Which reality show was your favorite this year? – Said nobody. Ever. Why is that?
Because few choose to admit that they actually watch reality TV. And yet reality is one of the fastest growing TV categories of the Millennium.
Shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, The Bachelor, Survivor and The Apprentice (I used to watch that show…) has paved the way for this category.
The problem with reality TV, is that you (typically) learn nothing from watching it. It’s similar to watching a football game (or any other sporting event) – pure entertainment. I enjoy watching sports on TV, and I also enjoy the occasional reality show (“Million Dollar Listings – New York” is among my current favorites). The thing that I’ve noticed though, is that I gravitate towards this kind of entertainment when I’m tired, or feeling low or stressed out. So essentially, this kind of entertainment is like junk food to your mind! 😛 (I also eat junk food – occasionally!).
So, what if we instead asked: “Which book was your favorite this year?” (HA! You thought this post was going to be about REALITY TV, didn’t you? 😛 )
Ah, books. The ultimate status symbol of the modern day. If you read a lot of books, it says something about you:
- It says that you HAVE/TAKE/MAKE the time to read
- It says that you enjoy “slow-paced” entertainment
- It says that you like to expand your horizon (depending on the books, ofc)
- It says that you did in fact learn something valuable in school
- It says that you can afford to buy them
Personally, I don’t care much about what it says about a person, and I certainly don’t understand the people who find it necessary to display their full-wall book-shelve(s) as a piece of “conquest art” in their home. “Look at how clever I am – I’ve read all these books”. What that says about you, is that you’re a douchebag. Sorry.
I might be a douchebag myself, I’ll be the first to admit that 😛 – But I don’t display books as trophies on my wall. – That would be a waste of wall AND money. It’s ok to have a bookcase with a few select “conversation pieces”, but if you have to display everything you’ve ever read in your entire life – well, that’s just silly (and perhaps you might be compensating for something…? 😛 )
Why? Because books are expensive. A hard-back of a new popular book can run you as high as €50! If you’re at all sensible with your money, you’ll at least wait til it drops to half of that. Or better yet, wait till you can borrow the book at your local library. That’s free. And let’s admit it, how many times have you read the same book twice? The only books I’ve read multiple times, are the ones I read to my daughter at bedtime (Curious George, Little Princess, Peppa Pig etc. – and I know them by heart at this point…).
Today, we have multiple ways of consuming books via various content delivery services (you can even borrow books virtually via the libraries). Audiobooks are also becoming increasingly popular, and there are several Netflix-like subscription-based services for books these days. Access to books have thus become far easier and more convenient than ever before. – Provided that you don’t need to display them on your wall after you’ve read them, of course…
My early book-reading days
I used to read a lot as a kid. I wouldn’t say I was a book-worm, but I did read a lot more than my friends.
I enjoy a good book just as much as I enjoy a good movie. I used to read those kind of “youth detective” novels, like “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” and Enid Blytons “The Famous Five“.
In my teens I switched to a more “adult genre”, in the form of the James Bond-wannabe secret agent, Nick Carter (Killmaster N3) from the secret spy agency, AXE. Nick Carter was good with his weapons (which he nicknamed Hugo, Wilhelmina and Pierre) and with the ladies…Let’s just leave it at that! 😛
Whenever we’d go on vacation, I’d always lug around a backpack full of books. We’d buy them at flee markets or antiquarians (something I learned from my grandparents), or borrow them from the library (for some reason, they didn’t have Nick Carter at the library…). We did not have Kindles or iPads back then!
I don’t know how many books I’ve read in total, but I want to say that at least it’s a couple of hundred. It wasn’t big books, like Harry Potter (I never read those – saw the movies though 😛 ), so it would only take me a couple of days to read a book (remember this was full-time reading, almost! 6-8 hours per day. Those were the days…). I’d mainly read while I was on vacation though (still mainly do to this day). Somehow my “everyday life” was just too busy to focus on reading. Some people use reading as an escape – I need to escape first, before I can concentrate on reading. That’s just how I’m wired, I guess.
My current reading habits
Given that the amount of “free time” typically drops dramatically with age, I haven’t been able to continue reading at the same pace, as my younger self.
Actually, when we go on vacations now, it typically takes me a couple of days to “acclimate” before I find the inclination to pick up a book. Clearly I need to work on the stress-levels of my everyday life 😉
My girlfriend still lugs around books. These days I just lug around my Kindle and my iPad (or iPhone). I got my first Kindle back in 2014, and I really dig it. My family always know what to get me for Christmas; Amazon gift certificates. I use it to buy Kindle books. I have a rule though: I never buy books that cost more than $10. Which obviously means that I rarely get to read the LATEST books. – But eventually, most books can be purchased at that price level on Amazon Kindle.
We also have a book-streaming subscription service, which is part of my girlfriends cell-phone subscription (pretty cool), called Bookmate. Here you rarely get the latest books, but they make it on there eventually (typically takes 3-6 months or so). Many of the books are also available as Audiobooks.
This is a new thing for me that I’ve been trying to adopt, as I’ve figured out that listening to audiobooks while I do meaningless manual labor (like vacuum or mow the lawn) works well for me. I can’t just sit still and listen to a book – I either doze off or my mind start to wander 😛 So I need to be engaged in some sort of tedious activity, while I listen. It’s interesting though, because I’ve yet to find the right key for how to pick the delivery model – reading or listening? (which do you prefer, and why? – Hit me up in the comments below!).
