What is time, in the context of this pandemic? I’ve given up trying to track it as the days slowly melt into each other and every single one feels just like any other. Of course, this is no one else’s fault but mine. It’s suddenly almost the end of the year and so, we take a look at the books I managed to finish for 2021.
Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad
by Austin Kleon
I felt the need to read this book because it’s been more than a year into quarantine, and I’ve been feeling so directionally empty lately. I’m a person that likes to create content. I love engaging with people through creating shit. I’ve dabbled in YouTube, illustrations, blogging, reviews, and a lot of other things. This pandemic has really taken its toll on me because I have currently no idea what to do. I really just like being in the zone when I’m creating something but I hardly have the motivation these days. This book just seemed perfect for me.
I’m at a point in my life where I’d rather keep reading self-help books instead of actually helping myself. There isn’t really anything new in this book that I haven’t read before. It’s mostly a reminder of the things that we should do in order to become a better person. In fact, most of these things have already been tackled by Kleon himself in his previous book that I already reviewed.
Alas, there is no miracle cure. There is only the nitty gritty way. Build habits, focus on your goals, keep creating no matter the quality, etc. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it’s the dirty truth. All that’s left is to apply it to life, which is the hardest part. I did get a lot of motivational anecdotes from this book. I know that it’s all up to me to start applying these learnings in real life, but it’s good that it contains inputs from people who are already fighting the good fight. It gives me a bit more hope that I can someday be in their league as well; if ever I move my lazy ass.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
by James Clear
I love these types of books because they take something that’s already common knowledge, and they break it down even more.
Everyone knows that good habits should be developed and that bad habits should be avoided, right? But as with most things in life, it’s not as easy as it sounds. But James Clear takes the whole “habit-building” process and breaks it apart piece by piece into easy-to-digest parts. This way, the reader gets to understand the entire system and how to apply it to their own life.
From naming the 4-step process of a habit to giving strategies to make every step easier, James Clear uses simple and popular examples to nudge the reader on the right path. This book tackles the human behavior aspect so it can be applied to any habit that the reader wants to develop (or stop). My favorite parts are the anecdotes about the people who have found success in their lives by doing this process. Be it in sports, business, and even comedy, building the right habits can really set you up for a good future.
Again, this book introduces no new, groundbreaking concept that will magically fix our lives. The most helpful books don’t give you a miracle cure just like that. But they do put a name and a process into the things we often overlook in our lives. They show us the right path that we can choose and the rest is up to us.
This book helped me take a look at myself, my environment, as well as the cues that lead to my behavior and habits. I know the things that I can change and optimize to be better. It helps to know the different steps and factors that will ultimately shape our lives. Because of that, I highly recommend this book for people that want to try and change something in their day to day.
The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change your Life and Achieve Real Happiness
by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
I don’t even know how to begin to describe this book. Dare I say it, this might be the most important book I’ve ever read in my life. It reached a point where I got teary-eyed after finishing certain chapters.
I don’t know why I’ve never heard of Adler before after taking three mandatory Philosophy courses in college (it might be because my entire college life was a blur), but I think I’m a believer now. This book is absolutely crucial for people like me who feel lost in life. I’m just going to say it straight away that this book has a huge potential to change lives.
I’ve always been aware of my flaws and my lack of courage to change them, but each chapter of this book felt like a slap in the face. Still, I couldn’t put it down. I was so conflicted with wanting to finish this book and at the same time not wanting it to end. I suggest really taking it slow and digesting every chapter of this book because pretty much every point is important.
I also love how this book is structured as a conversation between two people; the philosopher and the cynical youth. The dialog format really helps because a lot of the teachings in this book are unconventional and counter to most of the advices we’ve heard or what society tells us. Unless you are already an enlightened one, you enter the story on the same side as the cynical youth and eventually discover the teachings of Adler which break away your current beliefs and replace them with new points of view to consider.
Of course, not all of your questions can be answered by this book, but it is a really good starting point. This book can be an uncomfortable read for some, and I can see how it can turn off people who go into it with a certain mindset, but it really has some good points that clicked with me. Unlike previous books that go deeper into things I’ve already known before, this book introduces a lot of new ideas (some controversial) and explains why they should be considered.
I really can’t recommend this book enough. From inviting you to look at yourself in another light, to telling you that no one else is in control of your life but you, this book is really something that most people could do with reading.
I used to sing the highest praises for Mark Manson’s book, but I’m going to admit that this is an even more vital book to read. If there’s any book that you should read from this post, this is absolutely it. I bet I could write an entire post on how this book punched me in the gut, but I’ll just leave it at that.
The Courage to Be Happy: True Contentment Is In Your Power
by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
This is the sequel to the previous book “The Courage to Be Disliked” and I would recommend reading this some time after the first one and only IF you liked the ideas it presented.
The structure of this book is still in the debate style of the Youth vs the Philosopher. I really like this format when presenting new ideas because you get to see both sides of an argument. Now, after being presented the ideas of Alfred Adler, the Youth finds trouble applying it to real life. This is why I would recommend reading the book only after you yourself have also tried putting Adler’s ideas into action in your own life. Of course, such controversial ideas would cause a bit of friction in our chaotic, real world.
And so we come back to the Philosopher to help us once again with our problem.
The book describes itself as a compass; a guide, for the person on their journey to live according to the ideas presented by Adler in the first book. This is why it is necessary to read them in order. The first book is the map, and this one will point the direction on where to go.
Since it is more focused on the application in the real world, it dwells more on the interpersonal relationships mentioned in the first book. The fictional Youth is given the educator role, and the book centers on using Adlerian Psychology in the relationship between a teacher and student. However, the takeaways here can be applied in almost any interpersonal relationship one has in life.
It also gives importance to the value of work, the giving of respect, as well as the importance of “love” as the ultimate way to find happiness. I have to be honest that I did not agree with some of the things that Adler says, but I understand how he reached those statements and they do make sense in his context. Adler’s teachings are often tough pills to swallow but they do give some sense of solution to some thoughts I’ve been having.
This is a really good follow up to a fantastic book. I have to say that this book isn’t really as good as the first one, but rarely are sequels just as good or better than the originals. It is still pretty substantial and I would recommend everyone who read the first one to read it.
While it doesn’t answer everything and in fact just gives me some more additional questions, it’s amazing how clearly the ideas are presented. I still had to stop every now and then to reflect on what I read and I didn’t want this book to end because I wanted it to teach me everything there is about life.
And that’s the irony of it. At the end of the day, Adler’s goal is for every human to be “self-reliant” and having to resort to Adler’s teachings every time would be a blatant violation of that. Which is why the book itself declares that it is the last book. There will be nothing next. It is up to the reader to determine their lives based on what is given.
I might just have to re-read these two books again in the future just to see if I need to realign my life once more. But for now, I’m subscribing to most of Adler’s ideas.
And that’s about it for the books I’ve read and taken a liking to. I still have some more books down the line. I’ve started a binge on Haruki Murakami’s work so I might make a separate post about that in the future.
It’s been a pretty weak year for my reading and most of these books were condensed into the latter half of 2021. But with some of the lessons I learned from the books above, I’ll try to make 2022 a better year.
Thanks for reading and keep safe!