One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to read 75 books, like I did last year. We’re 4 1/2 months into 2014 and I’m currently 6 books behind on that goal, according to my Goodreads page. But it’s okay! As I’ve said before, I knew it would be harder to read as many books this year since for a good chunk of last year I was travelling and/or without a full-time job. When I was preparing to come to Korea and after I first got here, my literary life took a backseat. Happily I’m back to it, and I’ve been reading some seriously good books. In the spirit of my reading goal, I’m sharing my favourite reads on the blog every couple months. You can see my favourites from January & February here.
Turning Pro / I’ve read Steven Pressfield before (at the recommendation of one of my idols, Marie Forleo), specifically The War of Art, and I loved his writing and perspective. If you’re somebody that does any kind of creative work, I think reading The War of Art is a necessity. We all need to learn how to fight resistance and deal with other blocks that stop us from being helpful and doing our best work. Turning Pro runs in a similar vein, but it’s about the moment we start acting like professionals when it comes to the work that we do. Professionals meet their deadlines, get themselves the right equipment, don’t make excuses, and treat whatever it is that they’re doing like it’s serious, meaningful work (because it is!). You can see a great interview between Marie and Steven about this topic here.
Bird by Bird / Anne Lamott writes about writing in such a down-to-earth but inspiring way. She talks about how writing is hard, how all writers struggle with so much self-doubt, how getting yourself to write is a battle, how writing is one of the most wonderful things in the world, how there are many beautiful motives for writing, and how getting published isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She also gives a lot a truly practical, helpful advice for how to get your writing done. This is a book about how to write, but in some ways it’s also about how to live a good life. She writes: “I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world – present and in awe.”
The Art of Possibility / As I was writing this post, I was struck by how much this book was about abundance, so much so that I had to go back and amend my Abundance Ideas post to include it. It’s a wonderful book about changing your paradigm, looking at the big picture, and seeking out the possibility and potential of every person or situation you encounter. Some ideas that really stuck with me:
- “Who am I being that they are not shining?”
- “How will I be a contribution today?”
- “Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view.”
- “The naysayers pride themselves on their supposed realism.”
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work / An easy read, and a fascinating one. It’s a collection of the daily habits and routines of a huge number of creative people – artists, writers and scientists. I was struck by how many of them had extremely consistent and often rigorous daily habits, allowing little room for variation. A lot of their days were automated so they didn’t have to spend energy making little decisions about what to wear or what to eat. They made time for all the things they thought were important but didn’t waste time on anything unimportant. It surprised me how many of their routines were similar across all types of creativity: they rose relatively early, ate more or less the same thing each day, spent 3-4 hours working solidly on their projects, took long walks, read a lot of books and spent time with their families. Seems like the perfect life to me! It reminded me of that quote from Gustave Flaubert: “Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.”
Looking For Alaska / I absolutely sped through this novel. It’s a pretty sad book and it made me a little angry, but it was so well-written that I didn’t even mind. The premise of kids in boarding school gets me every time, and the book pulled me in really quickly. John Green is such a wonderful writer (and awesome human being) and I’m excited to read the rest of his books. I read The Fault in Our Stars almost a year ago on the plane to Paris and it made me cry and feel all the wonderful nostalgic and perfect feelings, so I have no idea why it took me so long to read another of his books. I’m a huge fan.
As always, you can see all the books I’ve read and plan to read on GoodReads. Also, if you have any great book recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments below.
PS. See my favourite books of 2013 here!