American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China by Matthew Polly, 3/5
This memoir of an American college dropout who transforms from bullied to badass by studying kung fu with Shaolin monks in China is a fun read, if a little bit less interesting, less believable and dirtier than the author’s later book Tapped Out.
[Why I read it: I enjoyed the author’s other book a lot.]
Tao Te Ching
This work presents an interesting worldview that focuses on survival: advising people to avoid action, desire, ambition, confrontation and intellectualism. The tone is bleak, but fascinating, and it offers some very good insights into human behavior. While shorter than Confucius’ Analects, it is also less accessible. Much of the content is obscure and very difficult to understand, however, an enjoyable aura of ancientness surrounds even the unintelligible bits.