Posts tagged with: books

Books read – June 2018

In the past month I finished what was probably the longest book I've ever read – A Little Life at just over 800 pages. I'm pretty proud of that achievement as it didn't even take me that long all things considered. My self-imposed break from social media also made things easier.

Lately I also realised how much I enjoy commuting to work by bus instead of taking the car since it gives me plenty of time to read and chill. Random I know.

A Little Life

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A Little Life is one of the deepest reading experiences I've had to date. I'll be honest in saying that it's not a book I would've necessarily picked up, especially due to its size. I used to think that 500-page books are quite chunky already so this seemed daunting but I'm glad I stuck with it. A Little Life is best described as an emotional rollercoaster that will tug at your heart strings on several occasions before finally unleashing the flood gates.

It's the story of 4 childhood friends with very diverse backgrounds and upbringings. You follow their journey from high school to late adulthood, discovering intricate stories and secrets along the way. By the end of it I felt as if I actually knew the characters and watched their lives unfold from distance similar to The Truman Show.
I was a little disappointed by the end of the story as it was overly (and perhaps gratuitiously) dramatic and felt a bit rushed to wrap up the book.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

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This is definitely of the funniest books I've come across. Christopher Moore tells the story of Christ through the lens of his best friend: Biff. Among other things he invented sarcasm and makes brilliant use of it throughout their journey in search of Joshua's purpose in life.

The inseparable duo meets a variety of people and cultures along the way which sometimes challenges the readers religious preconceptions. Pick this one up if you're looking for a few laughs and an entertaining story.

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

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What's the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

That's the main question you'll have to ask yourself before you set your goals according to this book. It's full of helpful little tips but looking back, I think it could have been much shorter and do the point instead of putting a different spin on the same concept for a few chapters.

The authors recommend to narrow your focus drastically and unapologetically ignore any distractions that could prevent you from reaching your goals. To do so you should start small and build a long term vision incrementally. For example, think about what you could do today to help you achieve what you want? What about this week? This month? You get the idea.

One piece of advice in particular stood out to me: at work, block out time slots in your calendar to focus on your ONE thing every day and stick to it.

Books read – August 2017

I only managed to start a single book in July which I finished this month. I realised I spent too much time on social media which distracted me a lot and resulted in less reading time.

That's why I decided to cut down on distractions by deleting both Twitter and Reddit (the main culprits) from my phone so that my Kindle became my main source of entertainment again.
This little social media diet worked out quite well as I began feeling more productive and intellectually stimulated than before just a couple days into it.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Sometimes when I play basketball or write code I get into a "zone" where time flies and everything seems easy. Turns out this is better known as a flow experience. Basically your abilities increase when you accomplish tasks that are challenging yet within your reach and offer continuous feedback.

This book also made me re-evaluate how I choose to spend my free time. I'm trying to focus on more complex activities that challenge me instead of opting for the easy option like watching TV or playing games. Ironically I have to admit that I found it hard to get through the chapters at times because it required a fair amount of concentration to follow the author's train of thought.

Get Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience on Amazon

Norse Mythology

As a big fan of Marvel's Thor and the TV show Vikings this book was right up my alley. It was the first time I read something by Neil Gaiman and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. He narrates the stories of many characters in the nordic mythology and takes the reader on a fast-paced adventure to the end of the world.

Get Norse Mythology on Amazon

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

I mainly read this one because I enjoyed Charles Duhigg's previous book The Power of Habit and to be honest I enjoyed Smarter Faster Better even more. He uses examples from a variety of industries to illustrate how anyone can become more productive by changing your mindset and workflow just a little bit.

Get Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business on Amazon

Ready Player One trailer

The book that pulled me back into reading over a year ago, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, is being adapted for film. The first trailer just appeared on the internet and at first glance it did a great job capturing the world as it's described in the book.

