Anna is Portland KATU TV's book & podcast critic.

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AUGUST, 2022: PODCASTS!

 Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen

The Opportunist: Chris Bathum

Scam Goddess

Who The Hell is Hamish?

Scamfluencers: The Hollywood Ponzi Scheme

READ ANNA'S REVIEWS
 

 

JULY, 2022

Hurricane Girl by Marcy Dermansky

Out of the Corner by Jennifer Grey

When the F Will He Text?: And How to Know If He's Worth the Wait by Sara O’Neil and Jacqueline Kravette

Bumpers by Nic Peterson

The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

 

READ ANNA'S REVIEWS
 

 

APRIL, 2022

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

Embracing Bliss: 108 Daily Meditations by Jeff Kober

Brat by Andrew McCarthy

You're Leaving When?: Adventures in Downward Mobility by Annabelle Gurwitch

Last Resort by Andrew Lipstein

 

READ ANNA'S REVIEWS
 

MARCH, 2022

Miss Aluminum: A Memoir by Susanna Moore

Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity by Scott Galloway

Midlife Bites: Anyone Else Falling Apart, Or Is It Just Me? by Jen Mann

Tired as F*ck: Burnout at the Hands of Diet, Self-Help, and Hustle Culture by Caroline Dooner

Hell Yeah Or No: What's Worth Doing by Derek Sivers

READ ANNA'S REVIEWS
 

FEBRUARY, 2022

Foreverland: On the Divine Tedium of Marriage by Heather Havrilesky

READ ANNA'S REVIEWS
 

JANUARY, 2022

Girl, Stop Passing Out in Your Makeup by Zara Barrie

Skip the Line by James Altucher

The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge

The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty by J. Randy Taraborrelli

Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler

READ ANNA'S REVIEWS
 

NOVEMBER, 2021

The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy

Habit That! by Dr. Jaime Hope

Free PR by Cameron Herold

Life Gives to the Giver by Joe Polish

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

READ ANNA'S REVIEWS
 

OCTOBER, 2021 

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Famous by Now by Via Bleidner

No Filter by Sarah Frier

Traction by Gino Wickman

Book Wars by John B. Thompson

My Addiction and Recovery by Ed Kressy

READ ANNA'S REVIEWS
 

JULY, 2022 SELECTIONS

Hurricane Girl by Marcy Dermansky

Even though this is a novel about a woman who buys a house, immediately loses it in a hurricane and then has a vase smashed over her head by a random cameraman she goes home with, it’s one of the funniest books I’ve read in ages. Dermansky is the master of the droll, dry one-liner that manages to also be descriptive and move the plot along at a tidy pace. The truth is it wouldn’t matter what story she was telling or who her characters were: I just wanted to stay in any world she describes, laughing at times that feel inappropriate, relating way more than I want to and just hoping there will be a sequel. Hurricane Woman, maybe?

Out of the Corner by Jennifer Grey

As someone who was practically raised by the movie Dirty Dancing, I absolutely devoured this memoir. And Grey did not disappoint. She pulls no punches, with herself and all the fascinating people she’s known over the years, from Matthew Broderick (spoiler alert: not a great boyfriend) to Patrick Swayze (turns out that electric chemistry on screen was really just a result of their challenging relationship) to Johnny Depp (he blew her off before dating Winona Ryder, who lived in her building) to the doctor who gave her a nose job (he sucked). Unlike many celebrity memoirs, it’s clear that Grey really stretched herself to create a brutally honest and beautifully written story about her life. And because of her honesty about so many of the bold-faced names she knows, it makes the loving descriptions of her relationship with her dad (the iconic Joel Grey) and best friend (Tracy Pollan, wife of Michael J. Fox) resonate all the more.

When the F Will He Text?: And How to Know If He's Worth the Wait by Sara O’Neil and Jacqueline Kravette

This is one of those advice books that feels like a frank friend giving you the news you may not want but have to accept. Written in a back-and-forth style—one of the authors is married and the other is chronically single—When the F Will He Text is a bit like the modern-day version of He’s Just Not That Into You. It’s technically for women who are hooked in a sort of love addiction cycle and need the harsh reality said to them in a loving way. And the two authors deliver. They also make you laugh out loud while swallowing the bitter pill.

