One month in– Things are ok

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notchancechangeSo it’s officially the end of the first month of 2015. Things have been slow sometimes, hectic others. I honestly wish life things could be spread out more consistently but I guess you can’t pick and choose what life throws your way.

So I wanted to update some of the things I have been working on for this year. As you might remember, my theme for this year has been living outside of my comfort zone. Having moved to SF during the latter half of 2014, much of the beginning of my time here was spent getting acclimated– new apartment, new job, new everything. And then once the dust settles (as it always does– by the way– in all the good things as well as bad things in life), you look around and you wonder, “What now?”

All in all, things have been ok. In this month, here are some of the things I’ve been able to do: dinner during Restaurant Week, volunteered twice (once at a food bank with my friend, another with a group at a homeless shelter), Sketchfest at the California Academy of Sciences, Happy Hour with my former coworkers, a former coworker/friend’s painting party and other little things here and there. It’s been a pretty decent month.

Along the way, I have been asking my friends for advice and tips for reacclimating to a new space and their feedback has been super helpful. I’m sharing some of the things I’ve learned and picked up from these conversations and just other things that I’ve generally been learning in this process.

1) My friend moved from the SF Bay area to Miami for a job. I asked her the things she did to start building a life there and she said she signed up for MeetUps and did a lot of things with her coworkers. I have tried to follow suit and it’s been good. I try to sign up for presentations, walks/exercise things and volunteer events.

2) Happy Hour with my former colleagues was pretty nice. It was all people who used to work at the company in Silicon Valley who are now located in SF. As we were leaving, we marveled at how nice it was to get together and someone wondered aloud, “Why haven’t we don’t this before?” And in truth, it’s really because for some things, you need that catalyst to make it happen. In this case, it was supposedly for a former coworker who is very pregnant. However, this being her last workday before maternity leave, she wasn’t able to attend. But it was a good time and I hope we have more in the future.

3) Another thing that I’ve realized is that often people are very willing and able and interested to do something, but they just don’t ask– be it because of lack of confidence or assuming that others don’t want to join. So now when I’m interested in doing something, I’m much more proactive about asking around to see if anyone wants in. This is kind of a duh thing, perhaps, but I guess I’m just surprised that how much people keep things to themselves until you actually bring it up to them.

4) This is something of a tangential thought but I think the advent of technology has really killed people’s sense of presence and connection. I know that in the past this has been true for me. When I first graduated from college, my best friend moved to Italy and I spent a lot of time at home, thinking about her, emaling her and generally not getting out as much as I should have. In the end, we had a disagreement after a trip and didn’t keep in touch. But the same seems true today– that we rely on chatting and social media to have a sense of community. I know that this is currently true for me so I have been trying to rely less on technology-based relationships and get out there and connect with people in real life. It’s been really good.

5) Somewhat related to #3 and #4– people are really open to connecting, sometimes you just have to be bold and get things started. At Sketchfest, I sat next to a woman and we struck up a conversation. At the end of the show, I asked her if we could connect via LinkedIn and she agreed. I’m not saying that I’ve found my next best friend but she is also a single, urban professional and lives in the neighborhood so it’s nice to keep building your network for even simple things like a walk around the park.

6) Finally, the thing that I’m learning and that as an introvert I struggle with, is just saying YES. If someone asks you to go to something or put something on your calendar or suggests something, etc., just say yes. Don’t go home and hermit and read by yourself. Get out there, if even for a little bit. Again, maybe a duh point but something that I am always reminding myself.

So that’s it from me. LIfe isn’t 100% but it’s good and I’m still working at it.

Being the best in SF

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the bestIt’s a Saturday morning in San Francisco and I have an hour to kill while my potato cooks. I am making myself a brunch because tonight my friend and I are having dinner at a place participating in the Restaurant Week series here in SF. My friend told me about it (for some reason I am never clued into stuff like this) and I strong armed my friend into coming with me because I wanted to see what this was all about.

Truthfully though, I feel like there is this need while living in SF these days to– how shall I put it?– validate living here. A “keeping up with the Joneses, the hipster edition.” I don’t think this sentiment existed 10 years ago, when my peers and I were graduating from college and settling into our careers and lives in Northern California. And maybe because I’ve seen SF life pre- and post the startup buzz of the past 8 or so years that I’m particularly sensitive to it. Or maybe it’s just me as a person, especially as I’m getting older and valuing different things in my life compared to a 20 something just starting out today. So this post is my reflection on this.

