All the World's a Classroom

Best Reads of 2015: Part 2

Best Reads of 2015: Part 2

This post is a continuation of the Best Reads of 2015 list. See Part 1 here.

 

6. Lelaki Harimau (Man Tiger) by Eka Kurniawan

Eka Kurniawan is an Indonesian author whose two works, Man Tiger and Beauty is a Wound, have been recently translated and published in English (and other languages too). All the reviews worldwide have been raving about Eka’s work, which make me so extremely proud.

 

I read this book in Indonesian, my native language, and was not surprised by all the raves. It’s such a stunning novel. From the folksy language he uses, the plot, and the arrangement of the narrative, I can honestly say I have never encountered any literature like this before. From the first words of the book, right to the very end, readers are kept in suspense to what actually happens in the central event of the novel. Breathtaking.

 

7. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This book made the Best of 2015 lists everywhere. It won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, rightly so. Here, Coates reflects on life in a black body, poetically. For me, I felt the impact of this book even more afterwards, when certain phrases and sentences from the book would come to mind unexpectedly during a newscast, for example, that was replete with racial issues last year.

 

 

 

8. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Chilling. Powerful. Mysterious. Beautiful. Like a painting. Beloved is a work of art. And like many pieces of art, there are aspects of it that I don’t understand. I’m not too left-brained, however, to miss the beauty of Morrison’s words and phrases. I would consider this book a must-read if you want to understand humanity, particularly the impact of slavery to the psyche of generations of men, women, and children.

 

 

 

9. Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays by Abraham J. Heschel

This book is a collection of essays and speeches that Heschel made during his life, compiled by his daughter, particularly on the meaning of being a Jew. Heschel was already one of my favorite authors, but this book gave me so much food for thought that sparked many personal reflections in 2015. This book was the source of inspiration to my Why I Love Being an Adventist post, as well as the worldview series I noted in my 2015 in Review post.

 

 

 

10. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

Tim Ferriss came as a guest speaker when I took an Entrepreneurship class in Princeton. He’s probably one of the people with most unconventional lives in the 21st century. I love how this book (and his philosophy in general) teaches me to view the world and its “constraints” as pliable. We don’t have to succumb to society’s expectations of work and success; we can carve our own lives. The book is filled with very practical advice, and is an important reference for anyone who wants to master the art of living free.

 

Other best books lists

2018: Best Books of 2018 Part 1, Best Books of 2018 Part 2.

2017Best Books of 2017 Part 1, Best Books of 2017 Part 2.

2016Best Books of 2016 Part 1Best Books of 2016 Part 2.

2015Best Books of 2015 Part 1Best Books of 2015 Part 2.

 

*Amazon Product links on this blog are Amazon Affiliate links, which means that each time you purchase something through those links, I get a small commission without you paying any extra. Of course you don’t have to use them, but if you want to chip-in towards content creation for this blog, I’d really appreciate it!

 

Best Reads of 2015: Part 1

Best Reads of 2015: Part 1

2015 was (is) a good reading year. I was able to return to a decent pace (i.e., pre-wedding planning pace). These are the top 5 of my personal best reads of 2015.

 

1. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy is a powerful account of Stevenson’s lifework in the criminal justice system. He represents those on death row, women, children, and the mentally disabled—those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to good defense. It is both a hard criticism to the criminal justice system, as well as a hopeful voice for change, for giving mercy a chance.

 

I’ve written a lot about this book—this one was the most impactful book this year for me.

 

 

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read! And the best one in its genre—psychology and neuroscience—too, I think. Thinking deconstructs how we make judgment and how biases and heuristics influence—sometimes negatively—our decisions. I highly recommend this book for anyone who cares about his/her thoughts being coherent.

 

 

 

 

3. It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario

Addario works in conflict regions of the world as a war photographer. This book is an impassioned account of her experiences—including 2 kidnappings—that she went through, her commitment to tell nuanced stories of war, and her reflections on the relationship between her work and life. She was a recipient of the “Genius Grant,” the MacArthur Fellowship in 2009.

 

Her photographs are absolutely stunning and provoking. Check them out here.

