Books I read in January

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Last year 2016, I read tons of articles and lots of books as well. Some of my favorites were Dark Money, Weapons of Math Destruction and one by my good friend Kelly Hoey, Build Your Dream Network.

I’ve got an ambitious list of books to read for this year. I’ve broken them out month by month to help me manage everything and I  thought that I would share them. At the end of every month, I’ll write a post outlining and providing a brief overview of the books that I’ve read for the previous month and write a brief review here. My goal for 2017 is to read at minimum 3 books per month. I’m sure that I can do it and I’ve actually already started.

So far for the month of February, I’ve started 2 books by Tim Ferris: Tools of Titans and The Four Hour Work-week.  There are others of course and I’ll share more about those next month once I finish.

Here are the books I read last month in January. There were only two, but I’m just getting started!

They are: Writing Down the Bones and Big Magic. These two books were the perfect ones to start off the year with because my goal is to write more. So, I am sharing here on my blog, but also working on my first screenplay in years (since film school) and possibly a new book. Trying to feed the flame, as it were.

Writing Down the Bones; freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

This is the perfect book for those of us who have a fear of writing, or who think way too much about it. And really, who doesn’t? Even though I’ve written two books, one of which is a best seller, I still feel that old resistance when I sit down to write. To put it mildly, its a struggle.

Written in a conversational tone by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones (which for the rest of this post I will refer to as WDTB) offers the reader a Zen Buddhist approach to writing along with helpful tips and tools. It really helps the reader to shed fear and overthinking that prevents so many of us from  just writing. I appreciate this book too, because it aligns perfectly with my Bhuddist practice. Goldberg offers a healthy dose of quotes from Zenmaster  Katagari Roshi that helped her to see past the usual blocks and get to the core of writing.

Plainly written and peppered with great stories, anecdotes and quotes, WDTB helps writers to break down their work to its bare essence — the meat if you will. There is no pretense here at all. It’s an easy read and I found myself reading this mostly before bed and then waking up ready to write. Highly recommended.

I save lots of articles as I browse the web so Pocket has been a lifesaver for me. Once when I complained (via Twitter) that the number of articles that I’d saved had become overwhelming and almost impossible to read, the company’s Twitter account mentioned listening to the articles. This has helped immensely. Now, I listen to articles while walking or running and even doing the dishes. For some reason, too, audiobooks had never appealed to me. But, after this newly-discovered love to listening I decided to give it a try. My next book, Big Love was one of the first.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

My experience with this book is quite fragmented as I  started while in my car. But, it was so good that I brought it home with me.  The book is read as most books are, by the author and is, honestly, like having a long chat (a 4 hour chat ) with a good friend. As with those conversations, you jump right in and all concept of time seems to fade away. So too, it is with Big Magic.

Elizabeth Gilbert brings so much character and individuality to her reading of this book, that it makes it a joy to listen to. As I struggle with writing more, (on this blog and elsewhere) listening to Big Magic was like writing therapy for those who have experienced the dreaded blocks with which we are all too familiar. Gilbert isn’t shy about baring her soul and sharing her highest highs and lowest of lows.

She easily moves from anecdote to lesson throughout the book and throws in some hilarious encounters for good measure. One of my favorites, is a story she tells that illustrates her belief the stories choose writers and moves on if action isn’t taken. She speaks of an idea she had that seemed to have moved on to the writer Anne Pachet when circumstances beyond Gilbert’s control caused the story to stall.

In closing

For those of you who like a bit of spirituality with your writing, Gibson offers up a nice balance of that. But there are no guided meditations here. The crux of the book is that the only way to get better, is to, again just write. A theme echoed, albeit in a totally different way than Natalie Goldberg in WDTB.

Have you read any interesting books this month? Let me know in the comments below.

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