Because You’re Always On That Phone

In continuing to be somewhat helpful in keeping to your New Year Resolution, I would suggest reading Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport. If you read my reflection on my first semester in grad school, you’ll know that I was not the biggest fan of his writing style because it came across as elitist. This go around, there are inserts from a lot of different everyday people, which I appreciated. It was easier to connect with Newport as a reader.

Why am I suggesting this book? Unfortunately, if we spend a lot of time mindlessly scrolling through our phones, we will not get the things we want to get done. It isn’t that surprising when social media companies engineer their platforms to be as addicting as possible. I have, in fact, implemented some of Newport’s techniques. Other than messaging applications, I have taken all social media off of my phone. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Reddit. The only way I can get on these websites, per my rules, is on my personal computer. When there are times where I don’t need to be on my phone, I usually put it away (such as waiting in grocery lines) and put it on “Do Not Disturb” and get to work. The only time that I get on my phone during that time is to take photos of something or change whatever I’m listening to on Spotify. The one thing that keeps me from completely separating myself from my phone a lot of the time is mobile games. I have this thing with merging and idle games for whatever reason. I love them. I’m currently trying to choose between my favorites and only keeping those on my phone. It’s taking a bit, but I’m doing it.

If you have any tips for staying off your phone at different times, I would appreciate reading them, and I’m sure others would as well.

Actually Doing the Resolutions

“New Year, New Me” is a common sentiment that you hear every single year, and that lasts for about a week before they disappear. From the gym, from their budget. As this new year is followed by what should objectively be considered the worst year ever, instead of just focusing on goals, we should focus on habits. Why do you not go to the gym after a week? You’re of the habit of not going to the gym. And making habits is hard.

That’s where Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. This book outlines the four steps to make good habits more comfortable to obtain and bad habits harder to get. Instead of just saying what practices you should add to your life (because it’s effortless to admit that you should do something), this book lays out the foundation you need to actually do things. Want to go to the gym? Here’s how you do it. Overall, start small and don’t punish yourself too much. Even if you do not want to read this book, I recommend listening to some interviews with James Clear. Listening to those are what actually got me into wanting to read the book. As we start this new year, maybe this will keep you on track to obtaining all of your new year’s resolutions.

Big Brother

I’ve spent that last couple of years swearing up and down, promising that I would eventually read the classic 1984 by George Orwell. Apparently, it took me getting into grad school to finally fulfill that promise. Like most people who read this book, I knew the general plotline and some key moments that are considered cliché in our modern society. Even with knowing all of that, I couldn’t help but get captured in every single page. I kept promising myself that I could go to sleep once I got to go breaks in the chapter; that didn’t happen. It also felt like the book was written a couple of years ago. It’s just so timeless. I would definitely call this a must-read. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t warn you about discussions of sexual assault and torture, though.

Remember the Lost Souls Pt 3

I am back, finally finished with the Remember Me series. First, I would like to mention that the third book makes no sense without the second book. Second, I would like to say that you should only read the first book. This last book is a total deviation from the first in ways that make absolutely no sense. The protagonist’s characterization went entirely by the wayside, where she wasn’t the same person we were introduced to. Other characters appear, where the entire time they’re there, you just thinking “WTF?” the whole time—also, lizard people, for some reason. The book felt like a cash-grab, read like a cash-grab, and should never have been written. There is also a mixture of r/menwritingwomen that is more creepy than endearingly stupid or hilarious. I honestly wish that I could forget everything that I read. Stick with the first book, and no further. You’ll thank me.

Dating the Same Girl

I’m really late to the John Green bandwagon, but here I am. This is actually the first book of his I’ve read, but I don’t really know what I think about it. An Abundance of Katherines features our protagonist, Collin, who only dates people named Katherine. I’ve never heard of a name being a person’s type, but here you go. While Collin is a genius who drops random facts here and there, which I personally found interesting, other pieces of dialogue felt like inside jokes that went on for way too long. Every other sentence either included the word “fug,” mention of a “Jew-fro,” or what seemed to be an Arabic slur. It was bizarre, and I could have done without a lot of it. Other than that, it’s the typical “boy is broken up with an is super mopey for the majority of the story” story. If this sounds like your kind of thing, you may like it. Personally, with all the hype I’ve heard around John Green, especially with some of the books being turned into live-action media, I was not impressed. I just wanted it to be over as soon as possible.