When listening to an audiobook, the narrator is very important. Some narrators just doesn’t “fit me”, somehow. In that case I would opt for the written version – or skip to the next book on the list. I don’t have a list per say, but I always have a catalog of 10-20 books that I at some point marked as “interesting – to be read later”. I also tend to have multiple books going at the same time. I can have one or two audiobooks, and a book or two ongoing on Bookmate at the same time. Then also a couple of books going on the Kindle, and if it’s really crazy, I’ll also have a physical book laying somewhere (that I most likely didn’t purchase myself!). I suppose this says a little something about my attention span 😛 HAHA. Maybe this is my problem!?
The “Science of learning”
According to Edgar Dale’s learning pyramid, listening rather than reading is actually a superior method of learning (for most people).
According to Edgar Dale, only 10% of what we read “sticks”. Compared to listening/hearing, where 20% is supposed to stick. So really, we should be preferring the audiobook over the written book. Another solution would be to read/listen to the same book multiple times. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been inclined to do that.
If we want something to really stick in our brains, we’ve got to switch to ACTIVE learning, meaning participating in a discussion (talk) or better yet do a presentation. At that point up to 90% of the material is going to stick with us (after 2 weeks).
In all honestly, most of the books I read are not really worth creating a presentation about 😛 I mainly read fiction, biography and a little bit of what I suppose you’d categorize as “self-development”. But I’ve noticed that a lot of my peers also dabble in book reviews. I suppose they do this for two reasons:
- To increase the possibility of the knowledge actually sticking in their brain
- To get affiliate income from Amazon (You know this, let’s just be honest here!)
I never considered writing a book-review (since I got out of school), as it simply seems too much like homework to me. But I can see why wanting to make it stick could warrant such an endeavor. – I mean, now that you’ve spent your precious time reading it, why not make an attempt to try to maintain some of the (presumably) absorbed wisdom within your skull? 😛
My Top-10 recent reads
I began this post (long time ago – it’s been sitting in my drafts folder forever now, so I figured it was time to get it out there 😛 ) because I wanted to remind myself of the best books that I had read (recently) and maybe make a note or two about WHY I liked them (and which topics stuck with me), but I realized that it would somehow be my version of “look at my bookshelf – aren’t I smart?!”-moment, which would put me in the before-mentioned d-bag category, right?
Fuck it, I’ve already admitted to being a d-bag, so here goes 😛
Here’s my top-10 list of (interesting) books that I either read or listened to in 2020 (in no particular order) that I feel is worth a mention:
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (by Mark Manson) (Audio)
- Origin (by Dan Brown)
- Supertrends: 50 things you need to know about the future (by Lars Tvede) (Audio)
- Anna Faris is Unqualified (by Anna Faris)
- I can’t make this sh*t up: Life lessons (by Kevin Hart)
- Time to make the donuts (by William Rosenberg & Jessica Keener)
- Bubbles, Bullshit and Stock Exchange Party (Bobler, Bullshit & Børsfest) (by Lars Tvede) – Unfortunately currently only available in Danish (Audio)
- Both Sides (by Rune Skyum-Nielsen) (The biography of Nicklas Bendtner – the footballer)
- Pseudowork: How We Ended Up Being Busy Doing Nothing (by Anders Fogh Jensen & Dennis Nørmark) (Audio)
- I’m afraid Debbie from marketing has left for the day: How to Use Behavioural Design to Create Change in the Real World (by Morten Münster) (Audio)
As you can probably tell from the list, my interest areas span pretty wide 😛 It’s only recently that I’ve taken a liking to “biographies”. I really enjoy reading and learning about great personalities, and there’s no “red thread” or theme to the people I find interesting. Anyone that have led (or is leading) an interesting life very different from my own can peak my interest.
Because I mainly read on the Kindle I mostly read in English, but Bookmate (audiobook service) has a lot of Danish books, so a few of my favorites actually didn’t make it onto the list, because they are not available in English (I included Lars Tvedes book though, as I assume it’ll be available in English at some point. He has written many market-themed books, and I’ve read a few of them. I highly recommend reading his stuff).
It was difficult narrowing it down to 10, but in the end I think the list is a good representation of the general genres I’m into. I have not read a book from cover to cover since the end of 2020. I just now realized this. As I mentioned earlier, I need to be completely decompressed before I can focus on reading. I currently have about a handful of books “in progress”, but none of them has caught on enough for me to finish them (yet). An example of an “ongoing read” is Nelson Mandelas long Walk to Freedom. It’s interesting, but (very, very, very) long…. 😛 Not sure I will manage to finish that one! HAHA
So how do I find the stuff that I add to my reading-list? Well that’s the wonder of the Kindle and modern day book-services; they suggest new books for you to read, based on what you’ve read previously 😛
So in my pipeline I already have a handful of biographies lined up, and I’m a huge Dan Brown fan, so whenever his next Robert Langdon novel comes out, I’m going to read it 😛
So there you have it, folks! Anything from Hollywood to footballers, to Behavioural design and Investment themed books can peak my interest (long enough to actually finish them). I can’t wait to find the next great page turner! (Just have to take that vacation first…)
What are you reading or have read recently that would make it onto your top-10 list?! Hit me up in the comments below!