Bumpers by Nic Peterson

Nic Peterson is one of those thinkers who doesn’t come along very often. As in every century maybe? He’s become an icon in the crypto space but, despite being in his early 30s, has already been successful in numerous other fields. Bumpers isn’t about crypto at all. Instead, it summarizes Peterson’s life philosophies which, at their core, are centered around prioritizing your personal needs so you can spend time doing things you love (he, for instance, loves naps). The title is a metaphor for the bumpers in a bowling alley, and the book guides you through how to design your personal bumpers so you can play “all in” just doing the things you love. After reading the book I ended up abandoning two projects I was working on because of one part of the book, which says if you can’t see yourself doing something forever, you shouldn’t do it at all. So consider this a warning: you may want to quit your job after reading this book. And it will probably be a great thing.

The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer is one of those people who, if you’re on the internet enough, you know about. I knew she was a musician who was married to the author Neil Gaiman and I knew she had a lot of Twitter followers. Honestly, I was prepared not to like her when I picked up this book, probably out of jealousy because she has a million Twitter followers and got a foreword from Brene Brown. But reading about her journey from street statue (exactly what it sounds like—she stood still in the street for a living) to scrappy musician to successful musician to icon of the creator economy was undeniably entertaining. The theme that she weaves throughout—how to stop being scared of asking people for help—is a message all of us need to hear and she lays it out in such a unique, honest, compelling and inspiring way that I already loved her before I remembered I’d decided I wasn’t going to.

TAKE ME BACK TO THE JULY, 2022 VIDEO!

APRIL, 2022 SELECTIONS

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

I don’t tend to like mystery thrillers, usually because I don’t relate to the naïve seeming, vanilla characters. That’s why discovering Last Girl Ghosted was so, well, thrilling. It follows the story of a woman named Wren Greenwood (well, that’s sort of her name…you’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean). Gwen is beautiful, successful and looking for love. Swiping leads her to find it. But then, the guy ghosts her. Now most anyone who’s dated in the recent past has experienced that (even someone who’s writing this). It’s horrible. But it’s not nearly as horrible as having it turn out that the guy who ghosted you is actually wanted for the disappearance of the three women he dated before you. Perfectly combining modern life (Wren is a podcaster who occasionally pays in Bitcoin) with a creepy storyline that keeps you whipping through pages at a pace almost as alarming as the story you’re reading, Last Girl Ghosted is a must read. You don’t need to have been single in the age of apps to want to know what will happen to Wren—and whether being ghosted can be as dangerous as it seems.

Embracing Bliss: 108 Daily Meditations by Jeff Kober

Full disclosure: I’ve been reading Jeff Kober’s daily thoughts newsletter for years, every single day before meditating. Because I know him, I’ve long urged him to collect all his daily thoughts into a book, and my reasoning was selfish: I wanted to not have to go into my email before meditating because inevitably I would see something very not spiritual that would get me distracted from the peace I was seeking. And finally he listened! The book is a selection of his daily thoughts, which are a collection of all the spiritual books and experiences he’s read and head, all distilled into incredibly beautiful, helpful, accessible passages anyone seeking bliss can read and relate to. Jeff Kober is a successful actor but also a Vedic meditation teacher and the message of most of the daily thoughts is that all change is good, that negative feelings are just discomfort leaving your body and that we can’t use our logical brain to understand our feelings.

Brat by Andrew McCarthy

Now, if you’re a GenXer who was raised on John Hughes movies and had posters of most of the members of the Brat Pack featured on your teenage walls, a memoir from one of them is a big moment. While Andrew McCarthy always seemed to be the most reserved member of the group and has faded away far more than counterparts like Rob Lowe, he was endlessly fascinating to someone like, well, me. His memoir is astonishingly humble and he documents his rise from wanna-be actor to one of the world’s biggest movie stars in a sort of just-happened-to-be-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time way. He’s ruthlessly honest, talking about both his issues with addiction and his discomfort with his role in the pop culture pantheon. And when he explains he wasn’t REALLY part of the Brat Pack and in fact always felt left out of the group, despite starring in movies with them, you actually believe him. In all, this is a rather sweet tale of an allegedly ordinary guy who, for a time, lived an extraordinary life.

