Travel itself is enlightening, but we learn just as much by the books we read. Since our last book report in 2012, we’ve continued reading opportunistically…reading whatever we find left by other travelers. While this has allowed us to read a variety of books, this year we purchased several titles as well. Here are our favorite books of late and what we learned.
While wandering the aisles in a Kolkota, India bookstore this year I had a revelation: I should be using this period of my life to study and practice new skills. Then and there I committed to reading several “self-help” books that I can’t recommend highly enough.
–How to Win Friends and Influence People (Carnegie). I saw this title on my mother’s bookshelf throughout my childhood. I always thought it was some corny sales book that focused on deception and smooth-talking. Then the monk at our 10-silent meditation retreat told us it was “Buddhism for real life” and how shocked he was that it contained so many valuable lessons. I think anyone who can get over the title will be impressed by the lessons.
–How to Talk to Anyone (Lowndes). The 92 tips in this book help people break into conversations, revive failing conversations, and get people that you converse with to leave with a positive impression. This book is much like Carnegie’s above, but more practical. Having been a wallflower at too many events, the first few lessons I turned to interested me so much I bought the book. It was an investment that will pay dividends throughout life.
–Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Kiyosaki). The seminal personal finance book I’ve read many parts, but never the whole book. I loved the aggressive “if I can do it you can too” tone of the book along with the practical lessons. He put to paper many of the lessons I’ve learned from multi-millionaire mentors I’ve had in my career that taught me to focus on investment cashflow over ordinary income.
While these are just three of the 28 books I’ve read in the last 12 months, they stood out because the lessons will stand the test of time. While they weren’t always the most entertaining or enthralling books, when I felt my mind drifting I brought myself back to my goals of personal and professional growth. Doing this made me focus on the lessons, no matter how much I struggled at times to get through them when more entertaining activities were around. I recommend these titles for everyone, no matter how financially literate or great a people person you consider yourself.
While my husband is busy with his self help books, I have a different perspective on this time in our lives. It may be the last time we are unencumbered with obligations to a career, graduate school program or family. Therefore, this could be the last time I am able to read anything I choose rather than having to read up on the latest and greatest information to further my career or make sure my baby is getting all the nurturing it needs. So, I have been reading books that I am interested in and enjoy.
I read several books on Buddhism this year as I developed quite a curiosity about this zen religion from our 10 day silent meditation. As I don’t know when else I will have so much time to dedicate to delving into the depths of a new spiritual path I have really enjoyed reading about Buddhism. The Dalai Lama’s book on The Art of Happiness, The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World and How to Practice were very enlightening especially with the time to put some of the ideas into practice.
This past year I also read stories that fascinated me, two of which really stand out; Into Thin Air and Into the Wild both by Jon Krakauer. They are both tales of extreme adventure, one in pursuit of the world’s highest peak and the other about surviving in Alaska’s back country. While they both have a tragic end, they are interesting insights into the human condition and serve as inspiration for further exploration. Both are well written and a breeze to read as they are real page turners.
Whether you read for entertainment or to better yourself please share your favorite reads from the past year in the comments. We would love to hear your recommendations.