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Category: Books

My Changing Reading Habits and the Books I Read in 2016

I read quite a lot of books in 2016–52 to be exact and I tracked them all on Goodreads. Here are some interesting tidbits I discovered when I looked at all the books I read.

Audio has become the dominant reading format for me. The longest books I read are more than 600 pages. And I read an average of 1 book per week. Read on for more….

In this article, I also share some tips on how I got to read a lot of books in a year.

I’m Reading ONLY 12 Books This Year. Here’s Why

In 2012, I discovered Goodreads.com, which is like the social network for readers. I just joined and I almost forgot about its existence after that. But in 2014, I began to be more intentional in keeping track of the books I read. So I decided to list the books I read on Goodreads.com. And in 2014, I joined my first ever Reading Challenge.

I read 40 books in 2014, 60 books in 2015, and 52 books in 2016.

Truth is, it wasn’t really difficult for me to read that much, because I have a lot of titles on my Kindle. Whenever I got some down time–if I need to wait in line, or wait for someone who was running late for an appointment, or even when I am commuting in a bus, train, or taxi–I would take my phone out and read on my Kindle. But I would also bring some printed books with me from time to time.

This post isn’t about how to read a lot of books in a year. I will write a separate blog post for that. But for 2017, I am deciding to slow down in reading books and be more intentional, read more slowly, and deliberately implement the lessons I learn from these books. I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction books in the past 3 years or so and I want to make the most out of these books.

Notes on Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

scrumScrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
by Jeff Sutherland & JJ Sutherland
ISBN: 038534645X
READ: Jan 4, 2016

RATING: 9/10

This is one of the best books I’ve read on Productivity. Together with Personal Kanban, the Scrum methodology is helping reshape the way I do my work and manage my projects.

I’m publishing my notes on this book, and hopefully sometime in the near future, I will be able to describe in full what my productivity system looks like now.

* * * * *

Chapter 1: The Way the World Works is Broken

The Takeaway

Planning is Useful. Blindly following plans is stupid. It’s just so tempting to draw up endless charts. All the work needed to be done on a massive project laid out for everyone to see–but when detailed plans meet reality, they fall apart. Build into your working method the assumption of change, discovery, and new ideas.

Inspect and Adapt. Every little while, stop doing what you’re doing, review what you’ve done, and see if it’s still what you should be doing and if you can do it better.

Change or Die. Clinging o the old way of doing things, of command and control and rigid predictability, will bring only failure. In the meantime, the competition that is willing to change will leave you in the dust.

Fail Fast so you Can Fix Early. Corporate culture often puts more weight on forms, procedures, and meetings than on visible value creation that can be inspected at short intervals by users. Work that does not produce real value is madness. Working product in short cycles allows early user feedback and you can immediately eliminate what is obviously wasteful effort.

The Concept of “Flow” and How It Leads to Peak Performance

One of the books I read in 2015 is a book entitled ” The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance” by Steven Kotler.

book_front_bigThe book looked at the death-defying achievements of Extreme Sports athletes: mountain climbers, base jumpers, wingsuit divers, skateboarders, surfers, and other daredevils. At times, reading it felt like the equivalent of drinking two cans of Red Bull–adrenaline pumping, awe inducing, and it sometimes feel too incredible to be true.

But the book is not about extreme sports and adventure. It’s really about the concept of “Flow” and how it can be hacked to help us improve our performance and achieve our goals more effectively and more efficiently.

I’ve written elsewhere (like in my book Start Up: Find your place. Engage the world. Sustain your life.) that I am a big fan of the 10,000 hours observation popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers book.

It turns out that there is a way to shortcut those 10,000 hours. And the secret to it is the concept of FLOW, which was studied and popularized by a psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (it looks difficult, but it’s pronounced “chicksent-me-high”) who studied creativity and what motivates and deeply satisfies people.

He defined the “FLOW state” as “being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Notes on Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life by Tonianne DeMaria Barry & Jim Benson

Benson_book

ISBN: 1453802266
READ: 15 Jan 2015, REREAD: 28 Dec 2015
RATING: 9/10

I’m on a quest to improve the way I understand and do my work. I’ve read several books on Productivity: Getting Things Done by David Allen, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and the Pomodoro Technique to name a few.

