June Reads

I read these books this month, pushing my total number of books read for the year to 38. I went to the eye doctor yesterday and received a new prescription; so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done while I wait for my new glasses to be made.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius – This is one of Greg’s favorite books and he cautioned me about falling down the philosophical rabbit hole when he saw me reading it. We have been discussing how a lot of what Aurelius wrote about is echoed in Christianity. I believe St. Augustine expanded on Aurelius but I’m not too sure about that.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman – Back in my undergrad years, I spent more time with the physics and computer science folks than the folks in my major so of course I heard a lot about Richard Feynman. This was on my “to-read” list in those days but never was able to get it read. I’m glad I read though – it’s a great read, funny at times; but also somber (especially the parts about the Manhattan Project). I may put this book into our highschool years.

Your Two Year old and Your Six Year old – these child development books are somewhat old but informative. I really like them because they’re short (about 120 pages usually) but really do a good job about conveying what typically developing children go through. I like the giant caveat in each book that every child is different and not to stress too much if your child isn’t EXACTLY BY THE BOOK. I like these books to give me a reality check and make sure I don’t have wildly inappropriate expectations for my kids.

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr – another slightly outdated book, but the overall message is solid. What IS the internet doing to our brains? I know when my kids have overdone it on screentime they are just absolutely bonkers afterwards. Even I have a hard time switching from screens to books from time to time. I’ve always liked this book because it’s not a fatalistic almarist “we’re all going to die!!” type book, but one that definitely makes you stop and reevaluate a few things.

It Happened in Montana by James Crutchfield – a preread Montana history book. Short, sweet, and full of fantastic stories about Montana and important events for the state.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance – I find Elon Musk extremely fascinating, and so I had to add him to the list of people to read about. I liked this biography because it was more like sitting down with the author over a beer to discuss Elon Musk vs some scholarly tome about him. The author actually had multiple dinners with Elon while writing the book, so hooray for first-person sources.

I read this book in one sitting, so I clearly found it engaging and informative. I knew next to nothing about Elon Musk, except for very little bits that come through the media.

The most thought-provoking part of the book (for me) is at the very end, where Vance talks about how everything Elon does is for one goal. Is Elon’s overall goal to get to Mars or to make a “fantastic future”? I’m not sure, but Tesla (the car company), SpaceX, Boring Company, and whatever else he’s up to all seem to feed into each other and work to support his overall goal/vision/dream. There really isn’t any waste in terms of “let me devote my time and money to something that won’t further my goals and desires of going to Mars/better humanity/etc”.

I need something like that in my life because as of now, I feel very fragmented, like my overall dream/vision/goal is still something that can’t be put into reality. I want to raise children who are critically-thinking adults, content with doing things perhaps not how society does it; who are good and virtuous. But what does that look like? I would like to say “I’m doing X,Y, and Z to get to my goal above” but who knows what that looks like because I’m dealing with people here (something that ultimately can’t be controlled), AND there’s a danger in defining a goal so focused on my kids. Something for me to (over)think.

Also, you should know there’s a lot of profanity in this book. I’m not bothered by profanity (thanks, oilfield work) but I know some people are. So just a heads up for y’all.

Tesla: Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson – this is absolutely a “book of the year!” read for me. I just loved this book about Tesla. It is objective, factual, has lots of quotes from Tesla throughout it, includes Munson’s thoughts about Tesla in a curious but still objective fashion. I can’t stand it when biographies paint a specific picture about a person in either extreme. Everyone has their flaws and a good biography (I feel) will include them. Munson did a wonderful job talking about Tesla’s mystical experiences without turning him into some sort of extra-terrestrial. This will definitely be included in our curriculum for high school.

If you’re new to Tesla, start with his autobiography or this biography. Absolutely a wonderfully written book.

Every link except for the one to Meditations is an Amazon affiliate link, purchasing through them gives me a small commission which I turn around and buy more books with. Thank you!

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