Read to Enhance Cognitive Skills
Reading has been universally recognized as one of the most valuable and enjoyable pastimes since humans learned how to write. The brain is a muscle – it needs hydration, nutrients, and regular exercise. It has proven time and time again that one of the best ways to tone that muscle is to read, and to read often.
What if I don’t like to read?
I’m going to answer your question with a question: What about reading do you not like? Some may experience anxiety around the thought of reading. It may remind them of being forced to read dull novels or convoluted textbooks for school. No one’s going to force you to read, and no one should, but there’s something for everyone. You may have to experiment with reading different kinds of books, but if that doesn’t work, magazines, graphic novels, journals, or blogs might be more your style.
What if I read slow?
Despite what many ‘productivity’ videos may say, reading is not about hitting a quota of pages per day. It does not matter how fast you read – what actually matters is that you connect to the text. As you read, think about how you relate to what’s being conveyed, or how you don’t. Work with the concepts or stories laid out, and ideally you will start to absorb new, valuable, or interesting ideas.
But what if I don’t have time to read?
I promise you, you do. If you’re seriously racking your brain trying to think of where to fit in 10-15 minutes of reading time in your schedule, look for those moments when you’re either unoccupied or less occupied. Do you commute through the public transportation system? Do you pick your kids up from school? Do you take lunch as your alone time during work, or even breaks? All of these moments of (relative) quiet can be times to read.
Here are my top five book recommendations:
SHOW YOUR WORK – AUSTIN KLEON
A book for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion, Show Your Work! is the followup to Kleon’s New York Times bestselling guide to creativity, Steal Like An Artist. If Steal was a book about stealing influence from others, Show is about influencing others by letting them steal from you. (cred. https://austinkleon.com/show-your-work/)
Those just starting out in a new career, especially creatives.
“The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others.”
TRIBE – SEBASTIAN JUNGER
Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Tribe explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. (cred. http://www.sebastianjunger.com/tribe-by-sebastian-junger)
Those looking for community, faith in humanity, or an interesting half-memoir, half-love letter to the world.
“As modern society reduced the role of community, it simultaneously elevated the role of authority. The two are uneasy companions, and as one goes up, the other tends to go down.”
FLOW – MIHALYI CSIKSZENTMIHALYI
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness, unlock our potential, and greatly improve the quality of our lives. (cred. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/flow-mihaly-csikszentmihalyi?variant=32118048686114)
Everyone. I’m not kidding. Everyone.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
CREATIVE QUEST – QUESTLOVE
A unique new guide to creativity from Questlove — inspirations, stories, and lessons on how to live your best creative life. (cred. https://questlove.com/creative-quest-by-questlove/ )
Creatives, entrepreneurs, students, and teachers.
“Don’t imagine what you will become-imagine what you won’t become. (Doing so) is a necessary refining process.”
BIG MAGIC – ELIZABETH GILBERT
Gilbert shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. (cred. https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/books/big-magic/ )
Anyone on the journey to practicing self-compassion, vulnerability, and honesty.
“People don’t do this kind of thing because they have all kinds of extra time and energy for it; they do this kind of thing because their creativity matters to them enough that they are willing to make all kinds of extra sacrifices for it.”
Flex those critical thinking muscles!
Below are some options in the San Antonio area to find great reads for all budgets.
Support your local library! Here is the link to the San Antonio Public Library, for your convenience.
Support your local independent bookstores! Nowhere Bookshop is a personal favorite.
Half Price Books is also a great option for finding your next read at a fraction of the cost.
For more advice on productivity and business skills, see the rest of Key Coworking’s blog.
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