Six books that changed my life
And my way of thinking, working and organizing life
Growing up, I remember seeing my father almost always carry a book with him, the tradition to read came from my grandfather, but my father Lasse took it to another level. A high point in the week was when I and my father went to the local library to borrow books. We always came home with a bag of books each. I borrowed lots of nonfictional and music books, and some records too as I had grown an interest in music. My father mostly Crime and thrillers, but also memories/biographies. I just loved reading and learning so much, and I still do. And in that, I’m so much like my father Lasse.
Both my grandfathers were journalists, my maternal grandfather was even the first editor on one of the largest newspapers (Sundsvalls Tidning) in the middle part of Sweden. My paternal grandfather was a bit like me, probably suffering from the DA Vinci curse too, as he started his career as a Ford Car mechanic, turned farmer (I was that also a brief time in life!) and then a journalist and writer.
My goal this year is to read 200 books, That’s a little more than half a book a day and I think that’s the maximum of books I can read a year actually.
It’s no wonder the Bible is called the book of all books, I can always find sources for my devotion every day in it. And every morning I follow reading plans and prayers, sometimes sharing with others online. It’s such a comfort for me to start my day reading the Bible. I use and read my Bible online, or in the Bible app.
Written by Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, and Howard Cutler
This is one of the books I return to always, besides the Bible this is one of the books I would take with me to a deserted island.
The book explores training the human outlook that alters perception. The concepts that the purpose of life is happiness, that happiness is determined more by the state of one’s mind than by one’s external conditions, circumstances, or events — at least once one’s basic survival needs are met and that happiness can be achieved through the systematic training of our hearts and minds.
For me, it has been a companion every time a bigger change has come in my life. In fact, my first one was falling apart from always being with me, so I bought a new copy.
When my father died, we found his exemplar of the book that I had given to him together with the Catholic book of prayers (My father was a priest) as the two last books he read.
Written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Flow is probably one of the most influential books in my ‘bookshelf’ I learned so much about myself and how I work.
Some quotes from the book I have taken with me:
There is no inherent problem in our desire to escalate our goals, as long as we enjoy the struggle along the way.
The purpose of flow is to keep on flowing, not looking for a peak or utopia but staying in the flow… It is a self-communication.” (a mountain climber on “flow”)
Goals justify the effort they demand at the outset, but later it is the effort that justifies the goal.
Subjective experience is not just one of the dimensions of life, it is life itself. Material conditions are secondary.
Applying the idea of flow to everyday life makes it more fluent and easy, I also think that too much planning makes life hard and depressing. Setting goals that are achievable is more important than having a long list of unachievable goals.
Which ultimately leads me to.
By David Allen
Allen’s Get Things Done (GTD) Methodology started to have an impact on my life about 10 years ago and still serves me as a measure to plan my agenda. In short, Allen's method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of the mind by recording them externally and then breaking them down to more actionable work items. Allowing attention to be focused on action taking on tasks, instead of recalling them. Clarifying the workflow to consist of five stages: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage.
By collecting (Capture) your ‘stuff’ in one inbox you start to ask yourself questions about the ‘stuff’ to put them in these categories:
- in the trash
- on the someday/maybe list
- in a neat reference filing system
- on a list of tasks, with the outcome and next action defined if the “incomplete” is a “project” (i.e., if it will require two or more steps to complete it)
- immediately completed and checked off if it can be completed in under two minutes
- delegated to someone else and, if you want a reminder to follow up, added to a “waiting for” list
- on a context-based “next action” list if there is only one step to complete it
- on your calendar
Emptying your inbox on a daily and/or weekly basis makes the clarity you gain on your workflow great, which means your productivity grows as well.
Coupling GTD with the Pomodoro technique has helped me not to be overloaded with tasks, and get a sensible way of planning and executing tasks that need to be done.
These two and my experiences from working in various industries led to my Workingoodway concept that I applied to my workflows and shared with others during a couple of years.
By Sönke Ahrens
This book is a rather recent addition to my books and this list. But it has already had a significant impact on my life, notetaking and writing in general. He explains how to use the Zettelkasten method to organize your notes.
In short, your notes should be
- Well thought out
- Helps you to stay focused on what really counts: Reading, Thinking, and Writing.
These are the ten principles suggested:
Principle #1: Writing is not the outcome of thinking; it is the medium in which thinking takes place
Principle #2: Do your work as if writing is the only thing that matters
Principle #3: Nobody ever starts from scratch
Principle #4: Our tools and techniques are only as valuable as the workflow
Principle #5: Standardization enables creativity
Principle #6: Our work only gets better when exposed to high-quality feedback
Principle #7: Work on multiple, simultaneous projects
Principle #8: Organize your notes by context, not by topic
Principle #9: Always follow the most interesting path
Principle #10: Save contradictory ideas
Factfullness is the book I think should be in every household bookshelf because it challenges our beliefs, in fact, statistics and what experts tell us. To be able to more objectively look at our news and not so easily buy into popular beliefs. In this world with so much fake news, miscommunication we all need a voice of reasoning, Factfullness is that.
Factfullness also reveals the ten instincts that distort our perspective ―from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).
These six books are either in my bookshelf or kept as digital books. I like to get my books both ways as I find it easier to search for specific quotes or lines the digital way plus the added perk you can annotate anywhere and have that digitally stored.
You can ofc find my reading list on Goodreads