Without giving away any spoilers, the story is about a teenager in a futuristic setting where everyone is connected to a virtual reality called "Oasis". This alternate world is where the population's daily activities take place until one day a treasure hunt of epic proportions changes everything.

There's been a lot of hype surrounding this movie since it was announced that Steven Spielberg would be directing it and I can't wait to watch it later this year. In the meantime, check out the book if you haven't already.

Ready Player One is due to come out on 30 March 2018 in the UK, US and Australia.

Books read – June 2017

June was interesting in terms of reading–I didn't do a lot of it. Looking back it seems I was often distracted or simply not interested in reading as much during my routine. For example during my commute I would prefer doing something that required no mental effort whatsoever, such as browsing reddit on my phone or taking a nap. I still managed to finish a few though, which is surprising.

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air is one of my favourite books this year. The author Paul Kalanithi writes about his life and how much it changed when he was diagnosed with cancer. It's refreshingly honest, candid and really heartbreaking. If there's one book you should read this year it's this one.

Get When Breath Becomes Air on Amazon

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

A friend recently had me take a personality test and it turns out I'm 54% extrovert and 46% introvert. Since I was a kid, I would've told you I'm introverted but I guess things can change over time. I wanted to dig a little deeper into that topic with this book by Susan Cain and it was truly eye-opening. Being an introvert is cool and often almost better. I would especially recommend this to parents who are trying to "fix" their kids just because they like to be by themselves often.

Get Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking on Amazon

The Elements of Style

The Elements of Style is supposed to be a classic when it comes to writing properly in every sense of the word. Even though it's a small book, you'll find lots and lots of advice on which bad writing habits to break and how to correct the most common mistakes. These concepts are usually explained along with examples and better alternatives are offered.
It's quite an old book and I had the impression that some things were out of date. Since English isn't my native language I learned many new things which allowed me to reflect on my own writing. It can get a little dry at times but it's worth to read this book at least once.

Get The Elements of Style on Amazon

Books read – May 2017

Last month I finally finished or rather forced myself to finish Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, which probably took me 4 weeks while mixing it up with other books. I just couldn't handle reading only a single book for several weeks straight. That's why I took a few breaks with shorter ones to read in parallel.

Catch-22

This was one of the longer fiction books I've read lately with 466 pages. It was recommended to me because of its humour and unique take on the war. I struggled to get into this classic and it only really started to become enjoyable after around 200 pages. Once you learn to appreciate that things are weird, crazy and don't always need to make sense you realise that it's a decent book with many hidden gems throughout.

Get Catch-22 on Amazon

Nicely Said: Writing for the Web with Style and Purpose

Ever since I attended Kate Kiefer Lee's talk at Webstock a few years back I've been wanting to get my hands on this book. There is lots of good advice on how to write for a business, although at times it felt too corporate. However I did learn a few things that I could apply directly to my work (like reading out loud or writing the way you speak) but many of the activities seemed aimed at entire teams of copywriters or marketers.

Get Nicely Said: Writing for the Web with Style and Purpose on Amazon

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

This one probably took me a day or two to finish. Easy to read and full of small motivational tips to get you to put your work out there in front of people. I'm not going to lie, I'm a fan of Austin Kleon and enjoyed this book. Nice change of pace from the other ones on this list.

Get Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered on Amazon

You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)

Stumbled upon this one while browsing Amazon on my Kindle. It was cheap and had many good reviews so I thought "Why not?".
Jeff Goins writes about his change of career and the steps it took to become a full-time writer. Turns out writing is only part of the story. Good read if you want to follow his footsteps.

Get You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) on Amazon

Ego is the Enemy

I was pleasantly surprised by Ego is the Enemy as I didn't have any expectations when I picked it up. This book drew me in and it kept getting better after every page. I especially enjoyed all the anecdotes of famous people who were able to suppress their ego and what impact it had on history in hindsight. The snippets about Ryan Holiday's own professional and personal experiences were also interesting.

Get Ego is the Enemy on Amazon