Tag Archives: reading

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.


8 Minute Meditation, post 2

8 Minute Meditation by Victor Davich, was the seventh book from my 2012 reading list. (It is a beginner’s how-to type meditation book.) This is my second of (1, 2) 3 posts.

When fishing, if you catch a small fish, you release it back into the water. Thus, you allow the fish to live past breeding age and encourage the fish population to thrive. This practice is aptly called “catch and release.”

Davich uses this term, “catch and release,” to describe the practice of mindfulness in meditation. One of your objectives in meditation is to “catch” your wandering thoughts, to notice that they have arrived and what they are, and then to “release” them so that you may bring your mind back to the focus of your meditation.

I have used this phrase personally and with a few of my coaching clients since first reading Davich’s description. They find it very helpful in guiding them during meditation. Instead of getting angry that the mind has wandered, we can feel pleased that we have caught a wayward thought. Then we can gently release it back into the currents of our minds. If the thought swims back to us, we catch and release again.

So happy fishing, I mean meditating.

8 Minute Meditation, post 1

8 Minute Meditation by Victor Davich, was the seventh book from my 2012 reading list. (It is a beginner’s how-to type meditation book.)

I loved this book! Despite some rather hokey language and explanations at the start, if you’ve ever wanted to try meditation but didn’t know how, this is the book. If you’ve ever tried meditation and didn’t know if you were doing it right, this is the book for you.

This book offers eight weeks of meditation (a different type each week) at 8 minutes per day. I really like how he gives the reader the experience of a variety of techniques. And more than anything, I like how accessible he makes meditation.

Here’s example #1: There is only one measure of whether or not you had a good meditation session – did you have it? So long as you made some attempt, that is the only measure. So it was a good meditation session if:

  • your mind was distracted
  • you stopped early
  • you spent the whole time wishing it was over
  • you forgot how you were supposed to sit
  • you sang a jingle the whole time

It doesn’t matter. So long as you sat down and made the attempt. There will be better and worse meditations, but Davich’s encouragement is loud and clear. Just keep trying. And why not? Meditation only

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces chronic pain
  • Reduces stress and anxiety

So give it a try. In this case, try is a guarantee of success.

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.

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?

Takeoff and Landing

My experiment was a success. I took a trip to Hawaii, brought no books, and had no problems.

The Kindle app for the iPhone was my reading source for this trip. In the past I’ve lugged along anywhere from 1-3 books on my travels. This time, unencumbered by excess paper I feared I would tire of the little screen, become frustrated or annoyed or worse – headachy.

In fact reading entire books on the iPhone turned out to be quite pleasing. It was easy, comfortable, convenient. I am left with just one dilemma – one for which I’d love your help.

The question – what are the best things to do during takeoff and landing if you aren’t packing paper reading material?

The electronics have to be turned off. This used to be primo reading time for me. So now what? Any ideas?