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How to remember books that make you think

Reviewing good books

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I like to read — I always have but as I get older, I noticed I don’t retain as much of the story.  When I read a good book, I want to remember its essence without re-reading the entire text.  Within the last few years, I started writing book reviews; and when I feel the urge, I share the reviews on Amazon, my blog, and LinkedIn.  At the end of the year, I list my top ten best reads, which are mostly non-fiction, although last year I read more fiction than usual.  What is important is an engaging story and great storytelling.

The latest books I have been reading are related to finding one’s life’s work.  At my age (60 plus) there are more working years behind me than in front of me.  But lately, because of all the death and dying in my life, I have become acutely cognizant that all time is valuable and every day should be purposeful towards our life’s journey.  

Hence, the first book, Creative Calling:   Establish a Daily Practice, Infuse your world with meaning and Succeed in Work plus life.  I savored this book from beginning to end.  I thought I was a right-brain person earning my living on the left side.  What Creative Calling did was reinforce that the right brain, the creative side, has been dominant all along.  What I like about the book is that it tells stories of both success and failure; deaths and near-death failures and mega Hollywood style successes.  The book focuses on the importance of passion… not necessarily following it –but being aware of it and willing to work in alignment.  I like too how the focus of the story goes from self-improvement of one to many as the author shares his life work with others.  Finally,, I enjoyed the emphasis on continuous learning; how one should always seek excellence in one’s chosen area of focus.  An excellent book for everyone to think about their own creative calling.

Another good read as it relates to the journey of self-actualization is So good they can’t ignore you.  Why skills Trump passion in the quest for work you love..  The book was engaging from beginning to end.  The book’s central thesis is to forget the calling… it inspires us to do good work wherever we find it and the calling will come to us.   Interesting.  The author suggests that one spends time developing skills, expertise, investing in “craft”.  As one spends more time “becoming”, one will find more joy, fulfillment, and happiness.  There were many case studies to validate the thesis.  In the end, the author uses his own experience as an MIT trained academic searching for the right fit to launch his academic career.  Since the book was written a few years ago, my intention is to follow the author’s career trail to determine if his theory outcome for his own tenure track position at Georgetown became a reality.  A good perspective and a good book to read.

Both books came at “finding good work and finding one’s life’s work” from a different perspective.  While the paths are different, both authors end up in the same place finding work that is of value, productive, and fulfilling.  It is this author’s opinion that different people can take different paths to get to their own happy ending.

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