What Are You Reading? Jerry Adams

I’m President/CEO of the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA), an 11-year-old economic development non-profit that helps our five research universities recruit, retain and recognize strategic research leaders.

Prior to ARA, I spent 34 years at Acxiom as part of the early founding group. I’ve lived in central Arkansas for the past 46 years.  I was born in Ft. Smith, raised in St Louis, and returned to Arkansas in 1973 to help start Acxiom.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am a member of a book club that meets once a month at a Hillcrest bakery to ‘discuss’ the books that we are reading. It’s a great format – we don’t all read the same book, so every gathering is expansive.

I just finished Walter Isaacson’s biography on Leonardo Da Vinci.  This book was given to me a few years ago and I finally got to it and it is magnificent.

Leonardo was the illegitimate son of a prominent notary in Vinci – born with extraordinary observational skills and curiosity – a left-handed, gay man with an affinity for red tunics.  Through his entire life he kept notebooks: 7,200 pages still exist and Isaacson digs deep in these notebooks for his biography.  Also, note that Leonardo wrote in ‘mirror script’ – if you have ever seen an ambulance in your rearview mirror – the word ambulance is in mirror script – backwards!!!

I now know more about the Mona Lisa than most! Leonardo’s journey through life was exciting—from Vinci to Florence to Milan and back to Florence, back to Milan, and finally to Rome. In his last 3 years, he left Italy (for the first time) and died in France. Isaacson’s narrative is always crisp and interesting.

One final point about Leonardo – he was obsessed with the human body – he wanted to know everything about it. He personally dissected over 30 cadavers to learn minute details of how the body works and how it should be presented in his paintings.

Are you involved in any other reading-based activities?

For balance, I have read aloud to first- & second-graders once a month for the past 14 years and hope to continue doing this – Clifford the Big Red Dog and Arthur the Aardvark have taught me a lot about kindness and acceptance.

What’s waiting on your reading table?

Next book on my stack is for work – Prediction Machines, which is about artificial intelligence (AI) – ugh!