Fantastic Fiction And Surprising Social Insights For Fall Reading
Fantastic Fiction And Surprising Social Insights For Fall Reading
Heading into fall it’s time to put the summer reads to the side and open up something new. Wendi is on track to read 50 books this year and has four great recommendations for you. From fun fiction to insightful social topics this reading list has something for everyone.
Do you have a fall reading book that you would recommend? Drop us a comment below and be sure to click one of the buttons above to subscribe to The Frisco Podcast above!
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[1:55] How To Up Your Shelfie Game
[4:12] Why Wendi chose to read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
[14:27] Factfulness – Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling (check out the video below)
- Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes
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Scott Ellis: Welcome to the Frisco podcast. I’m your host, Scott Ellis. And today, I get to interview my wife.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis: This is so fun.
Scott: Yes, we’re going to talk about books because you have become an absolutely voracious reader in the last couple of years. You how many books did you read last year?
Wendi: Okay, last year I read 24 books.
Scott: And this year as of August?
Wendi: As of August, 2019 I’ve read 38 bucks and my goal is 50.
Scott: Since January 1st?
Wendi: Since January 1st, yes.
Scott: That’s probably more books than I’ve read in my whole life.
Wendi: Well, I doubt that because you’re smarter than I am and you know all that big tech brain you got over there. But first let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about where we physically are right now.
Scott: So this is the first episode that we are recording in our new podcast studio at UNT inspire park.
Wendi: Yes, in our new offices. And we are super thrilled with this room and how it turned out and all of the baffling on the walls and the fact that we’ve got four mikes and we’ve got to a flat screen TV to show great things while we’re recording. So I am just thrilled. This is like a dream come true.
Scott: Pretty amazing. And UNT, the guys did a great job. We’re very grateful to them for all the work they put into this room.
Wendi: So yes we are. Yes we are.
Scott: Alright, so we get back into talking about books.
Wendi: Yes, we can get back into talking about that.
Scott: Allright. So we’re going to talk about your fall reading lists. Yes. And that’s a, a rundown of I think four books that you’re recommending for fall.
Wendi: Yes. I’m just going to kind of recap four that I’ve read already. Um, and in no particular order, um, I kinda did a how to up your shelf-ie game for a summer reading list, um, on the site. And it was a big article. I’m a gigantic listicle on there. So yeah, we’re going to talk about fall. All to the, all of the kids have gone back to school and they’re all reading. So parents, it’s time to break out the bookmarks, then head back to the library and get some interesting stuff.
Scott: Right. Summer’s over time to turn your brains back on.
Wendi: That’s right. Exactly. So, um, so I’m going to start off with a fiction book that I have not finished, but I’m reading it right now called Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore by Robin Sloan. And this book is just a whimsical little jaunt to back in 2009 during the great recession. Um, the book is set in San Francisco and the hero of the story has been fired from his web design, um, coding job because of the great recession and he’s taken a job in Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore and he soon discovers that there’s rarely a customer in the bookstore like he has.
First of all, he works the night shift. He literally works from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM there’s rarely a customer that comes into the store, but when they do come into the store, they ask for a section that he internally dubs to himself the way back list because it’s all of the dusty musty items like way in the back of the store and they’re hard to find on shelves. But these customers are completely deliberate about what book they want. Now, not only do they ask for a specific dusty musty book, they also don’t pay for them. They turn in another dusty musty book in exchange for the new one that they just get. So our hero of the story, Clay Janin is perpetually confused by this process. The fact that no money is changing hands, but yet this is supposed to be a business and a 24 hour one at that.
So I’m having quite the joy ride on this one.
Scott: What would you say made this book the most fun for you to read?
Wendi: Well, the reason why I picked it up is because it was recommended on a list, um, for book lovers about book lovers or book or libraries.
Scott: Very meta?
Wendi: Yes, it was. Yes, it was metadata on libraries, people who love to read, et Cetera. So I received this list of 10 books that were either about libraries, about books, about the process of reading, et Cetera. And this one looked completely the most intriguing and it is so fun. It’s completely fiction. It’s, it’s being, it’s giving me a great time right now.
Scott: And what little you’ve told me about it. The characters that come in store are probably more interesting and quirky than the characters that they’re reading about in the books that go.
Scott: Sounds like a fun one.
Wendi: Brain candy, totally fine. You have to keep up with it though. It’s not like a complete, you know, just something that you’re going to read in a day. Um, so I’m, I’m loving that too. So that’s my fiction book. Um, my second book that I’d like to talk about is something that I recently finished and you had to witness me hemming and hawing and exasperated throughout almost the entire process.
Scott: Allright, your not selling this book very well.
Wendi: Yes, I am going to tell it. Well, so the title of the book is Invisible Women – Data Bias In A World Designed For Men by Caroline Criado Perez. And first of all, I want to say this book is not a man Basher. This is, this is something that is factual information about how things are designed for men without women in mind. And I’ll give two examples.
