Ben Mercer, author of Fringes: Life on the Edge of Professional Rugby takes the time to provide some top class book recommendations this week! Before jumping into the interview, please check out Ben's book Fringes: Life on the Edge of Professional Rugby:
Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?
Antifragile has been the biggest influence on how I think. Taleb is both funny and exasperating in style but the way he frames big concepts in counterintuitive ways is magnificent. This one will make you look differently at everything around you.
Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?
I recently finished Ultralearning and enjoyed it. It's got some clear and actionable advice on how to learn quickly, efficiently and deeply. It could have included some more detail of the author's own ultralearning exploits but then it would have been a different book.
Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book?
Reading was my biggest childhood pursuit, at least until I pooled my pocket money with my brother to buy a PlayStation. Even then I read a lot. The books I kept coming back to were the Greek myths, I had an illustrated adaptation of the Iliad which I loved, Calvin and Hobbes and later The Beach by Alex Garland. The myths spoke to my imagination, Watterson was funny and poignant and I'll now follow Garland anywhere.
Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?
I love podcasts but don't really do audiobooks. My Kindle is a lifesaver considering I've spent much of my life on buses to rugby matches and staying in mediocre hotels but if I'm reading fiction, I do like to have a real life book in my hand. I wouldn't give up my charity shop copy of The Count of Monte Cristo for anything.
Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?
I don't really, having always been quite itinerant. My home town of Bath has 2 lovely bookshops - Topping & Company and Mr B's Emporium - which I pop into from time to time. When I Iived in Sydney there were bookshelves dotted around the place where you could swap books - this led me to finally read A Secret History, writing a message inside the cover to join the other previous readers and taking it back to the shelves once I'd finished. That little experience was everything that reading should be.
Image Copyrights: HarperCollins Publishers (Ultralearning), Pan Macmillan (Range), The Courage To Be Disliked (Allen & Unwin), Echo Library (The Iliad), Little, Brown Book Group (Calvin and Hobbs), Penguin Books Ltd (Antifragile, The Undoing Project, The Beach)