Six Books Worth Reading (or “What I did while waiting for all those delayed flights over the past month”)
September 17, 2012I’m back from a brief blog break during which I saw many of you at the Alliance’s Annual Meeting, saw a few of you at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) Annual Meeting, and didn’t see any of you atop Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park (see photo below). Considering that the government prohibits people in New York City from purchasing “supersize” soft drinks because of the threat to their health, the fact that they actually let people climb on this trail is pretty amazing. And, believe it or not, this isn’t even the scariest part! In order to get this far, you have to:
- Listen to the shuttle bus driver read a disclaimer that says “this trail is perilous and fatalities have occurred; if you are afraid of heights, you should re-think your plans for this hike”;
- Climb over 1,000 feet in just two miles without having a heart attack, and;
- Navigate about 200 yards of steep slope along sheer rock by clinging to a series of chains that some brave (and probably deceased) park ranger pounded into the mountain.
- Predictably Irrational and The Power of Habit – I put these two books together because they both deal with “behavioral economics.” They are fascinating studies of why we behave the way we do, how marketers take advantage of these traits, and what we can do to change them. The chapter in Predictably Irrational on the “social contract” versus the “market contract” is must reading for any fraternal executive.
- Skippy Dies – A macabre, morbid, and really funny novel set in a contemporary Irish boarding school. Think Dead Poets Society on steroids.
- Into the Silence – Just a terrific read about the first Mt. Everest expeditions of the 1920s and the factors that fueled England’s desire to stand on top of the world. When you consider that climbing this peak now ranks as “adventure travel” for the very wealthy, the fact that George Mallory and his crew tried doing it in tweed jackets and hobnail boots is even more amazing. Just as interesting as the descriptions of the hardships of the climb itself are the insights into the post-WWI mood in England and the world that dominate the first half of the book.
- Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors – An amazing true story of courage in the last significant naval battle of WWII in the South Pacific. You just can’t make up heroes like this.
- Waiter’s Rant – Based on blog posts by a waiter in upscale restaurants. Bottom line: don’t upset the people who bring you your food.