Meet Peter

Peter Makin is Brilliant Books’ owner.  He is English and still has the accent to prove it.  He emigrated to the US twice, once in 1981 and again in 2006 when he returned after a 15 year absence.  He is now an American citizen, but is eternally grateful to live in an era of streaming football—er, soccer—services.

Peter is also one of our Brilliant Books Monthly book selectors.  Learn more about how he chooses books for our nonfiction readers!


 

How many states (or countries) have you lived in?

2 States, 4 Countries.

 

What's the one thing you wish people knew about bookselling?

People warn you before you open a bookstore.  They tell you that once you own a bookstore you won't have time to read.  They are right.  It's why more booksellers than you might imagine listen to books rather than actually read them.  My 20 minute commute is my reading time.  Also, and most importantly, It is by far the most fulfilling job I have ever had - and I have done all sorts of weird things.

 

What would you say are the top five most interesting things about you?

  • I have more Neanderthal DNA than 95% of humans.
  • I once owned a dog named after Chelsea soccer player Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
  • I have circumnavigated the globe an unfeasible number of times.
  • At the age of 22 I had a lengthy conversation with Bob Dylan totally unaware of who he was.
  • I was offered a place at the London School of Economics in 1978, but took a gap year to work on the pending general election.
  • I am still on that gap year.


If you weren't a bookseller what would you be doing instead?

I can't possibly imagine.  Probably trying very hard to become one.

 

What's one book that changed your life?

The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts

 

(Some of) Peter's Staff Picks:

Staff Pick Badge
This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See By Seth Godin Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780525540830
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Portfolio - November 13th, 2018

Seth Godin is universally accessible, even to the layman.  His approach is ever more relevant with today's focus on creating an experiential environment over selling a product: earning the consumer's trust though authentic actions and philosophy rather than simple slogans.  He presents principles with clear insight and observation, with his trademark examples making this a book that can genuinely make you better at connecting with people.

- Peter


Staff Pick Badge
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story By Nikole Hannah-Jones (Created by), The New York Times Magazine (Created by), Caitlin Roper (Editor), Ilena Silverman (Editor), Jake Silverstein (Editor) Cover Image
By Nikole Hannah-Jones (Created by), The New York Times Magazine (Created by), Caitlin Roper (Editor), Ilena Silverman (Editor), Jake Silverstein (Editor)
$38.00
ISBN: 9780593230572
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - November 16th, 2021

An important reframing of our understanding of American history.  Using language that more accurately describes the lived reality.  Establishing that there are no slaves but instead enslaved people, while the romantic Southern Plantation gives way to the more accurate forced labor camp.  This is being banned in states that do not want people to know the reality of history.

- Peter


Staff Pick Badge
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals By Oliver Burkeman Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780374159122
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 10th, 2021

A time management book that eschews the usual slew of tips and tricks encouraging us to squeeze even more from our days.  Instead it challenges us to consider why on earth we would want to do such a thing, when we only have on average 4000 weeks in which to do anything at all.

- Peter


Staff Pick Badge
Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away By Annie Duke Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593422991
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Portfolio - October 4th, 2022

"While adages such as grit vs quit contribute to to the cultural norm of never being a quitter, knowing when to do so is essential.  In Quit ex-poker professional, Duke teaches you how to get good at understanding and practicing “optimal quitting” just as the best players know when to fold ’em."  —Peter


Staff Pick Badge
Thinking, Fast and Slow By Daniel Kahneman Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780374533557
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 2nd, 2013

Nobel Prize winner Kahneman's 2011 masterwork Thinking, Fast and Slow is enjoying a well deserved renaissance on the bestseller lists.  He explains the two ways we think: first swiftly and intuitively, from the gut, and second more analytically and with consideration.  It turns out humans are very good at making bad decisions.  We allow emotions and preconceived values to triumph over consideration and logic.  When read with Gladwell’s Blink one comes to understand why, as Gladwell puts it, unless you have the 10,000 hours of training and experience to decide in a blink, it's probably best to slow down and think.

 


Staff Pick Badge
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism By Dr. Robin DiAngelo, Michael Eric Dyson (Foreword by) Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780807047408
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Beacon Press - November 17th, 2020

Brilliant Books’ 2020 best seller.  An examination by Robin DiAngelo of how and why white people are uncomfortable discussing and confronting racism.  Despite well meaning white claims of color-blindness, Diangelo illustrates how racism is part of the culture, not an aberration of it.  For white people to accept this reality implies acknowledging the racist implications of their own thoughts and deeds.  This in turn leads to defensiveness, anger, denial, all of which shut down any progress in race relations.

Spolier alert:  White people are not supposed to find discussing race comfortable at all. —Peter


Staff Pick Badge
How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices By Annie Duke Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780593418482
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Portfolio - October 13th, 2020

Annie Duke follows up on her 2018 best seller, Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts.  As a former poker player she her outlines how best to make decisions when you do not have all the facts, when you’re armed only with ideas, conjectures and predictions.  —Peter