books

OMG, I have 10 books going at the same time!

o Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (started Feb. 13)
+ The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard Evans (started Feb. 13)
+ Rewire Your Brain by John B. Arden (started Feb. 13)
o How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker (started Feb. 13)
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (started Feb. 13)
+ 7 days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton (started Jan. 13)
Vittorio the Vampire by Anne Rice (started Jan. 13)
+ On China by Henry Kissinger (started Sep. 12)
Drinking with George by George Wendt (started Jul. 12)
Free: The Future of a Radical Price (started Feb. 12, not reading)

Not yet started:

Non-Fictions:

    • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter
    • Six Days of War by Michael Oren
    • The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker
    • Endgame by John Mauldin
    • Civilization by Niall Ferguson
    • Attached by Amir Levine, Rachel Heller
    • A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
    • Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
    • Money and Power by William D. Cohan
    • Truman by David McCullough
    • The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick
    • The Next 100 Years by George Friedma

Fictions:

    • Replay by Ken Grimwood
    • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
    • 2666 by roberto Bolano

I’m going to quickly list the books I’ve recently read or listened to in the case of audio books. Later, I will create a separate page for books.

    + means “thumbs up”
    o means “neutral”
    – means “didn’t like it”, though there was hardly any book that I could not find one or two things to learn from.

Non-Fictions:

    + The Element by Ken Robinson (Jan. 13)
    o Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink (Jan. 13)
    + Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes by James Palmer (Nov. 12)
    + Accidental Genius by Mark Levy (Oct. 12)
    + Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer (Sep. 12)
    o Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (Aug. 12)
    – The True Story of the Bilderberg Group (Jul.12)
    + The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (May. 12)
    o Emotional Equations by Chip Conley (May. 12)
    + The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (Apr. 12)
    + The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle (Mar. 12)
    + Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Mar. 12)
    – The Myth of the Garage and Other Minor Surprises by Dan/Chip Heath (Feb. 12)

Fictions:

    + Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir (Jan. 13)
    o The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Arthur Conan Doyle (Dec. 12)
    o Divergent by Veronica Roth (Dec. 12)
    o Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer (Aug. 12)
    – A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson (Aug. 12)
    + The Winds of War by Herman Wouk (Jul. 12)
    + Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski (Jun. 12)
    + Roots by Alex Haley (Feb. 12)
    – Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (Feb. 12)
    o The Litigators by John Grisham (Jan. 12)

moonwalking with Einstein

_MG_1435I listened to the book Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer last year as one of my audible.com books. Ever since I read that book, I was more acutely aware of how little we “remember” things in this modern-day and age. For example, I’ve been doing yoga on and off for 15 years, and I have heard the Sanskrit names for the common yoga poses countless times. But if you ask me to repeat one? No, sorry, can’t do.

One of the things that I wanted to do was to be able to memorize more things: Sanskrit names, song lyrics, famous poems, a few new languages, et cetera, et cetera.

Of course, I haven’t done anything in particular in the area of memorization yet, but I did find some solace in the saying “knowing the problem is half the solution”.

One finds motivation in all weird places. When I had my hair done yesterday, I told my stylist that audible.com was really good in marketing to me and that I had bought so many audio books that I didn’t have time to listen to them all. One other hair stylists overheard our conversation and said, “Yes, that’s because they are an Amazon company, and Amazon makes me buy 3 books a week with their deals.” I looked over and saw the book Moonwalking with Einstein  on her workstation and took in the fact that books are universal gifts to humanity. She may not have gone to college, but she can be equally inspired by the thoughts and ideas in those books. Who knows? She might be a better implementor than I am, and might be able to recite the top 100 famous poems already for all I know.

In the book The Element that inspired me to write this blog, it described a conversation between the author and his brother Ian.

I said that I’d love to be able to play keyboards that well.

“No, you wouldn’t,” he responded.

Taken aback, I insisted that I really would.

“No,” he said. “You mean you like the idea of playing keyboards. If you’d love to play them, you’d be doing it.”

Yes, I like the idea of being able to remember names and phrases, being able to recite poetries and speeches and being able to speak multiple languages a lot. But only the idea, for I have not put any efforts in making any of these things happen.

When you have an idea in your mind, it is just an idea. Next minute, you think of something else, that idea disappears like a puff of air. Say you want to paint the glass on the table in front of you. Before your first paint stroke, there is nothing but a blank canvas. It is the act of painting that transforms an idea to a reality that can be seen by the world, including yourself. As you yourself cannot foresee each brush stroke at the idea stage. In other words, intention is vague and somewhat useless. The creation process is all about DOING. I’m not in any way implying that we should separate the act of thinking and the act of doing, because that would be simply ludicrous. When we do, we also think. I’m just saying that thinking-while-doing is much better than thinking-alone.

a way out

IMG_2017 - CopyI spent seven plus hours driving yesterday, but I was able to visit Getty Museum, see a good friend and get business done, so it was a long but productive day.

I had books from audible.com to listen to in the car. I have to say that audible does a great job in enticing me to buy more than what I subscribed monthly. For example, I had a dozen books already waiting to be read/heard on my iPhone, nevertheless I bought seven more books on Valentine’s day from them because they were having a big sale. With all these books, I was able to switch from book to book during my drive, and that had kept me alert.

One of the books was “How the Mind Works” by Steven Pinker. It says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that when we finish a book, we don’t remember the sentences or the fonts or the words, we only remember the concept or the story of the book. If that were the case, why do I bother with this blog? I can just go ahead and write my book without using the blog to practice my writing. Ha! Only ten days into this blog, I’ve already discovered the perfect way out. Am I a genius or what?

Ignorance is really a blessing sometimes. If I haven’t read so much, I would probably be writing my book and it might be interesting and popular anyway because of the story. But I know I’m not there yet. I want to deliver the story properly. When I read nowadays, I pay attention not only to the storyline and logic, but also to the way the story was told and the words and sentences used to bring readers into the story. By doing so, I garner more pleasure from reading. Similarly, because I have been spending time painting, drawing and photographing in the last two years, along with some classroom learning, I found I could enjoy the paintings and photography in Getty Museum so much more than before.

The most important thing is not the goal, it’s the process. And it is the journey that we rejoice.