Rum, Reading & Relaxation

They say that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. This year was no exception. March wore this Nittany Lion out. Week one got off to a promising start with good friends and smart investors in Vail. The next few weeks were more challenging.

From Vail, I left for Orlando to spend time with family. Then a quick trip home for the day, before leaving for San Francisco, Sonoma and Los Angeles.  I always enjoy time on the west coast.  The perspective there is so different than anywhere else in the country. There are benefits to plugging into the mainstream now and then. But I find the bulk of those benefits only appear once I’m back outside the fray, with time to reflect.

My only New Year’s resolution this year was to plan time off in advance to recharge and reflect. The timing could not have been better this year. Jill and I spent the last week of March soaking up the sun. Both of us needed the rest. Although our definition of rest differs a bit: I spent most of my time under an umbrella reading. She spent more time treating sunburn with aloe. The result was the same. We both returned more relaxed and more productive.

Planning time off in advance allows one to manage work around downtime instead of the other way around. Our mental bandwidth is limited. The more we stretch it, the more tired it gets and the more rest it demands. Block time off to recharge and renew.

Here are a few reading recommendations from my recent time off to consider when you are ready to rest:

The Confidence Game: Couldn’t put this one down, except for the occasional swig of rum punch. The Confidence Game is full of colorful stories (ranging from elaborate Ponzi schemes to Three-card Monte) which illustrate the power of persuasion.  So far, my favorite read of the year. If you enjoy this, I’d recommend Konnikova’s first book Mastermind, a guide to Thinking Like Sherlock Holmes.

The Devil’s Financial DictionaryOne of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a while and top contender for this year’s holiday gift. Jason Zweig is a skeptical genius.

Boys in the BoatThis was probably the single most recommended book missing from The Broyhill Library last year.  I try to mix in at least one good story with everything else I’m reading – this was it.

Titan: The Life of John D. RockefellerThis biography has been lingering at the top of my “on deck” list for a while. I’ve heard so many good things about the book but had a difficult time getting started on these 832 pages. A large coconut full of rum can do wonders for one’s inhibitions.  Perhaps my expectations were too high. Or perhaps I had dialed up my rum intake one notch beyond the “optimal” reading zone. So many great lessons and examples to be learned from Rockefeller.  I just wish the stuff in-between was more condensed.


Atlas Shrugged: I struggled to make it through the first third of the book, even throwing Audible into the mix!  The novel is tremendous in its scope and philosophy.  It also pairs quite well with Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller for many reasons. But considering I struggle to sit in a movie theater any longer than an hour, it’s no surprise that 1188 pages of Ayn Rand are a lot to ask.  For those of you that have made it through, please tell me Parts II and III are worth hanging around for!

Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and PoemsAt $0.99, this collection of short stories is the best value on the Rum Reading List list by a wide margin.  Haven’t gotten through this one in its entirety yet – just savoring one story each night.

For more, you can peruse all the books at The Broyhill Library in addition to last year’s Broyhill Book Club.  And please keep those book recommendations coming our way.