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Book Club

The best of the 100 in 2012 books…and a new Book Club!

The to-read stack. (Today I posted about how I read 100 books in 2012, on TaraSwiger.com)

I am so delighted by your response to the book club idea! Before we jump into it, a few of you have asked over the last year what my favorite books have been, and while I find this oh-so-hard, here are my picks. Each book is linked to it's Goodreads page.

Books I didn't expect to like, but did:

Born to Run

Decoded, by Jay Z. Seriously! I could quote this all day.

Books I can't believe I hadn't already read: 

Life Together, by Deitrich Bonhoeffer

The Bourne Identity  – completely different than the movies, but that same kind of action and fun!

Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury. – “Like what YOU like!” Indeed!

Most engrossing: 

The Magicians
Gone Girl – there's a reason it's a bestseller and it will leave you gobsmacked

Wolf Hall (and the sequel) – my lifelong love affair with historical fiction was deeply satisfied

Everyone should read…

All of the Nora Ephron books. It might be because I watched When Harry Met Sally for the first time when I was 16 on February 14th (after being grounded and missing my first Valentine's Day with a boyfriend), but Nora Ephron is the voice in my head. To get her work is to understand me.

Quiet. Whether you think you're introvert or not, you're in some relationship with one. Especially important if your kid might be introverted! Fascinating and encouraging and reading passages out loud to Jay has totally changed the way he understands me, and our relationship.

Daring Greatly. I talked more about why I loved it (and needed it) here. I gave it to my mom for Christmas and want to give a copy to everyone who lives in the world!

Steal Like An Artist. 

Please Understand Me: Temperament, Character, and Intelligence. Ignore the lame-o title and read this to understand yourself and your loved ones better. Even if you're not a personality psychology obsessive (like moi), you're going to like it. Another book that I read Jay, leading to epiphanies about everyone we're connected to.

(Want more? Here are my fave books of 2010 and you can see all the books I read in 2012 here. )

Explorer Book Club

We're going to keep this little club super-simple. Each month, near the beginning, I'll suggest 2 or 3 books that you might like to read – one will be a biz-explorer pick (something to help you in you navigate your business) and one will be a general fun (or creativity) pick. If I fall in love with a piece of fiction, I'll share that. I'll provide links to Goodreads (so you can easily add it to your queue), IndieBound (buy from your local bookseller) and Amazon Kindle (if available).*

I'm an affiliate for Amazon + IndieBound, which means I get soy latte moneye if you buy it through the links I've used here.

At the end of the month, I'll open a discussion on the books, both here and on Facebook. You can chime on what you read and if you liked it, or suggest other books we might like to read.

Sound good?

This month's books:

The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone + Benjamin Zander. I have clients whose entire businesses have been shifted by this book. (And another who insists all of her clients read it before they work together.)

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

 

6 Thinking Hats, by Edward DeBono. It's an old-school business book (from the 80's!) but has a great system for making decisions or thinking through possibilities (an absolute must-have skill for an entrepreneur.) I just finished it this morning!

Goodreads |  IndieBound |Amazon

 

 

If you're joining me in reading these two books this month, say hello in the comments! If not, what are you reading?

*This low key approach is inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book club. If you like reading about happiness, you can join hers here.

 

How to read 100 books in one year.

How to read 100 books in a year

In 2012, I read 100 books.

That's (almost) 2 books a week.

When I set the goal (in February or March, after I realized I already WAS reading 2 books/week), I thought it was crazy. Way out of reach. But why not? I had a lot of long airplane rides ahead of me (Boston, San Diego, Seattle) and little did I know that I'd be in airports for looooong delays (almost 20 hours in LAX and 12 hours in Charlotte) and would have plenty of time to read.

Grateful for books, my oldest friends. 18 books away from meeting my 100 in 2012 goal (but only 7 weeks left.) This is what's next. #thirtydaysofthanksgiving #instagratitude

The real reason I set the goal is that I love to read. Love it!
But I often tell myself not to. Instead, I should be working. Or I should be reading something better (catching up on blogs, news, the latest marketing advice). But after an intense 3 months of non-stop writing to finish the book,  I decided to give myself permission to just read. As much as I wanted!

