Books I read in April 2015

Hi everybody. It’s time for another “what I read last month.” If you have any book recommendations, please let me know! Also, if you are on Goodreads, be my friend! If you haven’t seen them already, here are my books for January, February, and March. And here are my Top Books of 2014.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I talked a lot about this book on Episode 24 about Triggers, so I will try to not repeat too much here. It’s been close to a month since I finished the book and made the episode. In the time that has past, the story that has stuck with me the strongest, which I didn’t mention in the episode, is the story of Alcoa’s turnaround. During a turbulent time in the metal producing giant’s history, a new CEO was named: Paul O’Neil. In his first speech to shareholders, O’Neil, rather than rouse the troops and preach the profit gospel (new term, patent pending), announced that the new top priority for Alcoa would be….. worker safety. I’m sure it seemed outrageous at the time, but Duhigg goes on to illustrate how this decision by O’Neil was thoroughly calculated. By focusing on fine-tuning ONE habit, there would be significant spillover into other worker habits. The company saw a major increase in worker safety, weak spots in chain-of-command communication were revealed, and Alcoa experienced never-before-seen profits. If you don’t pick up the book, which you definitely should, here is the Alcoa story. I got this book as a birthday present, purchased at Weller Book Works in SLC.

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

I came across this book while rummaging through my parents’ huge book collection. The copy I found was horribly tattered and worn. I thought perhaps I came across an original printing, which would have been in 1902. Upon further research (publication date was nowhere to be found inside the book), I learned that my copy was actually printed in the 1950s and was owned by my grandma. Still cool, I guess. Just not 1902-cool. Anyways, now to the content. It sucked. In my opinion. As a Man Thinketh is basically The Secret of the early 1900s–if you think it and believe it, it will happen. Of course the flip side explains terminal cancer and other misfortune as a lack of positive thinking. Hey, I think striving to see the bright side of things is wonderful–it’s the level to which this book and The Secret preaches that gets extremely unrealistic (Granted, The Secret is much worse). And extremely annoying. I know plenty of people will disagree with me on this. With an average 4.3 rating from over 21,000 reviews on Goodreads, it’s safe to say that this message resonates with plenty. To them, I say, let’s tone it down a bit.

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

If you aren’t already signed up, I strongly suggest Jeff’s newsletter, which gives great creative insight through the eyes of a writer. Having followed his newsletter for the few months preceding the book’s release, Jeff gave me enough insight into his writing process that I knew I had to see what the final product looked like. I must say, given the title of the book, I was expecting the typical “OMG do what you love and everything will work out!” message, which we all know how I feel about. I was pleasantly surprised with The Art of Work’s message–or tone, rather. Not only did I not roll my eyes once, I actually derived a lot of value from the book. Goins talks plenty about discovering and fulfilling your “calling,” but does so in a down-to-earth, pragmatic, non-preachy fashion. Not only that, I was highly entertained start to finish. Jeff tells plenty of personal stories, including one about him asking a girl out by singing a song in front of a dozen of her friends only to get rejected on the spot: “Shoulders slumped, I nodded, pretending to understand. But then I did something even worse: I didn’t leave.” Highly recommended read.

The Road Less Traveled by Dr. Scott Peck

I was recommended (not personally, unfortunately) to this book by Tom Shadyac, director of the documentary I Am, and a number of Jim Carrey films, including Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty. If you haven’t seen I Am yet, drop everything you are doing right this second and go watch it (it’s on Netflix!). The message of I Am, in a nutshell, is that love is everything. In a lecture, Tom talks about some of his most influential books, of which The Road Less Traveled is one. Peck’s book was published in 1978 with the subtitle: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth. The book was hit-and-miss, in my opinion. The section on Love was great, as expected, although it overstayed its welcome. The section that blew my mind was about religion and spirituality. It was fascinating to see religion through the eyes of a psychiatrist. I won’t go into depth on this here, maybe another time. Unless you have a strong interest in psychology and the role of spirituality and love, I would suggest watching I Am, reading Tom’s Life’s Operating Manual (much easier read) and calling it good.

Books I’m reading this month:

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (mentioned in Episode 28)

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan


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