Letture del mese #4 – Gennaio 2015

Prima dei libri, due cose veloci.

  • a febbraio tornerò a Parigi e ne sono contentissimo, sono ancora felice se penso a quando ci sono andato a febbraio
  • un sacco di gente mi chiede se leggo veramente così tanti libri, e come faccio. Non avere un lavoro con orario fisso dà una mano, il mio e-reader pure, ma fondamentalmente è questione di priorità. Lo spiega meglio di me Ryan Holiday in questo articolo qui, (la sua newsletter mensile di letture è ottima)
  • ho preso un tablet e mi sono iscritto a Instagram (http://instagram.com/matteo.pezzi/), con le regole cardini di non usare hashtag e non pubblicare colazioni.

Bando alle ciance e spazio ai libri.

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Tutte le letture del mese.

I miei libri preferiti.

Superconnect: The Power of Networks and the Strength of Weak Links (English Edition)
Richard Koch, Greg Lockwood

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And the great thing about acquaintances is that we have so many more of them than friends.


But the essence of weak link is that they are most useful when we least expect them to be. Such serendipity nearly always arises from personal meetings.


The eroic work of superconnectors who connect dissimilar worlds can be fully appreciated only if we reflect on what would happen if they did not exist.

Richard Koch è l’autore di uno dei miei libri preferiti di sempre (The 80/20 principle), e Superconnect è un altro libro che fa pensare parecchio. La tesi esposta è che spesso i contatti più utili o che più influenzano la nostra vita sono quelli di semplice conoscenza (lui li chiama weak link). Prova a pensarci, ti accorgerai che è vero. Da leggere.


The New Journalism
Tom Wolfe


Not many newspaper writers have the talent or moxie of Tomalin and Breslin. But there is a worse problem: not many newspaper editors want to know that it can even be done.


Why more technical writers don’t use these techniques is a mystery to me. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that academic professional still look upon anything this readable and non-esoteric as necessarily frivolous.

Il New Journalism è una corrente giornalistica che abbinava a una ricostruzione di fatti rigorosa uno stile letterario, con utilizzo di dialoghi, scene, dettagli precisi. Lo scopo, oltre che lo stile fine a sé stesso che per me è una delle cose migliori che esistano, era di rendere le storie più belle (e quindi più memorizzabili e quindi più utili) per il lettore.

Tom Wolfe, uno dei miei scrittori preferiti, assieme a Gay Talese è stato uno degli ambasciatori del NJ: in questo libro di 430 pagine offre una panoramica storica sul movimento e a seguire ci sono alcuni pezzi storici dei migliori esponenti del NJ (lo stesso Wolfe, Gay Talese, Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer e tanti altri).

È simile alla raccolta The literature of reality curata da Gay Talese e Barbara Lounsberry. Per chi volesse saperne di più su Gay Talese, qui c’è una tesina che scrissi ai tempi dell’università.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
Brian Wansink, Ph.D.


Reporters often seem puzzled—even semi-disapproving—with my dietary “way of life.” I love all food—the sublime, the ridiculous, the refined, and the gross. Like a parent who loves his or her children no matter how different they are, I love the galette de crabe at Le Bec-Fin, the Cini-minis at Burger King, and the braised duck tongue at the night market in Taipei.
This book is not about dietary extremism—just the opposite. It’s about reengineering your environment so that you can eat what you want without guilt and without gaining weight. It’s about reengineering your food life so that it is enjoyable and mindful.


Traditional diet books focus on what dieticians and health practioners know. This book focuses on what psychologists and marketers know. There are no recipes—only scientifically based findings. Marketers already know some of what you will read, and they use it relentlessly so that you buy their hamburger instead of their competitors’. But this is not an evil conspiracy. Some of the tactics they use are the same ones your grandmother used to make sure you had a great Thanksgiving dinner, and they are ones you can use to make your next dinner party a success.


They might acknowledge that others could be “fooled,” but they don’t think they were. That is what gives mindless eating so much power over us—we’re not aware it’s happening.