You're Leaving When?: Adventures in Downward Mobility by Annabelle Gurwitch

You’re Leaving When? is a collection of essays by the prolific, hilarious writer, actor, commentator and podcaster Annabelle Gurwitch. For anyone who’s seen her on Bill Maher or heard her on NPR, it’s not surprising news that her tales of post-divorce, empty nest syndrome—complete with an adult child who’s both in recovery and non-binary—manages to make you laugh out loud and marvel at her warmth. Whether she’s bringing in a housemate for extra income or helping out a young homeless couple by moving them in, Gurwitch makes whatever she’s experiencing oddly relatable and always entertaining. There’s a reason Gurwitch has been compared to both Dorothy Parker and Erma Bombeck. She’s really one of the funniest writers out there and as the author of five non-fiction books, she has—luckily for readers—written about much of her well-worth-documenting life. 

Last Resort by Andrew Lipstein

Last Resort is one of those books that painfully portrays the desperation of an author trying to land an agent and sell a book. Having been there myself, I can attest to the fact that you feel like you’ll do anything to get what you want. But would you—or I—resort to what the protagonist Caleb does and take a story a friend tells you, turn it into a book and use that book to land the biggest agent in town? Probably not but then you have to ask yourself: is what he did so bad? There was a scandal last year when a New York Times story about a “bad art friend” went viral and it asked similar questions. If you’re going to look at the book’s plot for an indication of how bad the author thinks it is, it’s pretty bad. The book really makes you wonder: in the choice of recognition or money, which would you take? And if you feel you got the raw end, would you allow yourself to self-destruct? Caleb is one of those unlikable protagonists you’re not sure you’re rooting for but are interested in nonetheless.

TAKE ME BACK TO THE APRIL, 2022 VIDEO!

MARCH, 2022 SELECTIONS

Miss Aluminum by Susanna Moore

 A memoir by the much-respected author and Princeton writing professor Susanna Moore (who also wrote the novel In The Cut, which was made into a movie starring Meg Ryan), Miss Aluminum traces her early life which seems to embody where glamour and grim meet. She worked at Bergdorf’s but was dead broke, was acting in movies with Dean Martin while being abused by her husband and was just generally living a life that would make for good book material even if she didn’t have a gift for language. If we’re to trust her telling, she essentially stumbles into this life where she’s reading scripts for Warren Beatty, socializing with Audrey Hepburn and having dinner with John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion, all without any effort on her part. The title Miss Aluminum refers to a part she played at a trade show but the story is much bigger than that—it’s a thoughtful trip through a unique and uniquely recounted life.

Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity by Scott Galloway

Scott Galloway is a brash, confident, funny, often right thought leader, author, NYU professor and podcaster. The author of a slew of thought leadership books, most notably The Four (which was about how Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are taking over the world), Galloway argues in this book that the pandemic didn’t so much change the business world as accelerate changes that were already underway. The book came out in November 2020, which means he was writing it when it was still pandemic early days and everything he predicts in it certainly has turned out to be true so far. The book’s focus is on the industries that will continue to thrive in most pandemic life (technology), those that will struggle (education) and the opportunities that this provides for those who want to stay in the mix.

Midlife Bites: Anyone Else Falling Apart or Just Me? By Jen Mann

Jen Mann is a NY Times bestselling writer who started going viral online and has published a bunch of hilarious books—most notably People I Want to Punch in the Face. In Midlife Bites, she’s both honest and funny about things many aren’t (making friends, feeling scared about aging). And for this Gen x-er, she’s a truth teller extraordinaire! While she has many wildly entertaining books to choose from, I highly recommend Midlife Bites and not just because Reality Bites was the seminal movie of my 20s (hey, I told you I’m a Gen X-er). 

Tired as F*ck: Burnout at the Hands of Diet, Self-Help, and Hustle Culture by Caroline Dooner

Caroline Dooner is best known for her book The F It Diet, which is about how obsessing over dieting not only makes us miserable but also keeps us in a dieting and binging mentality. This new book takes off a little bit where the other one left off by focusing on how burned out she got in the hustle of life and how she “decluttered” her life. It’s mostly memoir with a dash of social psychology and a whole lot of funny, relatable and honest thoughts. For anyone who finds self-help books a bit prescriptive or anyone trying to do too much all the time, Tired as F*ck is for you.

