What We’re Reading: BLOC Coaches Share What’s Keeping Them Busy

BLOC Coaches share what books, podcasts, projects and other activities have been keeping them busy during the lockdown. Education, audiobooks, and languages dominate the list, but there are recommendations enough for everyone.

What We are Learning, Reading, and Listening to

In an effort to help fight boredom and make the most of the lockdown, we asked some BLOC coaches how they are occupying their minds with the extra, stuck-inside time. Whether you are into self-learning, need an entertaining distraction, or have time for a class or seminar, they have some great recommendations.

(Thanks to Michael Burgos, CJ Gotcher, Dan Shell, Brooke Haubenstricker, Jeremy Elder, Scott Hambrick, Karl Schudt, and Michael Wolf for letting us know what you’ve been up to lately.

Learning a Language

Several BLOC coaches are brushing up on their language skills. They take a multi-factored approach, using on several resources that you may find helpful. Most importantly, perhaps, as Coach Michael Burgos says,  “Practicing language is so much fun!”  

“I’ve been using a combination of three apps to practice Japanese with a goal of earning an intermediate proficiency by next year.” –Michael Burgos, BLOC Staff Coach

Mike Recommends:

Duolingo for reading comprehension. 

Mango for speech practice.

HelloTalk for communicating with language partners who want to practice their English while I practice my Japanese. 

“Also using Duolingo here, haha. Along with a German textbook, flashcards, YouTube videos.. . . I’m trying to become proficient so I can apply for German citizenship. Being able to coach in German would be awesome too, though.” –Brooke Haubenstricker, BLOC Staff Coach

“I would recommend Fluent Forever.  It is a book, method, and app. I found the pronunciation trainers the most helpful bit, though the method itself is interesting. He stresses being able to identify the subtle differences between sounds in a different language (e.g. every consonant in Korean has 3 different forms and Korean vowels don’t match perfectly with English). So, he developed flashcards so you can train to hear the difference. The person who developed the method was an opera singer who had to sing in—if memory serves—5 different languages.” –Dan Shell, BLOC Intern

What We are Reading

Unsurprisingly, we’ve got a pretty decent reading list going. The highlight comes from Scott Hambrick and Karl Schudt over at Online Great Books: “Schopenhauer, Austen, Frank Herbert, Montaigne, that’s last month.” They are covering them all in the Online Great Books Podcast.

OGB is also offering 3 Free Seminars during the lockdown, May 12th–18th. You can choose from

    • Comedy: The Inimitable Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse
    • Science Fiction: Enders Game, by Orson Scott Card
    • Philosophy: Loss of the Creature, by Walker Percy



  • The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Shell) 
  • The Iliad translated (Robert Fagles translation) (Dan Shell)
  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty (Shell)
  • Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Trembley (yeesh!) (Soleyn)
  • The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson (Stormlight Archive #1) (Michael Wolf, BLOC Staff Coach)


CJ Gotcher is “deep-diving material related to an ‘ultralearning’ project: Joint Structure and Function, Overcoming Gravity, Gymnastics Bodies, Basic Biomechanics, and Anatomy Without a Scalpel.” CJ has written several articles for the Barbell Logic website about learning. CJ is also part of the team that develops the Barbell Logic Online Education Program for coaches.  The next online class begins on April 25th

Other nonfiction books we are reading:

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman (Soleyn)
  • Atomic Habits, by James Clear (Jeremy Elder, BLOC Staff Coach)


  • Being Wrong by Katherine Schulz (Gotcher)
  • Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter Brown (Gotcher) 
  • Galaxy Outlaws: The Complete Black Ocean Mobius Missions (Black Ocean 1–16.5) (“84 hours long! Space pirates! Magic! Too bad I’m not driving anywhere to listen to it.”–Karl Schudt, BLOC Staff Coach)

Podcasts and Education

“If you like podcasts and enjoy history, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History will give you hours of entertainment.” –Jeremy Elder, BLOC Staff Coach

Coach Michael Wolf is also studying Western Civilization to 1500 with Professor Jason Jewell in Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom.

Nick Soleyn found a bunch of Great Courses on the Libby app through his local library. He recommends starting with Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills with Professor Steven Novella. “It will get you thinking about thinking.”




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