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Explorer’s Book Club – April

Welcome to the Book Club!

Each month, 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. 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).*

Last month, we started reading The Art of Possibility and Six Thinking Hats. What did you think?

Did it change the way you think about making decisions? Leave a comment to tell me. (That's where I'll be sharing how I'm using Six Thinking Hats in my business).

 

April's Books

Contagious, by Jonah Berger. I haven't read it yet, but it was suggested by Jessica of Storied Yarns and it just came in at my library. I look forward to reading it along with you!

GoodReads | IndieBound | Amazon

 

The for-fun pick is Dinner: A Love Story, by Jenny Rosenstrach. More than a cookbook (since I don't eat meat, there's not a lot of recipes from it I'll be trying!), it's a lovely story of  getting dinner on the table every day. I especially loved this bit, where she talks about how she and her husband end up “owning” recipes (Jay and I do EXACTLY this):

Dinner: a Love Story quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GoodReads | IndieBound | Amazon

 

 

*A reminder: I got both of these books at my library – so try yours! If you buy from IndieBound or Amazon using the links below, I get a tiny percentage for soy lattes.

 

 

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

 

 

 

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.

52 books in 2010

In 2010, I made a goal to read 52 books.
3: The first books of the new yearfirst books of 2011

No wait, come back! This isn't another round-up of my year kind of post, I promise! I'm just going to talk about the best books, ok?

Even though that's 1 book a week, the actual reading didn't turn out like that at all. Many weeks I read no books and many weeks I read 2 or 3 books. I finished the 52nd book the week before Christmas and…haven't finished another book since then.

I had very few rules.

I couldn't count a cookbook (or knitting book) unless I actually cooked a recipe (or knit a project) out of it (unless it was a mostly-words book, like Gluten Free Girl).
I am always allowed to quit reading, at any point. No guilt.

Instead of talking about every book or just listing them (you can see the entire list here), I want to share the surprises.

Oh, and I'm linking to their GoodReads page because I did not buy them (99% of the books were checked out from my library), so it seems disingenuous to tell you to buy them.

However, if you're like my friend Jamie and want to own every book you read, I strongly suggest using IndieBound to find an independent bookstore to buy them from. If you don't have a bookstore near you, you can buy from my favorite, Malaprops.

Now, for the books!

The books I did not expect to like

Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

It's Young Adult fiction! It's set in an apolyptic future! Not usually my thing. But so good.

It was Kim's review that convinced me to check it out and she was right! I finished the first book in 5 hours one night (yes, I stayed up until 3 am finishing it), it was that great.

Finding your Own North Star by Martha Beck.

I didn't really know anything about Martha Beck other than she was in Oprah's magazine. That was enough to convince me her stuff would be too cheesy or woo-woo for me.
Plus, I sorta already HAVE my North Star. I'm already doing what I love.

But when Eileen and Brianna both rave about the smartness of Martha, I knew I had to give it a shot. And this book was great. I learned all kind of skills for dealing with my own stuff and helping my CraftyBizzers deal with theirs.

The Happiness Project

I only picked it up after loving Bluebird by Ariel Gore (which I read just because I love Ariel Gore), because I like to put together my own little series around a theme (why yes, I am a geek).
I'm not really into improve-your-life programs. I'm all about improving my life, but not through traditional, do-this-next-steps. I thought that was what this book is.

But it's totally not. Gretchen puts together a plan to research and learn more about her own happiness and in doing so shares helpful information without being preachy.

Most proud of myself for (finally) reading:

Jane Eyre

Seriously! How have I not read this before? Sweeping, epic, beautiful.
And I still can't get over what a contemporary role model Jane is.

Did not like as much as everyone said I would:

Girl with Dragon Tattoo

Wayyy too violent for my sensitive self. I've experienced enough violence in the real world that I try to avoid it in my own imagination.
The action was gripping and I couldn't put it down until I finished.
But I've been haunted by the violent imagery every since. Really wish I had never read it.

Dune

zzzzzz.
Couldn't finish it. Could barely keep reading.
So full of science-y description.

But it's a sci-fi classic so I tried REALLY hard to read it and like it.
But I just couldn't.

Best business book

Book Yourself Solid

I loved Trust Agents and The Art of Non-Conformity (I read both of these guys blogs (Chris and Chris) every week and their books have the same friendly, helpful voice), but Book Yourself Solid had the most new-to-me, detailed, do-this-next helpfulness.

If you can get past the constant Book Yourself Solid phrase. You've been warned: the author says “Book Yourself Solid” several times a chapter.

And you?

What was the best book you read last year?
I'm trying to read 60 books this year, and I need a few more for my list!

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