Saturday, January 19, 2013


“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” - Mark Twain
Books are awesome. If you're not reading books (or listening to them on audiobook at least), it's my opinion that you're missing out on important ideas and arguments and real knowledge, the kind that you can't find in your daily Internet browsing simply because the authors' arguments require detailed thought and a lot of pages. This is a big problem, as our society (the US, *fake coughs*) is becoming dumber and dumber in only a kind of funny way, so we should take a lesson from the Dark Ages when Rome collapsed and all the monks who could read used their uncommon and highly valued knowledge to rise to the power elite. What I'm saying is, those who have the knowledge will win the post-apocalyptic power.

So I read a fair amount of books in anticipation of the collapse of civilization, and being as it's a New Year and everyone has all these resolutions they can't stick to (replace one you don't like with "reading more books!"), I thought I might share some books I've recently read and am reading that have been stretching my own mind and motivation:

Dialogue is a huge component of screenwriting, but it's a practiced skill that a lot of writers seem to forget about. There's a reason why Aaron Sorkin and David Mamet's characters' words sound like musical ping pong--they honed their shit over years and years of rigorous practice. A theme of mine for this year is SKILL SHARPENING (both writing and poker) and this workbook is a whetstone for sharper dialogue.

Another writing workbook I discovered through the Google+ Writer's Discussion Group. Basically full of creative exercises designed to help writers hone all their skills. I plan to use this one a lot throughout the year.

Kind of in line with Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours concept, this book weaves together biographies of great masters of various disciplines (the arts and sciences), past and present, to illustrate various strategies to find "your calling" and spend those 10k hours optimally. Highly recommend this one for anyone creative or looking to become more creative, or generally feeling lost about what you want to do with your life.

A collection of essays, notes and interviews by and with Hayao Miyazaki, one of the greatest directors of ALL TIME!!! and the most respected animation director in the world. If you haven't seen his work, check out Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. If you like animation and/or Pixar movies, you'll love him, he has inspired pretty much everyone working in animation today.

I'm a huge Tommy Angelo fan, and his book The Elements of Poker and video series The Eightfold Path to Poker Enlightenment are musts for any serious poker player. But last WSOP I read Jared Tendler's The Mental Game of Poker and immediately realized he had completed the mental game trifecta. Jared applies strategies rooted in sports psychology to help fix tilt, emotional control, confidence problems, fear and motivation, both in life and at the poker table. Tommy and Jared's books have definitely influenced the growth of my game more than any other poker literature I've ever read.

Francis Glebas, a legendary storyboard artist at Disney, teaches visual storytelling. This book is an amazing read for any visual artist interested in storytelling, and if and when The Micros comes back you can attribute some of the increase in quality to my learning lots from this book (and the diabolical John Wray, ldo).

Interviews with famous tech company founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple) and Max Levchin (PayPal). I've read a lot of books about how to build successful enterprises (especially during the first few years of DeucesCracked), but this book is always one of the first I recommend to budding entrepreneurs as I think it contains the most practical wisdoms--lessons learned through painful experience. From what I understand there's another book like this called Coders at Work that's a great read for programmers.

So do you guys have any good book recommendations from 2012? Post in comments and help us get all the gold!

bacta tank bonus (the three best fiction books I read last year): The Left Hand of DarknessThe Forever WarThe Beautiful and Damned