I love to read. I love to read so much; I seldom finish one before I pick the next one. Actually, it’s a bit worse than that. Sometimes I read 2, 3…5 books at the same time.
I used to think this was a problem. I mean, shouldn’t one finish one book first then go to the next? Read sequentially, diligently.
Not according to this new mental framework I am using to evaluate things in my life. The idea that I am perfectly fine the way I am and leveraging that which is most authentic and natural to me to reach my aims. So basically, instead of being dissatisfied at myself for not being what I think I should be, I look at what I am and work with that. If you maximize what already is, you can eventually expand into what is not.
For instance, I like to read a lot, but I also lose interest quickly. I read quite a few blogs daily and I bathe in a constant stream of information and ideas. Shiny new books distract me, and I hunt down, buy and download as much as I can. I used to feel a little guilty when I’d pick up a book and then two weeks down the line realize I’m on a fifth book when I did not go past the 4th chapter in the first one. Then I realize it’s not about the books. No one is going to grade me on how I read books or give me a ribbon for good reading. It’s about ideas, extracting those ideas, and using those ideas.
I read across categories/topics…spirituality, business, psychology, design, success/motivation/self help, and I bump around so this week, I may be more interested in life hacking ideas and so I read some Tim Ferris, or Leo Babauta. Next week, I may want to wax philosophical so I settle into some Alan Watts or some Krishnamurti.
The good thing about reading in this way is that the ideas can cross pollinate in real time. The other week, I was busy digging into 4 books simultaneously – So Good They can’t Ignore You (Cal Newport), 33 Strategies of War (Robert Greene), How to learn anything fast (Josh Kaufman), The Start-Up of You (Reid Hoffman). And I did this intentionally because I was taking a week ‘off’ to think at length about my creative career and how to move things forward. Cal’s book traces the paths of great careers and how one cultivates one, Robert’s book deals with war and lessons learned from the greats, because lets face it, every encounter in the market place, in relationships is a warzone. In the new world, everyone has to think, network and operate like an entrepreneur, hence Reid’s book. And if you want to thrive in this new world, you must master the skill of learning so I’m reading Josh’s book.
The last book I finished was ‘Unlabel’ (Marc Ecko) and that begins to raise another layer of questions on authenticity, embodying your brand, and selling that to the world.
Reading in this way allows me to absorb ideas quickly and slowly begin to link them together and create a best practice, a way of being based on new knowledge that should move me closer and faster to my goal of living a good engaged creative life and providing value.
And that is why I read many books at once, it works for me and it is okay.
I’ve been reading ‘Moonwalking with Einstein’ by Joshua Foer, and this piece of text stood out for me.
Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthily and live a long life, while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next—and disappear. That’s why it’s important to change routines regularly, and take vacations to exotic locales, and have as many new experiences as possible that can serve to anchor our memories. Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives.
One of my values is living an interesting and varied life. It’s easier said than done, I tend to spend a lot of my time following the same routines, waking, working, attending to visitors. But, I am trying to switch it up a bit, walk around, visit people, sit in the park, be random. I also guess I’ll start taking more pictures of things and events…memories are good, they speak of rich life.
I read a lot, and fairly rapidly too. I get into about 2 books a week, sometimes multiple books simultaneously, and I can attribute most of my ideas and paradigms to these great authors and thinkers. This year I estimate I’ve read in part or in full about 50+ books and ebooks, and even more articles from blogs around the web. However, in this year 2010, these have been the most important books, that have challenged my thinking and provided ideas in navigating the exciting road less travelled.
1. The Four Hour Work Week (Tim Ferris)
This is one of the first books I read this year and one that really expanded my paradigm of what is possible and the various alternative lifestyles available. Tim has become someone to watch and listen to in my eyes, and his ideas are invaluable. Essentially, this book is about automating income, developing incredible efficiency and productivity, and freeing up one’s time to do…well whatever one really wants to. Key word here: Lifestyle design. Learn more about The Four Hour Work Week here
2. Rework (Jason Fried and David Hansson)
A re-examination of work and the culture of work and business. Jason Fried and David Hansson of 37 signals ( a company of less than 20 people who generate millions of dollars every year) present a book with a contrarian view of what it means to build and run a business. With chapter titles like ’Ignore the real World’, ‘Planning is Guessing’, ‘Make a dent in the Universe’ and ‘Outside money is Plan Z’, this book is a classic on my shelf. My favourite quote from this book is ‘’The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.’’
3. The Art of Non Conformity (Chris Guillebeau)
Chris is a man on a mission…to take over the world, by building and linking up with a small army of individuals who live a life of non-conformity, thriving in the new economy with the most innovative and surprising of lifestyle options whilst making a tangible impact today! Am only about ¼ through it, but this book is a must have! After working in West Africa for four years unpaid volunteer work, Chris now spends his time travelling the world and connecting with fellow world changers. Read his story here
4. The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (Michael E. Gerber)
Knowing how to do the work of a business is NOT the same as knowing how to run that business. Michael E. Gerber points this out, saying that most business are not started by entrepreneurs, but by technicians caught by the entrepreneurial seizure. He outlines the idea of turn key systems that create a viable, and scalable business.
5. The Leader Who Had No Title (Robin Sharma)
Ah…the great Robin Sharma. This book is a classic. True leaders need no title. In-fact, everyone is a leader in their own right, regardless of their own position in life or in business. Everyone can make the commitment to being a leader, doing their best work and taking responsibility for their results. Unleash the leader and the winner in you.
6. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (Robin Sharma)
Another great read from Mr Sharma. Written in his distinct parable style, This is a book about connecting with one’s self and living a life of congruence, power, and excellence. A must for anyone looking to tap into and be their best self, with lasting fulfilment. Find Robin Sharma here
7. Style Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashion – Tokyo
A chronicle of the culture and fashion hotspot in and around Harajuku, Tokyo Japan. Very vibrant, very edgy, here we meet now global fashion entities such as ‘A Bathing Ape’, ‘Commes des Garcons’, and Hiroshi Fujiwara in their infancy and see their growth beyond. A demonstration of what happens when young talented people are able to express their ideas and pursue their dreams relentlessly.
8. Secrets of The Millionaire Mind (T Harv Eker)
Why is it that some people who make tons of money can never seem to keep it or grow it. It may have to do a lot with internal scripting. What is your financial mental blueprint? Is it set to success? Eker shows you how to indentify your inner wealth scripting, rewrite them and start off on the path to financial prosperity.
9. Getting Real (37 Signals)
This is a book about moving from ideas to actual prototypes and product…as fast as you can. Action oriented, progressive enhancement, with a shipping bias, this book is written primarily for software developers, but the principles are applicable in almost every creative endeavour.
10. The Bootstrapper’s Bible (Seth Godin)
Starting a business with no cash? Don’t worry, we got you. In this powerful free ebook. Seth Godin outlines how to startup and run a business with little or no cash, all it takes is careful planning, guts and lots of elbow grease. Good luck. Find the book here
*An 11th book, which I only started reading yesterday is ‘A whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers will Rule The Future’. Looks like a very promising read.