What I'm Reading

Five Quick Thoughts From Five Books I’m Reading

I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction book drought the last week or so after bingeing on murder mysteries, one historical fiction and the second season

4 min read
Haley Stomp

I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction book drought the last week or so after bingeing on murder mysteries, one historical fiction and the second season of Bridgerton. In order to get momentum back, I re-opened five books in the stack to see if I could get some “drive by” wisdom for the day. Here’s what I learned:

1. Your Best Year Ever

“The Art of The Start” — don’t get “bogged down in preparation and planning.” Just start. “Action brings clarity” is one of my mantras for this year. I’m getting better at it. Sometimes all you can do is the next thing, even if it’s the easiest. I start by making my bed every morning. It’s an immediate win. Wash face, brush teeth, clean up cat puke, read one email, start laundry (again), just keep going. Eventually, life picks up steam. This book aims to give you a tools and positive thoughts to achieve your goals in five steps. It’s for people who like systems and steps. It’s a pretty action-packed book; like Marvel, except you’re the superhero.

2. Atlas Of The Heart by Brene Brown

I haven’t been emotionally ready to crack open this book until now. I started on an easy page. Doc Brown (not the one from Back To The Future) says contentment is “the feeling of completeness, appreciation, and “enoughness” that we experience when our needs are satisfied.” I have been answering my Calm app’s questions on “how are you feeling?” for many months now. I enjoy picking out my emoji while soothing rain sounds comfort me. When I look back at the history, most days I’ve answered content. There are some days I’m slightly better or worse on either side of this with “relaxed” or “unsure,” and even fewer days I feel compelled to pick an angry red face or a heart-eyed happy face at the extremes. I’m just mostly content. And that is OK. Back to procrastinating feeling the feelings sure to come from reading the rest of this book.

3. How To Avoid A Climate Disaster by Bill Gates

I’ve read through several chapters of this book. It’s full of data, analysis and future predictions. In summary on how we like electricity and what it would take to make our energy use more green, Mr. Gates provides: “If a genie offered me one wish, a single breakthrough in just one activity that drives climate change, I’d pick making electricity: It’s going to play a big role in decarbonizing other parts of the physical economy.” He pro/cons all the different forms of providing energy, the increase in energy demand and the role energy plays in economies. Fascinating stuff. He isn’t just looking to make wishes with a genie, he is investing in many areas of research including batteries and fusion. This book stresses me out, but it’s also important to know what’s happening and where the research is leading.

4. Think Again by Adam Grant.

This book has been on my list for a bit. I’ve started (the art of starting), and it’s clear it contains thought-provoking topics to keep me reading. Case in point: “With advances in access to information and technology, knowledge isn’t just increasing. It’s increasing at an increasing rate. As of 1950, it took about fifty years for knowledge in medicine to double. By 1980, medical knowledge was doubling every seven years, and by 2010, it was doubling in half that time.” So, by 2022? You could extrapolate that trend and say we are doubling medical knowledge about every year. It’s baffling to think that something I learned in 1980 or even 2000 is no longer relevant. I guess it’s OK to throw out my old college textbooks. I keep them “just in case” someone wants to look up chemical synthesis when the internet is down. I will keep reading this book as a good way to challenge my thinking, to be an observer of how we are living history every day, and hoping to avoid echo chambers and the trap of confirmation bias. I leave you with this thought from the book: “We learn more from people who challenge our thought process than those who affirm our conclusions.”

5. If At Birth You Don’t SucceedMy Adventures With Disaster And Destiny by Zach Anner

First, here’s a guy who was born with cerebral palsy, or as he calls it, “the sexiest of the palsies.” Then he posts a video that, by mistake, gets nine million followers and Oprah’s attention, and he gets his own travel show on Oprah’s network. This is a crazy story, and I can’t wait to read it all. I found this book doing a thing I do when I am lucky enough to be in a college campus bookstore — I look for a good book to read in the “required class reading” section. (Sidebar: The first time I ever did this I ended up buying The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon. Also a great book.)

I love this thought from Zach Anner: “I’m a guy who’s been able to recognize that sometimes the only difference between mistakes and miracles is what you choose to call them. And the most interesting lives are the ones that have an equal mix of both.”

Bonus quote food-for-thought:

“You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” — Ernest Hemingway

I have vowed to read an Ernest Hemingway book this year. It’s in the stack…Until then, there are six new books on the list for next week waiting for “drive by” learning.