And I'm so glad I did, because I learned more about my self (and my business) than I could have from any single book. Here's how I made it happen:

1. Give yourself permission to do what you want to do.

#libraryaweek

For some reason, this seems like the most dangerous course of action. What if all I want to do is lay in bed all day in read? What if I never work again? That's the fear, isn't it? That if you let yourself set a desirable, fun goal, that you might give up on all the hard and challenging ones.

But what if that fun thing you want to do is exactly what your business needs? Or what if it's what your self needs so you can have the energy to work? What if it'll just feel great?

Turning simple permission (you're allowed to read!) into a big crazy goal, lifted my passion into something important. It suddenly mattered that I get to read everyday, it was a priority! If I hadn't committed to the big number, I would have continued to question each reading session: shouldn't I be doing something else?

2. Always have books at the ready.

Andre finds books snugglable
The photos throughout this post demonstrate the ginormous stacks of books I brought home, each week.

The key to reading a lot is to have plenty to read. 

It's silly, but I tend to worry I'm going to run out. Of everything. I “save up” the good stuff in life. I like to know I have a reserve. (Gretchen calls this as spending out – I'm glad to know I'm not alone). So I put off reading a book if I think I won't have anything to read when I finish it. And it's not enough to just books at the library, I need them next to me in the house, so I can grab it the moment I'm ready. (This is kinda like packing waaay too much knitting when you travel. You know you'll never get to it, but there is a slime chance, and you can't risk it!)

3. Always be adding.

This library obsession is getting dangerous... #canyouspotthecat
Having books at the ready is actually a multi-level affair. There's the having the books in my home, but there's also knowing I have even more books that I want to read. I have to know what books to bring home next.

It is absolutely vital for me to have a long list of to-read books and to be adding to it constantly.  For this, I use Goodreads. I find new books to read from everywhere – if it looks interesting in a book store, if a blogger mentions it, if the author has an interesting interview on Fresh Air, or On Being, if it's recommended on a podcast,  if the book I'm reading mentions another book.

The quickest way to recommit myself to reading, is to add a new book to my list.

4. Give up.

Picking books for my week away. Is this enough? Too heavy? Tricky!

Yep, I'm a fan of quitting. If I don't absolutely love the book, or I find myself studiously not-reading for 2 or 3 days, I pick up another book from the stack. I might go back to that left behind book, or I might just mark it off my list all together. There's no guilt, no pressure. Reading is something I love to do. So if I don't love reading this book, I remember that it's not me, it's the book. So I break up with it.

5. No judgement.

The library was very very good to me this week. Where to start?

I'm allowed to read whatever I want to read. I know it sounds obvious, but I can't believe the hangups I have about I should be reading, or what I'm embarrassed to be reading. I'd absolutely never pick up 50 Shades of Grey (I'm much too squeamish), but I'm often embarrassed about my hippy-dippy choices of books.

But you know what? I'm the one reading it. No one else. So no one else has to approve, or think it's worthy or even understand why I'm reading it. And I remind myself, as I stand at the check-out counter at the library that the librarians see much worse than me and my stack of yoga, religion, and infertility books.

That's how I read 100 books in a year.

But it's not about reading : these rules apply to everything. Whatever it is you want to do this year (that you really, really want to do, not just because you think you should want to do it), you gotta give yourself permission, keep inspiration at the ready, quit when something isn't working for you, and stop thinking about what other people think about it!

Books, coffee, lounge. In other words, my personal heaven. #birthdayadventure

Tomorrow: My favorite books of the year!

cross_stitches

If reading a zillion (or even 5) books is your thing, I'd love to talk about books with you! I'm thinking about starting a super-casual book club right here. What do you think? Would you like a monthly creativity/business book suggestion?
Let me know in the comments.

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