Principles (audiobook) By Ray Dalio
What it is: Systematic principles and philosophies of life, as learned and implemented by the founder of a major investment firm.
Why I picked it up: It was mentioned enough that it is a part of contemporary entrepreneurial pop culture, and I'm a contemporary entrepreneur.
What I thought: I wasn’t so sure it was a good choice, until he spoke of his love for his wife. That absolutely sold me, because I am a hopeless romantic.
If you have to pick between the E-Myth and this book - pick this book.
It’s earnest, and clearly wise - because it is written by someone who is openly and humbly flawed.
Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist By Carol Marine
What it is: A small ode to the wisdom of daily painting. Daily painting is exactly what it sounds like, painting small format art on a regular basis.
Why I picked it up: My former in laws bought it for me a few years ago. Things got rough, and suddenly the act of picking up this one specific book became too sad.
I realized I was in a better spot now, a spot where I’m thankful to have had those people in my life.
And so, I read through it again, this time I was able to evaluate and appreciate the instructions for painting in oils.
What I thought of it: The general premise, that the focused practice of painting daily, will provide a tremendous boost to your learning is useful to any creative person. And, in my experience, it is true.
I had hoped that now that I’m learning oils, it would provide more instruction. It instead provides a strange amalgam of advice for brand new artists and an assumption that readers know how to paint. For example, it includes exercises for playing with hard and soft edges, but zero instruction on how to obtain either.
It’s optimistic, encouraging, and gets me painting. I like anything that gets me painting.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (audiobook) By Susan Cain
What it is: Part autobiography framed in terms of introversion, part overview of current scientific research.
Why I picked it up: I needed a new audiobook and my library happened to have the file available.
What I thought: I love this book. I would recommend this book to anyone - introverts, people who are puzzled by introverts, and people who look down on them.
I’m so glad that I happened to pick this up in the middle of powering through a slew of business books. It helped me see just how discordant much of the business advice I read is for my own personality. That it’s ok to pay attention to my own tendencies.
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
What it is: A standalone novel based on the weird and wonderfully creepy world of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast.
Why I picked it up: My boyfriend pressed it into my hands and I couldn't put it down.
What I thought: I love the world of Night Vale, and I appreciated the deeper look at the mechanics of a world skewed dark.
But what I really loved was how much of the action wasn't action at all, but internal thoughts and feelings. That so much of the plot was driven by meditative rage, and also love.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (audiobook) by Mark Manson
What it is: Buddhism with swearing, science, and autobiographical anecdotes.
Why I picked it up: It was recommended by Tara Swiger as one of her favorite books of 2017.
What I thought: I really enjoyed it.
And yet, none of it really stuck with me. Or rather, I've studied Buddhism and positive psychology to the point that it all ended up in a fuzzy muddle of pleasant familiarity.
However, I appreciate, and need, the reminders that desiring a specific outcome causes suffering. Caring too much about the wrong stuff causes suffering. Even trying to avoid suffering causes suffering, because discomfort is inherently normal and usually ok.
I would recommend this book if you're spinning your wheels and feeling like there's just too much going on that you HAVE to care about.
Why I picked it up: Lisa Jacobs mentioned the same author as being relevant to entrepreneurs. And, I can see her point. Endurance is endurance.
What I thought: I admit I skipped most of the book. I am not a runner.
That being said, I think there was some advice I’ll be using.
Mainly, that I should decide what my “peak” level of painting, writing, or so on looks like. And then I should work towards doing it regularly, while making sure my brain knows that we have, in fact, survived. And then I should keep doing whatever my “marathon” happens to be, with lots of making sure that I am still alive.
I can do that!
Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling (audiobook)
What it is: It appears to be about Mindy Kaling discussing how unlikely her life has become.
Why I picked it up: I want more comedy in my life. Mindy Kaling has a clear, accessible, and likable comedic voice.
What I thought: I often worry about saying dumb things. Mindy Kaling says dumb things all the time, and she’s perfectly likable, because she’s gracious and honest about it.
This book has the best little snippet about mentors. It’s funny, accessible, and geared towards women.
I waffle between enjoying it, feeling like it’s stuffed full of filler, and feeling glimpses of compassion for younger, even more stupid, 20-something Abigail. All in all, I'd recommend it.