 Hell Yeah or No: What’s Worth Doing by Derek Sivers

 After launching and selling the company CD Baby, Derek Sivers become a thought leader with a famous TED talk and a bunch of books that all have a very specific and unusual format: they each contain one-page, several hundred-word snippets—essentially, they’re books of non-sequiturs all based around an overall theme. He describes this one as “thoughts around what’s worth doing, fixing faulty thinking, and making things happen” and sometimes the entries are questions and sometimes they’re reflections on his own life (examples include “Loving what I Used to Hate” and “Are You Present-Focused or Future-Focused?”)  He doesn’t sell his books on Amazon or anywhere but his own site so if you want this one (or any of his others, including his most recent one, How to Live), you have to go to www.sive.rs). And you should!

TAKE ME BACK TO THE MARCH, 2022 VIDEO!

FEBRUARY, 2022 SELECTIONS

Foreverland: On the Divine Tedium of Marriage by Heather Harvilesky

I’ll be honest: Harvilesky is one of those writers that I could literally read as she dissected the phone book. She writes for the New Yorker, New York and the New York Times (as well as many other publications that don’t have “New York” in the title). She’s just a delightful writer—funny, self-aware, honest. And actually when an excerpt of the book ran in the New York Times in December, it attracted an onslaught of criticism from people who flinched that her depiction of marriage was negative. Reading the book, it’s clear that those people missed the point: Harvilesky excels at sharing those fleeting thoughts that don’t matter, aren’t real and are all too human. The difference between her and everyone else is that she had the guts to put them on paper. And she did so hilariously.

The Art and Business of Online Writing: How to Beat the Game of Capturing and Keeping Attention by Nicolas Cole

This is one of those rare writing books that offers just as much information about how to get people to READ your work as it does on how to WRITE. The author was the #1 most read writer on Quora and a Top 10 columnist for Inc and if you read this book, you’ll see that he didn’t just accidentally end up with those accolades. He WORKED for them. And in this book, he breaks down how anyone can follow what he’s done. It gets into topics, headlines, going “viral” and everything they essentially DON’T teach you in school about being a professional writer (take it from someone who majored in writing!) I see this as a book not just for quote unquote “writers” but for anyone who wants to have an online presence today.

Learn to Love Reading: 365 Powerful Quotes That Will Inspire You to Read More Books by Alex Wieckowski

This is exactly what it promises to be: a collection of a year’s worth of quotes about reading. It seems too appropriate for a segment devoted to books NOT to include. Alex is a well-known book lover who posts book recommendations and tips on social media. One of the best ones I got from him that I now use is to highlight books as you read, then write in the front the page number and why you highlighted it and then in the back how you’re going to apply what you learned. Anyone wondering if that’s worth the effort should read this book to find the motivation! My favorite quote in the book is probably from Lisa Kleypas and it’s “a well-read woman is a dangerous creature.”

Your Creative Career: Turn Your Passion Into a Fulfilling and Financially Rewarding Lifestyle by Anna Sabino

This short book is packed with everything you need to know about being a creative person who can actually support yourself. Unlike a lot of books out there that just say “find your passion and the money will follow,” this book gives the actual steps you need to take if you’re not following the traditional 9-to-5 route but don’t know how to turn your art into income. It contains research and quotes from some of the most successful entrepreneurs as well as anecdotes about people she knows. But perhaps most importantly, it documents her personal journey in creating a thriving jewelry business and then becoming a career thought leader. It’s clear that she knows what she’s talking about. And once you read her book, you will, too! 

Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer by Antonia Murphy

This is a hilarious memoir that came out a few years ago by a San Francisco-bred, Columbia University educated woman who ended up moving with her husband to New Zealand. Because their son was born with a rare genetic condition, they were seeking community and so they find themselves in a farming community where they are suddenly the owners of chicken, goats and sheep who making homemade wine and cheese and having all sorts of other unlikely farm adventures. As long as you like laughing and aren’t too easily grossed out by animal bodily functions, you’ll love this one.

TAKE ME BACK TO THE FEBRUARY, 2022 VIDEO!

JANUARY, 2022 SELECTIONS

Girl Stop Passing Out in Your Makeup: The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together by Zara Barrie

For those of us who are looking for something a bit edgier than Rachel Hollis, Zara Barrie has created a book of essays that puts it ALL out there: sex, drugs, mental illness…all the unmentionables are not only mentioned but also analyzed, detailed and essentially smashed open. Barrie made a name for herself with her brazen, honest pieces for Elite Daily where she also wrote and starred in the popular original web series “Lez Get You Laid: Sex and Dating Advice To Men From A Lesbian.” Equal parts self-help, memoir, confessional and comforting, Girl Stop Passing Out in Your Makeup shows the highs and lows of life in the proverbial fast lane. Call it Sex and the City’s grittier younger sister: a book that really shows what it’s like to be a woman coming up in the media world today.

