The Joy of Reading

Kay Hymowitz has some interesting thoughts on gentrification.

I’ve gone on a book binge and it feels great.
I’ve been a voracious reader since the fourth grade. That’s when my favorite teacher, Mr. Romanelli,  sparked a desire to learn that still burns 44 years later.
Great teachers will do that. And Mr. Romanelli was the very best.

From C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain to Hemingway, London and Steinbeck–I have been inspired, transformed and transported by great writers.
At Ward Melville high School on Long Island (it’s on not in, just ask Jerry Seinfeld)  I was blessed to have an English Teacher named Mr. O’Connor. His first name was Joey and his students lovingly referred to him as “Joey O.”

He looked like Les Nessman from “WKRP in Cincinnati”,  a popular TV show of that era but unlike Nessman,  Mr. O’Connor oozed cool.
He schooled cocky kids in one on one basketball, fascinated us in class and diffused the wise guys in the back row with memorable quotes:
“Ignorance is its own refutation.”
“You sir are a pebble in the collective shoe of humanity.”
He was great and I loved his class.

We read–happily –whatever he told us to because that was one class you wanted to participate in .
It was too much fun not too.
I lost track of Mr. O’Connor. But I found Mr. Romanelli on Facebook a little while back and I’m thrilled to be back in touch with the educator who flipped the switch for me.
And to realize that we share a love of the Yankees, the Giants, Vermont and politics somehow feels extra special.

All of which is a long winded way of saying I’m so proud of my daughter for going into teaching and I have read some great books lately. I’d like to share a few titles. And because we are a hyperlocal blog there are some tie-ins to Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

The New Brooklyn by Kay Hymowitz– Although I was born in Queens and consider Eastern Long Island home I have an affinity for Brooklyn. My grandparents, aunt and first cousin lived there and we made frequent visits as a kid. So I have an affection for Brooklyn and it’s fascinating history and diversity. This book is a great stroll through the many neighborhoods that make up the borough that has influenced urban dwellers all over the world. Hymowitz is a great writer and if you love cities this is a can’t miss primer on gentrification, race relations, housing, placemaking etc.

  •   Within Walking Distance by Philip Langdon– Langdon explores a half dozen walkable neighborhoods in places as diverse as Philadelphia and small town Vermont. What makes these places special and vibrant is a lesson for other cities such as Delray and Boca. Langdon is an engaging writer with a keen sense of what makes places special.
  •  The Amazing City by James C. Hunt–Mr. Hunt is a former president of the National League of Cities. I had a chance to see him speak recently to the Palm Beach County League of Cities and he delivered wisdom that only a veteran and successful local elected official could possess. Three Delray commissioners and the Boca Mayor were in attendance and if they applied his lessons on how to create an amazing city we will all benefit. I’m going to write more about Hunt’s lessons in an upcoming blog.
  • The Content Trap by Bharat Anand–  Amazing business lessons. So good I may read twice.
  •  Perennial Seller by Ryan Harrison– Lessons on how to create work that endures. And shouldn’t that be the goal?
  •  Hooked by Nir Eyal– Sobering thoughts on how technology hooks/addicts us. Essential to understand in today’s hyper connected society.
  •  Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris– Ferris is a wildly successful blogger/author/podcaster. This is a huge book of his best interviews with fascinating people from all walks of life.  His most recent interview of Ray Dalio is amazing. Dalio runs the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, and recently wrote “Principles”, which is on my night stand waiting to be read. Lots of lessons to mine, scores of amazing interviews with high achievers and interesting innovators.
    Or as Joey O might have said: “if ignorance is its own refutation knowledge is your passport to success.”

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