Thursday, 1 December 2011

Learning to Learn and How (and Why) I read 40+ books in 2011

Firstly I wanted to start with a massive THANK YOU. Somehow I had nearly 1200 hits on this blog last month alone. Not bad going since I only did 4 posts!

As for this blog....

Well here's my truth....I've always been a bit of a geek. You don't become a lecturer in a science without it, and whilst I competed as a swimmer at a high level through my school years as well as basketball and track and field, amongst other things, I was also on the chess team, and went to some inter-school Mathematics competition. You can laugh if you like but I like to think of it as making me a well-rounded individual something like the 'intelligent warrior' (e.g. clever and sporty).

Not my bookcase, though ideas for my next one!
Anyway, something happened at the start of 2011, I turned over the New Year already pages deep in a couple of different books, and the more I read; the more I wanted to read. I couldn't get enough. Seriously. Have you seen Phenomenon, the John Travolta film where he reads at an exponential rate? It felt like that! (Of course if you haven't seen the movie then I appreciate that comment makes absolutely no sense at all, for which I apologise).

In this blog I'm going to list every book I've gotten through from January to December 2011. I've categorised them in the best way I can think of. They are not in order of which I read first, although you'll recognise commonalities between them, and in many cases reading one book led me to reading another two or three in a similar area. If you know the titles then you'll recognise recurring authors (Richard Dawkins, Tim Ferriss, Richard Wiseman). Interestingly (for me at least) I had no intention of reading so many books. I think I was some way in to the year when the number of books I'd read was piling up and then I figured to do a count and keep a record of them.

Anyway here goes:

Sports (including basketball, surfing, doping, coaching)
Juiced
The Big Book of Basketball
The Art of a Beautiful Game
The Jordan Rules
Saltwater Budha
Riding the Magic Carpet
Dunks, Doubles and Doping
Eddie Would Go
The Lombardi Rules

Nutrition, Healthy Living, Philosophy and Lifestyle
The Immortality Edge
Lights Out
The Paleo Diet for Athletes
The New Evolution Diet
The Diet Delusion
The Paleo Solution
Four Hour Body
Way of the Peaceful Warrior
The Virtue of Selfishness
Four Hour work Week

The book I would most recommend to
ANYONE and EVERYONE.
Entertaining Science
13 Things that don't make sense
Quirkology
How to drive a Tank
Placebo
Sleep Thieves
A Briefer History of Time
:59 Seconds
I Used to Know that
The Talent Code
The Genius in All of Us
Bounce
The Drunkards Walk

Evolution / History
The Greatest Show on Earth
The God Delusion
The Ancestors Tale
A Little History of Time
War of the World
On the Origin of Species

Biographical
Life and Laughing - Michael McIntyre
Confessions of a Conjurer - Derren Brown

Travel
Long Way Round
A Walk in the Woods

It's been an absolutely amazing experience; I've read in most places you can imagine staying still from finding the seat with the best lighting in the house to lounging on a bed in Israel, flying over Canada, or on a coach in Germany,  on a beach in Boscombe, and on a cliff-top in Dorset. I just took to it. For a few weeks I would ride my motorcycle up to a place called Highcliffe and sit and read, rain, wind or sun. Some of the books are BIG and took a considerable time to read. Others not so big and due to their addictive nature took less than 24 hours (I'm not going to tell you which one!)

I started a few others that have returned to the shelf for the meantime, but the other thing I learned is to keep buying them; to accept that there is so much more to know, that there is someone else's experiences or opinions to consider. Amidst all of this I haven't kept count of how many scientific journal articles I've read this year. But the more you read, the more critically evaluative you become because of underpinning theory or difference of perspective.

I guess the point in all of this is that I realise so many students get to, or worse; go through, University without having learned to learn. I've spent so long reading coaching books and exercise physiology or psychology journal articles. In fact it's not that those readings have dropped off, I just hit that point where I wanted to learn more. A lot of it started with Nutrition, and Palaeolithic Diets, which led me to Evolutionary books, I always found time for anything on Surfing and Basketball and, well, I guess I can't explain all of this to you. It's something you have to do for yourself.

A lot of the books have been discussed in blogs, and whilst I have not outlined favourites, etc, there are some I would recommend way ahead of others. If you're interested on my opinions on specific texts then message me. Otherwise, buy a book, put it down and pick it up and take it in, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and page by page until it's done. Then start all over again. And enjoy.

Be Well

JF

NB. I am currently 'involved' in 3 other books which look likely to be finished soon. I'll post a final tally at the end of the year.

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