So I don’t know that I would definitively call it a competition versus the more innocuous act of relating, but what I sense when I am a part of conversations here in SF (not so much in the South Bay) is this sense of: me too, me too. I did that. Yeah, I’ve been there. Yeah, I ate there. I feel like there is this competition to prove that you are just as much of a {insert the descriptor, be it foodie/hipster/ tech maven/etc} as the next guy. It’s a life by checklist. It’s the “don’t be THAT guy who has nothing to add to the conversation.”

And I think the idea of competition and checklist exists by proxy here in SF. Every year, 7×7, a magazine dedicated to life in SF, puts out a list of food places you MUST GO TO. And digital life is all about curation, be it Buzzfeed or any other half-assed content provider. There is value in curation, so I’m not knocking it (half my life as a marketer is about curation). At any rate, I just feel like sometimes life is based on a some kind of a hipster deus ex machina who decrees with force and confidence, “Though Shalt Get a Reservation at State Bird Provisions and Then Share Across All Thy Social Media.”

Same goes with competition. Eating at some places is literally a competition. Many years back, I remember visiting a friend in SF and going to Mama’s in North Beach for brunch. We literally picked up coffee and a pastry as sustenance while we stood in a queue that wrapped around the building. This was probably back in 2006 or 2007 so I have no idea what the experience is like these days. On another occasion, my friend and I tried to visit, at his suggestion, Outerlands and were told it would be a 2 hour wait. TWO HOURS. I said no. No. NO. And then we ate some delicious pork sliders at another place and it was perfectly fine.

I think a lot of factors go into this new way of life here in SF. Yelp launched in 2004 telling everybody where they should go based on user generated content. I don’t have anything scientific to back this up though I think if I wasn’t being lazy, I maybe could find information that confirms my theory. But yelp to me is a self fulfilling prophecy. I think there is a high barrier to entry for new establishments to “win” but once that happens it is a crazy upward trajectory. Here’s how it works: people go to a place. They write a review. New people read the reviews, obviously go to the place with a lot of good reviews, they go to those places too. And I think bias plays into it. Once you’ve used a good review to go to an establishment, it would have to be a miserable experience for you to leave a bad review. And the engine goes and on– popularity of some places growing exponentially because of yelp’s existence. What you end up with is a few places that EVERYONE and their Mama (do you like how I worked that in there?) is trying to go to therefore resulting in a 2 hour wait.

And of course then in conversation everyone talks about these places, as a badge of “LOOK– I DID IT TOO!” further creating the demand for the experience. Social media bumps this up manifold. Seeing what our cohorts are doing adds pressure that we should be doing it too. And vice versa, we need to uphold our persona so we do things, I suspect, at times solely to put it on social media and add to the flair vest that is our digital lives. This is partially why I hate when people take pictures of food and post them to social media. I mean I don’t want to knock it but its value has always eluded me. When I encounter delicious food, I quickly put it in my belly and I am happy. I’ve never really felt the need to showcase my gastronomical experiences personally.

Competition implies exclusivity: by definition there has to be the haves and the have-nots. Nobody likes living the First Place for Participation award version of life. I find it interesting that so many people complain about other people doing the same things that they are doing. The traffic is so bad because all those people are living in SF and commuting down to jobs in Silicon Valley. It’s so hard to find parking because everyone insists on bringing cars to SF. Back in the day circa 2001, a lot of people who I went to school with at Cal (who didn’t have cars themselves) moved to SF without cars. It just wasn’t a big thing. Now I very rarely meet a transplant who doesn’t insist on bringing a car with them to SF despite its infrequent use and the congestion caused by cars in the city. I went to volunteer with a group of people who lived in the East Bay and there was a lot of complaint of people moving from SF to Oakland and changing how life is there. Though, the irony is that the minute that yuppies/hipsters started moving to the East Bay, life started changing there immediately (admittedly in some ways for the better). There is just this sense of I want this great thing but only for me, I need to find a way to get other people not to want to do this great thing that I have. I’m not necessarily knocking it but observing its existence.

So yeah, I guess that’s it for this blog. I’m not trying to say that I’m immune to the competition of life that is San Francisco. After all, I have taken a taste of the Kool-Aid and am headed out for what I consider a pricey meal tonight. But I think part of me waxes nostalgic for the SF that used to be. When you did a fun thing, with a good friend, only because you wanted to do it, and then kept that happy memory to yourself.

