Charles Daly

Freelance copywriter specializing in long-form B2B content.

Tag: reading list

Reading List: The Bob Ross of India

“You can be cautious or you can be creative. But there’s no such thing as a cautious creative.”

–George Lois.


What I’m Reading

Charlotte’s Webb by EB White — The tearjerker classic by the author of the Elements of StyleThis is such a good read if you feel like getting back to the basics of storytelling.

The Carter of La Providence (Maigret #4) By Georges SimenonThere would be no point in trying to summarize each one of these detective novels. If you know, you know. I plan to write something about the experience of reading the series. I might take some time to read one every day, or maybe do a Simenon Sunday every week.

“Every Day a Saturday (Or, the Life You Want)” Ryan Holiday reflects on how one can “buy” a life with less stress and more meaningful work by saying “no” to stress-inducing opportunities.

What I’m Listening to

Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis —  Listening to the audiobook of the latest by Paul Jarvis, co-founder of Creative Class. Advice on how to stay small and use smallness to your advantage as a one-person business.

Chapo: Kingpin on Trial — Vice’s podcast on El Chapo. It’s also available in Spanish.

What I’m Watching

Photography tutorials by PiXimperfect who one photographer friend describes as the “Indian Bob Ross of Photography.”

What I’m Writing 

Two more weeks of Creative Live’s “28 to Make

“Day Off”




“Photo Doodle”

“Exquisite Corpse”

“People Watching”

“Day Off Week 2”


“Blackout Poetry”



“Notes in the Wild”

“People Watching 3”



Reading List: A World Without ‘No’

“I’m a bit like a sponge. When I’m not writing I absorb life like water. When I write I squeeze the sponge a little – and out comes, not water but ink.”

–Georges Simenon


What I’m Reading

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon — The 3rd novel in his Jules Maigret series. (AKA, literature’s second most famous pipe-smoking detective.)

“How Hitler Nearly Destroyed the Great American Novel” — In bizarre intellectual property battle, an American publisher ended up defending Hitler in court while one of our country’s greatest novelists got caught in the legal fray.

“How Chuck Palahniuk Became a Darling of the Alt-Right and Antifa” — A sober discussion about the rise of extremism and the potential for redemption.

How Georges Simenon Wrote Nearly 200 Books — The writing tactics and career strategies used by the ultra-prolific Belgian author who would write a novel in 10 or 11 days. (He wrote over 400 books in his lifetime, but the article seems to get everything else right.)

The Mystery Man — An interview with Georges Simenon accompanied by a short story from the April, 1962 issue of Réalités.


What I’m Listening to

Let’s Talk About it With Chris P.My friend Chris has a new podcast, collecting stories from the interesting people he’s met in his journey through life including a former UFC fighter, and an expert on whales.

What I’m writing

“A World Without ‘No'” — I turned a recent rejection into a thought-for-the-day type post on Medium


*Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog. 

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Reading List: “Thrilling Cities”

“Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise, you’ll lead a very dull life.”

― Ian Fleming


Happy New Year. The theme for this week is adventure. I’ve been lucky enough to spend 10 of the first 18 days of 2019 on the road in Ireland and the American south.  On my wander, I’ve been reading up on adventurers past and present, including a mildly racist 1960 travel guide, relationship advice from a war photographer,  and a weekend trip up the highest mountain in Mexico.


What I’m Reading

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts — I come back to this book again and again as I plan adventures and extended trips abroad. Put this at the top of your list if you’re interested in longterm travel (i.e., Teaching abroad, working remotely, or saving a bunch of money and fucking off on a world tour. ) Potts shows you how to make “vagabonding” a reality, how to avoid common pitfalls, in both mindset and logistics, and gives examples of how others have done it. He also includes information on how to see the world with a family or if you’re elderly or have special needs. This is the book I want to give to everyone who’s ever said “must be nice…” or “I wish I had the (time/ money/ courage) to do that…” when I tell them that I’m traveling pretty much full time.

