Geetanjali Mukherjee

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What I Am Reading - January

I am currently reading a bunch of books all at once - which sounds odd, but basically means I have started many books but haven’t really finished that many, yet. If you follow me on Goodreads you will notice my peculiar reading habits - I am frequently reading more than 6 books at a time. Part of this is because I read based on both mood and need - so sometimes I may be in the mood for something lighter while in the middle of a heavier story, and I pick something else up and read it first. Sometimes I feel I need particular advice or guidance, so I go looking for a book on that specific subject, and sometimes I find 3 or 4, and start reading them all at once. 

This system may be confusing, but it keeps me from getting bored and actually contributes to my reading between 80-110 books a year (at least 70% of which is non-fiction). I also end up taking detailed notes on many of these books, which also slows me down - but the notes help me to keep track of what I learned and ideas I want to implement and just generally keep all that knowledge from becoming a complicated mess in my head. 

So anyway, my determination this year is to read differently - to read more selectively, to hone in on areas of knowledge that I want to deepen or skills I want to learn, and read several books in one area, really understand that, before jumping off into something else. I am not sure to what extent I will be able to maintain this lofty ideal, but for the time being, this is the plan.

So these are some of the books I am reading at the moment:

Very interesting book about what it takes to succeed - my favorite area of psychology, and one of my favorite topics to read about. Her primary thesis - that more than talent, it is your grittiness (a combination of passion and perseverance) that determines to what extend you succeed in various endeavors. According to Duckworth, you can improve your level of grittiness, and it can help you to succeed in school, at work, at sports, becoming successful and more content in your life in general. It’s got more stories than psychology experiments, and that would probably be a plus point for most, although I prefer a book like Mindset where the author describes the results of various studies and how to apply the lessons. Still, well worth reading, especially for parents, teachers and managers. 

This is a book I was excitedly looking forward to reading for some time, and I picked it up from the library recently. I am a huge fan of the concept of deliberate practice (a form of practice that is incredibly effective and can help you improve at any skill significantly), and even based a lot of the ideas in my book for students  on this concept. Obviously then, I wanted to read more about it from the man responsible for this breakthrough idea. Ericsson’s research is what Malcolm Gladwell based his 10,000 hour to expert concept in Outliers. I am just in the first couple of chapters, but I am already fizzing with excitement at the possibilities that open up for anyone willing to apply these concepts. Hugely recommend to anyone wanting to improve at anything, and of course, to parents and teachers.

I walked past this book at the library at least 10 times, and deliberately decided not to look at it, since I have read more time-management books than anyone needs to in their life. Somehow the other day I relented and brought this one home, and I am glad I did. Bregman’s book isn’t just another time-management guide - it changes how you look at planning and thinking about time. It is especially useful at the beginning of the year, when people generally tend to set goals and plan for the year ahead. I am still getting through the book, but already have several insights and changing how I see things. 

I have to confess, I haven’t read any of Neil Gaiman’s books. I guess I kind of thought they weren’t my kind of books. But from the first page of this book, I fell deeply in love with his prose style, and I am now going to try and read as many of his other books as I can. In the meantime, if you love books and words and writing, you absolutely must read this book. Its like sitting in a cosy sitting room by the fireplace with a wise, gorgeous man who is telling you the most amazing stories. In a British accent. Really, what more could you want?

I have read nothing about Alibaba or its enigmatic founder Jack Ma. Somehow this book intrigued me and I decided to get it. It is just the sort of business biography I love, describing the background of the entrepreneur, what drives him, what made him. I guess maybe I sort of believe that if I find out how successful people tick, what made who they are, how they built their success, maybe I can have some of it rub off on me too. Anyway, a fascinating read, about modern China and its entrepreneurs. 

I am reading a few others as well, off and on. I started a few books on writing and craft, but somehow keep abandoning them. I guess maybe I feel I have too much to learn in that department - perhaps need a little deliberate practice to get me going.
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