June wasn't the best reading month, partly because starting my new job has been hectic as I try to adjust to the routine and figure out how to get more than 4 hours sleep on weeknights, partly because I started and never finished a lot of books, partly because I've gotten into bad habits with my time. Also, I've gone from socialising maybe twice a month at most, to socialising nearly every weeknight which is exhausting!
Anyway, here's June's slightly dismal list and hopefully I'll be able to refocus in July.
Rebecca - Daphne de Maurier. I first read de Maurier's short story collection last year and since then Rebecca has languished on the list of hyped-up classics I really should read, someday. But of course, it delivers as a glorious, gothic novel about the worlds we create in our minds and how easily they can destroy our real lives.
The orphaned narrator meets a wealthy widower, Max de Winter, in Monte Carlo, falls in love with him and returns to his home, Manderley, as his wife. Despite her attempts to be happy, she constantly feels the shadow of his late wife, Rebecca. Everyone sees her in comparison to Rebecca and she always falls short. It's a wonderful portrait of the way jealousy can warp our perception.
How To Age - Anne Karpf. This month I continued devouring The School of Life book series - as much as these kinds of series are normally superficial and generic, they're so damn good. Lately, I've been mildly disturbed by my own preoccupation with time and fear of regrets, which sometimes manifests as a fear of ageing. In work situations, I'm largely accustomed to always being the youngest in the room, but it won't be that way forever, which can seem disconcerting.
This book highlights and questions the ageist ideas that have become so ingrained in our society, presents suggestions for changing that narrative, and reimagines our lives as one whole instead of multiple stages. Regardless of your age, I think anyone could find both encouragement and comfort in this book. Also, I'm turning 21 soon and hopefully this will alleviate my usual birthday meltdown.
The Romantic Movement - Alain de Botton. Yes, another one. I bought this expecting a book about the romantic movement, and instead got a warm, sensitive account of a single romantic relationship. Written as if documenting historical events of great importance, The Romantic Movement covers a fairly unextraordinary relationship between two Londoners, Eric and Alice. They meet, they date, the argue, they fall apart. With help from some of the greatest philosophers and thinkers of all time, de Botton runs through the emotions and influences behind the strange dance of a typical romantic relationship.
Stamboul Train - Graham Greene. Greene always struck me as the kind of author who can do no wrong, but admittedly this one didn't really compare to the others I've read. That may have something to do with the fact that I read it on an overnight flight though. Or perhaps it's the undisguised anti-semitism on every damn page. Either way, it's a not quite pulp story of an array of characters on the Orient Express, complete with the obligatory love affairs, murders, and missed connections.
A Book About Innocent: Our Story & Some Things We've Learned- Innocent. I read this less because I was actually interested in Innocent, and more because they've always struck me as the ultimate anti-brand brand -something I wanted to understand. Much like Onward, Harold Schultz's book about Starbucks which I read recently, it's a masterclass in branding and self-promotion that still comes across as 100% sincere.
A Book About Innocent tells the story of Innocent smoothies, from their initial tiny launch at a music festival to something approaching world domination. In a wonderfully uncomplicated way, it also talks about their approach to hiring, supply networks, brand assets, decision-making processes, and advice for other would-be founders. It's cutesy, yet honest.
A Short History of Financial Euphoria - John Kenneth Galbraith. This was less meaty than I hoped, but then again the title should have been a clue. Galbraith runs, at breakneck speed, through some of the most significant episodes of financial euphoria in recent history, touching on their causes and aftermath. Although there's not heaps of analysis, this book makes it clear that history always repeats itself and seemingly disparate events often have the same, human causes.
How to Thrive in the Digital Age - Tom Chatfield. I'm constantly writing about and debating the role of digital media in our lives, and trying to understand the best ways we can make it work for us. This book forced me to question even more unnoticed assumptions and reassess old ideas.
How To Thrive looks at how constant connection is affecting us and how we might carve out much-needed space in our days. Unlike most books on this topic, it's neither alarmist nor dogmatic. Chatfield remains neutral in his view of technology and instead encourages conscious usage.
The Subprime Solution: How Today's Global Financial Crisis Happened - Robert J. Shiller. This book is admittedly somewhat up to date, as it was published before the financial crisis of 2007-2009 had fully kicked in. So the suggestions and analysis are interesting to read, but only if you're out to devour every book on the topic (as I am.)
Enron: Anatomy of Greed - Brian Cruver. Enron is something I've heard mentioned a lot but wasn't old enough to know much about it. So, in a bid to fill in another blind spot, I read this account of the company's collapse, written by an insider who saw it all: the manipulation, fabricated partnerships, propaganda, shredded documents, the scramble for survival as the stock price plummeted. In the end, it all adds up to a surreal cautionary tale.
How To Think About Exercise - Damon Young. The irony of reading about exercise is obvious, yes. Rather than offering specific prescriptions, this book challenges the age-old mind/body duality and views exercise as a philosophical act, essential for developing our minds. Considering my sedentary lifestyle since moving, it was a much needed read.
That's it for this month - lots of good reading in the pipeline for July. As always, feel free to email and let me know what you've been reading/enjoying lately.