People don’t eat calories, they eat volume. There’s a saying in the food industry that the two cheapest ingredients you can add to food are water and air.


It seems that when estimating almost anything—such as weight, height, brightness, loudness, sweetness, and so on—we consistently underestimate things as they get larger.


The more hassle it is to eat, the less we eat.


a menu in a French-style restaurant in the Hanover, New Hampshire, area described one dish as being “graced with spring-fresh medallions of well-mannered beef.” Well-mannered beef? Are there cows out there who say, “I realize I’m six hours away from becoming an entrée, but I’m okay with that. Enough about me. How are you doing?” Doubtful. Yet if these menu names and descriptions seem so ridiculous out of context, why are they so common? They are common because they work.


… eating right is a great goal. The problem is that it’s just too daunting for most of us. It seems so absolute and so joyless. But the idea of eating better is do-able. While eating right is a long-term goal, eating better is something we can start today.

Mindless eating è uno strano libro. A partire dalla mania americana di firmarsi con Ph. D  dell’autore (come se io mi firmassi sempre dott. Pezzi), si insiste molto (pure troppo, dopo 20 pagine in cui insisti sulle modalità degli esperimenti ti credo per sfinimento) sulla scientificità dei risultati proposti.

Che all’apperenza riguardano come mangiamo, ma che in verità valgono per credo qualsiasi ambito della nostra vita. Il dott. Pezzi te lo consiglia.


A Guided Tour of Mad Men: The Second Season (English Edition)
Ron Replogle


Avevo già recensito a novembre l’analisi di Repogle della prima stagione, e ora ho letto quella della seconda. Molto bella, peccato non ne abbia fatte altre!


Mad Men Unmasked: Decoding Season 4
Nelle Engron



The shift from selling based on fear to selling based on pleasure was a key turning point in advertising that reflected wider societal changes driving people’s behaviour.

There are several ways to succeed in life: you can know the right people, you can know the right things, or you can knowr the right things about the right people.

Sono uno dei fan numero uno di Mad Men, il gioiello delle serie tv americane (ma non nel doppiaggio italiano, almeno secondo me) e sto leggendo più o meno tutto quello che c’è da leggere nell’attesa dell’ultima stagione (5 aprile!). Analisi molto psicologica, che fa apprezzare ancora di più il capolavoro di Matthew Weiner.

Paolo Roversi
Paolo Roversi


Una casa quasi atona, evidente eppure misteriosa, spartana e raffinata, a immagine del suo inquilino, dove si susseguono un grande studio e una stanza d’archivio estremamente organizzata. E poi la sala per le riprese. Un grande atelier d’artista, il pavimento in legno, una lunga e stretta vetrata orientata a nord e, di fronte, una parete grezza e spoglia.
E, ritto e fiero, il grande banco ottico.
(dall’introduzione di Gilles de Bure)

Adoro Parigi, questa città mi ha dato e insegnato tutto anche se spesso la nebbia di Ravenna mi manca terribilmente, forse ancor più del sole dell’Adriatico.

Amo la collana Fotonote di Contrasto perché, come Google ma con un po’ più di stile, permette di avvicinarsi ai migliori fotografi senza svenarsi.

Paolo Roversi è uno dei miei fotografi preferiti, viene da Ravenna come me e vive a Parigi (non come me, purtroppo). Se non lo conosci dai un’occhiata a questo Tumblr che raccoglie sue foto, inconfondibili. Un’altra fotografa che si ispira a lui e che mi piace molto è Emily Soto.

Corporate America
Jack Dougherty


But when I was growing up, every time John Lennon’s “Imagine” was broadcast over the car radio, my dad would smack his forehead and command me to turn it off. “Now there’s a hero for you, Frankie,” he’d say. “I’m in Vietnam getting shot at while a millionaire rock star prances around a hotel room naked telling the world getting laid is better than going to war. And for that bit of wisdom everybody makes him out to be the messiah.”

She struck me as the kind of person who, upon loading new Windows software on her laptop, scrupulously read every word of Microsoft’s licensing agreement before clicking the “I ACCEPT THE AGREEMENT” button — just to verify Microsoft didn’t try to get cute between the incumbent version and the new one.