 

 

4. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Being Mortal is Gawande’s reflection as a medical professional on mortality, a given fact of human life, and end of life care. His insights on how we do medical training are profound, how it often treats human lives and dying as technical problems instead of human problems. Consequently, doctors, while skillful in prescribing treatments for the elderly or terminally ill, are not as well-versed in talking patients through deeper life questions, such as what matters to them the most at the end of their lives. The most admirable part of the book for me is Gawande’s courage in exposing his own personal experience with his father—his end of life care and death—that encapsulates the essence of the rest of the book. I highly appreciate the message of this book!

 

 

5. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Nerdy and hilarious! You can’t have a better combination than that. Munroe, ex-NASA roboticist turned cartoonist, is exceptionally skilled at combining absurdity and science. In this book, he answers those ridiculous questions that we used to generate while we were kids—and as adults too—using physics and true principles. The result: something really awesome.

 

What were your best reads of 2015? Would love to hear your recommendations! List them out in the comments below.

 

 

Other best books lists

2018: Best Books of 2018 Part 1, Best Books of 2018 Part 2.

2017Best Books of 2017 Part 1, Best Books of 2017 Part 2.

2016Best Books of 2016 Part 1Best Books of 2016 Part 2.

2015Best Books of 2015 Part 1Best Books of 2015 Part 2.

 

*Amazon Product links on this blog are Amazon Affiliate links, which means that each time you purchase something through those links, I get a small commission without you paying any extra. Of course you don’t have to use them, but if you want to chip-in towards content creation for this blog, I’d really appreciate it!

 

How To Get Ahead Over the Holidays

How To Get Ahead Over the Holidays

The year is dwindling down and the office gets emptier each day. But if you’ve run out of vacation either because you don’t have enough and/or have wisely taken up all of them so you’re not left with unused paid vacation, you may be stuck in an office building during what everyone says is the best time of the year. While this can be categorized as sucky, it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can use this time to get ahead while everyone else is relaxing at home. It’s very quiet, there’s no one to bother you, there will be no meetings, and it can be very useful to do things that otherwise wouldn’t be done during normal workdays. These are 6 ways on how to get ahead over the holidays and get a head start for 2016.

 

  1. Take Time to Learn

 

During the year, it can be hard to learn something new amidst the constant task lists associated with your work. While you have this quiet time, take time to gain new knowledge and skills related to your work. Read a book, or take an online training course. Do something educational that increases your skillset and thus your value to your organization.

 

  1. Explore Creative Ideas

 

Creativity needs freedom and space to bear fruit. If you have new ideas that you want to implement in your work, but have been finding no time to develop it, this is the time to build, refine, and test the idea.

 

While you’re at it, jot down all of your “crazy” ideas. Have a personal session where all ideas can fly, as if the world has no constraint. Who knows, maybe some of them can be a breakthrough in your 2016 work life.

 

  1. Plan Out 2016

 

You have goals for 2016 (if not, use this time to create goals for the next year). Chart out a timeline on these goals will be accomplished for the next year. What milestones should be done by what date. Have a game plan on how you want to attack these milestones, so come January, while everyone is still waking up from their holiday slumber, you can hit the ground running, knowing exactly what you need to do.

 

  1. Clean Up Your Desk and Office

 

I love purging out clutter. It always makes me feel light and free afterward. I don’t know how often you clean your desk and office (or ever?), but at least do it now while no one will be interrupting you. Throw out old and unnecessary files, dust all of those folders, and store non-immediate materials. Organize the cabinet. Make it easier to find documents and increase efficiency in your own workflow. Get some compressed air dusters and clean your keyboard. Clean the yucky gunk on those keyboard keys too (you know it’s there). Wipe the monitor. Go all out and do it all! A clean and neat working environment is not only good for your mind, but also good for your body.

 

  1. Clean Up Your Inbox

 

The same housecleaning applies to your email inbox and digital files. Finish up loose ends from 2015 and reduce that inbox size. Organize your digital folders and archives, and back them up.

 

  1. Take Time to Reflect

 

Finally and most importantly, while nobody’s watching, take time to be brutally honest with yourself and evaluate the past year. What went well and what went horribly wrong? Glean lessons learned from the past year and write them down, then commit yourself to apply those lessons in 2016.

 

With these 6 steps, you’ll be ready to jump-start the New Year with good momentum. Have a productive holiday season!

 

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla.

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