This book, Personal Kanban, is the one I have adopted in 2015 as my main productivity system. I first read it back in January 2015, and with 2016 just around the corner, I decided to reread it and tweak/improve my productivity system.

Here are my notes from the book:

Chapter 1: The Basics of Personal Kanban

Tools should give you control and not take anything.

Personal Kanban is a visual representation of work that makes the conceptual tangible. It shows what needs to be done, what is complete, what is being delayed, and what is going on at this precise moment. (loc 217 of 2222)
We were visualizing work, limiting our work-in-progress, pushing decision-making to the last responsible moment, and continuously striving to improve. We learned that understanding our work is the key to controlling it.
Premature prioritization was ultimately a waste of my time. Prioritization for personal work is highly contextual.
Personal Kanban has to be endlessly flexible. It needs to be a system that abhors rules. It’s an enigma. A process that hates process.

Key Concepts: Throughput and Work-in-Progress

On Stories

After basic sustenance, relationships, and shelter, stories are what people want most. – Sean Platt, Writer Dad

Notes on Abundance by Peter Diamandis – Chapter 1

Abundance for all is within our grasp. This bold, contrarian view, backed up by exhaustive research, introduces our near-term future, where exponentially growing technologies and three other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions. An antidote to pessimism by tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist, Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler.

Here are my notes and my thoughts on Chapter 1 of this book.

A Note-Taking System for Books I Read

I recently blogged about taking notes from the books I read. I’ve been experimenting on a note-taking system lately. Back when I was still reading lots and lots of print books, my habit was to use a 3X5 index card as a bookmark and take notes from there. Sometimes I would also write on the margins of the book, underline the statements that strike me and put big exclamation marks on the pages that get to me.

But these days, I’m reading ebooks most of the time. I have a Kindle Fire 8.9 and I have the Kindle app installed on my laptop, my desktop, and in my Android phone.

I’m trying a new way of taking notes–I want to gather the highlights, comments, insights, and questions that occur to me while reading a particular work… and put them here in the blog. For PinoyYuppie.com, I will post notes on books related to business, career, and anything about a young professional’s life. If you want to check out my notes on any other book I read, you may need to check out my personal blog, MightyRasing.com.

takingnotes
image credit: danielfoster via Flickr

For each book notes blog post here, you should expect the following types of notes:

Why You Should Take Notes from Every Book You Read

Learning is never over, especially after College. You need to train for your job. If you want to advance in your career, you also need new skills and new set of knowledge to pound into your brain.

They say that experience is the best teacher. Most of the time, they assume that it should be your OWN experience. But that’s not true. A lifetime isn’t enough to experience every lesson there is to learn.

To make the most of one lifetime, you better talk to people, ask about their experiences and the lessons they learned. While face-to-face conversion is great, there is another way, which can sometimes be more efficient and just as effective: Reading books.

stackofbooks

Just an aside, here’s my previous post on how I choose books; and another one on WHY I read books in the first place.

A lot of us read books for different reasons–to be entertained, to learn new things, to kill boredom. But throughout history, lives changed, wars erupted, and the world was never the same, thanks to books and the ideas behind them.

If you are into reading books, you should take your book-reading experience to the next level. TAKE NOTES! Here’s why.

How I Choose Books to Read

I’m a big reader, having read 40 books in 2014 as I revealed in a previous post. But how do I choose books to read, you may wonder.

I don’t really have a secret, but I do have several sources of great books to include in my reading list. Here’s how I choose the books that goes into my reading list.

stackofbooks
img credit: CCAC North Library

 

Books exploring skills I want to acquire and topics (or genre for fiction) I’m interested in.

If I want to develop specific skills such as Mind mapping, Outlining, some people skills, my default mode of learning is to grab a book, read, read, read, and then look for actionable items.

Currently, my taste in fiction is in the area of post-apocalyptic works and Young Adult fiction. That’s why I enjoyed the Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins; Steelheart and Firefight, both from the Reckoners Series of Brandon Sanderson, and of course, I also read the first Percy Jackson series last year.

Since reading the Lord of the Rings Trilogy back in College, (thanks in no small part to my friend Butch!), I am pretty sure that I’ll be reading Fantasy and Science Fiction for the rest of my life.