Out of The Hat

Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary

Tilting Dragons


Sometimes I just get so frustrated in my day to day life. I know you must feel the same as well. I just want to be perfect- make money, look put together, get along with everyone, always be able to say just the right thing to everyone, have time and skill in my various hobbies, and be good at some extra skills that make me cool and remarkable. It’s rather silly and naive to think that I can achieve all of this at once, like when small children make believe that all by themselves they could conquer the evil dragon that whole armies couldn’t defeat before them, but I want to make sure I’m at least really trying before I give up on reaching all my goals.

For a dweeb like me, that’s where the library comes in. Besides, it’s Summer time, and one of the perks of the season is getting to sit outside in a lounge chair or in the sand and spend a few hours with some reading material. Might as well smuggle one or two “smart people” books into your luggage to help flesh out the embarrassing trashy rom coms in there, especially if they make you very embarrassed and you want something “respectable” to read on the train or airplane for your travels (though you really shouldn’t feel too bad, we all read `em and many of them are well written and have a solid plot that prevents any shame). I’ve gone through the self help and success stacks lately, and I’ve narrowed down from 50 books into my five favorite game changers for me, and I want to share that with you.

Cartoon by Linda Berkinshaw, @ her website (I want to buy her adorable pop-up carousel book now!)

Rapid Learning- “The First Twenty Hours”

Josh puts forward the idea that when you are learning a new skill for the first time ever, you can hit good-enough level proficiency after twenty hours of deliberate practice (so, no osmosis style learning here.) The method itself is only outlined in the first few chapters which I absolutely flew through, and it’s laid out in a fun-to-read and useful way. It really makes sense to me. The rest of the book illustrates how the author put the concept of speed learning to work in some brand new skills he took on himself. Medium to long length, entertaining narrative of information, easy break down of concepts, and as much examples as you can need make this something you should really consider for your Summer reading list. I’d give it a 4 out of 5.

Stop Procrastination- “Solving The Procrastination Puzzle”

It’s a digest, so it is meant to be concise; but I appreciated that there were easily explained neurological basis for why our brain pushes us to procrastinate, and how to unlock the “get it done” section of the brain. This also features handy actionable steps to work on with each new idea it introduces. Interesting narration, well explained concepts, and a super short page length mean you should definitely add this to your Summer reading list. I’d give it a 5 out of 5.

Developing Memory- “Memory Power”

There were surprisingly few options for memory themed books in my public library system, so I may have to look for more on Amazon. As it is, the information was pretty good for remembering all different kinds of things, and it went into the visual memory concept which is part of what people sometimes refer to as a mind palace, so that was fascinating to me because I’ve always wondered how it worked. I found that the book was good for reading when my brain was all there, but if I was reading before bed or when groggy I found that I couldn’t pay attention too well, partially because the book slips into jargon a little more often than easy talk; and partially because the narrative style isn’t quite as enthralling as the previous two I mentioned. So overall this is still a good book but I’d give it a 3 out of 5.

Gaining Success- “Take The Stairs.”

Vaden puts forward the idea that success only comes through hard work. It’s not exactly a life changing concept, but the idea “It will hurt either way, but if you push through now it will feel easier quickly, while if you wait until the bitter last second it will hurt for a long time.” [paraphrase, not quote] is still a perspective that is quickly forgotten in this world of shortcuts. I thought it was an interesting and relatively speedy medium length read, but I felt that it took the dumbed down route more than the well explained route the previous ones had, and it was a little off putting that he kept advertising the same company, and it was kind of odd that he needed to prove his philosophy by throwing in the opening concept again and again. (If I’ve read it once, I’d rather not see the exact same thing five more times.) Overall, there’s a lot of good takeaways in the book, and it wasn’t as painful to read as my review makes it out to be. I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 because it’s still relatively entertaining and short and handy despite its flaws.

If you want to be successful, you may find you will be spending a lot of the day in go-go-go! mode. I suggest you keep the essentials on hand so any small daily emergencies don’t hold you down.

If you have a favorite success and life learning book, please do share in the comments. Know a book that’s better than my three star picks? Let me know so I can check it out! And don’t forget to share your “for fun” Summer reading list as well, I’m always up for some good fiction.

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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