Reading life

What I Read in March

How to Have a Good Day – Caroline Webb.  I mentioned this last month because, after only a couple of chapters, I was hooked.  Well, it delivered.  This is currently my most recommended book and I’m going to recommend it you too because it has something for everyone trying to implement small but impactful changes in their life, particularly at work.  I loved the way Caroline Webb draws on behavioural science research to support her techniques.  There’s so much in this book that I think I’m going to have to re-read it and take proper notes!  A lot of the material may be familiar if you read a lot of self-improvement type books but I found this one particularly grounded, practical and applicable to work.  Some of the things that have really stuck out and I am already using are: intention setting; saying “yes and” rather than “yes but”; and using my body language to help support my intentions and behavioural goals.  Seriously, you need to read this book!

The Lost Throne – Chris Kuzneski.  Trashy action thriller…finished in about 3 hours…the reading equivalent of watching (insert brain emptying show of your choice).  Because, sometimes, you just need to read something completely non-challenging.

Personal – Lee Child (one of my favourite fiction writers).  One of the latest in the Jack Reacher series.  If you haven’t come across these well-written, teasing action-thriller-mysteries, I highly recommend picking on up.  Do not judge these on the Tom Cruise movie!!!

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig.  I’m not quite sure why I downloaded this – an Amazon recommendation perhaps – but I’ve loved listening to Matt narrate his book, telling his story of his battle with depression.  It’s a remarkably honest and raw account of his struggles that also manages to be warm and funny.  For someone who has never suffered from mental illness, it was enlightening to understand how depression feels and I hope will make me more empathetic to people I meet who do suffer with this invisible illness.

Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari. This was recommended to me by one of my Book Club buddies and it is amazing! It is nothing less than a detailed history of the human race, from the cognitive revolution through to the possible end of homo sapiens. I love this kind of anthropology and am just fascinated by how we have evolved to be the people we are today. I am learning so much from this book; I didn’t know that as many as seven human species co-existed at the same time or that hunter-gatherers had much better diets than their farming descendants. This is the only paperback I brought with me on my trip (as opposed to e and audiobooks) and I have devoured it over the last couple of days.  It’s so thought-provoking: what really causes gender differences and partiarchy in society?  Are we engineering ourselves out of existence?  What is happiness and how has human happiness, not to mention the happiness of the rest of the planet, changed over the last 70,000 years.  This is such a fascinating book; it’s also incredibly readable, with a pace and a wit that sweeps you through history.

Started but haven’t finished….
The Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer.  This month’s book club read.  I just haven’t been in the mood for this at the moment and knowing that I would be away for the meet up meant I lost my accountability driver.  On the list to read when I get home.

Delusions of Gender – Cordelia Fine.  I’m loving this but have simply run out of time with work and holidays.  It’s a fascinating insight into neuroscience and “neuro-sexism”.  I for one have never believed that differences between the sexes are hard wired into our brains.  I do think that hormones and physical differences play a role but I think there is too much evidence that our brains are malleable and constantly developing to think that “girls like pink” and “boys don’t cry” are anything more than socialised behaviours.  One of my favourite passages so far discusses the way girls do worse on a maths test if they are asked to identify their sex before the test; not so much that girls are bad at maths as we keep telling girls they’re bad at maths and are surprised when they conform to that idea.  Top of the list, alongside Book Club, to finish next month.

F**k Feelings – Dr Michael and Sarah Bennett.  The antidote to self-improvement books!  The basic premise is that all the other self-improvement books are selling you a false promise of lasting happiness.  The Bennetts instead promise to help you stop over-thinking and to accept the things you can’t change in life.  I started this but just haven’t really been in the mood, to be honest, preferring some ‘fluff’ and some intense history.

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