4 Books to Read and Give as Gifts

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So imagine you’re reclined on a favorite couch, reading, when you suddenly come across a sentence so profound you just need to sit up for it. Soon enough – after highlight that sentence of course- you realize you can’t read anymore because the gears in your brain just won’t stop turning. Finally you decide to stop reading and do something about that idea; write it down, talk to someone about it…etc.

Books are powerful weapons. So if you need recommendations on books to read – or give as gifts – so you and your loved ones can enter the new year with new ideas and a whole new mindset, check the list below.

1. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

a whole new mind

Even though recent research has debunked the idea that logical, methodical, analytical people use their left brains preferentially while the creative types are right-brain dominant, Dan Pink argues that sparking our creativity is essential as we approach the end of the knowledge worker’s era and the beginning of the creative worker’s era. With material abundance, technological advancement and globalization taking over the business world, workers would need to rely on creative thinking skills to really stand out. He goes on to speak in detail about the six senses; Design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning.

This book really challenges many assumptions made in our societies. Creative people are usually looked down upon. The starved artist is quite the cliched character, so children from a young age are encouraged to suppress their creative side. A talk that goes in line with the topic is Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk on how schools kill creativity.

2. So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

so good

Everybody keeps on talking about how you have to follow your passion and then the money would follow. This books consoles those who don’t break free from the corporate cubicle to pursue their passion and argues that passion isn’t everything. Instead the author talks about how one must build his career capital by obtaining skills through hard work in order to achieve mastery, autonomy and mission. Again, whether you agree with it or not is irrelevant; the book will make you think. I’ve written about it in a previous post.

3. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

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This is a personal favorite. It’s on my TBRA (To-be-read-annually) pile. Susan Cain has given voice to the millions of silent and misunderstood introverts who get energized by staying alone. Every time I read it I discover something new in it.

I personally wish I could distribute this book in our society because introverts get a bad rep as anti-social. Sometimes other people fail to realize that our own company is the best company we seek and it really has nothing to do with them. It’s definitely a topic for conversation during family reunions this holiday.

4. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Gretchen Rubin

This book was a pleasant surprise. At first, I didn’t think that the details of someone else’s personal happiness project could be relevant to my life, but the book was filled with so many good ideas, it rendered my highlights section pretty useless as there are so many highlight, I might as well read the whole book again.

So which books have you read already? And which ones are you planning to read next? Leave your comments in the section below.

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Just Published, “All Bleeding Stops and Other Short Stories”

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In October 2009, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie got onto a TED stage and spoke about the danger of a single story. She said, “If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images,I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner.” 

When she said that I found myself asking; if I were to write about my people on the Kenyan coast of Mombasa, what would I write about?

The immediate answer was society; how society shapes an individual; how important families are; what changes individuals need to make so our society would advance to the better.

Today I’m happy to present my collection of short stories (available in Kindle edition). All of them are works of fiction. They’re meant to be entertaining, emotional, and in some cases thought-provoking. They’re also meant to open your eyes to a culture that many people across the world don’t even know exists; Arabs residing on the Kenyan coast (the people I’ve personally coined Kemenies). This is NOT to encourage tribalism, but to highlight the cultural traits that are specific to this particular section of society. I hope you support this work by purchasing your own copy of the book, notifying me if there are any typos and talking to your friends and family about it.

For the Kindle version; click here http://www.amazon.com/Bleeding-Stops-Other-Stories-Kenyan-ebook/dp/B01EFRMOSO?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 [The price should say 1.99 USD. If you see any other price, please wait for the page to be updated].

For the PDF version;

Buy Now

Let me know if you’re having problems purchasing this. If you live in Kenya and can’t purchase any of the versions online, email me and we’ll figure out an arrangement via M-Pesa.

7 Things I Wish They Taught us in School

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image via; pixabay.com
image via; pixabay.com

“Is this going to come in the exam?”

It’s a famous question the answer to which usually cues to whether somebody nods on or nods off.

There’s a lot of pressure on students nowadays to perform well academically and return home with perfect scores so they could get into good colleges. However, good degrees no longer guarantee great jobs, and great jobs no longer guarantee job security. Having experienced both the academic and corporate world, it’s easy to put together a list of necessary life lessons school syllabi tend to overlook;

7) Failing is good. To some extent. The academic system conditions us to hate red crosses on our papers so we try hard to stay within our comfort zone without attempting new things lest we fail in them. This realization hit me once during an acrylic painting class. We started with the background – a twilight scene – and then were instructed to be creative and draw whatever it was we were comfortable with. I wanted to copy my friend’s swan but stopped because I was too scared to ruin the whole painting so I ended up painting grass as it was well within my comfort zone. The world is filled with mottos such as “Fail Forward” for a reason. While failure is never fun, it’s sometimes necessary as a teaching tool. Of course, JK Rolwing says it best,

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” Tweet this

5) Ask a lot of questions. If you’ve been in a classroom setting then you’ve probably heard someone ask a question that others sniggered over. Maybe you were the one asking or the one sniggering. However, asking questions is another life skill that people need to master because how else would we learn?

