The portfolio and writerspace for Al Gentile

Top Shelf: Androids, Email Marketing, and the Swami

Having made a personal promise to read more for professional development, personal growth, and enjoyment, I wanted to share my current reading list along with some insights on choice, reflection, and intent. If you like, you can follow the title links to the pages for each title.

Email Marketing Demystified by Matthew Paulson: I picked up this title because of the glowing reviews touting its ability to establish a working multi-channel knowledge of email marketing. So far (only two chapters in) I am completely enamored with how simply the subject is laid out, from what an Email Service Provider (ESP) actually does, to more complex subjects like monetization of email lists. Incredibly readable and easy to understand—in my opinion, even someone with no experience in marketing will get it.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick: Having been a longtime fan of iconic sci-fi thriller Bladerunner, and recently having seen Bladerunner: 2049, I finally came around to purchasing this title for the obvious writer-y reason: the book is usually better than the movie. I haven’t started yet, but I’m crossing my fingers that this veritable master of sci-fi will not let down as the movies.

Also, Bladerunner 2049 is worth almost three hours of your time. Go see it. Seriously. But beware, it does move quite slowly. This review from Melanie and the typewriter I think encapsulates what to expect, without spoilers,  very well.

Meditation and Its Methods by Swami Vivekanda: I read this in one sitting on the bus from Oslo to Copenhagen on my recent trip to Scandinavia. I have an insatiable interest in meditation and the practical elements of Buddhism, though this book really delves deep into the spirituality and moral aspects of the discipline. The best part about it is, in my opinion, the small anecdotes and tidbits of wisdom that serve as great focal points of contemplation. Here’s a very short one below:

There is a pretty Indian fable to the effect that if it rains when the star Svati is in the ascendant, and a drop of rain falls into an oyster, that drop becomes a pearl. The oysters know this, so they come to the surface when that star shines, and wait to catch the previous raindrop. When a drop falls into them, quickly the oysters close their shells and dive down to the bottom of the sea, there to patiently develop the drop into the pearl. We should be like that. First hear, then understand, and then, leaving all distractions, shut your minds to outside influences, and devote yourselves to developing the truth within you.”  – Page 44-45

It’s passages like this, very simple and understandable, that make meditative reflection an easier thing to achieve. This is a title I’ll keep on my shelf for years to come, coming back time to time looking for a small piece of contemplative knowledge. Worth it if you can get over the spirituality that pervades much of the book.

What’ve you been reading lately and why? Leave a comment below!

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