Posts Tagged ‘Book’

An alarming statistic on how much time emails and web browsing take out of our work

July 28, 2019

A 2012 McKinsey study found that the average knowledge worker now spends more than 60% of the workweek engaged in electronic communication and Internet searching, with close to 30% of a worker’s time dedicated to reading and answering e-mail alone.

This state of fragmented attention cannot accommodate deep work, which requires long periods of uninterrupted thinking.

— The above comes from an awesome book that I am reading, titled Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.

Here are the books I am reading this summer

July 16, 2019

This summer I have been fortunate to have stumbled across some wonderful books. Here’s what I am reading:

  1. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. I enjoy reading books that challenge my beliefs, especially beliefs that I never consciously formed and were unconsciously inherited from my culture, family, and friends. This book does just that – it challenges a long-held belief. The book says, “Follow your passion” is bad advice. Wow! The whole book explains why. The author’s premise is that you master something, almost anything at all, and then you use that mastery to move you into a place where you can control your work. To have rare, valuable work you must have rare, valuable skills.
  2. Why We Sleep by Mathew Walker. Fascinating insights into sleep. See my last post. Every human needs to read this book.
  3. Cool Tools by Kevin Kelly. A large book containing interesting info about lots and lots of things. This is the kind of book that you open to any arbitrary page and learn something new.
  4. Infinite Powers by Steven Strogatz. Here’s a neat story at the beginning of the book: Novelist Herman Wouk was doing research for a big novel he hoped to write about World War II, and he went to Caltech to interview physicists who had worked on the bomb, one of whom was Richard Feynman. After the interview, as they were parting, Feynman asked Wouk if he knew calculus. No, Wouk admitted, he didn’t. “You had better learn it,” said Feynman. “It’s the language God talks.”

What books are you reading this summer?

3 things that I will never recommend

February 29, 2016
  1. I will never recommend a particular diet (paleo, macrobiotic, raw foods, fruitarian, juicing, etc.)
  2. I will never recommend a particular exercise program (weightlifting, running, yoga, etc.)
  3. I will never recommend a particular book.

Why?

Because my views on these things are fluid, constantly changing. Today I am convinced that one diet/exercise program/book is “the ultimate truth” and the next day I realize it’s not. I have no idea what truth is. But I have a pretty good idea what kindness is, so instead of giving my version of truth to people, I will give them my kindness.

Pure knowledge – no agenda

November 17, 2013

I am reading a book. It has no extraneous words. There are no jokes in it. No lively dialogue. And definitely no agenda or marketing. The book’s purpose is simply to convey a body of knowledge. It is challenging to read. I have to think deeply about every sentence. I am crawling through it at a snail’s pace. But I have come to realize that there is a great beauty in this book and this gradual learning process. And it is refreshing to get away from the incessant marketing machine of our society. Everyone has an agenda. Everyone is selling their product, their point of view. Enough! It is time to bask in pure knowledge.

Four phenomenal books

June 26, 2010

There are four books that I have read which I have found to be phenomenal. Until recently I have not been able to put my finger on why I found them so phenomenal. Now I know why: they start with simple concepts and gradually build on top of them. Each step adds a tiny bit of knowledge on top of the preceding steps. Each step logically follows from the preceding steps. Here are the four books:

  1. An Introduction to Mathematics by Alfred North Whitehead.
  2. Economics by Boyes/Melvin.
  3. Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.
  4. Elements by Euclid.

Do you know of other books which follow this approach of starting with basic concepts and gradually, incrementally building up a vast body of knowledge?

Would Albert Einstein read New York Times bestsellers?

December 4, 2009

I am reading this book:

“Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely

It is a very interesting read. It describes some of the author’s research findings in the (new) field of behavioral economics. And it is a New York Times bestseller.

For a book to be a bestseller it must appeal to a large number of people, i.e., it must appeal to the masses. What are the implications of that? Clearly the average person doesn’t have an in-depth understanding of every field. So a bestselling author must present his material in a way that requires little or no understanding of the field. Research results are oftentimes rather dry. “Dry” doesn’t lend itself well to “bestselling.” So the author must spice things up-emotionalize the material, appeal to the readers emotions. What are the implications of that?

Several years ago, as I was beginning to learn about the field of complex systems, I read a pop-sci book on the topic. The book was very exciting and-to my thinking-it provided profound insights into the field of complex systems. I attended a class at the New England Complex Systems Institute. The instructor was a world-renowned scientist. Being so excited about this book, I approached the instructor to get his opinion about it and, in particular, a certain section of the book. Much to my surprise the instructor had never read the book. I was shocked, “How could he have not read this wonderful book, especially when it’s in his field of expertise?” I asked him to read a certain section because I wanted his feedback. He was gracious enough to do it on the spot. I don’t recall his comments. I only recall feeling that his comments were very controlled, he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. He was clearly not impressed by the book.

I wonder if it may actually be damaging to read bestsellers? Do they lead the reader into ideas and beliefs that are simply wrong?

If Albert Einstein were alive today, would he read New York Times bestsellers?

Seek clarity of thought? Here’s how

September 8, 2009

Are you struggling with a problem, but are unable to obtain clarity on a solution? Here’s an approach to get clarity that has worked for me: read a book with great clarity; that is, a book that expresses fundamental ideas in a simple, clear way.

I am on my fifth read of An Introduction to Mathematics by Alfred Whitehead. Every time I feel my thoughts getting muddied I pull out this book and read it. This book takes the complex subject of mathematics and describes its fundamental ideas with brilliant clarity. Reading this book brings clarity to my mind, in all of my thoughts.

Do you have a book that you enjoy reading because of its clarity of thought?

Avoid commas in sentences to accelerate information absorption

August 16, 2008

I am in a hurry.

I want to learn quickly.  You too?

Anything that slows me down is to be avoided.

Commas are syntax to get the reader to pause.  Commas slow you down.  Commas are evil.

I wonder if anyone has written a book that doesn’t use any commas?

This message doesn’t use commas.  I’ll bet you were able to read it really fast.