Bold Fortune

fortune favors the bold

Month: November, 2012

Reading deeply or reading muchly?

by uneasyrhetoric

(cross-posted from Uneasy Rhetoric, and by Mr. Uneasy himself)

Is it better to read deeply or broadly? The Kindle Chronicles podcast a few weeks ago included an interview with Chris Brogan, co-author of The Impact Equation, about his decision to read only three books over the course of a year. Brogan chose his books using the classic triumvirate of head, heart, and hands: one business/leadership type book, one spiritual book, and one fitness book.

Brogan argues on the podcast that we don’t read deeply.

“I have this opinion that a lot of times people will read books and just kind of go from one book to the next,” Brogan told me. “I track on things like Twitter what people say about my book. So I’ll see, ‘Just finished The Impact Equation, now going on to The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg’—as if there’s some kind of a hurdle race, as if they’ve just gone over a hurdle, and they’re going to the next one.”

As a result, Brogan believes, we seldom go deeply enough into a book, to fully absorb the meaning of it. His idea of picking three books to read and reread throughout the coming year tests a new level of commitment to a book, like becoming a rooted disciple instead of a hurdler who is always jumping to the next new title.

I admire the idea behind wanting to read more deeply, and it is something I constantly struggle with myself. I have read countless books in my lifetime, novels, epic poems, philosophy, self-help, business, drama, and more. Unfortunately, except for a handful of books I have read multiple times, and only a few fingers of those, I have forgotten most of what I read. As an English major in college, I was expected to read works several times in preparation for in-class discussion and frequent written analysis. Easy in poetry class, but in a class where I was reading a novel every week to two weeks, much harder. Today I can tell you that I enjoyed Middlemarch and consider it one of my favorite novels. However, despite having read it four times in under two years, I can’t remember more than a handful of characters’ names and a barely-there notion of the plot.

Were I to decide to read deeply in the way Brogan describes, I think I would constantly worry about what I wasn’t reading. More accurately, it seems to go against my desire to read broadly. I have five screens of unread or partially-read titles on my Kindle, and the list includes everything from fantasy to public policy to pop-psychology to fiction en français. I like being able to flit from topic to topic and I’m proud of the fact that I have such broad interests. Nevertheless, even with so much already on my plate, I still worry about what I’m not reading. It is an addiction, really, and what has always been a problem for me–buying books I want to read but will never get around to reading–is made much worse because of the Kindle and by the ability to read extended samples of a work.

Thus, I am intrigued by Brogan’s idea, but I think the approach may be wrong, or slightly dishonest. On the one hand, he will be able to read very deeply. None of the books he chose are very long or very complicated, which, if he really doesn’t try to read other texts will mean many multiple readings. However, I suspect that, like me, Brogan is a frequent reader of short texts–articles, magazines, blogs–and is not likely to give those up, nor would I expect him to. I think, though, that he will find himself reading even more of these to fill his time, especially when he gets very, very bored of the three books he chose.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to try to read more deeply. Every reader has a book or two the reader returns to from time to time. For me it was the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Catcher in the Rye. Note the was. I don’t return to books any more. I’m still playing with rereading my favorite Updike novels, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. In that case, I feel guilty that I still haven’t read all of his essays. I’ve read a number of self-help books recently but haven’t bothered to return to those either. Self-help books almost require a periodic return to be effective. I’d like to read more philosophy, but good luck understanding any of it on a single reading.

Instead of choosing three books and limiting myself to reading only those over a given period of time, I think I will make a conscious effort to have, always, at least one book going to which I have committed a deeper read. This doesn’t mean I will choose a book before the fact and read it multiple times. Instead, as I get into a book, I will need to step back and decide whether I need to read it again to gain additional insight.

After all, some books are not worth reading. Others are nice to read once through in the same way that I’m glad I’ve seen some movies but don’t need to see them again. A small number require re-reading. Still, at the very least, I should probably review the highlights I make while reading books on my Kindle.

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“Work work work, work work work” Governor Williams J. Lepetomane (Blazing Saddles)

by mollykl

Oy. What a day. Went 45 minutes overtime and I was so exhausted afterward I could barely open the new bottle of vodka. Just kidding, I could totally open the vodka.

