Tag Archives: books

2013 Reading List

Last year I posted a list of 20 books that I planned to read and review in this blog. I am now older and wiser.

Following are the books I might read and review. They currently intrigue me. But I now recognize that I might also get distracted and read completely different books as the year unfolds.

  1. Rewire Your Brain, by John B Arden
  2. Brain Rules, by John Medina
  3. Buddha’s Brain, by Rick Hanson
  4. The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor
  5. The Essential Gandhi, edited by Louis Fischer (reread)
  6. Zen in the Martial Arts, by Joe Hyams (reread)
  7. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

And for fun.

  1. Noble House, by James Clavell
  2. Skinny Legs and All, by Tom Robbins
  3. Narcopolis, by Jeet Thayil
  4. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
  5. Room, by Emma Donoghue
  6. NW, by Zadie Smith
  7. Cain, by Jose Saramago

As this is a living list, destined to change, let me know what books are on your list and should be on mine.


The Emotional Life of Your Brain

The Emotional Life of Your Brain, by Richard Davidson with Sharon Begley, was the third book from my 2012 reading list.

This could be the most valuable book I’ve read. But you have to make it to the end! Chapters 8-11 are phenomenal.

Chapters 1-7 tell you everything you might want to know about what part of your brain is responsible for which emotion.

Then chapters 8-11 tell you how to exercise each area.

Wow. This was fantastic. These were big ideas, hard to convey in a blog, but I’ll try to review two techniques in my remaining blogs this week. For more, you’ll have to check out the book yourself.

I’m so fascinated by the meditation discussion in this book I’m going to stick with the theme. Read along with me as next up I explore The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Mindsight, Post 1

Mindsight, by Daniel Siegel, was my second reading choice from my 2012 reading list. This is the first of three posts on the book.

Siegel describes how we most often operate in a reactive mode with little awareness of how our senses, our bodies, and our minds influence our actions. Awareness of these influences on our actions is key to behavior change. And awareness is like a muscle – exercise it and it strengthens.

Try these three breathing exercises. In each one try breathing for two minutes. Each will have a different focus. If/when your brain moves away from the intended focus, be forgiving and gently return your mind to the intended focus.

  1. Focus on your senses. Feel the sensory input from outside of you – sounds, touch, smell, sights, and taste. Let your mind wander among these five senses to cultivate your awareness of their variety of input.
  2. Focus on your internal self. Feel your mood, emotions, and energy, the feel of your chest, breathing, shoulders, heart, lungs, stomach, etc.
  3. Focus on your mind. Watch the ideas that come to you. Let them go and see where your mind wanders next. Continually notice what thought arises; then put that idea away to make way for the next.

Cultivating these types of awareness in a state of calm reflection strengthens our ability to recognize sensory, internal, and mental shifts throughout our lives and choose our responses rather than be swept up in a reactive state.

Next book I’m reading if you want to read along: The Emotional Life of Your Brain, by Richard Davidson and Sharon Begley.

Reading Review

I’ve been involved in facilitating a few leadership programs this year in which participants have had lengthy reading requirements (i.e., 5-10 books). It got me thinking about my own intentionality about the books I read. So I identified 4 subjects that are of greatest importance to me these days.

  1. Happiness
  2. Neuro-plasticity
  3. Meditation
  4. Eastern Philosophy

And I picked 5 books in each category.

  1. Stumbling on Happiness, by Dan Gilbert
  2. The Art of Happiness, by the Dalai Lama
  3. Happiness, by Matthieu Ricard
  4. The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
  5. The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
  6. Mindsight, by Daniel Siegel
  7. Rewire Your Brain, by John Arden
  8. The Emotional Life of Your Brain, by Richard Davidson with Sharon Begley
  9. Your Brain at Work, by David Rock
  10. Brain Rules, by John Medina
  11. 8 Minute Meditation, by Victor Davich
  12. The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh
  13. Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda
  14. Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu
  15. The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
  16. Awakening the Buddha Within, by Lama Surya Das
  17. Start Where You Are, by Pema Chodron
  18. The Heart of Understanding, by Thich Nhat Hanh
  19. How to Practice, by the Dalai Lama
  20. The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac

My hope is to read all 20 of these books in 2012. If you’d like to read with me, I’m starting with Your Brain at Work. If you don’t wish to read these books, how are you taking control of your reading list?

Could You Repeat That?

How many times must you hear a fact before you remember it for good?

How many times must you practice a behavior before it is your automatic response?

How many times must you learn something before you’ve really learned it?

I told my client I wanted him to reread the book I had asked him to read a month before. Why? Because he hadn’t learned it. Why hadn’t he learned it? Was it because he was dimwitted? Of course not. He’s a very bright guy.

When we read we learn momentarily. Once we finish a book we quickly unlearn what we read. When we reread and reread and reread again, then true learning begins.

Religion gets this, telling us to reread the same book every year. I think that’s a great idea. We should all pick at least one book to reread every year. This year I’m picking The Essential Gandhi.

What book would you choose?

First Deep Breath

On Monday I wrote about creating reminder cards for books. Three Deep Breaths was the book that got it all started for me. Here is the reminder card I created for that book:

Centering – Breathe in the present moment. Focus on now.

Possibility – Breathe in the “me I want to be.” Find beauty in my surroundings.

Discovery – Breathe in mystery and wonder. Believe in possibilities.

I’ve used this technique before big speeches and during particularly turbulent flights. Lucky for me, I always have the lesson with me if I need it.

Book Quick Cards

How many books have you read in your life . . . that you actually remember the book.

This was my problem. I kept reading books filled with wonderful messages. But I couldn’t remember any of them.

A few years ago I read a book called Three Deep Breaths, by Thomas Crum. It was a great book. It teaches a very simple breathing technique to help you relax. I used it over and over again while I was reading the book. Then I finished the book, stuck it on a book shelf, and promptly forgot the technique.

That’s no good.

So I went back to the book and distilled each of the breaths into a couple of sentences that would help me remember the technique. Then I printed those out on a card the size of a credit card so I could carry them with me as a reminder.

Every book should come with these.

In fact, I included reminder cards on the last page of my most recent book. This is how we learn. We need to read the idea in the book. But then we need to be reminded again and again to retain that information and incorporate it into our habitual thoughts and actions.

So what book do you wish you could better remember? Maybe it’s time to make a card.