This is for Kai of offscreen / dense discovery.
1. Your full name.
John Forbes Graeber-Scrugham
2. Your job title/mini bio in 3-5 words.
Head of Solutions at Coda - my team and I basically do the whole software go to market for specific solutions across teams and industries: design/develop, package, and distribute (sales/marketing) no/low code software applications.
3. A link to your preferred social media profile or your website.
4. A portrait photo that we can crop into a square
5. Your list of books (I will add links to Bookshop.org later, so no links needed)
For your list, please keep in mind:
- Aim for 5-8 books in total. Most of them should be fiction novels, but you can also include memoirs/biographies.
- Try to feature at least a few books that aren't already widely recommended/bestsellers.
- Please keep your descriptions short: 1-2 sentences on what the book is about and why you like it.
- For a previous example, please check issues 230 or 226.
- A tale for the time being by Ruth Ozeki. Ruth tells her own story of moving from a big city to an island in BC alongside a fictional diary that she “finds on a beach” of a girl sharing her journey and struggles with moving back to Japan from Silicon Valley. I love the style of memoir meets magical realism and themes of native/foreigness.
- Anthem by Ayn Rand. If you read any of Ayn’s books, this is the one - simply because it’s a concise narrative (~100 page novella) of what she later expanded on in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (each come in at 1,000+ pages). It’s set in a dystopian future where technological advancements are rolled back and are carefully controlled, then two people discover that there’s more to life than what they’ve been told.
- Living High by June Burn. This autobiography is about June and her husband moving out to Washington state and their few decades of life living along the west coast of America: homesteading on a tiny island, starting a family signing troupe, city life, forest cabin. I like to think of my life as having many chapters like her’s, and her sense of adventure and wonder inspire me to consider what’s next for me and my family.
- Dune by Frank Herbert. If you’re skeptical about this one, don’t worry, I was too after starting the book twice then quitting and feeling “meh” after watching the movie on HBO. It wasn’t until moving to Tacoma, Frank’s hometown, that I picked it up again and stuck with it. It’s one of the greatest works of sci-fi/high fantasy as well as environmental, political, and religious writing.
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck. John is well-known for bring early Californian white settlement (~1920s) to life and he does this brilliantly by interweaving a multi-generational, inter-family tale into this landscape.
- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Marco Polo recounts all the cities he’s visited— in their unique colors — to Kublai Khan in a poetic conversation. If you’re a romantic like me for city planning, culture, and travel, this is a must.
There is no real deadline, but within the next 2-3 weeks would be fantastic. Thank you so much!
Here are my top 5 mostly fiction
- Anthem: this novella (200 pages) by Ayn Rand is an early and distilled thesis of what later would become her opus magnum(s) Atlas Shrugged (1299) and to a lesser degree Fountainhead (1300). The key story arc of finding and carrying the light has stayed with me since reading and the plot wasn’t thick with some of Rand’s lengthy libertarian diatribes that she often gets flack for. I’m a slow reader, so this month-long journey was a nice break from my sumer-long marathon with her other works.
- Living High: this one took me by surprise when I picked it up at a remote historical inn on Whidbey Island Washington USA. While not about recreational or pharmaceutical drugs as I had expected from the title 😂 , it’s a beautiful memoir about living life to the fullest. It follows one of the last homesteading couples who moved out from the East Coast of the United States to a tiny island in the Puget Sound, and lays out their wild life as they start a family living in many ways — island fishers, singing troupe, grocery managers — up down the west coast over a few decades.
- Dune: A friend lent me Dune many years back and I got 30 pages into the book, twice. Then I watched the movie on HBO, and I was confident that I shouldn’t read the book: it was a slightly more stressful Star Wars. It wasn’t until I moved to Tacoma, the book’s author’s hometown, that I began seeing the Frank Hebert lore throughout the city and was inspired to try again. This time around, I stuck with it and it was beyond worth the investment: the fantastical world building, political/religious/military power tensions, environmentalism, and themes of indigenous wisdom vs. colonialization all make it one of the best science fiction works, and still crazy relevant in our global warming and fossil fuel dominated 2023.
- A tale for the time being: I’m a sucker for magical realism stories such as Murakimi, Big Fish (both Daniel Wallace’s book and Tim Burton’s movie), and the Studio Ghiblis. What I love about this book by Ruth Ozeki is that it’s partially a memoir about her living on a small island off the coast of British Columbia and part story of a young girl moving back to Japan with her family after a stint in California, through a diary that Ruth finds washed ashore on the beach… until their worlds come together in unexpected ways. I love how Ozeki explores the topic of being a foreigner and what it means to be connected to a place and create meaning from it.
- Invisible Cities. Italo Colvino’s dreamy work is sort of fiction within fiction and could be called a novel but comes off more like interlocked poetry. It’s about Marco Polo recounting all the cities — in their unique color — that he’s visited to Khubli Khan. If you’re a fan of city planning, travel, or romanticized history, this is the book for you.
- Alchemist. Paulo Coelho is a great spiritual author and this is a classic of the spiritual quest / transformation.
- East of Eden. John Steinbeck is an expert of bringing early colonized/agricultural California to life and he does it again in this book, but through a gorgeously interweaves narrative of inter generational families.
- David Sedaris
- I am Malala
- Big fish. Both the book and movie.
- The Harry potters. Because