the mungk – reading list

I read. A lot. Not everything I read is mindblowing or revolutionary. I appreciate a good solid straightforward story as much as the next guy and I’m far less interested in reading the “right” books than in reading things that are enjoyable or bring me a perspective other than my own. Understanding another perspective doesn’t necessarily imply agreement, of course, and sometimes, a book just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t really enjoy rating things, because I think it’s a little gauche. Lists of greatest songs or movies or whatever bore me. What might feel like a number one to me today may feel like a number eighty-six tomorrow, depending on what’s going on. Sometimes, something cheesy will strike me in the right way and bring me to tears. See or hear it again ten years down the road and I’ll think, wow, that’s bad.

Mostly, I’m reading through my extended library (which as a guy who lives off e-books and has a full attic library, is a lot).

Anyway, here’s the stuff that blew my mind while I was working on The Mungk.

One Small Step Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way – Robert Maurer
Is Your Genius At Work? – Dick Richards (yep, Dick Dicks, for reals)
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark – Michelle McNamara
Radical Acceptance – Tara Brach
The Practicing Mind – Thomas Sterner
People Of The Deer – Farley Mowat

As you can tell, I was working through a little bit, trying to find some good old fashioned personal development. Sterner’s terrific; everything I found Tolle was not. I wanted to delve into some classics, and Farley Mowat fits the bill as a fellow Canadian. I was suitably blown away.

This is the stuff that I really liked, but for some reason or another, found something just a little off about that didn’t connect. Stylistic questions, a viewpoint that I didn’t quite agree with or minor plot hole – that kind of thing.

Getting Things Done – David Allen
Face It – Debbie Harry
The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher
SexRx – Lauren Streicher
Good Sex – Jessica Graham
If Chins Could Kill: Confessions Of A B-Movie Actor – Bruce Campbell
Welcome To Night Vale – Joseph Fink/Jeffrey Cranor
Dancing Barefoot – Wil Wheaton
The Art Of Non-Conformity – Chris Guillebeau
Hammered – Elizabeth Bear

I don’t typically care about celebrity or their bios, but I deeply admire Carrie Fisher and Debbie Harry (the latter being one of the first women I obsessed over as a kid, along with Kelly LeBrock from Weird Science). And who doesn’t love Bruce Campbell or Wil Wheaton? Night Vale is a guilty pleasure. Elizabeth Bear filled my sci-fi quota. The sex books? Well, what can I say? Sex is great. Finding ways to improve it is never a bad thing.

These represent things I found entertaining, but not really mindblowing. Standard fare, basically. Not bad, not amazing, just decent or enjoyable.

Get It Done When You’re Depressed – Julie Fast
The Power Of Less – Leo Babauta
Start With Why – Simon Sinek
The Sorrows Of Young Werther – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The Fire Starter Sessions – Danielle Laporte
Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Pride And Prejudice And Zombies – Seth Grahame-Smith
Gregor The Overlander – Suzanne Collins
Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris
High Hunt – David Eddings
The Sword Of Shannara – Terry Brooks

I’m sorry, I wanted to like it more, but nothing can make Jane Austen not at least a little boring to read for me, not even zombies.

The next bit is stuff that didn’t resonate. It had some redeeming quality, like I didn’t think it was total trash, but yeah. Wasn’t great.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach
Hot Sex – Emily Morse
The Power Of Less – Eckhart Tolle
Aesop’s Fables – Aesop

I realize there’s probably some stuff people will give me shit on there, but JLS is intensely patronizing and Aesop’s casual reinforcement of racism and hierarchy didn’t sit well. I actually wanted to give Hot Sex a 1, for being little more than an oversized Cosmo article from someone who came across as having done their research on listicles and PornHub, not reality, but I did appreciate the willingness to go beyond standard positions, I guess. Tolle’s little more than a grifter ripping off Taoism and Buddhism, and using demagogue tactics to set himself up as a new Messiah. Pro tip: if the author of a self-help book spends all his time trying to establish how much better they are than everyone else, they’re an egomaniac trying to grift you out of your hard-earned dollars, not someone who genuinely cares about enlightenment or personal development. I gave it a two only because presence is an important concept in happiness and that’s it. Thomas Sterner’s The Practicing Mind is essentially the same book, but with all Eckhart Tolle’s insane ego stripped out, and the concept made much more practical. I mean, Tolle mansplains periods, creates his own Revelations and afterlife, constantly compares himself to Jesus, the Buddha and Lao Tzu, and basically endorses faith healing. Repugnant. How anyone takes him seriously, I don’t know. The whole book reads like a testament to his ego, even as he rails against your ego. He sounds like the Donald Trump of new age mysticism.

Anyway, enough ranting. The last part are books that I found little to no redeeming value in. Either they were just bad, or morally repulsive.

Choose Yourself – James Altucher
Ultimate Power – Tony Robbins
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell – Tucker Max


Sadly, not the fun kind where you splash a bunch of random paint on a canvas and call yourself Jackson Pollock. Maybe I’m not enough of an art lover, but while it might be pretty, does it actually connect with people genuinely that way?

Not the pretentious types who pretend to connect with it so they sound smarter or more sophisticated, but actual, gut feeling connect?

I’ve never found it to be that way. I supposed I’m a Neanderthal that way.

drama festival

Was it always this awkward, even when I was in it? Made me want to go back and relive it, but without all the depression and insecurity this time.

Method acting, actually doing a good job, an impressive job. People love impressive work. Being very good at what you do seems to shield people from a lot of bad behaviour, not that I’d want that as an excuse.

I’d rather be excellent and good.

the breakdown

I’m in full on brain lock mode. Depression, deep dissatisfaction with the current state of my life and an absolute uncertainty about what’s even possible in the future have me essentially shutting down.

I hate technology. I mean, I’m not a luddite or anything, though I feel like maybe we should all be a little more luddite these days. I work in IT.

And I hate technology.

It certainly has wonderful uses. I like the functionality of computers and smart phones (though sometimes, the smart phone thing is a little too much) and the way The Last Of Us looks on my Playstation is incredible.

But I hate working with it. I have no desire to keep “updating my skills”, especially when I know that most “updates” in technology are bullshit to sell more gear or subscriptions or whatever. Most software only ever becomes bloatware, and loses its core functions as time goes on (see Facebook’s awful algorithm or Twitter’s semi-monthly attempts to force the HOME feature no one wants on its users).

Sometimes, things are fine the way they are and simplicity is almost always the best choice.

I have no passion for this type of work, not for a long, long time. I fell into it as a teenager and kid, because it was the cool, cutting edge thing at the time, but I have always wanted to be an artist (writing/drawing/music). I’m just not enough of a hustler to do it and beyond writing, I’m too old and too busy to develop the skills to excel at anything else.

I need a month off to get my shit straight, but instead, I’m working the job of five people, doing work I hate with people I don’t particularly care for (and some recent subtractions I absolutely hated). When the hell do I get to slack and figure it out? It’s not like I can go back in time and be fifteen again.

It’s not like I was even able to make that choice at fifteen. If there’s one feature of our culture that pisses me off, it’s that we expect children, most of whom have no concept of what the real world or work is like yet, and who barely know themselves (if they do at all), to decide what they want to do for the rest of their days at such young ages.

How well does that ever work out?

I’ll tell you, as a forty-four year old who wants nothing more than to go “find himself” and go back to school for something he actually might want to do… pretty well never.