2023 is off to a strong start for reading, and January was pretty eclectic. The content included stress, irregular warfare, dystopia, and a Cormac McCarthy novel (possibly his last).
The biggest recent change for me has been incorporating Audible into my daily routine. While I ran or lifted in January, I was listening to a book, which killed two birds with one stone. However, I’ll always find time for both physical and Kindle books. From my experience, audio, physical, and digital content can all serve a beneficial purpose when consuming information and learning.
Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy (Hardback)
Stella Maris is simultaneously a prequel and coda to The Passenger, and while I found The Passenger to be a deep and worthwhile read, Stella Maris was much better–so much so that reading Stella Maris helped me appreciate The Passenger even more.
There were times I had to put Stella Maris down and process the portion I had just finished. Maybe “process” isn’t the best word… It was more like wallow in the sadness, bitterness, and (possibly) nihilism McCarthy presents to the reader. There’s a section of dialogue about the cold depths of Lake Tahoe I’ll never forget. In instances such as this, it’s the beauty of McCarthy’s prose that’s the only thing that makes the horror bearable.
The Stress Prescription: Seven Days to More Joy and Ease by Elissa Peel, PhD (Audiobook)
This book was recommended by Wim Hof on Twitter, and based upon that recommendation, it ended up being the first book I downloaded on Audible. The Stress Prescription is perfect if you’re, well, experiencing a lot of stress. Even if you don’t feel overwhelmed, this book can help with the moderate amount of stress (“green stress,” Dr. Peel calls it) that we all face on a regular basis. There are a lot of common prescriptions offered such as cold showers, meditation, breathing techniques, and cultivating a deeper sense of awareness. Even if you’re familiar with these fairly common methods, the book is worth reading in order to be emerged in Dr. Peel’s worldview on how to live a more peacefully life.
Three Dangerous Men: Russia, China, Iran and the Rise of Irregular Warfare by Seth G. Jones (Hardback)
Irregular warfare is not something I’ve heard or read about in the news, but it’s the tactic Seth G. Jones states is happening against the U.S. by Russia, Iran, and China; and he argues the U.S. should conduct more irregular warfare against its enemies. Three Dangerous Men focuses on the following three leaders: Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov, the deceased Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, and vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Zhang Youxia. The book discusses the men’s formative years, their rise to power, and the threat they pose (or posed, in the case of Soleimani) to the U.S. At roughly 200 pages, the book is an easy read if you’d like to quickly learn more about the threats that face America in 2023.
1984 by George Orwell (Audiobook)
I first read this novel when I was nineteen, and now I’ve read it a second time at forty-two. It hits a lot differently in one’s middle years. I’m older now than the main character (he’s thirty-nine at the beginning of the story), and I’ve lived long enough to have experienced some of what Orwell describes in his book.
We’re not living in the same world depicted in 1984, but examples of doublethink, newspeak, and thoughtcrime can be found throughout history and even in the present day. If you’re up for a grim and chilling portrayal of a dystopian future (can’t blame you if you’re not), this is the book to read.