Happy weekend, everybody!

This old dog learning new tricks

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dog-jumping

So it is nearing a month into the new year and I am valiantly trying to stick to my new year’s resolution of living outside of my box and generally being open to new things and trying to grow as a person. So I have been taking ballet classes at the local school as a means of getting some exercise especially since it gets dark so early and I can’t go on after work runs. Plus it is a social exercise which is a good complement to my solitary runs.

I took ballet when I was in high school after about 8 years training as a figure ice skater. In the ice skating world, you only spin in one direction. So like Zoolander, I am not an ambi-turner. I can only really turn in one direction. I am also flat-footed. So basically, despite having dance training, I am really a terrible dancer.

On top of that, things are so much harder to pick up, learn and do as you get older. Things that were so whimsically easy when you were a kid are so dang hard now. Like doing cartwheels. And memorizing stuff– like anything stuff. This point became explicitly clear to me when I tried to learn to play the guitar about 10 years ago. I had been a pianist as a youngster so I thought I would be amazing at the guitar.

I was not. I was terrible, in fact. I was convinced that my huge man hands, while making me a wondrous piano virtuoso, were simply too large and awkward to stroke the delicate strings of a guitar. And I think the fact that I had been such a good pianist when I was younger made it so much harder to stomach how terrible I was as a guitarist. I really drove home the point that things are so much easier to pick up as a kid. Math was easy. Learning new hobbies was easy. Making new friends was easy. It was all comparatively so easy.

And then you get older and you grow self conscious. You lose mastery of some parts of your body. You overthink. And just generally, the ease that you once experience just isn’t there. You have to work harder for such smaller gains. In ballet class today, there were moments where I flat out couldn’t figure out what my body was doing. During a glissade-jete exercise, I will fully admit that I resembled a dog catching a frisbee. And if you could read what was going through my mind during that routine, it was a mixture of “glissade-and-a-jete…. glissade-and-a-jete” and “oh my god, what is my left foot doing?” Everything requires so much more work and attention now.

Like with my short guitar career, it is tempting to give up. You don’t want to look stupid and you want to focus on things that you are good at. But I guess the point of growing up is you have to now do things that are uncomfortable. You have to take leaps in your career and do things that you don’t know that you’re 100% capable of doing. You have to engage in relationships without a strong sense of knowing exactly where it’s going to go. And you have to put yourself out there because the world is a big place and you know you will never be fulfilled standing static in your little corner of the world.

So I danced my little frisbee dog heart out. And it was fine.

Yay for the long weekend

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tgifThough its been just a couple of weeks since the start of the year, it’s already been a trying time it seems like. Everyone is excited for the weekend– in this case a long 3-day weekend that nobody seemed to see coming but that I’m sure everyone is grateful for.

I don’t want to get too into the details but we had layoffs at my workplace– ones we knew were likely coming but that nobody can ever be totally prepared for. I wasn’t affected but I know people who were. On a side note, my friend also let me know that he had been let go from his job. Even though, as business professionals, we know that sometimes these things happen, it’s still always really tough regardless of where you sit in the aftermath (a “survivor” or the newly unemployed).

So I feel these days a sort of heaviness– like a sadness tinged with a bit of worry. It’s like the start of the re-realization that things can change in a heartbeat just when you started to let your guard down and think that everything will be all right. That life is not really stable, no matter how many good things we try to do to make it that way. That blessings are few and far between and can be snatched away before you really even got to fully enjoy them. I don’t think I’m depressed– just kind of rueful and anxious.

So that’s kind of all for this blog. I’m looking forward to the weekend. I think it will be really nice.

Why start the journey?

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FOX_3558.psdI went to see the movie “Wild” tonight. I wasn’t too into the movie at the beginning but have to admit by the end, I had shed a few tears.

As I watched the movie, I knew that I wanted to base today’s blog post on something about journeys– especially since having recently moved up to SF and navigating a new life, I feel these days like I’ve started on a new journey of sorts.The journey is a commonly used metaphor for a lot of things: life, travails and troubles, the start of a big endeavor. I wanted to write something that wasn’t terribly hackneyed or cliched. So I’m including in this post just a bunch of the different things that I thought about while watching this movie.

