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  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2018/07/20 Permalink
    Tags: , betrayal marklund, danielle marchant, david mcraney, gretchen rubin, i am so smat s-m-a-t, josh kaufman, lewis dartnell, mark manson, nickel and dimed, pause, prisoners of geography, quiet the rage, r.w. burke, , the first 20 hours: how to learn anything...fast!, the happiness project, , the nordic guide to living 10 years longer, , tim marshal, you are not so smart   

    10 The Best Books to Read This Summer to Become a Better, Smarter, Happier Person 

    Summer usually means a bit more free time, which can be used towards much-needed vacations and other relaxing, rejuvenating activities. We’re all stressed out, and that means it’s easy to fall into the habit of using every spare moment to unplug and turn off your brain.

    Nothing wrong with that, but that can lead to missed opportunities—opportunities to improve yourself. Sitting on a beach, on a plane—anywhere you have the time to read for a while this summer is a chance to apply a patch to your personal operating system and do an upgrade—to make yourself better, smarter, and happier. Mix in just a few of these ten books to your summer reading list and make that time off count.

    Be Better

    The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
    Sometimes the challenge with books that purport to make you better is simply choosing one—after all, you probably have a limited window in which to read and try some new tricks. Rubin’s book is an ideal starting place because it’s not a specific set of instructions or fad—it’s her story of trying all the instructions and fads. Rubin applies the advice from a variety of self-help books, ranging from the ancient to the modern, and reports on her results. Along the way you’ll get plenty of simple, practical advice—but it’s also a great way to pre-test a few things by sharing in Rubin’s experience. Kick off your Summer of Self-Improvement with an overview of the available approaches.

    Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Being a better person begins with empathy, something that often seems to be in short supply. Ehrenreich’s experiment, in which she took on the sorts of low-wage, long-hour jobs that far too often fail to support even modest lifestyles, remains an eye-opening read. We all work hard for what we have, but sometimes the rules aren’t fair—and Ehrenreich plumbs the depths of economic desperation where no matter how hard someone works they keep sliding backwards, the deck stacked against them. Take a moment this summer and contemplate how different your own life could be if you lacked even a few of the advantages you have.

    Quiet the Rage, by R.W. Burke
    We live in contentious times, and half the reason you plan a trip is to get away from your co-workers, relatives, and neighbors with their troubling opinions and confrontational attitudes. These days everyone thinks they have to argue endlessly—but there’s a different approach worth trying. Instead of reacting emotionally to provocations and different opinions—instead of seeking to ‛win’ and thus make other ‛lose,’ perpetuating a cycle of misery, we should seek to control our emotions and try to attain a level of conflict resolution that doesn’t involve turning your life into an endless argument—and coincidentally seeking to punish those who disagree with us. The result might just be a calmer and more effective person.

    Be Smarter

    The Knowledge, by Lewis Dartnell
    This might seem like a strange choice for vacay reading, but this guide to everything you just might need to know if the world ends is more practical than it seems. On the one hand, if the apocalypse is coming it’s not going to care about your vacation schedule. On the other, this book explains not just the systems that support our civilization—technologies we often blindly rely upon—it also explains the fundamentals under those technologies and systems. Reading this book might make you a little better prepared for the end of the world, and in the meantime, it will make you a lot smart about how the world actually works.

    Prisoners of Geography, by Tim Marshall
    Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why there is so much suffering in one area of the world and so much prosperity—and vacationing—in others. It’s easy to assume some not particularly enlightened things about groups of people, but this book lays out how the terrain, climate, and natural borders of a country dictates to a great extent the lives of its people and the fate of its society. This sort of visual thinking might just change your perspective on a lot of different aspects of modern life, especially the crises that never seem to get solved and the political decisions that seem nonsensical at first glance. Using updated maps, Marshall lays it all out for you—making you smarter in the process.

    The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything … Fast!, by Josh Kaufman
    Getting smarter isn’t just the accumulation of facts or even the widening of perspective—it’s also the acquisition of skills. Kaufman presents a system by which you can learn the fundamentals of just about anything with just 20 hours of focused effort—not the 10,000 hours that are often thrown about. While he doesn’t claim this will make you an expert, he does argue that the beginning of learning anything new is always the hardest phase, and the easiest to give up on. Getting though the arduous beginning phase of learning a new skill gives you the foundation to keep going—or to move on to the next thing that you just want a functional knowledge of. As you sit on the beach sipping your drink, ask yourself what you might like to learn if you knew how to get the basics in under a day.

