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First Audiobook of the Year

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When I was in college, I could always justify spending money on books. Perhaps it was the expensive textbooks that numbed me to the cost. In any case, I decided that books were educational and I should never feel guilty about buying them or having more. The expense was justified for reasons of education, but also for reasons of comparison. The money I spent on books gave me a much better feeling than when I spent money on fast food or tchotchkes. The irony of the situation is that now that I have more money, I am reluctant to spend it on things I can get for free. In college, had I not realized there were libraries?

That preamble explains why I "read" my first audiobook of the year! The Flavia DeLuce books that were recommended to me were available for free through my library's Overdrive app. The book, A Red Herring Without Mustard, was delightful as an audiobook. In fact, I am uncertain as to whether I would have liked a print version as well. The narrator did a great …

Permission to Quit

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I reserve the right to quit a book. Yes, I have Clarissa syndrome (in early remission). This is where I trudge through a book even though it is long and dull. Sometimes, that doesn't even have to be the reason. Sometimes, I finish reading books that were not remotely similar to how I thought they would be or how they were described to me. I am slowly being cured, and I have a goal this year to quit at least 13 books. Of course, if I find all of the books to be compelling, I won't quit them. But, with as many as I start, I think 13 would be the minimum quit number.

You may have noticed that I am keeping a sidebar list of "Abandoned Books," which will help to keep me accountable for this goal. Also helping me to let is this article, which was sent to me on Twitter. I found it amusing to read about why that blogger chose to quit the books on her list (I, too, quit Ulysses once. Why do I own it?)

This post is for all of your weary readers out there. Stop torturing yours…

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

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When it comes to work, do we really want to know what our co-workers think of us? The answer for Kim Scott in her book Radical Candor is yes. This book is full of guidance on how to function as a productive team. The bottom line in successful teams for her is to care personally and to challenge directly. If you care personally without challenging directly, this will lead to what she refers to as ruinous empathy. In other words, what good is caring about someone, if you don't ever say what needs to be said? If you neither care nor challenge, you demonstrate manipulative insincerity, and people can see through that instantly. If you challenge directly without caring, you display obnoxious aggression. Nobody wants to work for or with this person.

The challenge is to attempt radical candor, which is where you care and challenge. In this way, you produce an environment that is ideal for teamwork, growth, and accomplishment. The book goes on to explain ways that this can be achieved wi…

Schooled

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When I was a kid, the term "schooled" was used to describe a situation wherein someone was handily bested by someone else. For example, when Larry Bird would make some of his pass or shot fakes and the defender would buckle his knees and fall down, Larry would "school" this individual by easily notching two points. The inference is that they were taken to school and shown how it is done -- this applies mostly to sports analogies, but it doesn't stop there.
I finished Educated by Tara Westover over a week ago, but I couldn't bring myself to summarize it. I still don't think I can summarize it very well, but this is my attempt. This book is about Tara's childhood. She grew up in rural Idaho and didn't go to school. Even the family's attempts at home schooling were described as feeble and fleeting. She had no birth certificate. There were many unhealthy and manipulative family dynamics, both in religious and basic interpersonal terms. 
Tara wa…

Travels with Charley

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We don't take a trip; the trip takes us. John Steinbeck wrote Travels with Charley in an attempt to traverse the countryside with his black French poodle contemplating whether there is anything that makes America distinct and if things had changed since the time he started writing about America (twenty years prior). 
Mr. Steinbeck related that part of his reasoning for taking the trip was motivated by the ageing process. He sneered at the idea of taking it easy later in life just to die slowly. "My wife married a man; I saw no reason she should inherit a baby," he says. 
His trek started in Long Island and ended up taking him through almost 40 states. While he took a lot paper and even a typewriter along with him, he acknowledged not using it much and the book reads more like a book of reflections rather than a journal giving specifics about the trip.
Differences were noted and discussed between each region, with some threads of similarity throughout. He rightly noted t…

Death by Meeting

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Before Christmas I interviewed for a new job. The role for which I was interviewing had more responsibility and would require me to flex a bit more leadership muscle. At that time, I began to ask for recommendations from people who read books on leadership. I was not able to finish the first one I started because it was largely based on political examples from the 1980s. While I am sure the concepts are still relevant, the context made it difficult for me to digest.

Death By Meeting was the next one I tried. This is actually a fiction book that describes itself as a leadership "fable," which is designed to show you the ways that meetings can go wrong and how to better handle them. A lot of the book goes through best practices on structuring meetings and the purposes and values of different types and lengths of meetings.

Like dominoes falling, a series of events occurred after my interview in December that resulted in me eventually accepting the role of area supervisor, which…

A Lot of Sorrow; A Lot of Hope

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Reading is for learning -- that's what I've always said. I watch television and movies to have fun and zone out; I read books to learn something. Until recently, this has taken the form of mostly reading non-fiction as I understood it to be more educational than fiction. But, I was wrong. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a novel written in 2007 and set in Afghanistan.

This novel takes the reader through the head spinning actual historical scuffles in Afghanistan in the years prior to and slightly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Most of it was regrettably unfamiliar to me, but the putting faces and names to these events (though fiction) helped me to learn about these events in a way that I never would have without the fictional setting.

Much of the book was horrifying -- brutality, violence, oppression. Last year, one of the books I read dealt, in part, with the statistics surrounding women's rights and education (See Factfulness by Hans Rosling). While neither Factfulness no…