Jan 11, 2009

Recent books

Here are some books that I've read recently:

  • The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi - very enjoyable; I read Sci-Fi books while on my exercise bike, and so I don't even notice the time go by...

  • The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life by Thomas M. Sterner -- Sterner prepares & maintains pianos for concerts, which requires long hours of concentration. So he talks about how to get to that level (basically, by living in the Now) and what it takes to be an expert in something (basically, deep, intensive practice). I noticed something similar when I first started playing basketball back in high school. There was a difference between practice and playing, and those who started playing, without practicing the fundamentals, never got very far. And, also, when you have the choice between practice or play right in front of you, it is easier and more fun to go play with others than to practice.

  • Love is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald G. Jampolsky -- this book is kind of a summary of A Course in Miracles (which is extremely popular in some New Age circles). Jampolsky lists 12 principles and illustrates them with personal examples. Here are the 12 principles:
    1. All that I give I give to myself
    2. Forgiveness is the key to happiness
    3. I am never upset for the reason I think
    4. I am determined to see things differently
    5. I can escape from the world I see by giving up attacking thoughts
    6. I am not the victim of the world I see
    7. Today I will judge nothing that occurs
    8. This instant is the only time there is
    9. The past is over -- it can touch me not
    10. I could see peace instead of this
    11. I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt
    12. I am responsible for what I see
  • Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects by Dmitry Orlov -- Orlov paints a frightening picture of what would happen to America if its economy totally collapsed; like what happened to the Soviet Union in the 80s. He believes that things would fare much worse in America.

  • Conquest of Mind by Eknath Easwaran. Easwaran's writing is brilliant, poetic and moving. Here are some quotes from there:
    (p42) Artistry in living begins with learning to be flexible for the sake of those around us.
    (p44) A big ego has sharp angles and corners that stick out everywhere; we cannot get near such a person without getting hurt
    (p51) "Do what brings pleasure, avoid what brings pain." To act in freedom, we have to unlearn this basic reflex.
    (p98) [Quoting Ramanuja] "What we seek as our highest goal depends upon what we believe ourselves to be."