Number one is traffic lights and traffic patterns. Men Typically, you know, from the 50s or the forties, whenever they started working and really driving cars, men leave home, drive directly to a destination, stay at that destination all day and then drive directly back home. Women get in a car and drive to the school to drop off kids. Then they go to the dry cleaner, then they stopped by Starbucks and grab a coffee and then they go to the grocery store and then they eventually come back home. So you’ve gotten men who have a single destination, single point, um, uh, of, of driving and women who do a spaghetti bowl of driving on a daily basis typically, and how our traffic patterns are designed to give the maximum free flow for that linear structure of driving. And so women are, um, penalized if you will, for having that kind of driving pattern.
So that’s one, that’s one example of data bias in this book. My second example that I’ll share is office temperatures and the fact that women free is in the summer. Most of us have to take blankets, put heaters under our desks. There’s a lot of women smiling and nodding right now cause I know they do this, um, extra sweaters they keep in the office. And that is because in 1950 a scientific study was conducted on 170 pound male WWE office worker and what his resting metabolic, uh, body temperature was and what would be of the maximum maximum comfort to him and that that level is 68 degrees. So that’s why all offices are set at 68 degrees and women freeze because we don’t have that much of a metabolism. We have more body fat on us and less muscle. And so therefore that’s why we freeze.
So those are just two little examples. There’s a ton of other great um, data on the world. And honestly, this book was something that just was really eye opening. It was, you know, something that I wouldn’t have typically picked up. Um, again, it was something that kind of wandered through an email list on me or I, it might’ve been recommended to me by good reads. So I’m on a site, we can talk about that at the end, but good reads.com don’t let me forget to come back to that. So that’s my, my second book. Do you have any questions about that one? Do you want to know?
Scott: We have a million questions about that one. Probably much more would take much more time than what we have here. Okay. Um, but I think there was one other example I remember you talking about that was, uh, bathrooms or bathroom designs or something to that effect. How you like it typically if you go into an establishment, there’s a men’s room and a women’s room and yet women have more a need of the facilities than men do, right? It takes them longer. They’re doing other things like maybe fixing makeup and things like that.
Wendi: A lot of times it’s pure like clothing design. Like they think about just the physical anatomy of how much more clothing women have to physically take off in order to use a facility. Whereas you guys can walk in and use a zipper and then walk out and be done. I mean, that’s not even getting into, yes, the checking the hair, the checking, the makeup, the, you know, the straightening of the clothes that you’ve now completely half redressed yourself. So yes, that, those are very interesting stats around even when, uh, facilities design, um, uh, a large number of restrooms for women versus w versus men, they still typically build an equal number and how that just will never work. And also and also the d…. Well we won’t talk about that. So anyway, yes.
Scott: Let’s go on. Let’s talk about a book number three.
Wendi: Ok, book number three, um, is a mystery suspense because, you know, I love my Agatha Christie. Um, Agatha Christie is literally my favorite author in the world, but this one is not by her. This is a true story called I’ll be gone in the dark one woman’s obsessive search for the golden state killer by Michelle McNamara. And Michelle McNamara was a, I’m an investigative journalist and unfortunately she passed away during the writing of this book so she did not see it through to completion. Um, the forward is by Gillian Flynn of gone girl fame. Um, and the afterward and completion of the book is by a man named Patton Oswald. And it’s a story about, um, for more than 10 years a mysterious and violent Predator committed 50 sexual assaults in northern California in the seventies and eighties.
And Its her investigative journalism of finding who this killer was. And to her credit, it was through her work that, um, authorities eventually find who this guy is, like really recently, like in the last three, two or three years, the killer has, was discovered and all of these killings happened in the [inaudible].
Scott: And it was her research they used?
Wendi: Yes. Not completely directly, but she did pull a lot of threads that were new findings in, um, case files that had gone stored in the back of a closet. So yes, incredibly interesting book to watch a woman kind of have that investigative mind and kind of see where that all went. Plus, I love a true story.
Scott: That was good. That was interesting cause it was, was it scary to read at all?
Wendi: No, it really wasn’t and it wasn’t. Um, there’s not a lot of Gore and detail on everything. It’s really just a lot about the minutia of the clues and how professionals look at things that way.
How police, FBI, you know, crime scene investigators, just how they look at different, um, pieces of evidence. So it was, it was very interesting from that perspective.
Scott: Oh, I, very good. Okay. So you got one more for us.
Wendi: I’ve got one more, and this one was also included in my summer shelfy reading list, but I just have to give it an extra plug, um, because it motivates me. I’ve read it twice and I’m probably gonna read it a third time here pretty soon. Um, it’s called finding the exit. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish by Lee Eller Meyer. So she is a Dallas woman who started an orthodontic device company and was, um, you know, it’s, it’s the story of her whole process of being a startup and taking a company all the way through to that final, um, acquisition by a fortune 100 company in less than five years. So she’s kind of my girl crush, so she motivates me. She is local, local. She is here and she, she is here in Dallas and is still here in Dallas and yes.