Thrilling Cities by Ian Fleming — A Mad Men era bachelor’s guide to the great cities of the world by the creator of James Bond. These essays were originally published–in an edited form–in the Saturday Evening Post. That they’re so politically incorrect by today’s standards makes them that much more charming. The prose is outstanding, and the content ranges from “shit my grandpa says” to wildly offensive, but it’s never boring.

The Story of the First Sherpa to Climb to the Top of Mt. Everest — From the June 5th, 1954 issue of the New Yorker, a feature on Tenzing Norgay, the Nepalese sherpa who shared the first ascent of Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary.

Sir Don McCullin: What I’ve Learned — War photographer Don McCullin shares his life lessons with Esquire UK ahead of a retrospective of his work at Tate Britain.


What I’m Watching

55 Hours in Mexico — This 9-minute Vimeo documentary proves that you don’t need to wait for a vacation to go on an adventure. The film follows a group of skiers from Colorado who take a weekend trip to Mexico where they climb the country’s highest mountain and ski down it and are home in time for work on Monday.

What I’m Doing

Taking pictures. I shot a bunch of 35mm film in Ireland on a cheap little Minolta point & shoot, mostly portraits of my friends.


*Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog. 

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Reading List: If you Write, You’re a Writer

“If you write, you’re a writer. And no one can take that away from you.”

–Brian Koppelman


What I’m Reading

Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War by Ben Macintyre — “This book is about courage,” Macintyre writes in the introduction. I was expecting to nerd-out on some military history and got so much more. This book is about strategy, problem-solving, adversity, and how to influence people who aren’t ready for your vision of the future. If you’re into WWII you’ll love this book, but I’d also recommend it to founders, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. It’s basically the story of a military startup.

So Good They Can’t Ignore: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love You By Cal Newport  — As with Rogue Heroes, the long subtitle sums this one up nicely. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in finding work they love. It challenges the “passion mindset” with the “craftsman’s mindset.” The former focuses on what your work can do for you, the latter is about what you can offer the world through your work.

“What Happened After Jonestown?” — A nauseating look at the cleanup and controversy that followed the worst mass suicide in recent times. Not something to read over lunch.

Sam Shepard’s letters and a collection of his interviews.

Brian Koppelman’s Tweets — Just what the doctor ordered when you’re struggling with your creative work.


What I’m Listening To

“Jonestown” The Last Podcast on the Left — A five-part deep dive into Jim Jones, his cult, and their mass suicide. Listener discretion is advised, especially if you can’t take sick jokes.

What I’m Watching

Liz Wellington on House Hunters International — My friend, the travel writer and content strategist, Liz Wellington was featured on House Hunters International as she and her boyfriend search for an apartment in Madrid.

Kent William’s advice to aspiring artists — Two and a half minutes of awesomeness from a talented and successful painter.

What I’m Writing

Drafting some Medium posts in my free time after my fiction, nonfiction, and freelancing work are done for the day.

The Title Capitalization Tool — I found this handy site while trying to figure out how to capitalize the headline for this post. Plug in your title or headline and it will automatically convert it to the correct format in  AP, APA, or Chicago style.


*Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog. 

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Reading List: “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t”

I’m keeping my head down this week, and getting back to not giving a fuck about anything but the work after I voted and fulfilled my civic duty on Tuesday and checked my phone for results all night.

Politics tends to be a blind spot in my reading as it will be in these roundup posts. That said, anyone interested in finding a non-obvious way to take on Trump should read Conspiracy: Theil, Hulk Hogan, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, Ryan Holiday’s account of the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker lawsuit and its implications for next-level dissent.

What I’m Reading

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight — The story of how Nike was built out of Knight’s parents’ basement.

The One Inside by Sam Shepard — So far I’ve only read the lyrical introduction by Patti Smith who describes it as a work of a “loner who doesn’t want to be alone.” Who is “Captivated, confused, and amused by women, drawn toward them yet compelled to skip out.” Shepard dedicates the book to multiple women.

