Nearly two months ago, we asked you which books you were reading to help kick off a summer “recommendation” series. Since it seems like everyone liked that post, and also tired of later posts about podcasts, newsletters and other media, we decided to go back to what worked as we restart this exercise.
We aimed to pick different books than last time, so if you share your own picks, please try to do so as well so everyone can expand their respective lists as they prepare for what’s likely to be many more months stuck inside. And if you missed some of the recent recommendation lists, be sure to circle back on newsletters, podcasts, recipes, videos games, music and binge-watching.
John: “Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)” by Jeff Tweedy
I don’t think you have to know or even like Wilco’s music to enjoy this book, but if you’re not familiar, perhaps go listen to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and/or A Ghost is Born a few times before sitting down with this one. Tweedy, the lead singer of Wilco, spends this book writing about his life — but more importantly the struggles he’s experienced, how he’s worked to move past them, and how he’s written songs for the last few decades. It’s an entertaining book if you enjoy reading about music, or how people battle their demons. Plus it’s a quicker read (304 pages).
Kevin: “Beastie Boys Book” by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz
I’ll stick with the music theme and go with this look at one of my favorite groups. Mike D and Ad Rock share a lot of stories of how they started the group with MCA and take you behind the scenes of their album recording. One of the things I appreciate about the book is discovering how the Beasties looked for ways to innovate and challenge themselves. It’s too bad Adam Yauch passed away before this book but it’s clear he was a driving force for the group’s creative and personal growth.
Szuba: “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance
Bucking the trend on music books here, but I’m getting started on Hillbilly Elegy which was published in 2016 and gained popularity through the last Presidential election. The book is a memoir which follows Vance’s early life through rural Ohio and it’s a story about class and crisis with undertones of loss. Despite Vance’s harsh upbringing, he writes about through the lens of self-actualization as he went on to serve in the Marines, graduate from Ohio State and Yale Law School and went on to become a venture capitalist (and of course, author). He is the exception from his region however, as he points out in the book that ideals such as upward mobility and — at it’s core — the American dream simply doesn’t exist in places like Middletown, Ohio. There are some themes that people from Central New York can surely relate to, such as struggle, loss of industry, jobs and all the adverse socioeconomic factors that follow. Not without criticism, Vance dives deep on what it’s like to grow up in poor, rural America.
Andy: So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
By now, I’m sure you’ve seen someone you know plug this among several other books that people have started reading to gain a better understanding of the structural racism that exists in our society. While all are worthwhile (my wife has literally all of them, teachers are in their element right now) I want to highlight Oluo’s work as it’s probably the most accessible and digestible. Instead of framing what is ultimate 400 years of context through history, the author uses the narrative of their life and lives of those they’ve come in contact with to illustrate the real life consequences of systemic oppression. This was an important read for me because the author is the first I’ve read who helps the reader embrace their discomfort in the material, and channel those feelings into actions and actual allying conversations one can have to continue to learn and begin to dismantle systems of oppression.
Steve: Inverting the Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson
I went for the fiction/fantasy option last time around, so I figure my non-fiction offering should come out this time. Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics is a great history on the origins and development of modern soccer tactical theory. Wilson looks at a quite extensive list of players, coaches and the tactics that they employed to shape the sport. It explores everything from the evolution of the modern fullback to why formations are formations and still keeps his foot on the fact that tactics aren’t the only thing deciding the outcome on the field. Probably a niche title for some, but if you’ve got any other historical or tactical books on sport, feel free to suggest below, as I’m always up for something.