Leonardo da Vinci

By Walter Isaacson

I have long irrationally avoided biographies, despite encountering a few excellent ones like Team of Rivals, so I decided I needed to remedy that to read one about a personal hero of mine. Leonardo stands as the archetypal "Renaissance Man", with achievements in art, architecture, science and more all under his belt. His brilliant and beautiful notebooks make any journaler feel inadequate. And yet, one of the most reassuring parts of this book is that it seems unlikely that Leonardo was as set apart intellectually as an Einstein or a Newton, nor as naturally artistically gifted as a Michaelangelo. Instead, Leonardo learned everything through a combination of insatiable curiosity and determined attention and focus. He was also able to turn his varied interests and propensity for abandoning projects into a firm set of multidisciplinary knowledge that spurred creative insight across fields. So he's something of a role model for those of us who worry we didn't win the genetic lottery or feel a lack of focus. This book is fantastic and humanizing while still highlighting the key takeaways from his life that we can enjoy in our own.

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