I had the noble intention of publishing this post in early October. Then mid-October. Then end of October.
However, I was either busy or away or unwilling to write yet another post on the tablet. I still am. But my new laptop arrives only this Friday and the list of to-be-written posts has got a bit long so…
Here we go.
The books I read this September.
[Better a bit late than much later :))]
The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil A. Fiore [ goodreads ]
What an ambitious title.
I didn’t finish this book. It was useless for me.
The problem is that the book is based on the premise that people procrastinate because they are afraid of failure. And that’s it, apparently.
This doesn’t match my own experience at all – and I am a Master Procrastinator (or Mistress. Whatever).
The reasons for procrastination are many, way more complex than just the fear of failure, and the solutions are equally diverse.
Another disappointment on the self-help bookshelf.
Lifescale by Brian Solis [ goodreads ]
When I opened it I thought: “what a great book for visual people like me!”
Just take a look:
Isn’t that beautiful? Don’t you feel your mind popping with excitement?
Unfortunately, that was the only exciting moment about this book.
Beyond that, nothing new. Although purporting to provide innovative ways to achieve a distraction-free flow state, it basically recycles ideas that have already entered the self-help mainstream long ago. So I skimmed through it and felt rather sad. I was promised excitement, damn it! Argh.
That being said, it does contain a lot of useful references (names, books) and it’s an easy read with a pleasant visual style. If you’re new to this area of study, it makes for a very good start.
Toast on Toast (audiobook) by Steven Toast [ goodreads ]
Loved it. The best way to ‘read’ this book is to listen to it read by Steven Toast himself (i.e. creator and actor Matt Berry), in that weird and slightly obnoxious posh accent of his.
Check this out:
Having watched (and totally loved) Toast of London, a hilarious British comedy series depicting the trials and tribulations of a self-important actor who is not as successful as he would like to be (either profesionally or personally), I was looking forward to this one.
I wasn’t disapointed. It was pure Toast, funny and irreverent, and I spent many slow commutes laughing myself silly in the car. What a treat.
Here are two more videos with Steven Toast, to whet your appetite:
Autumn by Ali Smith [ goodreads ]
It’s a bit of a mish-mash, sometimes hard to follow. There are some real gems in there, though – deep ones, but laugh-out-loud humorous ones too.
And the language is beautiful too.
Somehow, to me, a phrase such as ‘The cow parsley held itself stately and poisonous in the air‘ is arresting. It has the rich descriptive qualities of my best-loved childhood stories.
Although occasionally confusing, it does resolve somewhat satisfactorily towards the end.
Of course, I know it’s part of a quartet (or quintet, if you count The Companion Piece). So there’s more to the story.
I’ll be reading Winter next. When winter starts.
Elastic by Leonard Mlodinow [ goodreads ]
There’s a lot to know about the way our mind functions and why, and we’ve only began to scratch the surface.
Get to know terms such as ‘the beginner’s mind’, ‘cognitive inhibition’ and ‘schizotypy’ and reach out (or rather in) for your inner child – it is she or he (or they) who will help you (re)acquire elastical thinking.
It’s a slow start, but around page 40 it’s finally getting interesting.
Mindful eating – in which you give your full attention and dedicate your senses to a piece of chocolate – now that’s a mindfulness exercise that fits me to a T!
Then there’s a chapter on ADHD and elastic thinking that I found fascinating.
Then it got a bit technical, if I may say so, and I found it rather difficult to focus and read for a while.
Basically, that part of the book consists of a lot of scientific history and considerations, and only a few practical examples. I found myself skipping some paragraphs.
After the halfway mark, though, things started getting interesting and, I daresay, occasionally captivating again.
Indistractable by Nir Eyal [ goodreads ]
Find your pain, he says.
That is the root cause of your distractions, not the means you use to distract yourself. Not your smartphone, not social media, not movies.
Distraction is about more than our devices.
The motivation is a desire to escape discomfort – and any behaviour that brings relief from discomfort can become addictive.
The book goes on to a more in-depth analysis and proposes several tools that help get rid of distractions – some are based on time management.
I’m pretty good at organising my time. I’ve successfully been using an agenda for years, alongside my phone calendar, to plan out and manage my busy professional and personal life.
Even so, I found some useful tips in this book. There are areas where I can (and should) improve my time-management technique – for example, more precise scheduling of all activities, not just vaguely placing them on a certain day in my planner or around a certain vague time.
I also admit that a more orderly writing style than my usual large and messy “get it out of my head quick” handwriting would also help.
Time well managed = less opportunity for distractions.
The author then goes on to suggest ways to eliminate e-mail, chat and social media distractions, notifications on phones etc. He explains how to declutter your desktop (guilty, need to do that), how to avoid getting sucked down the rabbit hole of internet browsing (guilty again) and other such methods.
All in all, a useful book.
Keep reading and enjoy this beautiful balmy autumn we’re having this year!