    You Are Not So Smart, by David McRaney
    McRaney’s collection of genius blog posts makes one dismaying argument: you’re not as smart, special, or independent as you think you are—and he has receipts. His analysis of psychological experiments explode the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, and reading this book can be a painfully eye-opening experience as he correctly guesses what you think about yourself and then grimly lays out the probable truth. Knowing your own limitations and seeing how you’ve been bamboozled in the past is a first step towards a smarter, more aware life, and this summer is your chance to take that step.

    Be Happier

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
    Let’s start here: most self-help books stroke your ego more than they actually improve things. By telling you that you’re special and have the special je ne sais quoi to change your life and be amazing, they’re just flattering you. Manson argues—forcibly and with a lot of sharp wit—that it’s better to be plainly honest about your own limitations and seek to adjust how you approach life instead of assuming that life should be adjusted to suit your needs. Bracing and sometimes alarming, this book is a dash of cold water to the face that so, so many of us need—and you will be happier for having read it, because the best way to start changing your life for the better is to start seeing it with clear eyes.

    The Nordic Guide to Living 10 Years Longer, by Bertil Marklund
    Marklund, a doctor and professor in Sweden, offers up a refreshingly simple guide to living longer. It’s funny, but if you offered people a pill that would give them an extra decade of life they’d take it, but offer some simple suggestions and suddenly they lose interest. Don’t be that person. Marklund draws on his years of experience along with scientific data to present ten pretty simple, reasonable suggestions, from getting more sleep to getting more exercise, all based on the Swedish lifestyle. This may sound overly simplistic, but the fact is most of us get caught up in remarkably complex exercise and diet regimens rather than simply doing the basics in just the right amount. Read this book while you nap in the sun and return to your life determined to get those extra ten years.

    Pause, by Danielle Marchant
    You’re on vacation and yet you’ve prepared a reading list and consulted this post to fine-tune it. You may not be doing vacations correctly, and Marchant wants you to pause and think about that. Americans work too hard and take too little vacation, and many of us are at risk of burning out without realizing, constantly and exhaustingly driving hard every moment. Marchand, who suffered a bit of a breakdown after years of sustained stress in a high-powered job, argues that everything in your life would be improved by learning how to take a step back at crucial moments when our guts are screaming to move and instead pause and think. A thoughtful moment not only calms nerves and lowers stress, it allows us to choose our moves carefully instead of constantly reacting in a jittery dance of anxiety and sleep-deprivation. This is an ideally thoughtful book to read while you’re (hopefully) far away from your Slack and Facebook feeds (you didn’t pack your work phone…right?).

    What books have helped you become better and smarter?

    The post 10 The Best Books to Read This Summer to Become a Better, Smarter, Happier Person appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Heidi Fiedler 4:00 pm on 2015/09/14 Permalink
    Tags: barnes & noble, , , , , , good to great, gretchen rubin, , rising strong, ,   

    The 15 Best Spots in Barnes & Noble, Ranked 

    Everyone has their go-to spots when they wander into the bookstore. But depending on your mood, and the needs of your inner bookworm, there’s more than one way to enjoy yourself in Barnes & Noble. This is where you’ll find me.

    15. Business
    If you read a book in this section, you can expense everything you buy that day, right? Just head straight over to Business and find out what the next Good to Great is so you can count this as a productive venture.

    14. Self Improvement
    Doesn’t that have a nicer ring to it than “Self Help?” Whatever it’s called, there are some major gems to be found here. Brené Brown’s new Rising Strong and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic are at the top of my list.

    13. Graphic Novels
    Yes, there are color tablets, but graphic novels are so fun to look at in the store. See the latest art styles. Travel to weird worlds. And take home something you can gobble up in a single sitting.

    12. Staff Recommendations
    I love getting to know my local B&N staff. These are my people. And the shelf with their handwritten recommendations are where the quirky but so-worth-it books hang out. This is where I discover the books I never knew I needed.