Anytime you do something big, you experience that moment where you think to yourself, “What the fuck was I thinking? What have I gotten myself into?” As the main character, Cheryl, starts on her 90 day track from Mexico to Canada, she chastises herself, wondering what she’s gotten herself into. She tells herself she can quit at any time. She experiences some big challenges at the start of her journey– a stove that doesn’t work forcing her to eat cold mush the first few days of her trek, hiking shoes that are too small causing her toenails to fall off… She has many reasons at the start to call it a valiant effort and to call the whole thing off.

I can think of many moments in my life where I have had that “What the fuck have I done?” self-rebuke. I signed up to study abroad in grad school and was placed in Brazil. On one night, when a friend mentioned the favelas of Rio, I googled it and gasped. Oh my God– what was I walking into? I also landed in Rio amid a tropical storm and without a place to live. I checked into a hostel for the night and then proceeded to pound the pavement (not knowing a lick of Portuguese) in order to secure a place to live for the 3 months that I was there. Every day that led to my departure on this journey, I was very aware of the very comfortable alternative: being a student on the very sunny streets of LA. I’m going to come back to this thought nearer to the end of this blog post.

Part way through her journey, the protagonist comes across two hunters looking for water. As a woman traveling alone, she definitely was in a vulnerable situation throughout her trip. When she says goodbye and departs from the two men, she is startled to find that one of the guys has followed her back to her tent. The man looks, to be honest, kind of “rapey” and then proceeds to make suggestive comments to her. He is called away by his companion but it is certainly a very scary moment for the main character.

If I overlay this idea of a journey being a metaphor for life, in my life the rapey weirdo would be that former coworker that was trying to cyberbully me a few months ago. It really took me a long time to get over that and I feel like I should stop thinking about it. So I’m going to blog some stuff about that now and then call it. It’s done.

I think what really bothered me about that whole incident is just how insane the entire thing was. You separate from a person you think has perpetual malicious intent only to find that without any social or online connection to a person, he has found your blog and found it appropriate as an adult grown person (he’s 30+ years old) to write nasty comments. It’s really unbelievable. I recently forwarded one of his nasty notes to a former coworker we both knew and this was the discourse that occurred:

Me: Btw did I ever tell you that {Abuser} was cyberstalking me and sending me “anonymous” nasty comments?

Ex-coworker: What? No. Why would he do that?

Me: Because he’s a big bully. Here is one of the comments I got. The very bottom link shows that it’s coming from a company called HealthTap where {Abuser} works now.

Ex-coworker: How bizarre. If he’s that disdainful, why bother reading your blog at all? And why take so much time to comment? Can he find nothing better to do? That’s spectacularly weird.

My friend’s comment summarizes it all. Only a ridiculous person reads content that he doesn’t like and then proceeds to spend the time writing a crazy retort. When I really thought about this during the movie, I realized that in the journey of life, you will sometimes encounter terrible people– people with terrible intentions and without the self control to act like a civilized human being. In the movie, the main character tries to act calmly in order to survive the situation should it have escalated. I realized that this is only way that you can combat truly crazy people. The best you can do is act as normally as you can given the consequences. I will be honest that I considered a lot of options in how to deal with the Abuser. He gave me a lot of material to work with. In the end, I told him to stop via his girlfriend and I also forwarded all the material to his employer. I considered this the responsible response to the actions of a crazy person. I really hope he gets fired. He deserves to be. But even if nothing happens, I know in my heart that I didn’t let him get away with being a bully in yet another situation in his life. I said what I needed to say and I feel proud of that.

I also though thought about the Abuser’s girlfriend during the movie and about life being a journey. During the time that we worked together, she was in the process of getting a divorce from her husband– a man she had been with for over 10 years. I never asked too many questions because I knew that this was a private and difficult matter. At the end of the day, what happens between two people is private and I certainly don’t know all the details leading to the dissolution of their life together. But during some of our discussions, the girlfriend mentioned that her ex-husband had strong opinions and this led her to follow his lead rather than making the choices that perhaps she would have preferred. They began dating while in high school. I asked her: had they not gotten together, what different choices would she have made? Her responses made me think she would have made all different choices in her life: she would have chosen a different college, she would have considered studying abroad, she would have followed things that interested and challenged her rather than following the lead set out by her mate.

