Thursday, September 4, 2014

September 2: 3 Books

20. Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life by Rick Fields et. al.

A rather dated 1980s self-help inspirational book, this title was recommended at some point in the past by another book that I read -- maybe last year or the year before. Once I became aware of it, I started reading about this book and hearing about it from other sources, and from other people. So I finally ordered it from Amazon this past June.

Standout points for me are the recurring theme that from a feeling of lack, of dissatisfaction, comes the motivation for change; learning how to unlearn perspectives that do not serve our self actualization processes; making peace with and moving past the influence of the unlived lives of our parents; voluntary simplicity (something that I am personally striving for all the time, with little success); and an inventory of the physical and emotional healing that each of us needs to undertake in order to actualize and fulfill our potentials on this planet.

21. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

I learned a valuable lesson while reading this book on the orbital machine at my gym today: my speed reading techniques do NOT work for novels and other forms of literature where deeper themes and intricate character development, subplots, plot twists, etc. abound. While I was indeed able to "read" this book very quickly at the gym while doing cardio, I realized about halfway through that I wasn't really grasping much of the storyline. Sure enough, a quick look on Wikipedia later on I was eating lunch confirmed my hunch.

Note to self: NEVER attempt to speed read a novel, especially one consistently voted one of the top 10 most important works in the history of a genre! I will plan to reread this book at a later date when I am not pressuring myself to finish a reading challenge. In the meantime, let me mention that it is an amazing story, basically the predecessor of all cyperpunk literature. Reading this book made me realize that I will focus on non-fiction, and in particular on self-help and self actualization / meditation - type books, for most of the rest of my reading challenge.

22. The Great Books First Year Volume 1: Declaration of Independence; Plato The Apology and Crito; Sophocles Antigone

As with my experience reading Bester's novel above, I doubly learned with this attempt that speed reading is most definitely NOT for reading classic works of literature, in particular plays written thousands of years ago that I know nothing about.

I was not going to include this book, since it is so short, but there are plenty of 300+ page books later in this blog, so I will indeed include it in this challenge. Besides, it was a good learning experience, to know not to plow through important classic works of literature in the future. I need to pick and choose when to read very fast and when to slow down, pay attention to every detail, and savor!

I find that these classics are best read and discussed in a classroom setting -- at least for me in my life right now, this is most likely not the sort of reading that I will undertake again anytime soon.

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