3 book recommendations for October, 2022
It's astonishing how effectively writing down an idea clarifies it—writing is a cheat code for better thinking.
And now, books I love that you might too:
The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier is a thinker-thriller where the plot twists space, time, and the laws of physics as adeptly as more conventional story elements. It set my heart racing and left light trails through my imagination.
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan is a small book that contains an entire world: a mid-20th century Irish village with a dark secret festering in its heart. Grounding the story in real historical events, Keegan weaves a tight, moving tale of uncommon emotional clarity and depth.
Chip War by Chris Miller explains how semiconductors grew from a niche technological novelty to a central feature of our economy, world order, and personal lives. Rather than seeking to write a comprehensive doorstopper of a history book, Miller seeks out compelling stories and ideas that illuminate the underlying forces at work.
Bonus recommendation: Andor is far and away the best thing that Disney’s done with Star Wars. I’m loving it.
Things worth sharing:
I just hit 27k words in the rough draft of a new novel. If you want a sneak preview, listen to "Mastermind" on Taylor Swift's new album—the tone and story parallels are straight-up eerie.
From my work-in-progress: "Once you see perfection for what it is, a mirage, you start to notice new things in the real world it was obscuring."
Over on Interconnected, Matt Webb responded to my essay he helped inspire, expanding on the idea of writing as a tool for making new ideas. André Chaperon also referenced the essay in a moving post about how he became a writer.
Most stories fade quickly from living culture, but a few replicate across minds and generations, honed by endless variation and selection, ferrying ideas through space and time.
The best marketing is making things you're proud of for people you care about, and letting them spread the word. Over on their podcast, Michael and Emilia interviewed me about my idiosyncratic journey into writing, publishing, and building an audience.
It’s tempting to try to predict the future by binging news and analysis. But the future is unknowable, so while you might feel more secure, you’re wrong. Worse, that feeling of security makes you more wrong. Instead, invest that attention in adapting faster to the evolving present.
I spoke at Gamesbeat Summit this week in San Francisco, and I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed giving talks to live audiences. Stories bring people together, inspiring fellow feeling and accelerating idea generation. If you’re planning an event and want to challenge attendees to see the world from new angles, hit me up.
Two weeks ago, I signed a publishing contract for a new short story that'll come out next year. Super excited to share it with you. Details to come.
Because it doesn't pretend to be anything but make believe, fiction is a uniquely capable vehicle for exploring certain kinds of truth.
From the East Bay Express feature on Borderless: “The book, though, is more than anything a sharply rendered, wildly entertaining thriller speaking to the dangerous realities of our present: climate change, the changing shape of power, the very American values that defined Peper’s grandparents’ post-war lives—themes that are now fraught within our real world as it becomes increasingly globalized and divided.”
Kudos to subscriber Ben Werdmuller on moving from writing code to writing fiction, and on sharing what he’s learning along the way in a new newsletter.
Few questions are as powerful and generally applicable as "what can I learn from this?"
I once heard the legendary paleontologist Ken Lacovara explain that while Jurassic Park may get things wrong about dinosaurs, it inspired a generation of young scientists to go into paleontology. Andrew Dana Hudson, author of Our Shared Storm and subscriber to this humble newsletter, cited this anecdote in a thought-provoking Long Now interview about imagining climate futures.
From the archives: Creativity is a choice.
I believe life can get infinitely better while remaining endlessly problematic.
Thanks for reading. We all find our next favorite book because someone we trust recommends it. So when you fall in love with a story, tell your friends. Culture is a collective project in which we all have a stake and a voice.
If you enjoy my writing and want to support it, become a paid subscriber so I can do more of it.
Eliot Peper is the author of Reap3r, Veil, Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Neon Fever Dream, Cumulus, Exit Strategy, Power Play, and Version 1.0. He also consults on special projects and tweets more than he probably should.
“Classic Peper. Fast-moving, thoughtful science fiction. Ripped from the (very) near future, this is a rollicking and sometimes poignant thrill ride. Definitely a one-sitting book, so make sure you don’t have work the next day.”
-Seth Godin, bestselling author of Tribes, Linchpin, and The Practice, on Reap3r