Happy Thanksgiving. Christmas is coming. ‘Tis the season for gratitude and books.

Books are, of course, the best gifts. While a bottle of single malt Islay Scotch is nothing to scoff at, liquor is still second to literature. I’m defining literature broadly to include “the entire body of writings of a specific language, period, people.”

Along with miscellaneous updates and life lessons, the main mission of this blog is to recommend good books and movies. This is especially true in the shopping season.

Stillness is the Key

My first recommendation of the season is non-fiction by the author of The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday. His latest, Stillness is the Key, is the perfect antidote to the toxic noise of our modern world.

“Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow. It inspires new ideas. It sharpens perspective and illuminates connections…. Stillness is the key to, well, just about everything.”

Blending stories from Marcus Aurelius to Buddha, from Winston Churchill to Confucius, from artists to athletes, there is no better book about self-mastery, discipline, and focus.

If you are a friend of mine, you may be receiving a signed copy for Christmas. Don’t bank on this though. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for friends.

On the subject of toxic noise antidotes, you should also read Ryan’s first book, a smart study of media, Trust Me, I’m Lying. The epigraph by novelist, screenwriter, and film critic James Agee sums it up. “The very blood and semen of journalism, on the contrary, is a broad and successful form of lying. Remove that form of lying and you no longer have journalism.” Agee, a posthumous Pulitzer Prize winner, penned this decades before Twitter and Facebook.

Sex and Murder

My second recommendation is also non-fiction, but reads like a top drawer novel. Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder, and the Trial that Changed America by Chris DeRose proves once again history can be entertaining and edifying.

With a title like that, you do not need a synopsis or quote. The book is as good as it sounds.

Chris is a fellow author/lawyer. I’m a booster. As Robert Pirsig, the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, said, “Quality tends to fan out like waves.” I do my part to help.

Trial Lawyer Literature

My third recommendation has a more limited audience. On Becoming a Trial Lawyer is about exactly that. The author, Rick Friedman, a Seattle trial lawyer, sees trial work as “an inward journey” of “applied spirituality.” I concur.

I am halfway into Friedman’s book as I blog this. Later I will likely follow-up with more. Meanwhile, I am far enough along to recommend it to any lawyer who is a learner. It’s a cross between memoir and handbook for elevating personal and professional performance.

As someone who has read everything on trial tactics I can find, I feel qualified to recommend Friedman’s short book as one of the best. Power-to-weight ratio is perfect.

Fans of Ryan Holiday may notice some philosophical and practical similarities with Friedman. For example, both appreciate the power of observation and the advantage of detaching from opponents .

If you’re a lawyer, buy it for yourself or a colleague. If you’re not a lawyer, buy it for a lawyer you like. Amazon is your best bet.


Next blog post I will recommend novels to those who still read these artifacts of literacy. God bless you.

Reading novels increases empathy. The Brazilian government figured this out. NPR did a cool story about how Brazilian prisoners reduce their sentences by reading fiction and how this actually makes sense.

In prison or not, books are the best gifts.

Lion Air Update

Finally, stay tuned for developments on our lawsuit against Boeing for the 737 Max disasters. As I discussed with CNN, we recently settled four of our cases. That leaves 42 more.

Lewis Kamb of The Seattle Times wrote a good story about the human cost of the Lion Air crash. The story features a client I get to know quite well.

Whether we get there by settlement or trial, our goal is justice for our clients, accountability for Boeing, and safer skies for all. The fight goes well. I’ll keep you posted.

Public Speaking

I recently spoke to the Gig Harbor Republican Club about our cases against Boeing, personal injury law, and Indonesia. As a Democrat, I appreciate there are still patches of bipartisanship and common sense in our divisive times.

After cutting back in 2019, I am going to be available to talk to service groups more often in 2020.

Live with Gratitude

In this season of gratitude, I feel blessed by my work, family, and friends. Thank you all.

And thank you for reading.