the strange (maybe diplomatic?) attitude that Kennedy and Khrushchev treated each other with. I also learned to admire Kennedy’s drive to unite the country behind one goal: getting to the moon (and subsequently beating the Soviets).

When Einstein Walked with Gödel by Jim Holt - This one was a surprise for me. It caught my eye while browsing the Science and Math section at my local Barnes and Noble. Rather than a book with one cohesive narrative, When Einstein Walked with Gödel is a collection of essays on the invention (or discovery if you prefer that term) of the major science, math, and computing breakthroughs in the world. Holt is a brilliant writer and an even better thinker. PS - There is little mention of Einstein or Gödel. The title is a nod to the “heady” conversations the two physicists would have walking to the Institute for Advanced Study every morning.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (notes) - Getting more philosophical, this book is a must read for any creative person. Ryan Holiday has said he reads it before starting any new creative project and I’m going to adopt that habit. In the book, Pressfield identifies this force–he calls it Resistance–that keeps you from doing the work you were born to do. Fear is Resistance. Criticism is Resistance. That nagging thought in the back of your mind that you’re not good enough is Resistance. The antidote? Showing up every day, like a professional, and doing the work. Focusing not on the outcomes, but on the process. The ideas in the book are simple but the change they had in my mind and heart is far from it. Bonus: It’s short and fun. You could read it in a couple of hours sitting at your favorite coffee shop.content

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