The big achievement this year was finally finishing our project to read Ulysses) (December 28) and The Odyssey (December 30). Dorinna and I are both looking forward to reading something different in 2015. I’m planning to write a review of Ulysses sometime in the next few weeks.
As with previous years, I mixed in a number of e-books. What I call an e-book is a shorter work, not just a regular book in electronic format. (I read most of my non-art books on a Kindle anyway).
Without further ado, here’s my pick of the year and the full list…
Book of the Year
My favorite book of the year was 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
I’ve been a member of Goodreads for a few years now, but 10% Happier is the first book I found via that site. My friend Matt Beckwith wrote a review of the book, giving it five stars. I was interested enough to download a free sample to my Kindle. I read that during the first few days of our vacation, and liked it enough to buy it. I finished the book before the end of our trip.
10% Happier is an autobiographical account by Dan Harris, a news anchor for ABC. Dan covered the Iraqi war, and afterwards picked up a cocaine habit to maintain the adrenaline high. Kicking that, he tettered on the edge until having an on-the-air breakdown. He tells this story in an humorous, interesting, self-deprecating way. As he starts to cover religion for ABC News, he is exposed to many different viewpoints, from hippie gurus to fundamentalist christians. One of my favorite quotes of the book was comparing Deepak Chopra and Eckard Tolle. Paraphrasing, “I’m confident that Deepak Chopra is sane, but I’m not sure he’s sincere. I’m confident that Eckard Tolle is sincere, but I’m not sure if he’s sane.”
His explorations eventually lead him to mindfulness mediation. And he tackles it in a straightforward manner. None of the hippy, candles and incense, flowery stuff here. In fact, he despises all the woo-woo mumbo jumbo, a viewpoint I can certainly appreciate! He concentrates on the scientific research as well as on the impact it has on his own emotional state. And there is a significant amount of scientific research about meditation. I read an article in the New York Times this fall that there is medical evidence that daily meditation physically remaps connections in your brain. Heady stuff (pun intended). The book concludes with some ideas on how to start a mediation practice.
By itself it was intersting read. But the true test of any book in this genre is whether or not the reader changes because of it. For me, the answer was “Yes”. I started meditating after vacation. Since the book explains that consistency is more important than length, I started with just 5 minutes a day. I’ve since worked up to 8 minutes a day, with plans to keep increasing this over time. I meditate 6-7 times a week. Non-practioners think that meditation is relaxing. In truth, it’s a constant struggle, and not relaxing at all. It does, however, make me more aware of my mental state, and helps me to step back from emotional situations and treat them with greater objectivity. I definitely feel different on days when I skip my practice.
Even if you decide that meditation isn’t for you, it’s an entertaining, thought-provoking book.
The Complete List
- Becoming Van Gogh
- Electrical Power System Basics for the Nonelectric Professional
- The Royal Castle of Neuschwanstein
- Baseball’s Greatest
- Empowering Electric and Gas Utilities with GIS
- Vision & Voice
- Steve Jobs
- Made of Steel
- Zen to Done
- Boneshaker 43-400
- 10% Happier
- Jackson Pollock: At the Limit of Painting
- Killing Dragons
- Get Your Kids Hiking: How to Start Them Young and Keep it Fun!
- Portraits of Earth
- Craft and Vision II
- Evernote Essentials
- Sharp Shooter
- The Visual Storyteller
- Omnifocus 2.0 for Mac User Manual
- OmniOutliner 4 for Mac User Manual
- Lightroom 5 Unmasked
- Working in OmniOutliner 4 for Mac
- The Visual Toolbox
- Pushing Light
- OmniGraffle for Mac User Manual
- Yosemite: The Siracusa Review
- Essential Development for Lightroom 5
- 101 Things to Do With a Mosquito
- Tales from Earthsea
- Stalin’s Hammer: Rome
- Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Abyss
- The Odyssey