May Book Recommendations: / by Deborah Clague


WHO'S YOUR CITY: How the creative economy is making where to live the most important decision of your life
Written by Richard Florida

Traveling to Seoul made me contemplate my life. I definitely feel at home in the megalopolises of the world; their energy and palpable ambition is contagious. As I start to consider reinventing myself, the question that looms over my head is "where"? The possibilities are endless … but which city/region would make a perfect match for my personality, expectations and career?

It was by chance (perhaps fate) that I came across this book in Chapters Indigo and it helped answer all of those questions. Richard Florida writes about how choosing the place we live is the single most important decision we make in life, profoundly impacting our career paths, social networks, family and lifestyle choices, wealth, and overall happiness. The book is a great resource to understanding trends in globalization, civic economics and demography, and how the theory of where we live doesn't matter simply isn't true; today it matters more than anything. Upon completion and taking a quiz on, I realize that Vancouver and Montreal are probably my urban soul mates. Food for thought for those who seek more out of life and the places they reside. 

Favourite line: "The fact that many musician friends who had successful careers in Austin have since moved to NYC or L.A. is not some random coincidence; those are the places to be if you really want to excel. It's not easy. On the contrary, there you're competing with the professionals. But that's just it. The people I know who moved there were up for that challenge. Austin was no longer a challenging place for them, so they moved to places where they were forced to rise to the occasion."

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CULTURE CRASH: The Killing of the Creative Class
Written by Scott Timberg

Whereby Richard Florida's tome talked about the soft power influence that creative-types impart and why it matters to a city or region, this book counters it with an analysis on how societal shifts have made it nearly impossible for those same people to reasonably earn a living. From designers and writers to musicians and architects, the trend towards devaluing the work of right-brained professionals shows no sign of abating. The author argues the consequences of "Fiverr" culture and how skilled artistry in all forms should be accessible (and thus, hopefully, appreciated) by all rather than a luxury to few. 

Favorite line: "But food is not art. Both begin by addressing the senses, but that is where food stops. A good risotto is a fine thing, but it isn't going to give you insight into other people, allow you to see the world in a new way, or force you to take inventory of your soul."

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RED NOTICE: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice
Written by Bill Browder

My fascination with modern Russia shows no sign of fading. Red Notice is a thoroughly engrossing tale about the economic opportunity that presented itself after the fall of the Soviet Union, the era of oligarch rule in the years immediately after, and the completely lawless, inhospitable and demoralizing current state of affairs as led by President Vladimir Putin. After the calculated theft of more than $230 million in taxes by Russian government officials is uncovered and exposed (amongst other crimes), things really start to get terrifying including the torture and murder of a lawyer attempting to stand up for his country and the suspicious death of another individual that dared speak out. With the passing of a U.S. bipartisan bill in 2012 targeting those responsible, the book ends on a somewhat positive note although it's not much consolation when one considers everything that has happened since. 

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Favorite line: "Russian stories don't have happy endings. Russians are familiar with hardship, suffering, and despair – not with success and certainly not with justice. Not surprisingly, this has engendered in many Russians a deep-seated fatalism that stipulates that the world is bad, it will always be bad, and any attempt to change things is doomed." 

To purchase this book, click here