I wanted Judith to win. While I had before my foray into Corporate America considered myself liberal, I had never quite signed on to the priggish wing of the party that disapproved of cigarettes, alcohol, red meat, cars without airbags, Barbie dolls with big boobs, unfiltered water, plastic water bottles with BPA, French fries drenched in partially hydrogenated oils, flu vaccines, and people who didn’t recycle. Instead, I counted myself among the mischief-makers that comprised the freedom fringe of the party: free minds, free love, free tuition, free parking, free speech, free Tibet, and free — or at least government subsidized — medical-grade marijuana for all.

“Hmmm,” she said again.
“What does ‘Hmmm’ mean?”
“Just … oh, please … not another tedious story about the Nazis. Yet another doomed love affair between Nazi commandant and camp inmate. Haven’t we heard quite enough already? Why is it that no one affords equal time to the atrocities of the Left, which, in my view, was far more sinister?

Even though I had been forced to take a corporate job, I was still a progressive who sided with the wretched of the earth. “At least the Left is motivated by ideals. Their leaders were, admittedly, deeply flawed. But the initiatives of the Left, no matter how misguided, started out as an effort to do the right thing.”
She waved her champagne flute in the air. “That sentence is proof positive that the Left perpetrated the greatest P.R. scam of the twentieth century, and quite possibly in history. The communists killed a hundred million people. The Nazis killed twenty million. Yet Mao gets immortalized on a T-shirt; Hitler does not,” said definitively, clinching the argument.

I spun myself off the stool and headed for the men’s room, where Ron Buernekehl, one palm pressed against the cement wall to steady him, a can of beer cradled in the other, splashed urine into the tin trough. After a protracted sigh, he said, “At my age, Francis, you don’t buy beer any more, you just rent it.”

And while Phil Lynch didn’t exactly radiate humanitarianism, he had enough enlightened self-interest to understand that only a fool would hire kids, look the other way while they were mistreated, and get sued for child-labor violations when the kids’ parents could be hired for the same wage.

I wanted to throw my phone and passport in the fountain and go into hiding in India.

“Sure. I read all those guys. Of course five minutes after you grow up you realize that they’re not rebels or non-conformists; they’re just losers.”

You must always think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.

Corporate America è geniale.
Se sei radical-chic e ti offendi facilmente (specificazione inutile, i radical chic si offendono facilmente per definizione), non leggere questo romanzo. Anzi leggilo perché a te alla fine essendo un radical chic ti piace sentirti offeso, e di sicuro questo è il libro giusto.

Mad Men’s Guide to Persuasion: How Don Draper & Co. Shape Our Desires
Charles Euchner


The words themselves, Don says, have their own independent status. The creator of the words does not matter.
“You’re right,” Roger says. “Who knows why people in history did good things? For all we know, Jesus was trying to get the loaves and fishes account.”

Then Pete reminds the group of a truth that civics teachers never want to admit: “The president is a product. Don’t forget that.”

Devo smetterla con questi libri su Mad Men, ma è colpa di Amc tv che invece di fare tutta la stagione finale nel 2014, l’ha divisa in due (perché?) lasciando me e milioni di altri fan a leggere libri, riguardare vecchie puntate e tormentarsi nell’attesa di scoprire come va a finire la storia di Don Draper e compagnia bella.

Questo analizza molte campagne pubblicitarie che si vedono nello show (ci sono spoiler, non leggerlo prima di vedere la serie, ma spero tu l’abbia già vista).

Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck


“Tell about the house, George,” Lennie begged.
“Sure, we’d have a little house an’ a room to ourself.
Little fat iron stove, an’ in the winter we’d keep a fire goin’ in it. It ain’t enough land so we’d have to work too har. Maybe six, seven hours a day. We wouldn’t have to buck no  barley eleven hours a day.”

Non avevo mai letto nulla di Steinbeck e sotto consiglio di mia zia ho letto Of mice and men, che non sarà di certo l’ultimo.


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