Welcome to Episode 2 of my Non Fiction Round Up series – where I talk about all of the non fiction books I’ve read lately, at bulk. It’s honestly hard to talk about all of these at length, so I figured I could just create a series of posts where I could share some insights and my opinion on the books that I’ve read.
Non fiction has been a recent fixture in my reading lists, if you noticed. I’ve always tried to be someone who reads non fiction books on a regular basis because I know there are so much insights and lessons I could directly get from them and those that I could easily apply in real life. And now, it’s slowly coming true.
Most of these books are books that you need to revisit from time to time – for the topics to stick. This series is a way for me to still track these reads and know, at a glance, which ones I like and which ones I didn’t.
I listed down additional 5 books that I was able to finish as part of my ongoing 2020 reading challenge:
- ATOMIC HABITS: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear – 4 ☕
- CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Stephen R. Covey (Foreword) – 5 ☕
- WHAT THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DO BEFORE BREAKFAST: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life by Laura Vanderkam – 3 ☕
- THE FINE ART OF SMALL TALK: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills and Leave a Positive Impression! by Debra Fine – 5 ☕
- SHOW YOUR WORK!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon – 4 ☕
ATOMIC HABITS: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear – 4 ☕
I read Atomic Habits as our Book-of-the-Month pick for our company’s Book Club. Looking back now, I think this book actually jump-started my interest on productivity-related media lately. I’ve always admired self-help books that absolutely make good with their promises – because we all know the market is brimming with books that gives out vague instructions and ramblings. This book, fortunately, falls on the former. It provided more practical guides and advice than its counterparts. I liked how it gives focus on doing simple, easy things consistently to form a solid habit – to introduce small adjustments in your routines which will/can compound into big, lasting changes in your life (1% rule; compounding effect). It emphasize the long game spent to develop habits – time is of the essence: it could be your ally, or it could be your enemy. And to actually focus more on the process of getting there instead of the actual goal. This kinda deviates a bit in my personal tendency to obsess on outcomes but I do see the point. Sometimes, we get to too pre-occupied with the end state that it makes the first step overwhelming, resulting to us not even taking the first plunge. This book also touched on the hows of building a habit and how you can make it easier to build and sustain them. There are a lot of many interesting tidbits that James Clear included in this book and they are presented in a way that are easy to digest and the concepts more doable. Ali Abdaal’s Book Club video about this book did a great job of summarizing all the important concepts in this book, which I think you should definitely check out as well. Overall, this is definitely a highly recommended read.
CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Stephen R. Covey (Foreword) – 5 ☕
One of the more prominent booktubers that I listen to and trust their opinion on non fiction books is Cindy from readwithcindy. I always enjoy it when she mentions nonfiction books in her monthly wrap-up and if she likes it, it immediately goes to my TBR list. In her self-help and career book recommendations video, she lists Crucial Conversations as one book that she would always recommend to any person. And after reading it myself, I have to agree. This is one of the most insightful self-help books I’ve ever listened to! What I appreciate the most is that this is not some run-of-the-mill self-help book that gives vague advice on stuff. It actually does give specific guidance and makes use of practical scenarios to apply the concepts they are mentioning. I like how it is to easy to understand and is very straight to the point. The ideas are well-organized and I appreciate that they kept coming back to the fundamentals mentioned in the book all throughout. I agree that this is one of the most useful books any professional must read. I can think of a number of ways and specific scenarios to which this book could help me, not just in my professional life but also in my personal life as well. I started practicing some of it in work and the results are pretty amazing. It teaches us to deal with difficult scenarios – not only on our side of the fence but on the other’s person’s perspective, too. For one thing – I think this book also emphasizes empathy in your daily dealings. Meaning: you should always try to see how the other party sees it – break it down, try to understand – and then slowly work from there. Put the other person in a position where he/she would not feel threatened, a neutral zone where you both could work from the ground up, for a more productive and effective conversation.
I might need to buy a printed copy so that I could tab and bookmark the hell out of it. This is a book that needs to be savored and read over and over again. I learned so much from this book. It’s now the second most important self-help book I’ve ever read, right after How to Win Friends and Influence People. If that’s not saying anything, I don’t know what is.