Nobody Wants to Read your Sh*t: Why That is and What to do about it by Steven Pressfield As in his other books, Pressfield preaches the gospel of showing the fuck up, overcoming procrastination, and organizing your work with a three-act structure. He talks about the various stages of his career and why copywriting is phenomenal training for an aspiring novelist.

“I’m a Millennial and I don’t Understand my Peers–  Not Even a Little Bit” By Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday’s advice on how and why to find a mentor and why you shouldn’t use the word “mentor” in their presence.

John LeFevre, Creator of @GSElevator,  just for fun. He has some solid advice about affiliate links (which, by the way my reading list uses) as a way to generate passive income for writers.

What I’m Listening to

A TED Talk about how and why to work for free some of the time.

Radiolab, “In the No.” a 3-part, NSFW, series about consent.

What I’m Writing

Lots of housekeeping this week:

I’ve been self-educating about SEO and setting up a new theme for my website.

I wrote a letter (okay, an email) to one of my favorite living crime writers, and he wrote me back. Made my week.

What I’m doing

Headed to New York for a fundraiser supporting my filmmaker friend Bridget Gormley‘s documentary about post 9/11 illness.

Reading List: Micky Avalon Revisited

Instead of talking about how much money we have, let’s talk about how much we don’t have.”

–Micky Avalon


What I’m Reading

Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. The true crime story that inspired The Departed and Black Mass. A must-read for new arrivals in Boston who don’t know the story of the city’s disturbing pre-tech past.

Just Kids by Patti Smith. On art, love, life, loss, and trench mouth.

5 Things Every Entrepreneur can Learn from Rappers Micky Avalon and Simon Rex.”

What I’m Listening to

McCauley Culkin on Joe Rogan. The Home Alone star has grown up to write, paint, podcast, and found an art collective.

Florence Welch reading “Lovesong” by Ted Hughes.

Micky Avalon.

What I’m Watching

The world series with my dad.


What I’m Writing

Working on a New Year’s deadline for dad’s memoir.

Finished marking up the rough draft of my novel. I’ll be posting my novel log, documenting the writing process, on Medium. Stay tuned.


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Cormac McCarthy: a Reading List

Cormac McCarthy is a mentor I’ve never met. We all have one of those, a teacher who sends us on a quest to seek our teacher’s teacher’s teacher. Here is an ever-growing reading list of my informal study of McCarthy and his influences. I’ll be updating the list on Goodreads.



The Novels of Cormac McCarthy (Obviously.) If you’re new to him, and squeamish about blood, start with All the Pretty HorsesBlood Meridian can’t be denied, but it’s gruesome.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Carson McCullers, The heart is a Lonely Hunter

MacKinlay Kantor, Andersonville

James Joyce, Ulysses

Beckett’s Trilogy

Faulkner, lots of Faulkner…

And Shakespeare

Fydor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment & the Brothers Karamazov

Gustav Flaubert, Salammbô

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness

Flannery O’Conner, Complete Stories

Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

James Fenimore Cooper, The Deerslayer

Oakley Hall, Warlock




The King James Bible

Lt. Col. David Grossman, On Killing

Harold Bloom, Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ & Cormac McCarthy’s ‘All the Pretty Horses’ 

Edwin T. Arnold, Border Trilogy Companion & Perspective on Cormac McCarthy

Steven Frye, the Cambridge Companion to Cormac McCarthy 

Georg Guillemin, the Pastoral Vision of Cormac McCarthy

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: a Brief history of Humankind 

Leslie Harper Worthington, Cormac McCarthy and the Ghost of Huck Finn 

Wallis R. Sanborn, Animals in the Fiction of Cormac McCarthy


Homer, The Iliad & The Odyssey

Milton, Paradise Lost 

W.B Yeats, ‘Sailing to Byzantium’

Ted Hughes, CrowThere’s no direct influence I can find here, but Hughes is a perfect complement to McCarthy in terms of  powerful language and haunting description of the natural world.

I Read 66 Books in 2015, Here are my Favorites

We love to buy books because we think we are buying the time to read them.” —Arthur Schopenhauer

This is the year I finally got on Goodreads (you can add me here.) One year on, my reading has never been so good. Keeping track of what I read has me reading more, holding myself to a book-a-week minimum. And I’m actually spending less on books. Before I started Goodread-ing I would buy just about any book I intended to read someday. My bookshelf was my reading list. Now I keep it in my pocket.

