Good Reads: “Wayward” by Chris Burkhard

Once again I have to thank Fieldmag for turning me onto this gem. Prior to reading the Q & A Fieldmag posted, I had certainly heard of Burkhard and was semi-familiar with his work (I stopped reading surf mags before Burkhard really became a fixture in that world). But after reading the piece, I realized that he was a pretty interesting dude who probably had some cool stories to tell. A few pages into the book, I could already tell it was right up my alley. As a kid who loved photography and board sports, young me essentially dreamed of having Burkhard’s life. The stories that he tells from his early career left a little bit of FOMO pang in my gut. If you are remotely interested in photography and/or cold water surf, I highly recommend this book. The images alone are worth the flip. Plus, the hard cover makes it a very handsome addition to the coffee table.

Good Reads: ‘The Passion Paradox’

This is probably not a book that I would have chosen to read on my own. B reads a ton of these self mastery type of books because of their relevance to her line of work. She recommended it to me because one of the authors was a competitive runner. The crux of this book, “The Passion Paradox,” by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, is unpacking what catchphrases like “finding your passion” and “living a balanced life” really mean. Further, the book uses historical real world examples of how applying such ideas in one’s life does not always yield the intended consequences (i.e. long term success, happiness, fulfillment, etc.). I normally find these types of books cheesy and only marginally (if at all) scientific. But I really did enjoy this read, and it caused me to scrutinize some personal traits with a new perspective after having digested the text. Worth checking out, in my opinion.

Good Reads: ‘The Greater Journey’

‘The Greater Journey’ by David McCullough, contains two of my favorite elements; history and Paris. Admittedly, I have read just about every book this guy has written. I like the way that he is able to take such a massive amount of historical information and present it in a way that reads like a novel rather than a text book. Acknowledging that this type of book is not for everyone, here is my take, in case it sounds interesting–

In the decades preceding the civil war, and up until WWI, scores of prominent Americans traveled to, and lived in Paris during a time that became an era of cultural cross pollination between French and American culture. This book details the experiences of several such Americans during their time in Paris. One (un)surprising takeaway from the book is that descriptions of Paris written by the Americans of yore, heavily overlap with my present day sentiments about the city. Bread and butter fa’ life!

Good Reads: ‘David and Goliath’

B is a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. This book ‘David and Goliath’ was my first exposure to his work. It is a quick read. I was able to knock it out during a recent flight. Overall, I enjoyed the book. But I had to take it with a grain of salt.

The premise of the book is that the most favored to succeed can actually sometimes be at a disadvantage by conforming too rigidly to the accepted paradigm of “success” in the respective field. To bolster this thesis, Gladwell gives various examples of underdogs leveraging some unique characteristic to dethrone the heavily favored alternative. As an illustration for this phenomenon Gladwell uses an inverted parabola that roughly equates to the economic law of diminishing returns. In layman’s terms, he makes the argument that there can be too much of a good thing (money, intelligence, athletic ability, etc..).

While I found the book entertaining, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that being and underdog can be leveraged advantageously in all instances. I agree that in certain cases that can be true, the same way that there are exceptions to almost every rule. In my opinion there was enough data and analysis that it wasn’t just another “embrace your flaws!” fluff piece. I thought it was worth the read.