I did a lot of reading this summer. However, unlike most summers, I didn’t read a lot of juicy novels (although I did manage to read “Fifty Shades of Grey”.) Mostly I read a whole lot of non-fiction self-help and how-to books. Goodness, I’ve never even perused the self-help section of the library before. Now I could spend all day there!
Before I decided to quit my job, I was reading books I thought would help me make my job better, like Why Should the Boss Listen to You?, Working With You Is Killing Me, and Crucial Conversations. While these are all really good books, they became irrelevant when I made up my mind to quit. But there were two other books I read, that I couldn’t put down, that completely altered my thinking – about my job and about my life. Those were: A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink, and Soul Stories by Gary Zukav.
So today’s blog is dedicated to reviewing my summer reading list. Here goes.
A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
My brother-in-law Gary gave me this book when I was visiting my sister’s family in Austin over spring break. I was going through a terrible ordeal at work – the catalyst that ultimately led me to jump – and was complaining that my boss had no empathy, and creativity wasn’t valued at my company. So Gary gave me this book, which was given to him by his former boss.
I was, at the time, reading The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch, which I couldn’t put down, so I didn’t think to pick this book up until a few weeks later. Once I did, I was enthralled. It seemed to articulate everything I was feeling about my life, my work, and my desire to be creative. It also made me think a lot about how I raise my kids, living in this hyper-evolving technology-heavy world of abundance. I love this book so much; I can’t wait to read it again.
Soul Stories by Gary Zukav
This book was just what I needed during this time of my life. It’s the kind of a spiritual new age self-help book that I never in a million years thought I would read, much less love. It is divided into 52 chapters, with the idea that you read one chapter a week and reflect on it. As this was a library book, I couldn’t do that, so instead I read 2-3 chapters every night. Each chapter is a simple story and life lesson on basic topics like love, trust, and harmony, that I found really powerful and inspirational. Here’s one little gem from the chapter on ‘Responsible Choice and Intention’:
“An intention is not a wish. A wish does not cause anything to happen. An intention does. An intention pushes against the way things are in your life. Those things push back exactly the same way. (Remember, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.) Your intentions create everything you experience.”
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
My friend Kathy, who I’ve worked with for years, got me this book as a present. She knew, probably long before I did, that I was going to ‘jump’. So, being a great and supportive friend (and excellent gift giver), she gave me this book as inspiration. And it worked.
I had no idea so many people were doing so well, in this economy, running their own business, without a lot of start-up money, working on their own terms. Sounds dreamy. This book tells their stories (many of them from Seattle), how they accidentally or deliberately got there, and offers advice and exercises to get you started. And while I haven’t started applying any of this information, just having read the book makes me think differently about what I might eventually do to make a living and how.
Carve Your Own Road by Jennifer Remling & Joe Remling
This book is about a couple that takes an Airstream trailer across the country to interview successful entrepreneurs who are passionate about what they do. While I got some good stuff out of this book, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I thought it would have mostly motivational stories from the people they interviewed. Instead, it was more about their own journey of developing and implementing the vision that led up to their writing this book.
It also describes a process called “The Mindset of Clarity” that helps you create a vision of what you want to achieve, and the steps to get you there. The seven steps are: Clarity, Setting Big Goals, Immersion, Take Inspired Action, Reflection, Evolution, and Letting Go. My mindset could use a ton of clarity when it comes to what I should do with my life, so I plan to do many of the things described in this process.
Live More Want Less by Mary Carlomagno
This is a great book and quick read about simplifying and organizing your life. It contains 52 chapters – each little pearls of wisdom – and you can read them all, or just the ones that apply to you. Like for me, Chapter 44: ‘Eliminate “Should” from Your Vocabulary’ was perfect, where she says, “If you are engaging too much time in what you should be doing, you are missing out on what you love to do. Adjust your thinking and increase your happiness.” I love that. Oh, and the author lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband and children. I love that too.
Creative Girl – The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career by Katherine Sise
I got this book from the library, but I think I may need to buy it for myself. It has so much great advice in it, plus a lot of fun questionnaires and worksheets to fill in as you work your way towards a more creative career – either as an employee or starting your own business. It seems to offer a pragmatic approach to changing gears at any age, and has chapters like: “Where Is My Creative Happy Place?”, “Seriously, How Talented Are You?”, “The Fear Chart”, and “Birth the Creative Baby”. It’s a really fun, easy, and hopefully effective read.
Printing by Hand by Lana Corwin
This is a beautiful book, with gorgeous pictures, that I ordered from Amazon. It’s filled with great information on how to print on fabric, walls, furniture, you name it. It is what inspired me to do the stencil printing on the kids’ dresser.
Handmade Living by Lotta Jansdotter
I love everything this woman does. I want to be her. But alas, I cannot. So thankfully she has published beautiful books like this one that inspire me to make creative changes to my home, and try some of her crafty projects myself.
Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design by Laurie Wisbrun
This is another gorgeous book that I got at the library, filled with information on designing and printing your own fabric. It also has inspirational interviews with people who do this type of work professionally. I think it would be an amazing job.
Design on Fabrics by Johnston & Kaufman
This is a book that I got at Goodwill, that has a ton of interesting information on the history of fabric and lessons about printing on fabric. I don’t know why, even though it’s pretty technical, I found it fascinating, and took it with me everywhere to read.
So that’s my list. Now I’m back to reading mostly fiction and my magazines. I’m half-way through ‘The Hunger Games’, and have two more novels in the queue. I will also start working on some of the exercises and advice from the books I read this summer. More to come on that…