reading 2017: part june | august

I think I’m always going to regret not capturing my impressions when reading books, or at least shortly after I’ve completed them. Perhaps I can make this an Action for next year.

Most of my recent reading has been confined to 30 minutes before bed and has veered toward the self-improvement and manageressing. Suspect it is time for more fiction.

E.R. Punshon: Music tells all – a Bobby Owen mystery
Golden Age. I enjoyed the writing (that sort of light-hearted, witty, flippancy), but the plot was completely and utterly preposterous. No, really – not even preposterous in a good way.
There are 35 books in this series, I won’t be attempting another!

Laura Vanderkam: 168 Hours – You Have More Time Than You Think
I really can’t stay away from the self-help genre. Thesis of this one is what it says on the tin – there are 168 hours in the week and you’re probably using most of them for non-value add activities. Work out what you want and JFDI (Just Do It), outsource stuff you don’t enjoy – and you probably don’t exercise enough. Could veer a bit toward the preachy.
I’m sure there was more which I’ve subsequently forgotten and should have noted at the time.
I’ll likely return for a second read.

Brigid Delaney: Wellmania – Misadventures in the Search for Wellness
This didn’t really do it for me. Wasn’t terrible, but verged toward humble-bragging on occasion (behold the fab trips and perks I’ve been forced to take in the pursuit of journalism.). Slightly all over the place and would have benefited from much tighter editing. I’m still not entirely sure exactly what she was trying to say.

Peter Bregman: 18 Minutes – Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done
This was much more business focussed – classic management self-improvement really. You know the type – key take-outs in boxes, pithy anecdotes, fairly short, quick read. I didn’t hate it.
This bit really spoke to me:
I surveyed the top 400 leaders in a 120,000-person company and found that close to 95% of them – that’s 380 out of 400 – pointed to three things that wasted their time the most: unnecessary meetings, unimportant emails, and protracted PowerPoints.
Sing it! I sent this quote to my team and then we had Words. Particularly I’m using this to hammer my Highly Paid Underperformer – she is guilty of All The Things. The Juniors are too, but they have an excuse (being relatively inexperienced and not overpaid).

Peter Bregman: Four Seconds – All the Time You Need to Replace Counter-Productive Habits with Ones That Really Work
Very similar to 18 minutes (short, sharp read), so didn’t resonate so much, I adored this quote:
Over time, I identified a single factor that makes the biggest difference between a great meeting and a poor one: PowerPoint. The best meetings don’t go near it
Can you tell I’m invited to too many meetings? That I’m developing a complex about the misuse of power-point? The ToddlerConsultants recently delivered a 53 page deck as part of an engagement – with no executive summary. You don’t even want to know how much we paid for that.
I’ve largely forgotten the rest of the book.

Caroline Webb: How to Have A Good Day – A Revolutionary Handbook for Work and Life
I liked this quite a bit. But then I very much like reading about self-improvement, behavioural science, cognitive biases and such. It’s quite a lengthy read and there are several things I’ll take away from it. The most currently relevant and useful of which was to not go into meetings with the preconceived idea that certain Annoying people will be Annoying, else you’ll just sit there and wait for them to be (inevitably) Annoying and will jump on every little thing as proof – as a consequence you’re less likely to be your best self and sit there quietly seething or get fighty. What? Just me?
I’ll probably read this again and am inclined to take notes when I do.

Next up, I have a new Clive and a new Dr Siri! Both pre-ordered and magically appeared on the kindle one day.

I’m also still dipping into The Best Australian Essays: A Ten-Year Collection – it’s lengthy and dipping is the best approach. I should read more essays, I’m enjoying most of these.

And off-on-again with Patrick White: The Twyborn Affair – which is excellent, but requires concentration.


And I can’t in any good conscience call this reading, but lately in audiobooks …

Virigina Woolf: To the Lighthouse
Just couldn’t. I don’t know if Woolf doesn’t lend herself to being read aloud, or whether our Nicole isn’t engaging. Returned for refund. Will try the actual book – when I say actual I mean the e-book of course. I can’t be doing with paper.

Ian Rankin: The Complaints
Really enjoyed this. Was considering the next one in the series, but is narrated by someone else and I read ahead and am not entirely convinced I’d be so much full of love.

In the midst of:
Patrick White: Happy Valley
HOLY GOODNESS! This is wonderful, I’m adoring it! The writing is glorious.

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