20 noodles from 20 books

12 months ago I summarised 30 insights from the 30 books I’d read in 2017 (here and here).

This year I have a better word than insights: noodles.

I also have 40 books under my belt, so strap yourselves in for a two-part post.

With a commitment to more fiction and variety (thanks mum) I present the first half of said list, accompanied by an ‘in a gif’ summary for those who enjoy a visual:

1. Deep Work – Cal Newport 

Will change the way you think about structuring work days. Deep Work steps through the inefficient truths of most peoples relationship to work, what it means to do real, deep, uninterrupted work and why it matters.

Noodle: Put away your phone and go deep.

It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘shallow work’ of responding to emails and notifications and trick ourselves into thinking we’re being productive. The good stuff lies on the other side of uninterrupted blocks of deep work, ala A Beautiful Mind

In a gif:

2. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye – David Lagercrantz

Got a dose of fiction early in the year with the latest continuation of the Millenium trilogy. While no longer written by Stieg Larsson, I still found it to be an engaging and sometimes thrilling read.

Noodle: Lisbeth Salander is still a badass that makes me want to get really good at coding and hacking.

In a gif:

3. Tribe of Mentors – Tim Ferriss

The latest Tim Ferriss book where he asked the same 11 questions to over 100 of the world’s elite (in their respective fields). It’s repetitive, huge and best consumed in small chunks.

Noodle: It’s never been easier to learn from the best, even if you can’t speak to them directly. I wrote this separate post about this book earlier in the year.

In a gif:

4. Radical Self Acceptance – Tara Brach

An audiobook that goes deep into meditation and our relationship with ourselves.

Noodle: I mean, this quote says it best:

“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns… each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.” 

In a gif:

5. The War of Art – Steven Pressfield 

A reread as I began to re-wrestle with how to best work creatively and dance with the constant voice of doubt, which Pressfield calls, ‘the resistance’.

Noodle: Creative work is a constant dance with fear.

“The more scared we are of the work… the more we have to do it.” 

In a gif:

6. Footprints on the Moon – Seth Godin

No link because, well, this was a gift from Seth and isn’t available for sale publically.

Noodle: Changemakers understand these three things:
a) creative people change the world,

b) you can’t change everyone, hence the importance of the question ‘who’s it for?’ and;

c) you must add intention to everything, therefore ask ‘what’s it for?’

In a gif:

7. How to Walk – Thic Nhat Hanh 

A tiny book that focusses on walking mindfully.

Fun fact: Ironically I read this around the time I had hip surgery and was forced to teach myself to walk again.

Noodle: Most of the time we’re walking we are distracted in thought and forget to think about the act itself. What would it look like to bring attention to each step we take?

“Forgetfulness is the opposite of mindfulness.” 

In a gif:

8. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A children’s book that I’m sure I read as a kid but had almost no recollection of (much to the shock of my girlfriend).

She gave me a classic case of “I’m not angry, just disappointed” so I had no choice but to read it. Two hours later on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I turned back to the front and read it again.

Noodle: Another I was compelled to write an entire post about earlier in the year.

In a gif:

9. Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss

A reread to remind myself how I might be more effective and efficient with my time.

Noodle: I was reminded of this gem and its relevance to Deep Work:

“Are you inventing work to avoid the important?” which I also translate to: “Where are you hiding?”

In a gif:

10. Little Book of Hygge – Meik Wiking

A book that single-handedly opened my eyes to the simple joy of having candles.

I still have no idea how to pronounce or explain the Danish phrase, Hygge. It’s best thought of as a feeling, according to this book. The kind of feeling that comes from sipping a hot coffee on a freezing winters day when you’re inside by the fire.

Noodle: The Danish know what’s up. Small things like nice lighting, warmth, candles and living minimally are some of the most important contributing factors to our happiness.

In a gif:

11. It Happens to Strong People Too – Kaci Kai

I’m lucky enough to call Kaci a friend and her short collection of poems is everything.

Take it from someone who previously didn’t “get” poetry all that well, no matter who you are there is at least one poem among this collection that will get you right between the eyes.

Noodle: The title says it all. Everyone has their thing. Their battle, their struggle, that voice in their head. The more we realise and share this, the more connected we all become.

In a gif:

12. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach

A friend’s answer to the question “do you know any more books like The Little Prince?”

Noodle: The main character (yes, it’s a seagull) realises that his tenacity and desire to learn make him “pretty well a one-in-a-million bird.”

I loved this as a reminder to always be curious and seek to learn more.

In a gif: 

13. The Coaching Habit – Michael Bungay Stanier

A reread of a book I read last year about asking great questions.

Noodle: What’s on your mind?” coupled with “And what else?” are questions we don’t ask each other enough.

In a gif:

14. The Prosperous Coach – Steve Chandler and Rich Livin

Terrible title but a super insightful book. It will help you think about coaching, relationships and business in a way you might not have before.

Noodle: There is no right way to run a business, be a leader or a coach… Only your way.

In a gif:

15. The Art of Possibility – Rosamund and Benjamin Zander

Another reread, this time because last year I said some parts were lost on me. Not this time, though. It’s firmly become one of my favourite books on creativity and if you haven’t already, just read this book.

Noodle: When learning, the way we respond to ‘mistakes’ or ‘failures’ is everything. The Zanders introduce this elegant idea for responding to our mistakes with the simple phrase: “how fascinating.

In a gif:

16. Nine Stories – JD Salinger

Fiction? Check. Great author? Check. How could this series of short stories not be good? Sadly, I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed. Maybe it was me and my state of mind at the time, but I struggled to keep up, relate to or connect with any of the nine stories.

Noodle: Not all books are for everyone.

In a gif:

17. Designing Your Life – Bill Burnett

A very actionable and useful book based on a popular class of the same name at Stanford University.

Noodle: What would it look like to apply design thinking to your life? To get proactive, rather than reactive?

In a gif:

18. Reach Out – Molly Beck 

An easy, actionable read on how to generously start conversations with those that inspire you. Generously being the operative word.

Noodle: It mean, it’s obvious, but if we took time to generously reach out to 1 new person every day for a year, we’d have up to 365 connections we wouldn’t have otherwise had.

In a gif:

19. Purple Cow – Seth Godin

I know, I know, yet another Seth book, and yet another reread. Alas, I planned to read intentionally this year and Purple Cow came just as I was reconsidering my website.

Noodle: Stand out and make your business, product or service something people remark at, just like a purple cow… Or in the case of the gif, a cow with luscious locks.

In a gif:

20. Story Driven – Bernadette Jiwa

A brilliant little book on how to use stories as a strategy for communicating your business.

Noodle: What if paused to consider the stories that got us to where we are? Could they help us better connect with current and future clients?

In a gif: 

Next week I’ll tackle 21-40, in the meantime Happy Holidays you amazing humans.

Thanks for reading and being you. It means a lot to me.

Note: If you’re enjoying A bird’s eye view and all of its noodle-y goodness tell a friend they can subscribe here too. 

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