Wow. I finished just three books this year. Too much Reddit.
- Trust in Mind: The Rebellion of Chinese Zen by Soeng Mu
Xinxin Ming - Trust in Mind - is a poem attributed to Sengcan, the 3rd Chinese patriarch of Chan (Zen). It is one of my favorite Zen teachings. "Favorite" meaning one that I continue to wrestle with.
The first three chapters trace the evolution of Zen Buddhism in China. The rest is a stanza-by-stanza commentary. I'd previously viewed much of the poem as somewhat repetitive, but this changed and deepened my understanding a great deal. It also includes a collection of ten different English translations for comparison.
My family has thoroughly tired of hearing me repeat the introductory lines...
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
- The Essence of Chan: A Guide to Life and Practice According to the Teachings of Bodhidharma by Guo Go
This commentary on Bodhidharma's "Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices" was the reading for one of my Zen sangha's retreats. It's a slim volume (the treatise is quite short, as well.) We were lucky to have the author join us for a dharma talk.
- Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? by Mark Fisher
Another slim volume. I think I stumbled onto this, and the late social critic Mark Fisher, via an episode of the podcast Chapo Trap House. It's a rather depressing and infuriating commentary on our current society.
- Unruly Equality: US Anarchism in the Twentieth Century by Andrew Cornell
I've got about 100 pages remaining in this. Most of my conception of anarchism is grounded in early thinkers from the 19th Century and Spanish anarchism during their civil war in the 1930s. The evolution of anarchist theory and practice in the US is a lot more complex than I thought. Highly recommended.
- The Power of Giving Power Away: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go by Matthew Barzun
Barzun's expansion on an essay from 2021, one of the best I'd read that year (sadly can't find the link). Unfortunately, the book version feels like it was trying to triangulate into a best seller and is less powerful, which is probably why I set it aside.
- Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling For Less by Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao
I used to absolutely devour business books like this. Now, I have a hard time getting through more than a few pages. But Bob Sutton is probably the one business "guru" I still respect, alongside Jeffrey Pfeffer. I picked this up because my company is in the throes of scaling. Some of the case studies haven't aged well as the example companies have run off the rails in subsequent years.
- This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom by Martin Hägglund
Kip, I promise, I will eventually finish this. ;-)
Sadly, my tsundoku (pile of unread books) is massive and ever growing. A snapshot of intention for 2023:
- Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home by Charlie Wertzel and Anne Helen Petersen
- The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively by Todd B. Kashdan
- The Socialist Manifesto by Bhaskar Sunkara
- Buddhist Ethics: A Philosophical Exploration by Jay Garfield
- The World After Capital by Albert Wegner
- ¡No Pasarán!: Antifascist Dispatches From a World in Crisis edited by Shane Burley