Skip the Line: The 10,000 Experiments Rule and Other Surprising Advice for Reaching Your Goals by James Altucher

This is the latest book from the investor, author and altogether creative genius James Altucher and it’s all about getting to the top in more efficient ways possible. His thesis is that in this ever-changing world, we don’t have time to subscribe to the Malcolm Gladwell philosophy that it takes 10,000 hours to excel at something. Instead, he subscribes to what he calls the 10,000 Experiments rule, where you try reaching your goal in a different way every day until you find the most efficient method possible. Altucher is a leader among entrepreneurs everywhere and his quirky style has earned him legions of followers, readers and podcast listeners. This book is among his best. 

The Middle Finger Project: Trash Your Imposter Syndrome and Live the Unf*ckwithable Life You Deserve by Ash Ambirge

This is by one of the funniest women creating content today: Ash Ambirge. The reason I call it “creating content” and not “writing” is that Ambirge is probably best known for these amazingly hilarious emails she sends out where she urges women to go out and create the life they were meant to. But rather than stopping with bland “you go, girl” aphorisms, Ambirge literally walks readers through how they can do what she has: go from growing up in a trailer park and then living in her car in a K-mart parking lot to creating a successful business and by-her-own-rules life by being tenacious, unique and clever. And she pulls off the seemingly impossible by telling the tale of her mom dying in a trailer park in a way that’s equally touching and laugh-out-loud funny. 

The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty by Ryan Taraborrelli

Taraborelli is the king of the thorough, classic, entertaining celebrity biography, having penned New York Times bestsellers on everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Sinatra. Call this one the love child of business book and salacious Hollywood gossip because it traces how Conrad Hilton was able to build a hotel empire but it’s complete with tales of his crazy marriage to Zsa Zsa Gabor and then moves into his complicated relationships with his sons, including Nicky (who was briefly married to Elizabeth Taylor) and Baron (father of Rick Hilton, aka grandfather of Paris). It’s as much a tale of what to do as an entrepreneur as what not to do as a parent and though it clocks in at over 500 pages, it’s gripping throughout.

Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler

At first Fake Accounts seems like a dryly witty novel about dating in our modern age. And then it remains that but adds a truly modern twist: what do you do if you accidentally discover the guy you’re dating is secretly moonlighting as an online conspiracy theorist? In the case of Fake Accounts, a never-named narrator chooses not to immediately confront him nor break up with him but instead continue making her way in a world where we all create our own narratives for whatever situation we’re in. Don’t mistake this book for some sort of a fluffy story about life in the Big City: it’s written by a contributor to The New Yorker and the New York Times magazine and it’s a searing yet funny look at what is truly happening in our increasingly fractured world that’s often ruled by social media-delivered fake news.

TAKE ME BACK TO THE JANUARY, 2022 VIDEO!

NOVEMBER, 2021 SELECTIONS

The Gap and the Gain by Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan

This is the second book from leading business coach Dan Sullivan and psychotherapist Benjamin Hardy, and it’s the perfect follow up to their insta classic Who Not How. Also based on principles Sullivan has spent decades honing for his mega successful company Strategic Coach, The Gap and the Gain is geared toward entrepreneurs whose ambition may be their downfall. While Who Not How broke down how greater success comes not from working harder but from working smarter through strategic partnerships,The Gap and the Gain focuses more on the importance of being mentally healthy while pursuing your ambitions. It’s really the closest a business book can come to being spiritual since it’s all about how changing your perspective on your accomplishments can make the difference between surviving and thriving. 

Free PR by Cameron Herold and Adrian Salamunovic 

Cameron Herold has multiple classic business books that could be recommended—including Meetings Suck and Vivid Vision—but I chose this one because it could save any entrepreneur or thought leader tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars by showing them how to generate media attention without having to hire a publicist. Herold and his co-author show how Herold was able to grow his former company, 1 800 GOT JUNK, from $2 million in revenue to $106 million in six years, in part due to his ability to have team members reach out to members of the media successfully (in turn getting Cameron coverage everywhere from The New York Times to Oprah). The book walks readers through how company founders can become a help and not a hindrance to journalists by coming up with great story angles, rather than just reaching out and asking for publicity like most people do. 

