Curating Books

Around two years ago I bought Theroux’s Tao of Travel.  Ever since then that book has opened me to a whole new world of travel writers.  Like a curator at a bookshop, Theroux has introduced me to Cahill, O’Hanlon, and Chatwin, who’s journeys I’m about to embark upon.  There are many more to read, and since I am a completionist, I’m probably going to try to read them all.  I’ve also come across the books of Rory Stewart and Brian Thacker (not recommended by Theroux).  

Because of the TED talks, I’ve also been introduced to a diverse bunch of intellectuals like Clay Shirky.  By my bed are the books Nonzero by Robert Wright and Shadow Cities by Robert Neuwirth.  The latter featured in TED but was actually introduced to me by the Global Business Network (GBN) by Stewart Brand, both of them also TEDsters.  

I also just finished the Coursera course on Fantasy and Science Fiction which introduced me to the books of Cory Doctorow.  I also have the book Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson recommended by Time magazine.  

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are so many books out there and a lot of them were recommended to me by the Internet.  And with the amount of books out there, we need others to “curate” the book for us ahead of time.  Amazon recommendations help a great deal.  I have never actually ordered a book by myself over Amazon, but I do keep an Amazon wishlist which leads me to other books by using Amazon recommends.  I use this wishlist wherever I go in the world, so I know what to buy.  

Travel for me nowadays isn’t just about going to exotic places, part of it is really just going to other first world cities, and see what their bookstores have to offer.  I know I could cave and just get books over my iPad, but it just isn’t the same.  Kinokuniya is my favorite haunt.  And in Korea I found the great What the Book? in Itaewon.  Locally I go to Fully Booked, and if I can’t find it, I order over the National Bookstore networks, they may take a long time, but it’s better than nought.  

My dad advised me to always read the good books first, because there simply isn’t enough time for them all.  He was right, and I haven’t read a bad book in a long time.  Recently, on TED, I was looking for a book called The Language Instinct.  My dad passed away seven years ago, and I found the book right on his shelf.  Thanks, Dad, I love you and miss you.


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