The One Thing To Read

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tu: “Which one book or article would you recommend that I read? Or lecture that I should listen to?”

Moi: “uh ummmm, here are five six”

note: about Tu et Moi

By traditional standards, I am terribly well unread. But while I don’t read books, I actually do read a lot. Most of my readings are article-length. The hard part is trying to figure out which ones of these have been life- or perspective-altering enough that I would recommend them to others. After a few days of thinking about this, I decided to compile a list. And at the risk of getting pegged based on this list, here are a few (in no order) that have left their mark on me:

When Your Greatest Romance is Friendship by Victor Lodato

That night, I had an odd realization: Some of the greatest romances of my life have been friendships. And these friendships have been, in many ways, more mysterious than erotic love: more subtle, less selfish, more attuned to kindness.

Superbabies Don’t Cry by Heather Kirn Lanier

Perhaps the point of life was not to achieve some kind of perfection. Perhaps illness was an integral part of life’s dance. Perhaps fragility was built into our very design. Perhaps fragility was also strength. Through the neutral lens of science, my kid’s genetic deletion was a product of diversity, and who could be upset about that?

Here Is Everything I Learned in New York City by Sarah Hepola

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want: In life, you can either ask for what you want and suffer the possibility of judgment, or you can pretend you want something else and almost certainly get it.
  • Be Decisive: There is only one bad decision: Doing nothing at all. That is unforgivable.
  • Pay attention: To give someone your full and undivided attention is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. In life, we are alone. It’s good to be surrounded by people who can help us find our way.

Fresco poems by Llujeta Lleshanaku (in Albanian), translated into English by Henry Israeli

So long as we still reflect each other —
even deformed — as through silver spoons,
wine glasses, and exultant bottles
on the table of a dinner party about to begin,
things can’t be that bad.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

This is a book about the modern experience of mortality—about what it’s like to be creatures who age and die, how medicine has changed the experience and how it hasn’t, where our ideas about how to deal with our finitude have got the reality wrong.

A Daring Escape from Communist East Germany to the West via China by Peter Wensierski

They were young and in love -- and trapped in an oppressive regime. In 1987, an East German couple traveled clandestinely from Berlin to Beijing in a brazen attempt to escape to the West. Only one of them would make it to freedom.

Evacuation of Nada by Ira Hadžić

Evacuation of Nada is a response to a letter contained in its prologue from the author’s grandfather to help his recently re-located grand-daughter to find inspiration. Its premise is a multi-story building that is governed by a numerical order, the silent writings on its walls, a public staircase that is visible but mute and private areas existing behind closed doors, devoid of visuality yet fully inhabited by sound.