6) Break a few rules. Have you ever been rebuked for coloring outside the lines? Innovators go against the norm when it comes to their work. If Steve Jobs had gone with the norm, we’d still be using phones that have a keypad. Breaking a few rules can be uncomfortable, disastrous, but it can also teach you a couple of lessons and it can give you a good story to tell. Just because I’m counting down doesn’t mean that the numbers need to be in order.

4) Daydream. During classes, teachers tend to pick on the daydreamers, with the question,

“Am I boring you?”

Now you can have a science-backed comeback.

“No, I’m just doing my best creative work.”

In a discussion about his book Imagine, Jonah Lehrer discusses the importance of dedicated daydreaming – letting your mind wander, while maintaining enough awareness to recognize insights as they come.

3) P.E. is not just a class. I hated Physical Education (P.E.) in school. I spent it mostly sitting down. Apparently sitting is the new smoking. It’s well known that walking for even thirty minutes every day can tremendously improve one’s health in the long-term, but physical activity is also important for the brain as it boosts memory and thinking skills.

2) It’s not about the grade. Okay, so maybe the grade is an important aspect of one’s academic life because higher education depends on it. But grades are not the be-all and end-all of school. What it is about is life-long learning and exercising your creative and cognitive skills to solve real life problems. Though that sentence might sound like it came from a glossy brochure, do ask yourself everyday – even if you’re out of school – ,

“What did I learn today that I didn’t know yesterday?”

“Am I thinking for myself or just acting as an echoing chamber?”

“Did I exercise my creativity?”

1) Not all dreams come with a syllabus. As students we’re conditioned to ‘stick to the syllabus’, but the well-defined syllabus of “Go to school, get one job and retire at 65” is outdated. The work landscape is changing so rapidly, careers are no longer linear; career changes – aka pivoting – have become the norm. There’s a whole new movement on the quarter-life crisis. The place to start is to know yourself, know where you are (A), know where you want to be (B), and find your path from A to B.

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6 Lessons Learned During my Foray into the Real World

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1-cToH9hwD0DVEVte4_hND3wWhen I graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering, I was so full of optimism. According to word out there, the world was my oyster. I was ready to grab the bull by the horns. Yada yada yada. The only thing I seemed to be doing was overuse cliches and mix metaphors.
It didn’t take long before I was looking into better options, but since I had debts to pay, I had to suck it up for some time. Here are a few things I learned from the experience:
1. It’s not Rocket Science. I was pretty disappointed by that. After having my intellect challenged for so long, I didn’t get too excited about plugging numbers into spreadsheets and typing up other numbers into reports. In one assignment, I was supposed to run a Macro on Excel and transfer the result from one location to another. I called my Partner-in-commiseration and said, “I feel like a finger. All I do all day long is click, click, click.”
2. It pays to have a Partner-in-commiseration. My friend and I worked on the same design project during our senior year in uni, and then we landed jobs in the same company, so she naturally became my Partner-In-Commiseration. Commiserating together made the whole experience more bearable, because no matter how bad the day went, there was always lunch time.
3. You’re in charge of your own learning. In school, we got inundated by information. Come the Real World and people kept their knowledge to themselves. What made it worse was the fact that the economic crisis hit 4 months into our jobs, and people were too scared of losing their jobs, they clammed up double hard in case they let something slip.
4. Office culture is more important than you think. Enough said.
5. Nobody really cares about what you know. What your boss really cares about is the bottom line and how what you do is going to help it. That means shredding 98 % of the knowledge garnered during four years of study using a garburator, and using an excel sheet to calculate the remaining 2 %.
6. Soft skills do matter. What mattered more than doing good work was showing the world that you did good work. Five years after quitting my job, a friend told me, “You would never have survived the corporate job, even if you had stayed. You’re too quiet.”
It’s good I didn’t wait five years to figure that out. It took two years for my debts to clear and I was out of there. Like a flash.

The original post was in http://ahscribbles.com/6-lessons-real-world/

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