Habit That! by Dr. Jaime Hope

Jaime Hope is not only an ER doctor at one of Detroit’s busiest hospitals but also a huge public speaker and health advocate. All of this shows in her no-nonsense guide to building great habits. She first reveals something many of us have heard but it doesn’t seem to stop us: diets don’t tend to work. But rather than stopping there, Hope gives us a lot of hope by showing us how we can, in five minutes a day, reinforce the four pillars of health: eat, sleep, burn, and release. And unlike most health books, her personality shines through—it feels like a friend who happens to be a doctor giving you no-nonsense advice that somehow no one else ever tells you.

Life Gives to the Giver by Joe Polish 

Entrepreneur Joe Polish is called the world’s best connector for a reason—he knows everyone and can therefore introduce people who would otherwise never meet, whether that’s Sir Richard Branson, Tim Ferriss, Paula Abdul or any other people you’d never otherwise connect to one person. His book, Life Gives to the Giver, is a collection of his philosophies he sends out to his newsletter subscribers, but this is the first time they’ve been gathered in one place. It’s divided into four sections (Wellness, Success, Marketing and Entrepreneurship) and the overall theme of the book—that those who give the most end up receiving the most—emanates throughout.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Let me be the zillionth person to recommend the book that has become the business world’s tome for how to negotiate and win. A former hostage negotiator and teacher of the Master Class everyone always seems to be talking about, Voss shows how the tools you use when negotiating with a kidnapper are not that different from the ones you use when negotiating with a business associate or even hotel clerk. The book’s best tips include: ask open-ended questions until the person you’re negotiating with gets worn out and just gives you what you want and, when someone requests something you don’t want to give them, make them question if they’re being fair by asking, “How am I supposed to do that?” Try these things; they work!

TAKE ME BACK TO THE NOVEMBER, 2021 VIDEO!

OCTOBER, 2021 SELECTIONS

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier

A thorough examination of the creation of the social media platform that has come to take over many people’s lives, this comprehensive page-turner shows how an app created in 2010 came to be purchased by Mark Zuckerberg in less than two years for a billion dollars—and then the power struggles that ensued from there. The author, who’s a reporter for Bloomberg News, where she reports regularly on Facebook, Instagram and the other social media platforms, has earned awards and come to be considered an expert on the whole social media game. The book caused a bit of a sensation when it came out because it delved into Zuckerberg’s obsession with controlling Instagram, despite having assured the creators that they could have independence, just at a time when Facebook’s PR was getting worse and worse.

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Famous By Now: True Stories From Calabasas by Via Bleidner

Written by a 21-year-old and published by a major publisher, this book is basically the female, modern day version of Fast Times at Ridgemont High if Fast Times was immersed in Kardashian culture. The author is wise beyond her years, painting a hilarious story that manages to cover adolescence in a way adults will find entertaining and illuminative. The most amazing part about it isn’t its wisdom or humor but the fact that the author is so witty and positive that the plastic culture she describes doesn’t seem tragic…just oddly real.

Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing by John B. Thompson

Covering the recent history of an industry that has undergone a more rapid transformation in the past decade than it had in multiple decades before, this is a decidedly intellectual book by a British author that manages to be incredibly approachable and actually something of a page turner. It’s clear this author has done his research and is particularly compelling while doing a meticulous breakdown of why companies that seemed to be on the cutting edge of capitalizing on the emergence of ebooks failed. (In short: no one could predict where the ebook market was going; people originally thought entrepreneurs would be the big ebook readers; turns out it’s the romance crowd because they love to devour series books and besides, romance books aren’t necessarily ones you’re proud to put on your shelf!)

Traction by Gino Wickman

This isn’t a new book but it is one of the clearest explanations of how to grow a business that I’ve read in a while. It focuses on six components a business needs to be profitable—Vision, Data, Process, Traction, Issues and People—and gives tips like keeping scorecards for every week, accountability charts for team members, issues lists and process documents. It also stresses the importance of having Rocks—otherwise known as 90-day goals. There are charts, questions to answer, worksheets and examples aplenty. It also emphasizes the importance of creating company core values so that everyone you hire and every decision you make can be weighed by whether or not they fit them.