    11. The Doorway
    Pulling the door open; your feet bounce inside. You’re at Barnes & Noble. Where else would you rather be? Smelling the books, taking long glances at the magazine racks, knowing you have time to browse in a section you barely ever check out…there’s nothing better in the world.

    10. The Windowsill
    If you’re an introvert and want to avoid the energy that is required to be gazed upon while you read in a big comfy chair, you might want to try sitting on the wide windowsills. It’s easier to go undercover there and enjoy your finds.

    9. A Big Chair
    If you’re not as shy, grab one of the best seats in the house and get comfy. I usually have a big stack of books to look through and a tea to keep me hydrated. This is where I imagine “What would it be like to read this book?” and also forget about things like emails, to-do lists, and making dinner.

    8. The Children’s Section
    Sure there’s the nostalgia factor, but that won’t last long when you’re blown away by the gorgeous art that shines out from the books on these shelves. This is where the magic is. If you don’t catch yourself saying “Why didn’t they have this book when I was a kid?” you might be dead inside.

    7. Science Fiction
    This is the section my husband heads to as soon as we get to the store, and it always warms my heart to see his head cocked, looking for his favorites and debating which new sci-fi might be as good as the classic titles he read growing up.

    6. The Bathroom
    If you’re a serious bookworm, you need to pace yourself. Take breaks. Get a snack. Drink some tea. Visit the bathroom. It’s the only way to get in a full afternoon of shopping.

    5. In Line
    I know this one isn’t an obvious place to feel warm and fuzzy, but think about it. You’re on your way home with some books that could change your life. And you can scope out what everyone else is reading. It’s like the pleasure we all get looking in someone else’s cart at the market and judging whether they have too many carbs and not enough veggies. Book snobs, unite!

    4. YA
    Do kids really talk in emojis now? Are they as brutal as Hunger Games contestants? If you don’t live with a teenager, the only way to know the state of our youth is to eavesdrop in the YA section. You’re guaranteed to hear something juicy.

    3. Cookbooks
    These books are so lush, they’ll inspire you to stop drooling and go home and make yourself a proper meal. This is a good section to browse on your way out of the store. Brining home a juicy (or virtuous) cookbook can ease the transition from bookstore to home.

    2. Magazines
    Gretchen Rubin of Better Than Before encourages people to read magazines that have nothing to do with the rest of their lives. So if you’re a chef, check out a magazine about horses. If you just had a baby, read about international politics or photography. Exploring something new can inspire great ideas. And if you need ideas about how to get back to your pre-baby weight, they’ve definitely got that covered too.

    1. The New Tables
    Here’s where all the latest and greatest books land when they are unpacked. When I was a bookseller, I loved making displays on these tables; arranging the books in formations and themes that would attract attention. Now I love seeing what’s new and adding 1,791 more books to my To Be Read list.

    What’s your favorite spot in B&N?

     
  • Kathryn Williams 6:23 pm on 2015/04/06 Permalink
    Tags: david brooks, , gretchen rubin, inspiring reads, , la la anthony, malcolm gladwell, , mark bittman,   

    Spring Clean Your Life with These 9 Inspiring Reads 

    If winter is the season for accumulation—all those holiday gifts, all those layers, all those pounds—then spring is the time for shedding. We clean, we clear, we reorganize, we reprioritize, and to do so, we turn to the experts. Here are nine books that will give your existential spring cleaning a kick in the pants.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
    Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo has a three-month waiting list. And the truly magical thing is, she knows where that waiting list is, because her desk isn’t covered by six-inch stacks of paper (how do we still have stacks of paper when we live in a digital world?!). In her international bestseller, Kondo takes readers step by step through the very specific KonMari method, which groups clutter by category and teaches readers to keep only items that “spark joy.” Gather, awaken, sort, and bibbidi bobbidi boo: you own your possessions, they don’t own you!

    Brain Maker, by David Perlmutter
    Neurologist and gluten-free guru Dr. David Perlmutter follows up his bestselling Grain Brain with a new message: trust your gut. It’s home to 100 trillion bacteria, aka the microbiome, and Perlmutter, among many others, is convinced it’s the key to health and wellbeing, even and especially when it comes to our brains. ADHD, Alzheimer’s, autism, and many other neurological disorders, says Perlmutter, are linked to the bugs in our guts. He’s out to save us from ourselves, armed with a brain-friendly diet and a six-step program for optimizing intestinal ecology.

