d e t a i l s

  i hope to read every day.

believing that 'hoping' for something is not enough to get it done, i, like all parts of my life that matter to me, regiment this behavior. i do this by drawing lines in the sand at the start of every week for every place i 'hope' to arrive at and working towards reaching each of those marks.

because i have a number of different reading goals, it takes multiple lines in the sand to guide this part of my life. since i have multiple interests and aspirations that i'm interested in reading, i approach this is by drawing four lines in the sand. one for each of the following types of books:
  1. professional
  2. life improvement
  3. recreational
  4. review
for each of these, i have a book of the week. i then set a goal for each, like 50 pages, and then chip away at each moving in and out of them from day to day, but with the goal of reading 50 pages in each by week's end.

the fourth category, the review, refers to a book that i have read in the past that i will pluck from the shelf and revisit, rereading flagged passages and perusing the notes i made in the margins. while this obviously lends itself to professional books i've read (which are predominately not listed on this page *) and self-help sorts of literature, it is sometimes enjoyable to review faulkner or lewis just to re-experience their jaw-dropping, neuron-popping use of language.

* for a few reasons, in 2014 i have done a lot of reading for work which accounts for the paucity of entries here.

The Clan of the Cave Bear
Jean M. Auel

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Man's Search for Meaning
Viktor Frankl

favorite passages:
I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or ... a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.
Thus, the transitoriness of our existence in no way makes it meaningless. But it does constitute our responsibleness; for everything hinges upon our realizing the essentially transitory possibilities. Man constantly makes his choice concerning the mass of present potentialities; which of these will be condemned to nonbeing and which will be actualized? Which choice will be made an actuality once and forever, an immortal "footprint in the sands of time"? At any moment, man decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence.
The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which eh daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that that a young person has, the future which is in store for him? "No thank you," he will think. "Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most prod, though these are the things which cannot inspire envy.
To the European, it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to "be happy." But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to "be happy." Once the reason is found, however, one becomes happy automatically. As we see, a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy, last but not least, through actualizing the potential meaning inherent and dormant in a given situation.

This need for a reason is similar in another specifically human phenomenon—laughter. If you want anyone to laugh you have to provide him with a reason, e.g., you have to tell him a joke. In no way is it possible to evoke real laughter by urging him, or having him urge himself, to laugh.
... there is no reason to pity old people. Instead, young people should envy them. It is true that the old have no opportunities, no possibilities in the future. But they have more than that. Instead of possibilities in the future, they have realities in the past—the potentialities they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized—and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.

link to this review


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

i have a small problem here in that in looking back through the book and my notes, i'd need to transcribe a quarter of the book to this page to share what i found noteworthy. assuming we can all agree the economy of that approach is not ideal, i'll share just a few and suggest if you find them compelling, you get the book, which will surely cause you to glance about the world, and how you interpret that which unfolds before you, a touch differently.
How we feel about ourselves, the joy we get from living, ultimately depend directly on how the mind filters and interprets everyday experiences. Wether we are happy depends on inner harmony, not on the controls we are able to exert over the great forces of the universe.
A person can make himself happy, or miserable, regardless of what is actually happening "outside," just by changing the contents of consciousness. We all know individuals who can transform hopeless situations into challenges to be overcome, just through the force of their personalities. This ability to persevere despite obstacles and setbacks is the quality people most admire in others, and justly so; it is probably the most important trait not only for succeeding in life, but for enjoying it as well.
Because attention determines what will or will not appear in consciousness, and because it is also required to make any other mental events—such as remembering, thinking, feeling, and making decisions—happen there, it is useful to think of it as psychic energy. Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work it is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we invest this energy. Memories, thoughts, and feelings are all shaped by how we use it. And it is an energy under our control, to do with as we please; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.

link to this review

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