Thoughts on Michener

I didn’t know him. I wasn’t familiar with his work, nor did I know I should be.

I first became aware of James A. Michener during a Twitter Q & A session with another author, discussing Thurber’s The 13 Clocks. Neil Gaiman had said that James Thurber’s book for children was quite possibly his favorite, and was then asked what would be second.

His response was Michener’s Poland. Being Polish myself, I looked this up straight away. Poland is a sweeping novel, spanning 700 pages. And despite my browsings at the library and used book stores, I’ve yet to come across a copy. (I did find it on Amazon, obviously, but I’ve not made the purchase.)

As I’ve been reading Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s account of traversing sections of the Pacific Crest Trail on a three-month through-hike, she mentioned both her mother’s love of Michener novels, as well as reading The Novel on her trek, one of Michener’s books. Again I’m amazed at the interconnectedness of it all – that I can go so long without a hint of one author, only to have him pop up in two very interesting places.

As a preparation, I’ve purchased Alaska on Audible, another of Michener’s epic tales. At 57 hours, I’m sure that I’ll be listening to this for quite some time.

Week’s Highlights

Some of the things that caught my interest this week.

If you’re thinking about how you’ll make it to retirement, here are six suggestions from NBC’s Kelsey Butler in January of last year. I’ve been thinking about retirement accounts a lot over the past couple of months, having blown through three of them over ten years.

The Tim Ferriss podcast with my hands-down favorite author Neil Gaiman. I first read Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek last spring (listened to the audiobook, twice in a row on several trips across Florida). Gaiman’s Neverwhere I read as a high-schooler, and that was my first introduction to the author. I’ve since read just about everything he’s written, including the Sandman series (straight through and then with the annotated editions from Leslie Klinger), American GodsStardust, and The Graveyard Book, to name a few.

If you have an Aubible subscription, get Sam Shepard’s True West, the West End production featuring Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones‘ Jon Snow) & Johnny Flynn. It’s a free download for subscribers (up to two Audible originals each month), and it’s really good.

Unroll.me. I was slow to get this one, but it really works! I’ve gone from a couple hundred emails a day down to less than 30. I’ve still got some clearing out to do, especially across multiple email addresses. but thus far, this has been an amazing help. Plus, its single daily email with previews of each email you’ve rolled (not unsubscribed but not individually let in) gives me one place to see if there’s anything there that I need.

 

April Reading

Books Bought:

  • My 1980s and Other Essays – Wayne Koestenbaum
  • Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books – Michael Dirda
  • Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad – Austin Kleon
  • Critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant
  • Plato: Collected Dialogues – edited by Edith Hamilton
  • The Secrets of Closing the Sale – Zig Ziglar

Books Read:

  • Money: Master the Game – Tony Robbins
  • The Essential Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks) – unfinished
  • The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham (Revised Edition) unfinished

After listening to the Tim Ferriss Show, mostly catching up on episodes I’ve missed, I heard him compliment Tony Robbins’s Money. I had audio book credits through Audible, and decided to give that one a try. So far I’m enjoying it. Some similar threads to Intelligent Investor – a book I’ve had for years but didn’t read much.

I’ve been an investor, and at times a speculator, over the past fifteen years. Mostly I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had success in school with Finance: Micro- and Macroeconomics; & Managerial and Financial Accounting. But mostly I just played around.

I had my first 401(k) in 2004, when I went full-time with NASCAR (prior to pursuing a career in the arts). In five years I think it went up to just over $10,000. I rolled that over into an IRA actually rather recently, in 2014 or 2015. Then, in 2016, I cashed out that IRA entirely. It was at the height of my dark period, and I was getting out of the country for a while.

I think even though I’m back in the country, I’m still somewhere else. My friend Anthony tells me that it’s been a three-year wake-up call, and now I get to be who I was supposed to be in the first place. Honestly, he may be right.

So I’ve been re-looking into the financial markets – which I did used to enjoy learning about.

I’m also newly into Audible, which I had cancelled maybe a decade ago… I like the physical book, more than I did audio or digital. However, I’m finding much more time spent driving or traveling in general, and the convenience of that audio book is nearly impossible to beat. After going from South of St. Petersburg to Daytona and back a few times last year – enough to listen to Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek twice, I decided it was time to re-up Audible.

As for Rumi, just another staple in my go-to perusal section. I’ve been thinking about the tavern-goer:

This drunkenness began in some other tavern. When I get back around to that place, I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile, I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary. The day is coming when I fly off, But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice? Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking.

If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison for drunks. I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This is one of those constant quandaries that invades my thoughts, and reading Rumi not only gives it the poetic air, but also expands my thoughts on the problem itself. Knowing others who share your thoughts, your concerns, makes the load of those concerns a little lighter – even if this person has been deceased for quite some time.

My book purchases were impulses mostly. I knew the name Koestenbaum, but hadn’t read anything before by him. Browsings seems similar to Ten Years in the Tub, which I’ve yet to finish, but it’s right up my alley. I read Steal like an artist before, so I wanted to read Keep Going for a while. Kleon always has something fun and inspiring to say.

Two books of philosophy, for my downtime reading… (here’s hoping I get a lot of downtime). And Zig Ziglar came at the recommendation of Godin, and as I’m working in sales right (along with my other gigs) I thought improving those skills couldn’t hurt.