Reading the work of good writers is a surefire remedy to get motivated to write. Developing greater plasticity in thinking is another valid reason to read more on a variety of topics.
While there is no substitue for living a full life, the ability to constantly learn new things, either directly or through the experience and stories of others makes stretching in new directions possible.
My Summer Reading List
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Pixar's Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace
Because this is not just about pulling off a strong streak of hit animation films thanks to curiosity and innovation. It is also a story of stamina, leadership, and experimentation.
Twenty years, thirty Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, and eleven Grammy Awards with more than fourteen movies like Ratatouille, WALL-E, the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc. under its belt, Catmull describes what it takes to sustain a culture of disciplined creativity during setbacks and success.
A couple of favorite quotes from the book:
“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.”
“When faced with a challenge, get smarter.”
“Merely repeating ideas means nothing. You must act—and think—accordingly.”
“most people interpret this assertion is that mistakes are a necessary evil. Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and, as such, should be seen as valuable; without them, we’d have no originality).”
Perspective. Anyone who produces that kind of quality is worthy of attention, especially when he is so interesting. By the very nature of his example, Catmull issues a challenge to every organization and its people to learn to adapt, change, and remain curious.
Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work by Steven Pressfield
This book provides the instigation for engaging in a protracted self-examination because it sets the stage for diagnosing what may be stopping you form doing great work clearly. Deep down we do know what we are missing, and it is up to us to figure out how to become and stay motivated.
I am an avid reader of Pressfield's blog and do enjoy his storytelling and the concise manner in which he tackles issues. If you are new to his work and plan to purchase only one non fiction book by Pressfield, I suggest you start with The War of Art.
“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
“We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”
“The opposite of love isn't hate; it's indifference.”
It is not uncommon to want to pursue a lofty goal, wanting to write a book is something of a universal desire, there are other goals that require the same amount of determination and ability to push through ups and downs. Changing your outlook about the issues will change your life. The War of Art is a powerful reminder of how that works.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Because the action is in the verb, this was already a must read for me. The most challenging thing we can do is to question our perception. If you are up to doing that,this book is for you.
Fast and slow are a short hand for the two mental systems Kahneman introduces and describes.
Largely unconscious, System 1 makes snap judgments based on memory of similar events and associated emotions. Painfully slow, System 2 is the rational countepart, the process by which we consciously check the facts and think carefully.
While System 1 is easily swayed by emotions and is wrong as often as it is right, if you have ever tried to apply yourself, you experienced how System 2 is easily distracted and hard to engage.
“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”
“Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.”
“Intelligence is not only the ability to reason; it is also the ability to find relevant material in memory and to deploy attention when needed.”
“acquisition of skills requires a regular environment, an adequate opportunity to practice, and rapid and unequivocal feedback about the correctness of thoughts and actions.”
Like the preceding books on this list, this is written in clear language and gets better the second time you read it.
Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Steven Kotler and Peter H. Diamandis
Because abundance is preferable to scarcity, even and especially if the latter is marketing-adopted strategy. Technology is affecting every industry and discipline. Its impact on science, both from a research and application standpoint is just now being felt in the mainstream -- think health care, food production, and energy for starters.
We are already somewhat familiar with artificial intelligence, robotics, and 3d printing.
Diamandis is a tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist. He is Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, best known for its $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight.
He speaks with authority as the Co-Founder and Vice-Chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy human lifespan and Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Singularity University.
“Culture is the ability to store, exchange, and improve ideas.”
Reading about what is possible gives us the opportunity to understand, share, and, most importantly, build on the work of others.
Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.