Winter Break Reads

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You would think reading would be the last thing on my mind especially during winter break, but since my eye twitch is gone, I figured why not do what I love to do. So, I looked through my Books to Read List (Yes, I do have an ongoing list of must read books, though a much shorter list since my iPhone ate a couple of the lists. Btw I totally recommend GoodReads to keep track of all your book titles.) and grabbed a few from the campus library.

Here’s what I read over the winter break and why I think you should read them, too:

On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta
Jen Lin-Liu

Looking to answer the question of the noodle’s identity, as much as her own, Jen Lin-Liu takes us along her journey through multiple countries and cultures to uncover the history of the noodle’s origins. I love how this book is educational yet entertaining and thought-provoking without being dogmatic. It’s like being a traveling companion to your intellectual yet still cool, down-to-earth, and in-touch-with-the-real-world friend. In addition to giving a history lesson on the noodle, Lin-Liu includes observations about how the different countries she travels through address gender, family, and community. In the end, Lin-Liu finds that there is no clear-cut answer to the past but only to enjoy the present.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Steven Pressfield

A call to arms to those who are brave enough to acknowledge their purpose and are ready to pursue it. This is an absolute must read that addresses both the spiritual and material components of working in your purpose. Most importantly, it calls out that pesky foe known as resistance (you may know it in a form called procrastination) and exposes why it can be useful and how it can be overcome.

This book made me revisit 99u‘s Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, a more detailed day-to-day practical guide for carrying out your purpose.

Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
Claudia Hammond

One of my best friend’s favorite question is “Where does the time go?” I always laugh. When I’m in school I definitely know where the time goes. It’s simple – reading articles, writing summaries, working on my research, tutoring. But, her question made me think about how the mind works and interprets time. Luckily, BrainPickings.org’s book list included this book that explains just that. Hammond reviews research on time and explains why time often seems fast or slow and how we can manipulate our time perception. Below are a few concepts that were particularly illuminating and that I plan on incorporating into my mode of time perception:

  • Impact Bias – overestimating how good/bad a future event will be because we focus on the initial impact and forget that we will adjust (and be generally as happy/sad as we currently are; basically after the initial impact we will stabilize)
  • Holiday Paradox – time goes by faster when we are on vacation, but when we reflect on it, it feels like it happened over a longer duration of time than it actually did. This occurs for two reasons: 1.) because of the deviations from our daily routine, our normal methods of judging time are displaced, and 2.) the numerous new and different experiences heighten our attention and leave an abundance of new memories.
  • Planning Fallacy – “the tendency to believe that a job will take less time than it eventually does;” This is due in part to the false belief that we’ll have more time in the future.

Interested in learning your approach to time and how it relates to your behavior? Take the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory.
(If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this is the person who conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment.)

Byways of Blessedness and Out from the Heart
James Allen

One of the best purchases I’ve ever made was at a Bookstar’s going out of business sale in Nashville. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was getting ready to exit the store when my boss called with an ‘emergency,’ so I spent the next 20 minutes on the phone with Delta airlines trying to resolve a flight reservation while walking mindlessly up and down the book aisles. I happened to glance down and saw Mind Is the Master: The Complete James Allen Treasury. I had to have it! You’ve probably heard of him from As A Man Thinketh, which I highly recommend, and his other books are equally motivating and inspirational. Similar to As A Man Thinketh, both Byways of Blessedness and Out from the Heart focus on harnessing your personal power. Byways of Blessedness concentrates on the usefulness of introspection, strengthening resolve, having right perspective, and fostering better relationships, while Out from the Heart hones in on the relationship between the inward conditions of the heart and the outward manifestations.

Btw, the links for the James Allen books are to free online copies. Now, you have NO excuse not to read these amazing works!

Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging
Eleana J. Kim

I’m not sure what I originally thought this book was about (and the difficult to read introduction didn’t help), but Adopted Territory is a fantastic behind the scenes exposition of the community and culture of Korean-American adoptees. It raises such great questions about community, national belonging, identity and the role politics play (hence the title). Kim presents a nuanced history of Korean transnational adoption locating it within the socio-political context of Korea and the U.S. as nation-states while exploring the impact it has on, not only adoptee identity but also, national identity. Of course, I find this subject very interesting personally, but it’s also important to understand as U.S. citizens due to transnational adoption’s impact on how we view family, citizenship, and race, its relationship to our belief in the value of consumption, and the role it plays in recreating inequality both locally and abroad.

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