Here are my favorite reads of 2015.




David Foster Wallace chose McCarthy’s masterpiece as one of the five most ‘direly underaprieciated’ American novels since 1960. In a rare stroke of brevity Wallace kept his notes on the book to just three words:

‘Don’t even ask.’

Blood Meridian follows a group of ex-soldiers paid to collect Apache scalps in the American West. They start by killing warriors, then women and children, and before long, it’s open season on anyone with brown hair. Think Melville meets Milton in the high desert with plenty of antique riflery jargon. Harold Bloom called it ‘the ultimate Western.’

It’s rumored that McCarthy’s research included making homemade gunpowder from urine and naturally occurring sulfur.



A novel that spans a century, told in a madwoman’s stream of consciousness, scrawled in Will Self’s sesquipedalian prose. Don’t ask me how, but it works. Brilliantly. Will Self’s experiment is a continuation of the modernist novel–Joyce and Woolf are all over Umbrella.

In his critical defense of the book, Self argues that modernism isn’t over and that someone living in any of the great ages before us, say the Renaissance, would laugh at the notion that an era in art could last just a couple of years. His exact words were much more sesquipedalian.



Jim Ruland’s debut novel, Forest of Fortune is a new classic of California noir. It’s Raymond Chandler in the age of polyamory, Dashiell Hammett with a novelty coke straw up its nose, or Inherent Vice after the yuppies stormed the beaches and nudged all the freaks east of the 405. The setting, a ‘possibly haunted’ Indian casino, is hysterical, the players are human and heartbreaking.*

*From my interview with Jim Ruland



A ghastly exploration of the erotic potential of car crashes. We’re talking classic car crashes, pre-airbags, back when the windscreen and chrome fixtures could flay you alive. If you’re into Fight Club and the lyrics of Joy Division, you’ve come to the right place.



The first writer I’ve encountered who uses social media in his fiction in a way that makes any fucking sense. The people in David Goodwillie’s work are people, not paper dolls caught in the updrafts of National debate. This book beats the clever realists, like Roth and Franzen, at their own game.

Political thrillers aren’t my thing, neither are clever books set in New York, but this one blew me away.




The creepiest book I’ve ever read. It might be the creepiest book ever written.

Killing for Company tells the true story of the serial killer, Dennis Neilson, AKA ‘Britain’s Jeffrey Dahmer.’ Brian Masters uses a detailed account of the killer’s entire life and family history to make a monster feel frighteningly familiar.



Indispensable advice from the micro-budget film-maker behind The Brothers McMullen, She’s the One, and Entourage. Comes in handy when you hit that slump in the middle of your passion project.

“Sometimes you’ve got to ignore the money and get back to why you got into this business to begin with. In most cases you got bit after seeing something like Nicholson in Chinatown or Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. I’ve yet to meet an actor, writer, or director who decided to get into the movie business after hearing how much Schwarzenager got paid to do Kindergarten Cop.”



A textbook for extended world travel. If you’re one to say ‘I’ve always wanted to go/do/see ______, Vagabonding might contain the motivation you need to finally take the leap. If you’re already living your adventures, Vagabonding is a refresher on travel basics and a reminder of why you do it.

Justin Alexander, the most interesting man on Instagram, is a big fan.



Pure enjoyment when I needed a break from dark, dense, and gruesome titles. 21 Yaks and a Speedo is a collection of life lessons from extreme swimmer and environmental champion Lewis Pugh. The ‘yaks’ are these highly digestible stories that take about five to ten minutes to read. The ‘yaks’ depict the training of a hero and offer inspiration to, as Pugh is so fond of saying, ‘achieve the impossible.’

Achieving the impossible in his case means swimming on Mt. Everest  and at the North Pole in nothing but a speedo.  His TED Talks on those swims are extraordinary.

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What were your good reads in 2015?

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