She commented that from her divorce, she realized that it’s important to see the true core of a mate. Beauty fades, she observed, so you want to make sure you are with someone who is good and who you can live alongside. During the separation, she was reading books, she was hoping to travel and scratch the travel itch that she hadn’t tended to during the earlier years of her life. She expressed to me, or so I interpreted, a desire to embark on an incredibly beautiful new journey– one where she satisfied her desire to be around great people, seeing great things and experiencing the freedom that she hadn’t experienced until that point in her life.

I believed her. And I was rooting for her. So imagine my disappointment when she got together with with a controlling, mean-spirited individual whose only focus in life was partying and getting black out drunk. I knew even at the time that he was controlling and mean because I began seeing signs of it and it made me uncomfortable. And now having received the comments from him, I know it to be completely true. Trying to intimidate another person using abusive language is an attempt to control their ability to share their thoughts. You know a person’s true character not when you see them at their best but rather when you see them at their worst.

One of the worst things that I remember of him was when he made fun of a coworker. This coworker had a physical disability (a lazy eye). When I brought up this person by name, the Abuser made a gesture where he brought his hands up to each eye and and pointed in opposite directions. This is a 30 year old man making fun of a person’s physical disability. I could not believe it. I honestly felt like I was dealing with a teenager when I was around the Abuser– his actions were hate-filled and his rationale totally ludicrous. He repeatedly showed how mean and controlling he was and it got to the point where I just couldn’t stand to be around the Abuser and all of his antics.  I don’t know why the girlfriend doesn’t see this but I hope she starts getting clued in to his true character before it’s too late.

I’ll say at the end of the day, their relationship is none of my business, which is why I as well as other coworkers distanced ourselves from these two. But I will say that it struck me as being incredibly tragic for my coworker to emerge from what she felt was a suffocating relationship (with a great guy) only to throw herself into another suffocating relationship with (based on evidence and behavior) a mean and controlling individual. It’s like taking the opportunity to embark on a wonderful new journey and going on the same journey previously traveled, the one with disastrous results. In the movie, there is a phrase that is constantly repeated. I might have it wrong but it is something like: put yourself in the way of beauty. I hope that she will someday have the courage to embark on a beautiful journey in her life and do all the things she told me she wanted in her life and with a partner who has a good heart.

So that’s done. Whee!

So back to what I alluded to earlier. I said that when I was about to travel to Brazil, I knew that I could have taken the safer route and just stayed home. And in the journeys we take, be it the finite ones or the big journey known as life, we encounter terrible people and other negative situations. And for me, I made the decision to actively move to SF though I could have stayed in the South Bay and found jobs down there. And it’s great up here but hard in some ways. So in the context of all these things, I wondered to myself: Then why do we do it? Why do we start these journeys? Why do we put ourselves through the struggles, the tough moments, the trials and challenges– especially when we are aware of the much more comfortable alternatives?

And when I really think about it, my response to that question is: we do it and we put ourselves through it because when we looked back on it all, we would never forgive ourselves for not having at least given it a try.

So I will end my blog here. Happy weekend, everybody!

It’s day 3 of 2015 already: Let’s get a move on!

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onward-and-upward-quote-1I hope that everybody is having a nice new year. And if you’re not, well, it’s the beginning so it can only get better (or so we should always hope).

I spent NYE at a former coworker’s house, at a fondue party she hosted. I very much appreciated the invitation and actually, my excoworker and her life is a great segue into me setting some of my 2015 goals.

So I recently moved up to San Francisco and most of the last few months of 2014 were a whirlwind. Being new to the city, there were lots of people to meet up with and when it wasn’t daylight savings, I used to love getting home early and taking a run through Golden Gate Park. (I still love doing that, actually, but now I reserve my runs for the weekends.) When it started getting cold, my enthusiasm waned or I’d exhausted my “omg I haven’t seen you in forever!” plans-making and I started hermiting more than I should have. I passed up a few invitations to things, sometimes due to feeling unwell. But basically, I was not being as social as I should have been. My friend confirmed this last night– that I was finding excuses not to go out on certain occasions.

On to my excoworker. Honestly, she’s just a great person. You know how sometimes you meet people and you can’t believe that this person exists in current society? They are just kind and good people without an ounce of negativity? I’m not that type of person so when I meet people like this, I think it’s just so interesting and it’s a way of living and being in this world that I think is refreshing and something to aspire to.

