I think many of us are trapped on a hamster wheel of hyperactivity.
We simply cannot stand still.
Every empty moment in line at Starbucks is a chance to catch up on emails.
Every bus ride is a time to scroll our Instagram feed or read Facebook updates.
Every second of silence begs to be filled with music, podcasts, etc.
We fill every waking moment with productivity, entertainment, and self-gratification. We are defined by constant activity.
This obsession with hyperactivity permeates every aspect of our lives and is especially evident in the way we approach our work.
Remarkably, we even had to invent a new phrase to describe our society’s penchant for working long hours. Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, coined the phrase “hustle porn” to describe our preoccupation with work. …
I’ve seen a lot of reading lists out there labeled “Books to Read Before You Die.” (I’ve even been working my way through my own list like that.)
Even though it’s interesting to consider which books you should read before you die, I think it’s more practical to seek out books that will tangibly improve your life while you are living it. For truly life-changing books, the earlier you read them, the longer they can positively impact your life.
This past decade, I’ve had the chance to read over 700 books. I’ve read a lot of great books during that time, but there’s a subset of books that I would credit with tangibly making my life better. Some of these books made me more productive, some helped me gain greater empathy, and others influenced the way I communicate. …
This year, I had the chance to read 80 books comprised of 25,723 pages. Four of those books were re-reads from past years. You can find my full read list here if you’re interested.
For the past several years, I’ve concluded the year by sharing some of my favorite reads in Q&A format, adapted from a set of questions created by the blog Perpetual Page Turner.
Here were my favorite books that I read in 2020.
Few authors can create a protagonist who is compelling enough to sell a full series of books rather than just a standalone novel. Even fewer can pull that off numerous times with different characters. David Baldacci is one of those people.
Baldacci introduced the world to characters like combat veteran John Puller, detective Amos Decker, and a motley crew of four friends known as the “Camel Club.”
He’s sold over 130 million books, and he recently recorded a MasterClass on writing. Although the MasterClass is geared toward mystery and thriller writing, Baldacci shares many tips that cross over multiple genres.
Here are the top 13 lessons I learned from…
This is the story I never thought I would write. I normally write about business, leadership, and personal development. Religion — although very important to me — has never been in my writing wheelhouse. And unfortunately, religion now seems to intersect so closely with politics that by covering one taboo topic, a writer must cover them both.
C.S. Lewis was the one who finally spurred me to action. Tonight I was reading a passage in his book The Four Loves, in which Lewis talks about Christianity’s “specific contribution to the sum of human cruelty and treachery.”
How sad it is that those words ring true. A religion begun on the virtues of loving one’s neighbor and caring for the poor has been bastardized into an unrecognizable force of vitriol, injustice, and hate. …
Millions of Americans read Elizabeth Gilbert’s blockbuster memoir Eat Pray Love. I was not one of them.
In fact, I grew a little sick of seeing it on bookstore shelves everywhere I went for three years. (It was on The New York Times bestseller list for a remarkable 187 weeks.) In the rarefied manner of a book snob, I assumed that Gilbert’s work must be meant for casual beach readers — not me.
And I was completely wrong. This year, I’ve become a huge Elizabeth Gilbert fan. I’ve watched her TED talks and just finished reading her book about creativity, Big Magic, in which she pulls back the covers on her creative process and encourages every reader to find their own creative magic. …
I thought I knew how to ask good questions until I met a guy named James.
As I began to work with James, I watched in awe as I compared his questions to my own. He used questions as a sharp-edged knife to cut through mental clutter, uncertainty, and decision paralysis. Whether we were in an all-hands meeting, a team meeting, or a 1-on-1, James knew when to broaden a discussion to include more viewpoints and when to narrow it to drive toward a decision.
For years, I had known in my gut that asking better questions was the secret to unlocking better answers, but I had struggled to find any good resources on the topic. I’d read books with promising titles like Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, but the books didn’t provide enough tactical advice to be helpful. …
Most of us know Will Arnett as the voice behind goofy characters like Lego Batman, BoJack Horseman, and Mr. Perkins in Despicable Me.
If you’re anything like me, you probably wouldn’t expect philosophical wisdom to flow from the mouth of Lego Batman.
But Will Arnett is much deeper than his comedic work implies. He recently appeared on an episode of the podcast Armchair Expert, hosted by his friend and fellow actor Dax Shepard. In that episode, Arnett offers some brilliant Stoic wisdom:
“You just get what you put out there. …
David Sedaris has sold over 12 million books in 27 different languages. You’ve likely seen his oddly named essay collections prominently displayed on the shelves of your local bookstore: Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, among others.
Sedaris is a gifted storyteller who writes with comedic flair. He recently shared his top writing tips in a MasterClass on storytelling and humor.
If you haven’t yet spent the $180/year for a MasterClass subscription, you can find Sedaris’s top 13 writing tips here:
“You’re so privileged to be a writer. Normal people, something bad happens to them and there’s nothing they can do with it except feel bad or complain or press charges.” -David…
Steven Pinker wrote the most underrated writing advice book of the past decade: The Sense of Style.
I’ve never heard another writer mention this book, which is shocking because Pinker is a titan in the world of nonfiction and The Sense of Style is one of the most effective craft books ever written.
Pinker offers hundreds of practical examples, walking through text snippets from the popular press, media, and academia to contrast strong versus weak writing.
Here are the top 13 things I learned from Pinker’s book:
“Many style manuals treat traditional rules of usage the way fundamentalists treat the Ten Commandments: as unerring laws chiseled in sapphire for mortals to obey or risk eternal damnation….Although some of the rules can make prose better, many of them make it worse, and writers are better off flouting them.” …