WHAT THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DO BEFORE BREAKFAST: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life by Laura Vanderkam – 3 ☕
I discovered What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast when I was mindlessly scrolling through Scribd for a quick audiobook to listen to in the mornings. This book is quite short – capping off at a little more than 1 hour. This was pretty forgettable, honestly speaking. But it presented some interesting anecdotes of these famous people’s pre-breakfast/early morning routines. Well, routines are routines. There’s this argument that you can make more productive things before 10am (?) than the rest of the day. But I think it depends on the person. It’s not the most innovative book in terms of suggestions to make your mornings more productive, at least not something I haven’t read before. But if you are looking for a quick listen/read to pass the time, during a morning commute or while eating breakfast, I think this would do.
THE FINE ART OF SMALL TALK: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills and Leave a Positive Impression! by Debra Fine – 5 ☕
I know I’ve been going on and on about the practicality of these books that I’m reading but it is to be expected. Except for the books that I mindlessly select, I do a lot of research into curating my non-fiction TBR books because I think, compared to reading fiction, it takes a lot more energy to finish them. Ever since I started to be more intentional about this thing, it made a lot of difference in terms of my reading experience and the value that I get from them. One such book that I took a lot of effort into finding is Debra Fine’s The Fine Art of Small Talk. It’s no secret that I struggle with simple social activities so I made it a point to look for a book that specifically targets one ongoing concern that I have, professional or personal: small talk. I actively listened to this book with a notebook on hand, aggressively taking notes and what-nots because of all the tips that Debra was mentioning in these books. The techniques and strategies were simple steps, broken down to an almost minute level, so that they were doable and ones you can easily envision in every given circumstance. It’s almost a step-by-step guide into the art of doing small talk – which is really helpful especially for people like me to whom these little things doesn’t come naturally. In the middle of it, I was writing so much in my notebook that I decided to just buy the corresponding e-book so I could just highlight instead of practically transcribing the whole book in my notebook (yeah, I’m a fussy note-taker like that). This is like those exclusive masterclass that you take – they’re absolutely targeted and they’re guaranteed to get results. From giving you a list of off-putting gestures that you should never use to giving you specific examples on how to signal your interest in a conversation – The Art of Small Talk presents a comprehensive guide in basically transforming yourself to present a more confident and natural conversationalist front. In the women’s forum that I am regularly attending, this book was recommended in our Power Networking session. That is one testament as to the effectivity as well as the reliability of the methods in this book. And I am glad I had a head start.
SHOW YOUR WORK!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon – 4 ☕
I discovered Show Your Work! when I was watching one of Ali Abdaal’s videos (I know, I’m a fan). He listed this book as one of the 3 books that changed his life and basically the book that inspired him to get over the fear of self-promotion and finally start his own YouTube channel. I also have this fear and listening to him talk about this absolutely made me want to pick it up. Show Your Work! is a necessary reading for all creatives out there who wanted to share their work – or those who feel like what they’re offering is not much and are having doubts. It encourages you to put yourself out there and share your creativity and your thoughts to the world – consistently and authentically. It also has some practical tips on dealing with feedback (learning to take a punch), fool-proof guides in making content (tell good stories and teach what you know), reminders on giving credit where credit is due, the benefits of sharing your process not just your final product, and other simple but critical things to know and to keep in mind if you plan to be an influencer or content-creator or just someone who shares their work to the world. I do this blogging thing because I just want to share my passions and, I guess, the things that make me happy – and reading this book validates the whole experience. If you stick to it long enough, one day, someone somewhere will appreciate it and will find it useful or will just be cheered up because of the content you create. But first, you need to start – however small. “In order to be found, you have to be findable.“
That’s it for this batch of non-fiction books. I’m trying to do this by 5s so I hope I could have an additional 5 again in the coming weeks. I find that I really enjoyed doing this and making these posts makes me reflect again on the things that I read. So, hopefully, see you again in the next episode of my Non Fiction Round Up! 🤍