Among some of the most influential or impactful books that I have read over the past year or so, I would definitely have to include Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours which completely changed my perspective on how I manage my time and focus more energy and effort on things that matter or add value and meaning to my life (I’ve wrote about her a few times here and here). Recently, she wrote a book called Off the Clock, which includes a chapter about investing in your happiness based upon her time use research which showed that people who have high time perception scores (that is, feeling like time is memorable) were more adept at using whatever resources they have at their disposal to move minutes from a negative or neutral category to a happy one. She argues that “we can elect to give time to things we find meaningful or enjoyable, choosing these activities over things that are more urgent, or (sometimes) just easier.” And according to her research, people who use their limited leisure time to read as opposed to watching TV or scrolling through social media tend to feel like they have more time although “certainly not all reading is high brow, and there’s some really good TV out there. But [she] suspects that reading requires marginally more effort, and is the less-commonly-chosen activity. So people who engage in it feel differently about their leisure time. Their leisure time feels more intentional, and hence feels more spacious. This is true even if ‘spacious’ doesn’t mean hours. Even 30 minutes/day adds up. Using this time for something intentional can change your perception of time.” It’s an interesting theory that seems to hold some validity based upon my own experience.
Here’s what I read throughout the month of September ::
I originally heard about this novel in something that Laura Vanderkam had posted actually – she had read an advance copy shared with her in light of her interest and expertise in time management. I don’t think it was readily available here in Ireland quite yet, but I picked up a copy while I was in Denver at the start of the month and started to read right away. In short, it was a fun to read satire of the corporate high tech industry. The main character is an impossibly scheduled, overachieving, workaholic CEO who I rolled my eyes at, but also found relatable. As someone who not all too long had envisioned myself climbing the corporate later into a role much like her own, it was fun to see her learn lessons that so many seem not totally oblivious to the real world. I saw some of my colleagues, some of my clients, and some of myself in her and thought it was something fun and different, much like Fitness Junkie.
The Woman in Cabin 10
While still in vacation mode, I decided to treat myself to another novel, the chart topping The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I have read and heard a lot about this one as of late and had high hopes for it, but quite honestly it was pretty meh. Having read a handful in the thriller/drama segment quite recently, I found it to be cliché, predictable and boring. There are plenty of other options out there that’d I recommend more highly in the genre (like ANYTHING by Gillian Flynn or The Girl on the Train).
The Hope Circuit
Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.
If you’ve read any of my reading recaps throughout the past year, you’ll notice that Dr. Seligman has made some pretty frequent appearances. Referred to as the one of the most influential living psychologists today, I personally have been tremendously influenced by his work and was thrilled to be able to pick up his recently published memoir, The Hope Circuit while visiting the US. It was a comprehensive and detailed walk through his life, personally and professionally and although I was already familiar with many of the big concepts or turning points from some of his other work, I did find the depth and his perspective on things to be intriguing. I am not really a huge fan of biographies (auto- or otherwise), but I was flabbergasted at the amount of granularity that Seligman was able to recount and weave together in a cohesive story about his “journey from helplessness to optimism.” And I especially liked his chapter on “tessitura,” as this is something which I myself have been working to determine for my own life, although I haven’t had as eloquent way of articulating it to date (thankfully for YOU, my tessitura will not be related in any way whatsoever to singing!). He says, “‘tessitura’ is a term for a singer’s most comfortable vocal range – the range in which she will make her most beautiful music. A mezzo-soprano can hit a high C, but she has to strain to stay there, and you can hear it. Tessitura is the place where you find your true voice, where you can have a long and healthy career. The quest for my tessitura in psychology was a search in three dimensions: style, tempo, and content.”
The Lying Game
This one was my stay up until 1 AM-read-it-all-in-one-sitting book of the month. I was actually a bit apprehensive about it since I found the other one by Ware so overrated, but I had already checked both out of the library. To my pleasant surprise, The Lying Game was definitely a page turner and I didn’t have a clue whodunnit or why until at least three-quarters of the way through and from there it was a twist which took its time unraveling. For a casual, pure enjoyment read I thought it was a good one with many layers of a complicated love story and loyalty among friends all grown up.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
During my MBA program, I took a few classes which were centered around social media and digital marketing or SEO optimization and I have to say, although I MUCH preferred them to the courses in accounting, they weren’t all that interesting to me. And it was an indifference which was reconfirmed in reading this book. Thankfully, I had the sense to leverage the library rather than purchasing it myself (which is contrary to my general policy related to non-fiction). I had heard it highly praised by Kathleen Shannon, of the Being Boss podcast and Braid Creative, who was also a speaker at the Whole30 Coaches Summit a few months ago. And as far as social and digital marketing goes it probably was a great resource. It’s a bit hard for anything in this space to remain totally relevant since things change so fast, but I did indeed learn many things which I did not know or consider previously. There were a lot of concrete, real life examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly with commentary and feedback and as a whole I trusted in Vaynerchuk’s expertise in the area. It’s just not a topic I find very compelling.