Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 7: 4 Books

32. How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael Gelb

Rereading Michael Gelb's How to Think Like Leonardo Dicaprio was a really great experience for me.

In all seriousness, this is a great book among the pantheon of recent self help "explore your creativity and maximize your self-actualization" books that have appeared in recent years. Though I will immediately resell my mint condition copy on Amazon in order to fund future reading experiences, I found much of what Gelb wrote very inspiring, particularly in light of the 2 books I read and reviewed earlier this month on the modern "Renaissance Man" ideal of reconciling many life interests into a rewarding and lucrative career (The Renaissance Soul and Refuse to Choose -- see earlier reviews in this blog).

Particularly resonating with me were the 10 power questions on page 60; the concept of curiosita and continuous learning on page 68 (a foundational concept in my own life for many years now); the art / science self assessment on page 175; the idea of doing a mirror observation exercise of my own naked body (page 202); an the process of making a Master Mind Map of my life (beginning on page 244).

33. Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires by Esther and Jerry Hicks

This book would have been SO much better if it had been written by the two people who wrote it, as opposed to having been "dictated" to them by a consortium of supreme non-physical beings all named Abraham. Really? Are you kidding me?

The kicker is that the group of beings calling themselves "Abraham" has dictated over 600 books, audio CDs, and videos to Esther and Jerry Hicks, presumably allowing them to become multimillionaires from the sales of all of these teachings. Can you imagine how generous all of these Abrahams must be, to give this knowledge so freely without wanting some kind of piece of the action?

Still, in spite of its immediate shortcomings in my mind, this is actually a solid book about "the Law of Attraction" -- the thoughts and energies we put out into the world come back either to haunt us or to help us, depending on what those thoughts and energies are, and that like attracts like and in order to make something happen in our lives, we need only to think strongly about it and not think about its opposite (the negative event that we don't want to happen). This is great stuff. It has been said thousands of times before, and said better by the likes of Charles Haanel, Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Norman Vincent Peale, Claude Bristol -- this list goes on, not even counting the recent success of that most derivative work of all, The Secret...

This book was recommended to my by my new super-inspiring famous acting coach friend and ad hoc life coach, Susan Slavin -- see my earlier blog entry on M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled. I am glad that I read this book today, though I realized pretty quickly that it was a reread; the book had been recommended to me 12 years ago by my then girlfriend Amy in Hoboken, NJ.

The most important teaching from Ask and It is Given is this: ONLY think about what you want. Do NOT think about what you don't want. Be VERY clear about what you want. Even if you are very clear about what you don't want, DON'T think about it. Think and think and think and think -- about what you want. Become obsessed with thinking about the positive aspects of what you do want, and you will begin to attract exactly that into your life.

I believe this. I really do, and have been practicing this on and off in my life for years. I am glad that I was recommended to reread this particular book at this particular time in my life, because I realized as I was reading it that I have been focusing much more in recent weeks on what I want to eliminate from my life, rather than the wonderful things and people and career that I want to enter INTO my life.

34. Los 7 Pasos Para El Exito En La Vida by Dra. Isabel Gomez-Bassols

I decided to challenge myself to see how closely I can match my native English language reading speed while reading a self-help book about a topic I am very interested in, in Spanish. I saw this book today at the Strand and decided to give it a shot.

Though derivative of everything I have ever read on the topic, I found everything refreshing during my experience of reading this particular book, simply because I read all of this material about something I already know quite well, in Spanish! I enjoyed this SO much that I will be adding some more Spanish as well as French language books into my 100 Book Challenge before the end of the month!

Doctora Isabel's 7 steps for success in life are:
  1. Determine your Goal
  2. Prepare a Map of your life
  3. Take care of your money issues
  4. Manage your time
  5. Take care of your body and health issues
  6. Feed your spirit
  7. Form a Success Support Group with friend and colleagues to encourage each other to succeed
Good stuff, especially when read in a second language! In case you are wondering, based on the font and typesetting, I should have been able to read about 4 pages per minute if this book had been printed in English. I was able to read just over 2 pages per minute with at least 75-80 % or higher comprehension for the duration of this 221 page book.

35. How To Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric

This was a GREAT little book! I also picked this one up at The Strand earlier today and read it so quickly that I literally almost finished the entire 193 page book on my subway ride home from Union Square to 25th Street in Brooklyn -- no joke. The font is a bit big for the typesetting, but I was just so engaged in the material that this book literally flew by. It was almost smoking in my hands, I absorbed it so quickly.

The copy I have is an advance proof of a UK book, but published by Picador in New York, so it should be available to my readers. I am definitely going to read this one again as soon as I finish my 1 Month Challenge!

Most poignant for me was the chapter on career confusion. It really DOES help me to see in writing, in addition to discussing this with my mentor Ann and with all of my close friends, that it is totally NORMAL and OK to be confused about career and life direction in my early 40s. Alas, my confusion was the reason that a meaningful romantic relationship ended for me earlier this year -- the woman simply couldn't handly my life being in flux as it is -- and it is very nurturing for me to read about other people my age in many walks of life, in many career fields, who have questioned everything and challenged societal expectations of "what they should have accomplished at this point in their lives."

Thank you, Roman Krznaric, for writing this short, inspiring book!

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