Scott: Yeah. And she’s got a really, really powerful story. Yes. Um, I haven’t actually read the book, but I have met her. That’s where I actually got the book. Ended up on your shelf. Yes. And I’m quite something if, if she’s ever doing a book signing locally, she’s definitely somebody I would recommend to go out and meet and hear her speak and, and learn a little bit more about her story, both from a, an entrepreneurial standpoint but also from just a personal standpoint, everything, all the adversity that she has gone through and, and, and where she, how she got to where she is now. Just really fascinating. I don’t want to ruin it for you. Just go pick up the book. And what was the name of that again?
Wendi: Finding the exit. It’s not where you start. It’s where you finish by Lee, Ellermeier. And it’s L-E-A even though it’s pronounced Lee. Um, Ellermeier.
Scott: All right, so we’re going to put links to all of these books in the show notes so you can go out and grab your Ebook, hard copy, whatever it is that you want. So we’ll make sure that you guys can get an easy access to these books.
Wendi: Do you have a book you want to talk about, Scott, before we close out?
Scott: I’ve read a couple of books this year, I could probably recommend either one of them. They’ve both been very good reads, but I’m going to go with one called the Factfullness. Ooh. So facts wellness is a, is a book by a gentleman named Hans Rosling. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2017, and I actually didn’t know that until I read the book. Uh, but I had followed him for several years and he’s done a lot of, uh, videos and some online things. But he, he started, uh, an organization that’s now running, I believe it’s by his son and daughter-in-law that they, they research various topics and their mission is to, to bring, uh, a factful worldview to people. So the, the interesting thing about the book was, and he demonstrates us very clearly that most of us have bias in our view of the world that is outdated. So our, our view of the world is based on things that we learned a long time ago.
And even things that like people in my age range that we learned back in the 70s 80s and 90s which may not at all be true today, and we know they’re not true, but yet our view of the world is still biased by the things that we learned back then. We still think they’re true because we just haven’t gone out to find, you know, the information or done the research that tells us that’s not really true anymore. And part of the problem is the longer you believe something, the more ingrained it becomes in your worldview. And the most fun part of the book is how he demonstrates that when he quizzes people, and I don’t mean just average citizens, he will quiz experts in industry and how often they perform very poorly on these, these basic quizzes because of that outdated worldview. So much so, so much so that he did a random, uh, test with chimpanzees.
Now you can imagine chimpanzees don’t really understand the questions or the answers, so their guesses are completely random. But in a random sampling, they still end up getting about a 33% on the quiz. There were only one or two examples where anybody, any group ever exceeded 33% of, most of the times, even people who are very knowledgeable, uh, they would quiz them on, on things like, you know, uh, what is the expectation of our world population in 2040 or 2050, um, are people better off or worse off than they were 10 or 20 years ago? Are people wealthier? Are they healthier? All these types of things. Uh, and, and in most cases, in almost every case, they scored worse than chimpanzees whose guesses were completely random because our, our view of things is so biased by outdated information. So the whole book is about, it’s partly about what is true and what are some of the more factual things that are going on.
He supports it with a tremendous amount of research and evidence, but the bigger picture is changing the way you think about the world and recognizing that the information I have right now may or may not be current accurate, and it’s always worthwhile to challenge our own knowledge and assumptions because much of the time what we believe is simply not true.
Wendi: That sounds incredible.
Scott: It’s a really fascinating book. It’ll make you question everything, which can be a little bit scary, but it’s, it will change the way you think about the world. So fact fullness by Hans Rosling. Really, really good rate. So that’d be my one recommendation.
Wendi: All right, well I think that’s a pretty good list. We can get at least get people through Christmas, maybe on those five books.
That would be, that’d be pretty good. That’s almost one a month at this point. So guys get cracking. All right, so we’re going to wrap this up, but I hope you had fun. This was something different on the Frisco podcast and we’ll be doing more of of this kind of thing in the future. So we’ll try and get windy back for a winter reading list. Since she’s our resident reader right now. Maybe we’ll get some of the other team to input as well. But yeah, thanks for joining us today and thank you for your recommendations.
Wendi: Thank you. Thank you for having me. And one final p.s. to everyone who’s listening, come by and visit us. Come and see our podcast studio! We are typically here several days a week if not all of them Monday through Friday during office hours. So we are at the UNT Inspire Park building at 6170 Research Road in north Frisco, just north of just south of El Dorado on Frisco Street.
Scott: And there’s some more stuff being built out here. So once it’s all done and ready, then we’re going to have a ribbon cutting and we’ll not announce that so everybody can come out to the, yeah, we’re going to throw down for that party.
All right. But until then, thanks again for tuning in to the Frisco podcast. Please be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes, Google play, Spotify, Stitcher, whatever your favorite podcast outlet is. We’re there, so go out and subscribe to the Frisco podcast. We really appreciate it and leave us a comment, let us know what you think of the shows and on this one, what are your favorite books? If you have a favorite book, leave us a comment and we’d love to hear about it until next time.