    Very Good Lives, by J.K. Rowling
    This slim volume (just 80 pages), subtitled “The Fringe Benefits of Failure,” is the commencement speech Rowling delivered at Harvard University in 2008. It’s hard to associate one of the wealthiest, most successful, and most beloved authors of all time with failure, but before she was J.K., Rowling was Joanne, divorced single mother on the dole. With great humor and humility, Rowling revisits those dark times in order to find the light, exploring how failure in other arenas focused her on the ones that really mattered. While writing Harry Potter, Rowling worked as a researcher for Amnesty International, and she concentrates on her experiences there as a time of self-revelation and a discovery of deep empathy, an emotion we can only experience when we’ve felt our own failures. We all have a rock bottom, Rowling reminds us, but if we use it as a foundation, then the lives we build can be very good indeed.

    The Road To Character, by David Brooks
    At the end of the day, or the end of the long day we call life, which will matter more: your résumé or your eulogy? In his fourth and perhaps most personal book, New York Times columnist Brooks asks himself this question. On a quest for virtue—a quality easier to identify in others than to cultivate in oneself—Brooks selects historical, social, political, and philosophical exemplars of character, such as Dorothy Day, Frances Perkins, and Bayard Rustin. Through their examples he analyzes what it takes to be brave, kind, honest, and faithful. Some of Brooks’ models are surprisingly liberal choices for a generally conservative commentator, but character has never toed a party line.

    A Bone to Pick, by Mark Bittman
    Bittman has had a bone to pick with us for a long time, and it has to do with the way we eat. Positioning himself alongside progressive food journalists and chefs like Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Alice Waters, and Barbara Kingsolver, Bittman, always an accomplished cookbook author, has become an authority on the greater landscape of food production, distribution, regulation, and consumption. With this latest book, a collection of his New York Times columns, he raises his voice in the growing chorus loudly singing that what we eat affects our health and our planet. These are bite-sized but illuminating lessons on America’s complex food system.

    The Power Playbook, by La La Anthony
    La La Anthony made a name for herself as a VJ on MTV back in the days when MTV played music. She’s now an actress, reality star, and entrepreneur with cosmetic and clothing lines to her name. Her first book, The Love Playbook, shared secrets of her love life and marriage to NBA player Carmelo Anthony. Now she’s back with more life advice, this time focused on career. Anthony sees life as a game, and these are her rules: goals, no nonsense, no judgment, and hard work. If her last book was “how to snag a baller,” this is “how to become a baller yourself.”

    O’s Little Book of Happiness
    From the editors of O magazine—and, of course, O herself—comes this “little” (not quite pocket-sized but small enough to tote in a purse to the DMV, where you will surely need it) collection of short essays on the theme of happiness. All personal with a dusting of self-help, the articles are grouped by what you might call strategies for joy: Simple Pleasures, The Joy of Discovery, and Sharing Delight, to name a few. Featuring familiar names, like Elizabeth Gilbert, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Mary Oliver, and some not so familiar, this is some of the finest writing O has featured in its 15 years.

    Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin
    The bestselling author of The Happiness Project is at it again. We often think of habits as bad things, but in her new book, Rubin shows us how habits, as the scaffolding of our daily lives, can actually help us be happier, healthier, more organized, and more successful. While acknowledging that everyone is different, Rubin offers actionable strategies, such as monitoring, spotting loopholes, and making things convenient, to know and manage our own behavior, whether it’s transforming old habits or creating new ones. As usual, she brings her crackerjack research and reporting skills, as well as an appealing, down-to-earth tone and a willingness to use herself, and her friends, as guinea pigs.

    David & Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell
    No one manages to make complex social science as clear and simple as Malcolm Gladwell. The New Yorker writer’s fifth book tackles the myth of the underdog. Like Rowling in her commencement speech, Gladwell is interested in the benefits of (perceived) failure, and he argues that there are counterintuitive advantages to disadvantage, and that strength and weakness can be different sides of the same coin. Armed with research and anecdotal evidence—each chapter follows a particular “David” case study, because Gladwell is at heart a storyteller—he makes a compelling case sure to empower those who feel they’re up against giants.

    Shop the bookstore >
     
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