Recommended Reading

What do writers read when they’re not writing? 

Good writing. Great writing. Stuff that earns professional admiration and profound consideration. Thoughtful poetry. Arguments constructed elegantly. Wit.

Lately I’ve found myself increasingly turning to the work of three writers, all different, all ingenious in their own way. If you’re a regular reader of this space, you’ll dig these cats.

1) Mark Slouka. The novelist’s recent essay in Harper’s about the decline of the Humanities in favor of mathandscience is one of the most marvelous, enlightening, provocative, smart, and necessary documents I’ve read. Ever. What an artist — and what a mind! 

2) Derek Sivers. The guy is not a master stylist. He’s a masterful thinker who’s able to distill profound ideas into simple concepts. The founder of the iconic indie-music site CDBaby, Sivers offers consistently worthwhile mini-essays on his site. Music, art, relationships, work, innovation — when he has a fresh thought, he shares it. Most of them, I’ve found, are useful and deceptively deep.

3) Conrado de Quiros. He’s the finest newspaper columnist in the Philippines, a dysfunctional mock-democracy where those willing to speak truth to power are depressingly rare. Reading him daily in the Philippines Daily Inquirer Opinions page is a reminder that brave, smart, determined humanists can survive — and thrive — even in the face of oppression and deceit. With barely contained rage and devastating humor, Mr. de Quiros reminds me of Twain at his best, railing against the corrupt institutions that keep free minds enslaved by ignorance. It’s not often that a mere writer can be considered a hero. This great man is one.

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