2017Deep Work by Cal Newport
I find Cal Newport’s focus on producing meaningful work highly inspiring and loved reading this book. There are a lot of examples from real-life persons and ideas on how to integrate a practice of deep work into life.
I’ve read this short essay the second time now and it’s fully of profound wisdom. The language is definitely not an easy read — it’s from 1848 —, but it’s worth every sentence. I’m working with the topic of knowing what is true and what not at the moment and this text gives a good confrontation: none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. It’s not about knowing from the head :)
The Meditations are the private notes of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) who wrote them as reflections and exercises for himself — without any intention for publication. They give an excellent entry into Stoic philosophy and — by re-iterating over the same themes and principles — also serve as a wonderful example on the challenges and constant learning of how to be a good human. There are a lot of deep thoughts and reflections in this book, so I’ll take his advice To read attentively, not to be satisfied with just getting the gist of it.
2016The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
I’ve first heard from Alan Watts via a video on Vimeo. The essential message of this video was, that life is a dance and when you are dancing you’re not intent on getting somewhere. The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance. What a wonderful way of putting it! In this book, Alan Watts elaborates on this idea in a very clear and structured way. This makes concepts, that somehow don’t fit so well in a dualistic interpretation of life, more accessible and simply enjoyable to read. It’s a book packed with insights that often seem obvious on first sight, but are then challenging some core assumptions when I’ve walked with them through life. There is no rule but Look!
Discern the vital few from the trivial many. Pause, think, design. This book is more of a reminder than a guidebook, to realize that our lives are not just happening but are formed by our decisions – either automatic or with attention – and by the things we choose to invest our energy in.
This beautiful book is a reflection on the human condition and is packed with actionable advice for not running away from difficult situations, facing fear and pain, and refraining from automatically filling any gap that arises. It’s the second time I’m reading this book – it’s a good teacher for times when things are falling apart.
I got hooked to Mark Manson’s writing through his blog (the first article I’ve read was Screw Finding Your Passion) and loved this book. It covers lots of deep topics, gives simple metaphors that can serve as helpful compainions and cuts through the usual motivational writing to deal with difficult topics, emotions and life circumstances. It’s a book on personal values and how we can unlearn shitty ones and how we can replace them by useful ones to let them guide us through living our lifes.
Would your childhood self be proud of you, or embarrassed? This book is a very driven essay on facing fear and pain. Maybe it’s more of a poem? It’s asking difficult questions, pushes you forward and gives kicks in the ass on almost every paragraph. The references to physical experiences and the connection to patterns – even on organizational and cultural levels – resonated very much with me. It’s short and can be re-read twice a year (even if many lines already stick after the first read).
This book gives a quick start into sharing creative work – no matter what it is. If you want to connect with people through your creativity, or just want to learn a new skill in front of others, this book gives lots of inspiration from the authors own experience and from famous writers and artists. I found it to be a quick read that inspires me to show more of what I’m doing and to connect with people on this basis.
Be lesser, do more. Practice detachment. Don’t invest in self-image and talking. Value alive time and be an avid student of life. Don’t focus on passion and confidence, but on discipline and courage. There is no one to perform for. I’ve read this book with lots of curiosity and learned more about ego (and my ego) on the way. This is one of those books I plan to revisit and can highly recommend it.