Last Week’s Reading

The DipSeth Godin

Maybe the best book I’ve read on work/inspiration/creation since The War of Art. It’s only 70 pages and it looks like something someone would give as a joke gift, but it’s anything but. Godin talks frankly about quitting and pushing through–and when to do each. Quit when you’ll be mediocre, when the returns aren’t worth the investment, when you no longer think you’ll enjoy the ends. Stick when the dip is the obstacle that creates scarcity, when you’re simply bridging the gap between beginner’s luck and mastery.

10 Discoveries that Rewrote HistoryPatrick Hunt

This is a short read but definitely worth it. It gives you a great introduction to the discovery of Troy, Pompeii, The Tomb of 10,000 Warriors, Thera (possibly Atlantis) and the Rosetta Stone. Again, it doesn’t go far in depth and it is very anecdotal, but I found the stories to be fascinating. Hunt starts with the discovery process and ends with the implications–which really, unless you plan on pursuing the field–is all you need. Before the book I had no idea how pivotal the Rosetta Stone was in deciphering Egyptian Culture.

Learning from Iraq: Counter Insurgency in American Strategy (academic paper)–US Army Strategic Studies Institute

Part of some research I am doing on strategy in Iraq. This paper breaks down a lot of the assumptions we have about the conflict–that we’re not fighting an insurgency but a hybrid of criminal gangs and guerrilla fighters and that we are simply engaged in a propaganda war in which violence is particularly successful. The only solution is to wage a battle for information, which of course is something that goverments (and Bush specifically) are atrocious at.

Trends in Marital Stability (academic paper) Justin Wolfers at Wharton

Basically, the rise in divorce rates (from some recent studies) that stupidly forgot to synchronize their dates. But interestingly, some of the rise in divorce rates is explained by the fact that people are living longer and thus *obviously* more susceptible to the risk factors that cause people to split. (The paper was pretty mediocre, you should probably skip it)

Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades— (academic paper) Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer

A post on this is coming but this paper is a short form version of The Tipping Point. Interestingly it actually analyzes what information cascades mean, not just how they happen. Turns out, they aren’t all that great as far as information goes.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.