Ok, enough about that. So my excoworker has the exact opposite lifestyle to me. Where I am an introvert who likes spending time on my own at home, she is super scheduled. I would say overscheduled. She has a lot of activities on her plate and is often out and busy. Whereas I don’t want to have things on my calendar every night, I do think that I need more regimented activities on my calendar. I had a conversation with another excoworker about this and he mentioned that he also wanted to have a more compartmentalized life– certain days where he did exercise, certain days where he did social things.

When I looked at the gestalt of my life, therefore, I decided that my theme for 2015 would be “living outside of the box.” So whereas in 2014 I focused on simplifying and removing extraneous parts of my life, my goals in 2015 will be on living outside of my comfort zone and pushing myself to do new things and go outside of my natural tendency to hermit. So here is a list of things that I am thinking about and that I will work on in this new year.

1) Find a group exercise “thing” and stick with it.

I run a fair amount but this is a solitary activity (that admittedly is sometimes necessary) but in 2015, I need to find a group activity that I can do on a regular basis. I used to take ballet classes when I lived in the South Bay and I felt a little eh about them. Truthfully, my favorite ballet class was in graduate school. There is something wonderfully mindless about doing barre. At any rate, I live, I kid you not, a block away from a ballet studio that offers night classes for adults. I always found a reason not to go. So that is something I need to give a go.

But if I am to be really honest, I have always tinkered with the idea of taking a martial arts class. It seems like a good thing to do and learn while also getting exercise. My fear, as an adult, is the possibility of getting hurt and just the embarrassment of looking like a fool and not knowing what you’re doing. But if I am really to live outside my comfort zone, this something I should look into and start doing. So stay tuned on that.

2) Dating

Ack, the dreaded d-word. So my single friends and I — we KNOW we need to date. It’s just so incredibly painful. But despite the protests and all the excuses we make, we know that we have to do it and now that I’m more settled geographically, it’s something I have to attend to. I don’t know that I want to set an exact target like one of my friends (she does something like 2 dates a week though her success rate hasn’t been stellar) but again, it’s something I need to really focus on in 2015. I have noodled over the kitschy concept of starting a group with my single friends where we get together and report on the progress of our dating efforts– but I don’t know if that’s ridiculous.

3) General exploration

I went out to dinner with a couple of grad school classmates and when we were all preparing to leave for home, one friend shouted, “Yay, new SF friends!” It made me think about conversations with a lot of my friends. There is a lot to do in SF, old friends to connect with, especially if you have collected them from the many academic and professional phases of your life. But in truth, I think everyone would agree that you could always make new friends, meet new people, and try new things. I tend to fall into ruts– hanging out with friends over and over because it’s comfortable and not vulnerable. But I think I need to try some new things. To this aim, I am going to look into doing volunteer things and maybe joining a hiking group or something to that effect. I am going to try to put together events more than I have in the past.

So these are the buckets of things I plan to tackle in 2015. Like 2014, I also want to keep living in an engaged way. I read 28 books in 2014 and I plan to keep my reading up by again setting a target of reading 20 books in 2015. I also would like to keep saving money. I actually don’t know if my 20% of savings in 2014 was terribly accurate (it’s between 15 and 20% for sure). So I’m keeping better records and still aiming to put at least 15% in savings. And I want to take a big trip sometime in 2015.

Here, incidentally, is the list of books I read in 2014:

1) Status Update by Alice Warwick

2) Some Nerve by Patty Chang Anker

3) Secrets of Simplicity by Mary Carlomagno

4) Reinventing the Bazaar by John McMillan

5) The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld

6) Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

7) The Circle by Dave Eggers

8) The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti

9) Give and Take by Adam Grant

10) The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

11) Quiet by Susan Cain

12) Seeing What Others Don’t by Gary Klein

13) How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World, The Art of Living with Style, Class and Grace by Jordan Christy

14) Mastering the Art of French Eating, Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Amy Mah

15) I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

16) The Longest Date, Life as a Wife by Cindy Chupack

17) Joie de Vivre, Secrest of Wining, Dining and Romancing Like the French by Harriet Wetty Rochefort

18) Man and Wife by Tony Parsons

19) Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

20) Denial by Richard S. Tedlow

21) Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

22) The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

23) It’s Jut a F***ing Date by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola

24) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

25) The Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

26) 20 Something Manifesto by Christine Hassler

27) Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

28) Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow