We are at the mid point of the year and I thought of taking a peek into my reading list. I’m almost down to 50 books so far this year. (Thanks to kicking the social media habit) It’s been a fair mix of fiction and non fiction – actually more fiction than non. Fiction wise, I started on some authors that I haven’t read before. I finished short stories and novels by Jhumpa Lahiri (I remembered that I’d read The Namesake already but read it again anyways) I read some authors for the first time – Kiran Nagarkar‘s latest, Jasoda and Haruki Murakami. Fiction does lead us into different kinds of world that we wouldn’t experience otherwise.
I discovered some great non-fiction book too. Arianna Huffington and Scott Adams were great reads. Read on for my half yearly recommendations to add to your reading list:
1. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post is a prolific writer. This is something that I discovered only this year! Both her books that I read – Thrive and The Sleep Revolution – have been truly enlightening. In fact, I read Thrive a second time because I wanted to go through the concepts again. What is amazing about the two books is how thoroughly research backed they are. Her range of credible sources – wisdom from Greek philosophers to latest scientific research – seem to have no bounds. And that is one of the most interesting things about reading her books.
Thrive is about creating a more fulfilling life by including aspects like well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving back to society. Each aspect nudges us to examine aspects of our own lives and see how we can make them better. I’m most inspired by the aspect of giving back to society and the benefits it brings back to us.
The Sleep Revolution, is a path breaking book on the science of sleep and is aptly sub titled – transforming your life, one night at a time. This is a brilliant book on how important sleep is and how our social media addicted, no-discipline-lifestyle is depriving us of this precious thing. When other pressing demands take over, sleep is the first thing we toss out.
The book takes you methodically through the science of how critical sleep is to our physical and mental well-being, what’s affecting our sleep and how we can get back on track to ensure we get adequate rest crucial to our functioning well. Here is a quick recap of the sleep manifesto from the book:
Here is a great article on the book from the Arianna’s website: The Sleep Revolution
2. SCOTT ADAMS
Scott Adams, the creator of the world famous comic strip, Dilbert has also written a lot of non fiction books. I read 4 of his books back to back only to realise that I had read The Dilbert Principle a long time ago. But the book I want to talk about today is How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big. It’s a cross between self improvement and Scott’s autobiography. I have mixed feelings about this book.
Some of the things that I like in the book – Scott is unapologetic about his failed ventures and has an entire chapter listing them. Being undeterred by failure is a great way to find success because unless you try something, you won’t know if you’ll succeed at it.
Another thing that makes so much sense to me is creating systems and not goals. Every goal has a set of steps. And setting systems to follow the steps on a regular basis will take us to our goals eventually. Losing weight is a goal but exercising everyday is a system. And a system is more encouraging. The third thing that I like is the concept of personal energy. Matching the time of the day with your energy levels is one of the best ways to optimise your productivity.
Some things don’t go well with me and undo the things that I like. His string of failures were either (immature) college ventures or when he already had made tons of money through Dilbert comics. The systems approach he endorses works only if are in control of your daily routine and have a predictable one – which he does but we may not. Same goes for the personal energy concept – you can match it only when you know for sure how your day is going to go. To sum it up, there are a few useful things one can take from this book and apply to one’s life.
3. CARMINE GALLO
Carmine Gallo is a well known author, columnist, writer and communication coach. His books on communication draw on research from real talks. I loved his Talk Like TED where he analysed 500 hours of TED talks to narrow down 9 common things that all great speeches have.
The Storyteller’s Secret focusses on the skill of story telling and how it has been used in different situations. First published in 2016, the book has 37 chapters, each discussing a story – story of brands, of people, of entrepreneurship, of failures and of successes. True to its title, each chapter begins with a story that keeps you hooked. And then Gallo analyses the tools used in the story and sums up the secret at the end.
Honestly, it’s a slow read since there is a lot to comprehend in every chapter. But then it’s not meant to be a page turner. If it feels like too much, the storyteller’s tool kit at the end could be the reference page you can come back to. It has a helpful summary which lists all the secrets in the book. And a checklist gives you pointers to help you apply the concepts explained.
So take time reading the book. Make notes like I did. And refer to the checklist at the end while preparing to deliver your stories.
As I reviewed my reading list again, I came across another interesting author that you might want to check out. A. J. Jacobs, a writer and editor, who is more popularly known for his lifestyle experiments and the books he writes on them. His experiments include living an entire year following the Bible to the word – The Year of Living Biblically – with some hilarious ramifications! He dresses up like the people in biblical times, tries to stone an adulterer in New York, lets his beard grow and blows the ram’s horn at the beginning of every month. In fact, the sitcom Living Biblically on CBS (also available on Amazon Prime) is based on his book. He also tried to read the entire Encyclopedia in a year – The Know-It-All and there’s a the year trying to be healthiest person alive – Drop Dead Healthy – which, according to him, almost killed him.
What’s on your reading list? I’d love to add your favourites to my reading list. Share in the comments below!