enliven [GROW]: Was there a book or article that inspired you to make a change in your life this year? What was the source and what did you change?

As must be clear to you all by now, I read a lot. And everything I read leaves its mark, even the books I give up on. Yes, somewhere in my late 20s, I accepted that one does not have to finish a book or a movie just because one started it. This is one area where life-is-short kicks in for me (otherwise I tend to err on the side of life is pretty damn long). Therefore, persistence should be applied to more useful things. When I’m not reading a book, I’m reading articles online, curated by my twitter list. It’s quite hard to pick out one and point to a specific change.

Ok wait, I got one. I just read Dee’s post on this, and it pointed me to the Bloggess’s – wow, that’s 2 ses (s’s? s’es?) in a row – blog, which I must sheepishly confess I had never encountered before (must expand personal blog reading beyond Indian sub-continent, okay India), and it turns out she’s written a book which looks like exactly the thing I would like to read, but more importantly, it reminded me of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me. Which is the book I want to cite for today’s question, in case you’re wondering what this is all about.

I didn’t have great expectations of that book, seeing as I only knew of the author as “that Indian girl in The Office” but it physically lifted me out of the gloom I was in and made me giggle. And there were theories in there that I have applied to my life. For example, we are too old for non-committed people. This can be applied when looking for a life partner, but also in friendships. In your 30s, you need to ditch people who cannot commit to a weekend plan because they are keeping their options open in case something funner comes along. It is also okay to love your parents and like hanging out with them. (And I’m not just saying this because I am a parent and have some secret fear that my kids are going to ditch me due to uncoolness. My son is two and yesterday he said “Stoppit daddy!” so I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that we don’t score high on the cool scales. This is reinforced by the expression on my kids’ faces – including not-yet-1 Mimi – when watching me do what I claim to be dancing.) See? Lots of wisdom there. (Mincat does not agree so tastes differ, but it has been on the popular books section of my library for ages which means that it indeed does have appeal.)

Which reminds me, I really need to get a copy of Paris Hilton’s book Confessions of an Heiress. I did, in fact, borrow it from the library but it had pages torn out of it, which  does not make for a pleasant reading experience but indicates that it is indeed a Book of Wisdom.

However, if you think the above are not intellectual enough, this year I got around to reading some of the big non-fiction titles I kept hearing about and ignoring because I didn’t do non-fiction. And they were actually as good as the hype:

Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat: If you were in your 20s in India during the millennium years (the beginning of the 2000s is what I mean), the opening chapter might have you thinking “I know all this already.” However, the book kind of explains the what, why, how, wherefore of all that stuff you already know about globalisation because your neighbour and his brother and his brother’s cousin-in-law works in a call centre. We lived through the time when there were no computers and then computers and then THE INTERNET and suddenly the whole world and everything you want to know about anything was at your fingertips but because we lived it, we rarely pause to take in the implications of it. Also, there is a terrific chapter on education, which is my field so I felt the need to photocopy it, except I realised I should just buy the book but it is relevant to anyone wondering what the job scene is going to be like in the future. This is not to say that I agree with everything he says; I think he needed to do more research on what the poor really think of globalisation, not what someone cherry picked by an NGO told him, for example. Nevertheless, the book underscores something that was also spelled out in the Julian Assange book. There is no going back from here. The world has changed. You can’t undo the Internet. So get with the programme.

Malcom Gladwell’s Blink: This is about how experts make split-second decisions that are not always rational but turn out to be accurate. This is not about your confidence that you are always right. It is about training and practice practice practice so your instincts are so honed that your brain does the work for you unconsciously. He explains how that happens. There are fascinating examples. One is of a psychologist John Gottman who can predict if a couple is going to divorce within 5 minutes of eavesdropping on their conversation. It gave me the jitters about my own marriage and the hopelessness of even trying to make it work (MinCat talked me down from that one).

I am not joking about the above recommendations. I am kind of bipolar when it comes to reading. I would recommend all of them equally, but the Mindy Kaling one first as an uplifter.

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