In the information age, the humble book runs the risk of being rendered obsolete. So, therefore, does the book list (or reading list), the list of books read throughout the year that you’d keep fastidiously up-to-date in your journals as a youth.
A full ninety percent of all available data has been created in the last two years (source: Science Daily) which means there simply isn’t enough printing capacity or paper on the planet to capture it all in a book, even if there was enough time to catch up.
Which there isn’t.
And this leaves us in a dumbing-down quandary because most of the information being produced is garbage; meaningless noise that serves no meaningful purpose.
Have you noticed now that is become a challenge to read?
I consider myself fairly bookish. A few pages every night before bed. A rainy Sunday afternoon on the couch finishing off a Dick Francis or Frederick Forsyth thriller. Killing time between movies on a plane with a Jilly Cooper bonk-buster. We’ve all been there…right?
But, now, its a war of attrition; a veritable elephant trap out to thwart your nerdy intentions. And at the heart of it, calling the shots like some schoolyard bully is your smartphone, possibly the biggest threat to productivity since the time my office got “the internet” the week the bosses were away at a conference – doubtlessly, Science Daily would have loved to reveal that 90% of world porn consumption that week occurred in an office in Nottingham, England, housing 15 chaps. And one girl.
Anyhow, with its many temptations, the dumb-phone can really scupper a well-intentioned reading window and with that in mind, I’m determined to buck my own trend this year and read many books – one per week if I can.
To stay accountable I’ll report back here quarterly. Hopefully, I might save you wasting time on any duds and showcase and recommend any pearlers. Perhaps you’d be good enough to do the same? Mutually beneficial trade, you see?
So here goes…
1. Fiesta (The Sun Also Rises) – Ernest Hemingway
Although they were pals, it’s said that Hemingway bullied and belittled F. Scott Fitzgerald, with whom my loyalties have lay since I first read the Great Gatsby in university.
Now, and because I’m so late the Hemingway party, he’s hindered by sounding like Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), all clipped and terse and raw. It’s fun and cool, though, and I suspect this is a good introduction to ‘Papa’.
This is the only work of fiction in my list and serves as a reminder to keep things balanced.
#1 takeaway – he doesn’t waste many words. AND (to me) read more fiction.
2. The Art Of The Start – Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki has the kind of resume that leaves IT-preneurs trembling with admiration. He was in early at Apple, rising to be Chief Evangelist, a role he’s reprising at Canva (the Australian-founded design monster). He also seems like a thoroughly nice chap.
The guide to starting a start-up is readable, eminently practical but also genuinely humble.
More actionable truisms from Guy Kawasaki, taking a lead from his social media maven, Peg Fitzpatrick to recount how to do it and how not to do it.
Basically doing it perfectly seems like a full time job which explains why everyone is walking around on their phones like zombies. They also probably haven’t read this book which would clearly tell them where they’re going wrong.
#1 takeaway – curating content is far less time-consuming that creating content.
An older classic demonstrating that conquering your subconscious mind is the key factor in personal success. This is a dense tome of a book and, therefore, no for the faint of heart.
Tough it out, however, and there are some rich learnings.
It’s no coincidence that this book is cited and recommended by Bob Proctor.
Matt Haig has written a touching, gritty but everyday book about depression and anxiety that makes it seem as normal as nipping out to get some milk [apart, that is, from when you have crippling depression and even a simple task like that seems insurmountable].
Written in a very conversational tone and with frequent checklists explaining (or reminding you of) the symptoms and feelings of depression, Reasons To Stay Alive does a wonderful job of de-stigmatising (no idea if that’s word) the mental health issues that will affect one in three people.
Charting the rise and rise of Donald J. Trump, property messiah and political pariah, this book is held up as a go-to classic on negotiating, with tactics being used back in 1987 by Trump being re-hashed now in his march towards the White House (or at last the Republican nomination).
This is what I find truly interesting about Trump and his Jedi-like levels of persuasion. What he’s doing now isn’t anything new; he’s been negotiating in this way since the 80’s using techniques he picked up trailing his father around construction lots bartering with some pretty rough characters.
In the same way that Floyd Mayweather’s innate boxing gifts have been honed through years of application and hanging around boxing gyms since before he was five years old, so to Trump’s negotiation skills are completely habitual and built-in.
#1 takeaway – he’s no dummy. He has an MBA from Wharton. He gets stuff done that others have failed to come close to.
If you don’t know where to start with your reading and learning, you could do far worse than to visit Derek Sivers’ book review section at his site.
One of his favourites is this book which argues that it is “career capital” and not necessarily passion that is required to really wildly successful.
Newport makes a decent fist of thumbing his nose at the well-worn yet flimsy advice that following your passion will take you far, instead he provides a good deal of evidence that building up a portfolio of work related to the area you wish to pursue is a more rounded strategy.
So there’s my 2016 book list. So far.
I think it’s a solid start but with a definite theme of “could do better”. Thankfully, the library is well stocked and my mind is willing.
What else should I be reading? Let me know in the comments.
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