Brain Chatter: To Create You Must Consume

Ron Tite

To create you must consume.

Here are my favourite books, podcasts, and shows from the summer.

All of us at here at The Tite Group spend the majority of our work week creating content for clients.

I get information and inspiration from a wide variety of business focused resources (thx Feedly!) but after months consuming stuff directly related to my work and exhausted from the same conversations with the same buzzwords, I use the summer to stop, look, and listen.

I consciously consume content that has nothing to do with how I earn a living.

It’s in there - in those works of true art - where I get really inspired. This shouldn’t surprise you given how much ink I devoted to it in my book, Everyone’s an Artist or at least they should be). Stay in your lane and you’ll end up with “best practices”. Step outside your lane and you’ll do things you never thought possible.

With that in mind, here’s what inspired me over the summer months.

(All of it them are ranked in order)

BOOKS

1. The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt):

As my friend Nick Kindler said, this is book is a “modern day Catcher in the Rye”. Loved every page (and there were a lot of them).

2. All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr):

There’s a reason this book won the Pulitzer. It would have had my vote. It discovers beauty in unexpected places.

3. Here I Am (Jonathan Safran Foer):

I didn’t think it was possible to combine great humour, witty dialogue, an embarrassing mid-life crisis, an exploration of family and love, and the complexity of being Jewish in America (I’m not) in one book. Then I read this. Brill.

4. Bel Canto (Ann Patchett):

I’m not really an opera kind of guy. But after this, I wanted to be. Paul Weitz is directing an adaptation for the screen (with Julianne Moore starring) but I think I’d rather see it on the stage.

5. Anything is Possible (Elizabeth Strout):

I was drawn to this because I really enjoyed the HBO adaptation of Olive Kitteridge. I’m glad I picked it up. It’s structure of interconnected stories was refreshing, the characters endearing, and the portrayal of small town life charming and real. Can’t wait to go back and read Lucy Barton.

The rest (in order):

Commonwealth (Ann Patchett)

Avenue of Mysteries (John Irving)

The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga)

The Best Kind of People (Zoe Whittall)

The Circle (Dave Eggers)

How We Are Hungry (Dave Eggers)

Theft by Finding (David Sedaris)

PODCASTS

I’m a little all over the place with Podcasts. Some I totally geek out on, some I tune in on a semi-regular basis, and some I randomly listen to an episode here and there depending on the topic. That being said, here’s what won the battle for my time over the past few months:

1. Mogul: The Life & Death of Chris Lighty

Tracing the history of hip hop through the life of one its most complex and untold success stories was an interesting approach. The authentic and personal journey and delivery made it my favourite of the summer. It started with the day that shook hip hop. It ended with a deeper appreciation for Chris Lighty’s life and the art that consumed it.

2. S-Town

Believe the hype. This is brilliant storytelling, committed journalism, and characters that a city guy like me didn’t really think existed. They do.

3. Revisionist History

Not as consistent as his first season but most episodes were quintessential Gladwell. He covered race relations responsibly and from all perspectives - refreshing considering the lack of balance in many of our political discussions. Golfers beware. You’ll feel guilty.

4. Crime Town

Buddy Cianci made Rob Ford look like an alter boy and his supporting cast of mob characters in Providence made Good Fellas seem like the staff of Downton Abbey. It’s organized crime. It’s real. And it’s riveting.

5. This American Life

Still setting the standard for the entire podcast industry. The episode on “Magic” was particularly memorable.

The rest (in order)

99% Invisble

On the Media

Canada Land

30 for 30

TV (however I happen to watch it)

1. The Handmaid’s Tale

Still in shock. When is Season 2 coming out????

2. Ozark

Many have called this the accounting version of “Breaking Bad”. They’re right. And it’s just getting started.

3. Bloodline

Not the most memorable final episode of a series but it was still great after 3 seasons.

4. Narcos

I just started the season 3 and it’s already a favourite.

5. The Same Sky

Treason. Love. The Berlin Wall. Recommend.

The rest (in order)

Halt & Catch Fire

American Crime

Crashing

Gypsy

The Standups

While the summer doesn’t officially end until September 22, this week isn’t just Back to School. It’s also Back to Work. Fiction gets traded in for non-fiction. Crime exchanged for marketing. And business swaps out art. I’ll check back near the end of this quarter with the business content that was good enough to consume my time. 


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