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14 January, 2013

Books I'm reading and why reading is f***ing important

Last time, I wrote about a book that changed my life.

It was like a catalyst for spurring on a lot of action: some behind the scenes, a fragment of it you see on this page, and the rest you'll see in the future.

I've only just started getting back into reading, and to be honest I'm glad I didn't leave it any longer. What I've missed in the last decade is an absolute explosion of interesting books to read both for fun and personal development (the two aren't mutually exclusive).

So I've got my Kindle and have been purchasing books faster than I can read them. Nick Hornby wrote:
“All the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. ... But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.” (source
Which is all well and good pre-digital. But I can't share that library with anyone, even if they visit my shit-arsed tiny flat, so I've decided to share what I've read, I'm reading and what I intend to read. And maybe that defines me, like Nick Hornby said.

I've read
Before I joined my current employer, a colleague at the time suggested reading this book and I never got around to it. After a while of working there, I was keen to know what my colleague meant. So I gave it a read and it was refreshing to hear a different perspective about the company.

BookThe Start-up of You
Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha
LinkedIn is a company I've admired for the way they've gone about establishing themselves. They've carved out a niche and changed the dynamic with which people can get employed (including me). A senior colleague recommended reading this one and so I did. Co-written by the founder of LinkedIn and his friend, the book gives you a methodical approach to improving the most important startup you're involved in: yourself. I took a lot from this book and can't recommend it enough to people looking to develop both professionally and personally.

BookThe Antidote: Happiness for people who can't stand positive thinking
Oliver Burkeman
I wrote about this last time, needless to say it's pretty awesome (considering I dedicated a blog entry to it).

I'm reading
BookOutthink the Competition: How a New Generation of Strategists Sees Options Others Ignore
Kaihan Krippendorff
I had the pleasure of seeing this guy speak. Work had a business function with some spare tickets and I jumped at the chance. Kalhan was a passionate speaker, and I particularly liked his methodical research of best-practice (and failing) businesses. The book is packed with this kind of information and I'm getting a lot out of it, I particularly like the references to the 36 strategies of ancient Chinese warfare.

I guess this counts as five books. I'm currently plowing through Book Two. It was a bit laborious getting through the first one thanks to seeing the first season of the TV show (which is excellent), but now that I'm on to new stuff (I abstained from watching any more until I got through the books) I'm really enjoying it again. This will take me a while.

BookMade to Stick
Chip Heath, Dan Heath
My last business trip to Tokyo was an inspirational, reinvigorating experience. Another senior colleague recommended reading this book and I insta-purchased on his word. It's early days but I'm loving the style and it's full of practical information on conveying ideas.

I intend to read

I grabbed this one after a drunken conversation with an acquaintance who said it's the best fantasy series he's ever read. The dude works at a library so I grabbed it on his word.

Many years ago I read a PC Powerplay review of a point-and-click adventure game of the same name. The twist of phrase and story really stuck with me, resulting in an anguished high-school blog entry, and a desire to read the short story one day, I've finally got a copy.

BookGreat Expectations
Charles Dickens
A literary classic that comes highly recommended and is free in the Kindle Store. I grabbed it knowing I've always wanted to read it.

Another fantasy that came highly recommended, but as you can see that doesn't automatically get it read when there's a bulging list.

BookCloud Atlas
David Mitchell
There's a movie coming soon and the mind-bogglingly ambitious narrative-style sounds like my cup of tea. I just need to make the time.

BookLife Of Pi
Yann Martel
I loved the trailer for this movie, and felt obliged to read it before going to see it.

I read a blog entry on making New Year's Resolutions stick and decided I liked it so much that the book being proffered should be purchased. And that I did.

This lady offered some advice on publishing my own book over at the site PlanBig. I purchased her book to show my gratitude!

The author has been a mainstay in my Google+ feed. I really enjoyed his free ebook "What the Plus?" and the content in this one would have come in handy while I was publishing my book. I want to get around to reading this to see where I've missed a trick.


An ambitious list isn't it? But when I see it I remember Nick Hornby's quote and realise it's not the end-of-the-world if I fail to read them all. But I do want to.

I want to because reading is fucking important. It makes you more articulate, improves your personal development, keeps you sharp, and a myriad of other things (like the ability to use the word myriad).

I'm striving to make myself better and I can't impart this on you enough. A new project is being formulated and these pieces of information make up some lessons that I think are important. Another thing I'd like to show you is a piece of software called Evernote, but that's the title of my next entry: Why you should get Evernote.

08 January, 2013

A Book That Changed My Life

Otherwise known as: my review of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking.

I heard about this book from a source that provides the occasional nugget of wisdom, Twitter.

The tweet in its original glory

Maybe I was susceptible at the time (it was November last year) but I clicked the link and it was one of the first (of many) books I purchased on my Kindle. I should also point out that another friend was interested in reading it that I didn't know about at the time, but he has good taste so it's worth mentioning.

So you could argue, that it was the tweet that lead to the book that changed my life.

But hold up, you might have heard me spout this claptrap before. Over a year ago, I referenced a book I read called "It's not how good you are, it's how good you want to be".

I didn't really mention the content of the book other than it was inspiring and admired the serendipity in which I came about to discover it.

Make no mistake.
I was fucking right.

A little over a year of reading that book I got to:
Well another book came along and it was this. 

The book had me laughing, smiling knowingly, and nodding. Applying techniques from schools of thought such as Stoicism, Buddhism, the writing of Eckhart Tolle, and even the Mexican Festival of Death; Oliver Burkeman sows together a compelling argument for making the most of what you have.

The book is wonderfully articulate and is by a better writer than me.
So I'm calling it like I did over a year ago this book was life-changing and for the better.

How come I'm crapping on about books? Because I was told to.

I remember reading article from VICE a while ago, called the guide to Adulthood.

It had this awesome quote:
If you consider yourself a “full-grown adult” and have not read (like, completed, cover to cover) a book of any sort in the past three months, you are probably someone we never want to be friends with. TV and movies are great and all, and it’s good to keep up with carefully curated show selections, but if you look forward to making it home in time to catch The Big Bang Theory or whatever, you’re probably hopeless and should be sure to only befriend similarly boring people so you don’t turd up conversations. Non-fiction, medical journals, fiction, whatever, just read a fucking book already.
Words to live by.

This set a slow motion chain-reaction of events to spew forth:
  1. Announce on my OKCupid profile that I was "I want to get a Kindle, but am not sure of how much I would use it."
  2. Bought a Kindle
  3. Read several books some months later
  4. Realised how stupid I've been all these years
I've since read about five books which is more than I did last year, and thus spurs on the title of my next blog entry: Books I'm reading and why it's f***ing important.