Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

The Stack: Fall '17/Winter '18

The Stack: Fall '17/Winter '18


Guys, I have a confession to make: I've been slacking on my books.

For that reason, I've combined my fall and winter lists into one post, and I solemnly swear to do better on the next. (I have a good lineup currently, so I'm pretty excited.)

That disclaimer made, in the past six months or so, here's what I read:

The Art of War, Sun Tzu. A cult classic amongst the entrepreneurial crowd and a fast read — I consumed it in one go on an airplane. Literally about the art of war, metaphorically translated to be about navigating life. I obviously take some different stances on things per my own worldview, but I absolutely see the crossover and it's a fascinating read.

Wild Horse Country, David Philipps. An historical anthology of the American mustang, deep dive into the Bureau of Land Management's (mis?)management of the species, and the convoluted topic of how these horses are currently treated (and potential solutions for improvement). I know, I know, you're all rushing out to buy it! You can't wait! Well, I don't care if you think I'm a dork. I loved this book, and if you loved Unbranded, you might, too. It's an interesting look at a complicated conservation issue and definitely shifted my own views — though, I will say, the journalist in me felt Philipps inserted his own opinions into his writing a tad too heavily. (We get it, man, you hate the BLM!) I almost didn't push past the first chapter for that reason, but now I'm glad I did.

All Things New, John Eldredge. A beautiful, hope-filled look at the coming New Earth as the Bible describes it. The friend who recommended it to me described it as "a little out there every now and then, because John Eldredge," but for the most part it was such a sweet and bolstering read. We live in what feels like a hopeless world too often. If you're feeling the weight of that in an especial way these days, I'd definitely recommend this book. (Also, have decided that my new earth is going to be a back porch with all my people on it at the same time. See y'all there.)

Lab Girl, Hope Jahren. Brilliantly structured memoir of a plant scientist. Got a lot of hype shortly after it was released, and I can now say with confidence it was well-deserved. Poignant, to-the-point, and a little nerdy. Bonus: will increase your general affection for trees.

American Wolf, Nate Blakeslee. In the (very) same vein as Wild Horse Country, this is a masterful piece of journalism covering the history of the north American wolf, its recent reintroduction to Yellowstone, and the controversies that came with it — all woven through the stories of a single wolf family and a cast of human characters representing all sides of the issue. I think the highest compliment I can give this book is that after every chapter, I felt a truly visceral tug of empathy towards the viewpoint of whatever character it covered. I found myself flung back and forth between differing stances for the entirety of the story. Considering what a multi-faceted issue wolf reintroduction has been (and continues to be) to that area, that seems like the only proper indicator that the book did the topic justice. Definitely an interesting read and worth the time!

In the Company of Women, Grace Bonney. I would like to start by saying that yes, I am aware this is mostly a coffee table book, and therefore barely deserves a spot on this list. However, don't be fooled by the size or beautiful cover — the 100-plus interviews with female "makers, artists, and entrepreneurs" it contains are chock-full of wisdom and inspiration. (This was a Christmas gift from my mom, who said she thought my sister and I were living in such an exciting time for women who did the kind of things we do. It made me love it a little extra.)

Alright, I think that's it. Here's to a longer list next quarter! Until then, what are you reading these days?

10 Things I'm Loving Lately | March '18

10 Things I'm Loving Lately | March '18