Eat that Frog! (audiobook) by Brian Tracy
What it is: A classic book about time management.
Why I picked it up: It's one of those books that are mentioned everywhere. I can't say I had a lot of interest in eating frogs, but it was referenced so many times that I started to feel like I was missing out.
What I thought: I think it’s a testament to how overloaded I was that the segment about the woman who convinced her employer to hire someone else so she could focus on the tasks that were her primary areas of excellence made me cry.
Even if it’s not how you end up managing your time, it’s still full of excellent advice and motivating stories.
Once Upon a Grind (audiobook) By Cleo Coyle
What it is: A cozy mystery involving coffee and people who love coffee.
Why I picked it up: I wanted a good audiobook for listening to while I drive. The library had it available. Perfect.
What I thought: I love cozy mysteries. I just do. This was an excellent one. I'm hoping to pick up another audiobook from the same author.
The Four Tendencies (audiobook) by Gretchen Rubin
What it is: A theory of how people respond differently to expectations. It's full of anecdotes and practical application.
Why I picked it up: I picked it up because this book is mentioned so often.
What I thought: I wanted to be dismissive, but Rubin’s observations of human behavior are keen and comforting. Other people are weird in the ways that I’m weird, and that’s awesome. I absolutely recommend it.
Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief (audiobook) by Jon Kabat-Zinn
What it is: Mindfulness for chronic pain.
Why I picked it up: I have chronic pain.
What I thought: Kabat-Zinn is almost a synonym for mindfulness. Good meditations, information on mindfulness, highly recommended.
Adventure Cats: Living Nine Lives to the Fullest by Laura J. Moss
What it is: A series of short essays about leash trained cats. It is also chock full of dramatic adventure photographs of cats.
Why I picked it up: Recommended by Kitten Lady, Hannah Shaw.
What I thought: A quick read, and inspired me to find new ways to enrich the life of my own feline. I feel like a lot of the essays were about families with a lot more disposable income then mine, but the information is still entertaining. It's just, rock climbing for a week with specialty gear and such isn't currently on my radar.
That being said, I absolutely downloaded a clicker app and taught my cat to sit while I'm holding treats.
The Grain-Free Family Table : 125 Delicious Recipes for Fresh, Healthy Eating Every Day by Carrie Vitt
What it is: A grain free, paleo friendly book of Norman Rockwell type recipes. I grew up eating American food, but it was kugel and knishes. This book is not that type of American, it's one of the other types.
Why I picked it up: The Monroe County library system had it available. I’m trying to learn how to live with a diagnosis of “ok, keep avoiding gluten.”
What I thought: Tasty and budget friendly. I skipped a lot of the recipes because I rarely eat meat, and modified them even more because I also skip nightshades. Even so, I have used it for the past few weeks and haven’t found anything abysmal yet. Well worth a look if you are looking for accessible grain free recipes.
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
What it is: A treatise on the benefits of franchising your business.
Why I picked it up: It’s one of those business books that repeatedly shows up on must-read books, gets name dropped in business blogs, and is just generally part of the enteripreneaurial cultural space.
What I thought: In turns highly problematic and mildly beneficial, I can absolutely see how this suggested framework for business has percolated into the entrepreneurial waters.
At first glance, franchising doesn’t seem like it would apply to an art business. But look at the businesses of Bob Ross, Thomas Kinkade, and other art empires - it applies.
Saga Volumes 1 and 2 by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples
What it is: A Hugo Award winning saga (exactly what it says on the tin) about the war torn adventures of a forbidden infant and her refugee family. Most certainly for adults.
Why I picked it up: I realized I stopped painting and drawing fantasy themes to focus on the building blocks of convincing composition - nature studies, investigating the qualities of paints, and so on. And then I never started up again. I’m trying to reconnect with one of my earliest loves - sci-fi.
What I thought: Holy smokes, I love this. Realizing I could get the digital copies from the library was a dangerous thing and I lost a lot of sleep! I stopped when I was too bleary eyed to type in the title of the next one.
Abigail, or AEE Miller, loves the following: art, Halloween, her family, learning, and so much more!