My Addiction and Recovery: Just Because You’re Done With Drugs Doesn’t Mean Drugs Are Done with You by Ed Kressy 

Don’t let the kind of basic title or cover of this one fool you. My Addiction and Recovery is one of the most sophisticated, original, gripping recovery memoirs out there. A first-person account of how a man from an upper middle-class family descended into meth addiction, this is one of the most riveting accounts of addiction I’ve come across. While describing the paranoid delusions he had that he was being tracked by the FBI because he had played a part in 9-11, Kressy introduces himself as a new voice to the Quit Lit movement. His story is one of going to a place that few survive and even fewer document. Even if you think you’ve read and seen it all, I guarantee you’ll find yourself as shocked by Kressy’s story as you are moved by his writing.

TAKE ME BACK TO THE OCTOBER, 2021 VIDEO!

AUGUST, 2022 SELECTIONS

Con artist edition:

Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen 

This is the one that really got me hooked on the con artist pod. Chameleon has now released several seasons but this first one was #2 on the Apple charts and got the pod named one of 2020’s best podcasts by everyone from Spotify to Rolling Stone. I don’t want to give too much of it away because the fun is in learning what’s going on at the same time as the hosts, so I’ll just say that it’s about a bunch of people who are lured to Indonesia to work on Hollywood movies…except there are no movies. And no real motive for the person luring them. Except to wreak havoc. From top journalists Vanessa Grigoriadis and Josh Dean, Hollywood Con Queen keeps you scratching your head long after you stop listening.

The Opportunist: Chris Bathum

The Opportunist, which tells “true stories of regular people who turn sinister,” spent one season focused on Chris Bathum, a hypnotist who had such a skill for manipulating people that he managed to open multiple rehabs, convince everyone there he was a therapist when he had no licensing whatsoever and actively do drugs with his clients. His scam included running over 20 unlicensed sober living homes, outpatient clinics and medical labs across Southern California and Colorado and he was eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison for running a $175 million fraudulent healthcare billing scheme for services never completed. As the podcast explains, through interviews with many of his victims, Bathum was able to get away with all of this for as long as he did because of a confluence of factors, primarily the surge in opiate addiction and the fact that Obama care had just started covering the costs of rehab so there were many loopholes for a con artist to exploit. It’s an unbelievable story and the only satisfaction comes from the fact that the guy is in prison life for life (he received a 52-year sentence in addition to his 20-year one). 

Scam Goddess 

180 degrees away from Chris Bathum is Laci Mosely, the Black, bisexual comedian host of Scam Goddess, which features a different comedian every week discussing a different scam. While many of the more serious scam pods cover similar cases, this is the only one where you may hear the host side with the scammer (as Laci likes to say, “I like that for her"). Mosley, who’s been on everything from Insecure to A Black Lady Sketch Show, is so fast and funny that even her hilarious guests sometimes can’t keep up. Her show has covered everyone from Anna Delvey and Milli Vanilli to Hilaria Baldwin and The Fyre Festival, and her “congregation” eats up everything she does, even sending in emails that she reads about the various scams they’ve tried.

Who the Hell is Hamish?

Stories about men scamming women are all over the place, from The Tinder Swindler to the Dirty John podcast and TV show. But Hamish McClaren puts all other scammers to shame. For decades, he duped people all over the US, amassing an estimated $70 million, and eventually was sentenced to jail for swindling 15 people (including his then wife) out of more than seven million. He went by different aliases and tried different methods but his most common one was to convince people to invest in a “can’t lose” investment, produce amazing dividends for a while and then come up short. A podcast “pick of the week” by The Guardian, Who the Hell is Hamish is produced by the Australian newspaper in Australia. 

Scamfluencers: The Hollywood Ponzi Scheme

Scamfluencers covers a number of different people who are able to exploit other people due to their influence and it’s co-hosted by two experienced journalists. Over time, it’s focused on everyone from a Brazilian supermom spiritual guru who was actually a murderer to a woman who convinces a slew of people to invest in her Coachella real estate company for real estate she never bought. But the most interesting of the seasons to me was on Zach Horowitz, a guy who really wanted to be a movie star and also live the high life and so he gave himself a more actor-y name (Zach Avery) and launched what became a $690 million Ponzi scheme where he convinced people they were investing in movies (he also gave himself parts in the movies they were paying for). He’s now in prison for 20 years and, to add insult to injury, is, alas, a terrible actor.

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