Framed for a Life

In continuing with my love of a good murder mystery, I decided that my next book would be with someone who has innocent but was framed for a murder he didn’t do. Was it cliché? Yes. Did I think everyone was stupid? Of course. Did I love it none the less? Kinda. 15 Seconds by Andrew Gross.

Imagine the typical story: someone is framed for a murder he didn’t do, so he goes on the run while trying to clear his name. Insert that one person who totally should have been a detective but isn’t because life happened, and she’s the only one who believes him. If this was only to the book, I wouldn’t be recommending it. What I found interesting was the killer. Understanding why and how was the most significant thing. Trying to understand his process and how he was connected to things that were going on kept me reading. That’s what I found to be the best part of the book. If that’s what also interests you about these types of novels, I think you’ll enjoy it as well.

Murder of a Lifetime

I love a good murder mystery and watching the good guys win. Even though I love this, it’s usually in the fictional sense, and no one in the making of the murder was hurt. This type, I dipped my toe into more real-life crime with In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

This classic tells the story of the real-life murder of the Clutter Family in Small Town, Kansas. The story switches from the point of view of different townspeople, the investigation team, and the duo responsible. It’s was intriguing how the story all worked together. You read it as if you’re there in the moment of the events and interact with the twists and turns as they happened. I could hardly put the book down. If you are thinking of reading this book, be forewarned that there is offensive language toward African Americans sprinkled throughout and sexual advances on minors. If these offend and/or trigger you, I would suggest not reading.

Major to Houston

I’m not a massive fan of memoirs. In fact, I would say that I actively avoid them. Unless it is a first-person account of a social issue that I am interested in, narrators of memoirs sound larger than life, and I cannot connect to them. Ironically, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Colonel Chris Hadfield is one of the most down to earth books I have ever read.

Hadfield just has a great way of telling his story and being able to connect with him. He does such a great job of showing that he is just an everyday guy with the same problems as others; he only had a really cool ability to have gone to space. It was also a perfect look at what happens inside NASA and other space organizations, a lot more down to earth than what is often portrayed in books and movies. Even though society may tout him as an extraordinary being, he’s just a person and had to continuously work hard to get to where he was. There need to be more memoirs like this, and I wish I could find them this easily. I just want to hear about Clark Kent instead of Superman.

Bored Out of My Mind: Check

Have you ever read a book that was highly recommended, and you just hated it from beginning to end? Well, that’s what happened to me when I read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.

This book came highly recommended by a productivity podcaster I listen to. I am listening to the backlog, but I’ve been enjoying it. I have also read a couple of the other books said podcaster suggested, so I thought I would give it a try. To be honest with you, I was bored out of my mind. The book could have been 100 pages shorter. I was literally this dude’s journey to discovering how to use a checklist that works. I thought I would get tips and tricks out how to make my protocol better. In a way, it did give me that, but in others… Well, let’s say I got a really boring story that I did not remotely care about in the slightest in return.

In conclusion, make a short checklist to the point, specific, and made up of things that you may end up forgetting. There: I just saved you a couple of hours. Do something more interesting with that time that I did. I wish I could get it back.

Only What’s Needed

As I’ve started undergoing my graduate school journey, I’ve been trying to decide if I should and how to keep up with the multitude of projects that I take part in on top of everything that school has. As part of that journey, I’ve been reading books on how to be productive and how to get the best done and living with less, now that I’m paying for everything. On the books I’ve read was Essentialism: The Discipline Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

I usually dislike self-help books with a burning passion. For whatever reason, the voice comes across as if the author is way above the “little people.” I did not feel that way at all. McKeown was done to earth with his writing style and put things in a simple and digestible way. I also like that the way he would suggest actions who be feasible and an easily functioning way. While this book didn’t tell me how to keep up with all of the projects that I want to to do, it did teach me how to say no to the things I really really don’t want to do. I still say i won with this book.

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