Monday, May 14, 2012

What I'm Reading


I’m always reading a book—usually more than one. Today is no different, but I’m torn because I’m enjoying each one so much. Usually a favorite emerges, and I put aside the others to finish it—that hasn’t happened yet, but I’m getting pretty close to the end of a couple of these:

Just borrowed Outlander from the library—a beautiful, 20th anniversary edition. (How did this book exist for 20 years without my having picked it up?) I’m totally engrossed in Claire’s adventures in 18th century Scotland, which is a good thing, because I only have three weeks to read this 650+ page novel. So far I’m zipping along pretty quickly, so I think I can manage it. If I can’t, my library offers a one-week grace period before they start charging fines. Apparently I’m not the last person alive to read this, because there are multiple holds on this book so I won’t be able to renew it.

Zen and Horses is an exploration of “lessons from a year of riding,” as the subtitle explains. Ingrid Soren, who also teaches yoga and Zen, writes thoughtfully about what she learned, and beautifully describes the countryside where she lives and rides: “It was a golden day in mid-September. The fields were dormant, the stubble plowed under. The land lay quiet before the sowing of the winter wheat. A light mist rose off the ground in the morning, obscuring rust-tinged leaves as a low sun struggled through. Plums and apples dropped off heavy trees into the damp grass, and blackberries shone on the bramble.”

I broke away from working with Getting Things Done, by David Allen, to write this blog post. I’m always trying to find better ways to organize my time (so that I can have more time to read…and do other fun things) and this book was recommended in something else I read. Allen’s system is by far the most comprehensive I’ve seen, and I think that applying at least some of the principles will help me. Some snippets of wisdom: “The vast majority of people have been trying to get organized by rearranging incomplete lists of unclear things; they haven’t yet realized how much and what they need to organize in order to get the real payoff. They need to gather everything that requires thinking about and then do that thinking if their organizational efforts are to be successful.” I’m still in the process of gathering everything together. The idea is to have one system to keep track of everything—that way nothing falls through the cracks. (So far I’m overwhelmed and intimidated by the amount of stuff I’m collecting—but apparently that’s not unusual.)

One of the key things I’m learning from this book: Projects are overwhelming, because you can’t “do” a project—you can only do actions related to the project, some of which take only minutes. Ask yourself: what is the next action I can take to move this project forward?

On a lighter note, I’m also reading Not So Funny When it Happened: The Best of Travel Humor andMisadventure.  I picked this up when Outlander was “in transit” (on it’s way for me to pick up) and I didn’t want to start a novel I’d just have to put down again while I tried to finish Outlander. It’s easy to dip in and out of, as each piece stands alone, and most are fairly short and funny.

So that's what I'm reading. How about you?

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7 comments:

Cheryl Gebhart said...

So glad you're enjoying Outlander. I had no idea it had been around for 20 years! I have 3 of the later books that I would be happy to send to you when you get to them. I have A Breath of Snow and Ashes, The Fiery Cross, and An Echo in the Bone. I borrowed the others from the library.

Cheryl Gebhart said...

And I forgot to say that I'm almost finished reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (the author of The Remains of the Day. It's a good book, although disturbing subject matter.

Danielle said...

I do the same thing--juggle a few books and then when I get really into one and close to finishing--or to a point of 'no return' and must finish, but sometimes several books are equally good and I can't stick to just one--keep dipping into several! I loved Outlander when I read it--I read the first three books but then sort of ran out of steam as they are such chunky books. Sounds like you have some very interesting reads going, too!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Cheryl--Thanks for the book offer! I might just take you up on it.

I remember picking up The Remains of the Day a few years ago, but I can't remember if I finished it, and I'm not familiar with Never Let me Go. Sometimes worthwhile reads are not the happiest of books--I salute you for for taking on the challenge.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Danielle--I don't often get into some of the popular series books because I don't want to make the time commitment! I want to have the freedom to wander in my reading choices. I'm getting close to the end of Zen and Horses and Getting Things Done, so will probably finish them up by the end of the week. Then comes the pleasure of picking a new book to start! Because, you know, only have one or two going is just not enough...

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Kathy! Well. I haven't heard of Outlander before, so I'll need to get my hands on a copy sometime soon.

I am pretty organized, but there are some projects that I haven't started yet because they just seem to big. I like the way that Allen put the question, which I translate to baby steps. Without baby steps, we will never get into running the race.

Thanks so much for stopping by to see me and for your sweet comments.

Kathy M.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

My pleasure, Kathy. I'm sort of glad to hear I'm not the last person to hear about Outlander, too. I like it so far.

I'm all about the baby steps--they keep things from overwhelming me. My problem is keeping track of all the many, many baby steps I'm supposed to be taking!