1) The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac, by Freedarko.
This book is perpetually on my coffee table, if only so I can read through it (again and again) every time there’s a commercial break during the NBA playoffs. It’s a really hard book to describe, but if you think you might enjoy Langston Hughes references in an essay on Lamar Odom, or might like a digression into Shanghai architecture and globalization while reading about Yao Ming, then get this book. On a related note, I really enjoyed the email conversation between Simmons and Gladwell.
2) The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.
Where does talent come from? This is the best summary I’ve read of deliberate practice, which is the optimal way to learn, well, anything. Coyle also finds a way to make myelin and glial cells (not the sexiest parts of the brain) utterly fascinating, if only by interspersing the science with tales from Russian tennis academies and the life story of the Bronte sisters.
3) “Papa Was A Rodeo,” by Bright Eyes
Does Bright Eyes still exist? Or is Conor Oberst now “Conor Oberst”? (The new album, by the way, is a little disappointing. Sorta reminds me of Planet Waves, in that the music feels a bit too casual and slapdash.) But this cover of one of my favorite Magnetic Fields song is fantastic. I’ve also been enjoying The Hold Steady cover of “Atlantic City”. And Juana Molina (via Radio Lab). And the new Dylan album, which gets better with repeated listens.
4) The Sopranos
The Wire gets all the blog love, but I’ve been slowly re-watching The Sopranos on DVD and it’s astonishingly good. (If The Wire is Dickensian, then the Sopranos is Shakespearian. The characters are all too human.)
A crazy splurge, I know. But how often does modernist beauty intersect with sheer comfort? In fact, the chair is so comfortable that it has actually affected my reading habits. I’ll read mediocre novels and tedious journal articles for hours just so I don’t have to leave the padded, leather womb of my lounger.