It was one of those days that made me think. It was a hard day – no doubt – but it was also good. We were quite busy thanks in part to, ahem, labor issues at another store in the area.

I’ve got it really good. I have a job that, while it sometimes pisses me off and leaves me dead tired at the end of the day, I love. I have co-workers that I adore, even the ones I feel like tripping when they walk down the stairs (lookin’ at you Sam!). I get to talk about “Arrow” and “Sherlock”, a company president who I call by his first name and I even have a guy who cooks bacon for me.

What more could you ask for?

To donate gently used professional attire to  the WEAVE  Suited for Success program click here.

Lucky

by mollykl

I woke up in pain in the middle of last night and for a split second was mightily confused. I couldn’t figure out why I hurt, and then I remembered. I ran out of the medication for my skin and unfortunately, my pharmacy is inside a store that is currently having, ahem, labor issues. Not willing to cross a picket line, least of all for rosacea meds, I’ve been without, hence the pain.

And I thought this morning, “That’s it? THAT’S the worst I’ve got?” Not bad, eh? Sure, the rosacea isn’t my doing, but it’s not too bad, and the rest of any health issues I have are entirely my own damn fault for preferring to drink French white wine and lay on the couch watching “Arrow” rather than drink water and exercise.

I’m actually in pretty decent condition and my body does what I need it to. Not everyone is so lucky.

To donate to The Wounded Warrior Project click here.

Vote

by mollykl

Because you can. And be grateful that you can.

J

by mollykl

Son J is driving me crazy today. He’s being stubborn and argumentative and driving me crazy. He has his own opinions about things, does what he thinks is right and isn’t going to listen just because I say I’M right.

If he were 30 I’d be so proud.

As it is he’s 6 and he’s driving me crazy.

And that’s what I’m most thankful for today – I have a kid who’s his own man. I wanted a kid who would stand up to authority….I just forgot that I’d be the authority he’d be standing up to. Yeah, he’s driving me crazy, but it’s worth it.

 

 

Thank you

by mollykl

Thank you needs to be a word we say more often. It’s assumed that you don’t need to be thanked for doing your job – you are paid for it after all. I disagree with that.

S and I were talking today because she’s at another store and she’s hearing “thank you” a lot. She said she’s being thanked just for doing her job. Faced up the wine bottles – “thank you”, helped someone choose a wine – “thank you”. She was actually  singled out last week for doing a great job.  She said she has been trying real hard, but regardless, it’s nice to get some positive feedback. Sometimes that positive feedback is the start of something: you get a little appreciation and you have a little more pride in your work, you work a little harder, and so on.

In my court we have an amazing mail lady. Her name is Sue and she’s always so nice and positive. Even when she’s exhausted she’s got a kind word and is going above and beyond.  About a week ago she went back to the station to check on a lost package of mine and then called me. SHE’S THE MAIL CARRIER! Did you even know that mail carriers do that anymore? I didn’t, until I met Sue. Like me, Sue has a job that I imagine people don’t understand. It probably seems like drudgery. But not to Sue, she’s found the enlightenment of a seemingly simple task, and turned into something extraordinary. She might not see it that way, but that’s what I see when I see her doing her job.

There are people you overlook everyday. You don’t notice them doing their jobs, or you might only notice when they make a mistake. You get angry when they screw up, you should also be appreciative when they don’t.

Grateful

by mollykl

Trying to raise a child that is grateful has one awesome side-effect: it’s made me realize that I could stand to be more grateful for the things that I take for granted.

While I had a good day at work today, there were parts of the day that I could have done without. Unfortunately, those were the parts that I dwelled on. (Why couldn’t I dwell on Bob’s exclamation of  “I’M THE SMART ONE!!!”) In the car I remembered that I have a damn lot to be grateful for, and that if I want son J to be positive and focus on the good, I need to as well. Which is why I soon as I saw husband J I told him about “I’M THE SMART ONE!!!”.  He didn’t get it. I, however, laughed hysterically.

Son J and I talked about what we were grateful for today. I said that I was really grateful that we still had a safe and sturdy house to live in and that a lot of people on the east coast didn’t. Son J agreed that our house is awesome and we should be happy to live here.

That’s a good start.

To donate money to the Home Depot Foundation, which works to meet the housing needs of veterans, visit homedepotfoundation.org.