2018 Bookshelf

 

Breakfast reading

Have I mentioned that I absolutely love reading? These are the books I have finished so far this year:

img_0983“A British poll at the end of the twentieth century name The Lord of the Rings the most important English-language work of that century.”

“Evil for Tolkien was a personal battle within each and every individual. A battle might be won or lost, but the war was unending. Tolkien’s approach to fantasy was not escapist as some critics claimed. To the contrary, his myth was meant to represent the truth of history and the human condition.”

It has been a long time since I read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, but the effect of both of those books still resonate within me. I has always been awe-struck by the truly great writers and their ability to capture the hearts and minds of their readers. Could I write at that level? It certainly gives me something to aspire to, which reminds me of another Henry David Thoreau quote:

“In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.”


img_0963What is the most profound lesson I learned in this book? The answer actually comes from the book Walden, in which Henry David Thoreau wrote: It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. Freakonomics did just that for me. It caused me to question my assumptions that I based on tradition rather than facts. Of course, I don’t know it all even though I assume with confidence. Now, I am thinking I should add a little more humility to the things I think I know and ask better questions.

 


img_0828What is the biggest lesson from reading Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography? At an early age, he was an avid reader. He read anything he could get his hands on. He worked with the intent  that the money he earned could be used to buy books. He even ate a minimal diet so he could save more money for books. That’s dedication. And isn’t it remarkable that the more he read, the more opportunities were opened up to him.

He also kept to a schedule. This made him incredibly productive. When have I been my most productive? When I made a schedule and kept to it. Which begs the question, why am I not doing this more often? This is something I need to rectify quickly.

“From a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out for books.”


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The title should say it all: Discipline Equals Freedom. Your amount of discipline will equal your amount of freedom. Not enough time in the day to get things done? No problem, get up earlier in the morning. Not happy with your fitness, your body composition? It’s okay, you can change that too. The key is discipline. And if you can get it in your life, you can change your life.

“Question yourself everyday. Ask yourself: Who am I? What have I learned? What have I created? What forward progress have I made? Who have I helped? What am I doing to improve myself –today? To get better, faster, stronger, healthier, smarter? Is this what I want to be? This? Is this all I got –is this everything I can give? Is this going to be my life? Do I accept that?”

I don’t. I won’t! I am going to have to choose discipline. Everyday.


img_0827While reading this book, I was forced to examine my character, both personally and professionally. There has been a few things in the past I have done right. There has been many more things I have done wrong. I can either learn from my experiences or stay the same. But if I stay the same, I am not growing. I choose to grow.

“The ability to keep going when we hit an obstacle, believe that there is a way to get it done, and keep going until we find it is one of the most important character abilities that we can ever develop.” -from page 159


img_0551I have been fortunate this year. Every book that I have read so far has had a profound effect on my mind. The question now is what I should do with all this information I am taking in. In 12 Rules For Life, each of the twelve rules has the ability to change your perception of not only yourself but of others. But in order for it to work, you have to listen. You have to take it to heart. Otherwise, what is the use? Reading this book can change your life. It will make you want to be better, and in turn, make those around you better. Books are my preferred gift to give. This one will top the list.

 


img_0560This is my first venture into the writings of the Philosopher Epictetus. There is such a wealth of knowledge that I think it is best to quote a few excerpts:

“To achieve freedom and happiness, you need to grasp this basic truth: some things in life are under your control, and others are not. What things are under your total control? What you believe, what you desire or hate, and what you are attracted to or avoid.”

“If you desire something outside your control you are bound to be disappointed.”

“We need to accept what happens to us in the same spirit as we expect others to accept their lot.”

“Your problems can only be solved by reason.”

“While you should take care of your body, you should spend most of your time taking care of your mind.”

“Decide you are an adult, and you are going to devote the rest of your life to making progress.”


img_0754Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I had no idea what I was getting into when I first opened this book. This is a true getting off the grid and living off the land book written over 170 years ago. It brings into the question the useless things I am attached to that have no real importance in my life. How much simpler it would life be if I could just detach from the things holding me back? Favorite passage:

“In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.”

 


img_0544Remarkable that the personal journal of Marcus Aurelius has survived over the centuries. The practices and beliefs of the great stoic Roman Emperor is still relevant today, its wisdom is available to any willing to receive it. Here is my two favorite passages:

“how close is the kinship between man and the whole human race, for it is a community, not of a little blood and seed, but of intelligence.”

“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet set less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.”


img_0466When I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, I was transported into another world. The prose is magical. The words bring a inward desire to shed the things that have no lasting value.

Favorite quote: “Writing is good, thinking is better. Being smart is good, being patient is better.”

 

 

 

 


Musashi

Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. This epic novel following the real life events of a 17th Century samurai, Miyamoto Musashi is maybe the best novel I have read in quite some time. This man dedicated his life to The Way of the Sword, but he was so much more than warrior. He was an artist, a writer, and a student of the Art of War. This book is a lesson on mastering yourself and being the best you can be in multiple arenas.

Favorite quotes: “There is no end to the path of discipline.” and: “The way I’ve chosen is one of discipline. It requires me to overcome my sentiments, lead a stoic life, immerse myself in hardship. If I don’t, the light I seek will escape.”


ToolsOfTitansTools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss. There is so much wisdom found in this book. My only disappointment was that this was a library e-book. I will be buying the hardcover in the near future. I made so many notes while reading this one and will definitely read this again.

My Favorite quote is actually at the very beginning: “I created Tools of Titans because it’s the book I’ve wanted my entire life.”