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2010: Book a Week Challenge

I’ve been participating in the book a week challenge since January. I wasn’t sure if I could actually read a book a week but discovered I can do it! On average I’m reading two books a week. Some are educational and others are fun novels.

A number of readers have been asking me for book recommendations, so I wanted to share the good stuff with you. The books that I didn’t enjoy are not on this list. Everything I mention is a must read.

I hope you get on board with this challenge. Destroy your TV and get your book groove on! For more good stuff, you can follow along on twitter. Just use the hashtag #bookaweek.

January

 

I re-read a few of Chris’s guides in January, including The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself: Creating Personal Freedom through a Very Small Business and The Unconventional Guide to the Social Web. Both guides helped me focus my energy on building my business and relationships.

Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar – This is one of the few books I’ve kept. It’s full of useful information and is an awesome reference book, especially if you practice yoga at home.

Last year I read Escape from Cubicle Nation and decided to re-read it once I arrived in Portland. If you’re thinking of changing careers, this book has plenty of tips and tools to help you plan your way to success.

February

Linchpin by Seth Godin – In this book you’ll learn how to calm your lizard brain and find your passion.

Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles for Decluttering Your Home and Your Life by Joshua Becker – An amazing book about rational minimalism. It’s a great read, especially for folks who have families.

Portland Noire – Edited by Kevin Sampsell is an amazing collection of stories. I read this book when I got to Portland. Now when I ride around town, I can’t help but think about the places and scenes mentioned in these short stories.

The Zinester’s Guide to Portland – If you’re in Portland and looking for a low to no budget guide, this is the perfect zine. I bring it with me everywhere.

Walk There! – I love meditative walking and Walk There is about “50 treks in and around Portland and Vancover.” It’s another book I’m planning on keeping in my library.

March

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith is a must read for anyone who is doing business on the internet. It’s packed with useful and pertinent information.

How to Live Anywhere Karol Gajda – If you want to live anywhere and travel the world, this is the perfect ebook. It’s split into three sections: Philosophy, Travel & Living, and Money. Karol covers all the basics and the interactive format of the book is engaging.

Unautomate Your Finances by Adam Baker – If you’re struggling with debt, I highly recommend purchasing this ebook. The tips and tools presented will help you rethink you finances, empower you to take control of your life and inspire you to pursue your dreams.

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard – Ever wonder what happens to your trash? Or how all of our crap I mean stuff is related to the struggle for social, economic and environmental rights? Reading this book is not only enlightening, but it will make you rethink your worldview.

Crush It! by Gary V is fantastic. Gary’s message is simple and beautiful: Take care of your family, do what you love and work hard. He argues that living your passion is possible because the internet and social media have changed the game. You’ll learn about community building, personal branding, how to use social media tools effectively and more.

Tribes by Seth Godin – Brilliant ideas about leadership and community building.

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin – a fantastic book about the good and bad of quitting a job, relationship or hobby and how you can work through “the dip.”

April

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – this book will show you how to be happier by taking small actionable steps. I loved how Rubin integrated the latest happiness research into her personal story.

Rework is about simplicity in business. Some of the topics covered include: ignoring the real world, workaholism, productivity, working with less and more. The folks at Rework don’t subscribe to the traditional business model or academic theories. And that’s what makes them rock stars.

Walking on Water: reading, writing and revolution is a powerful examination of teaching, writing, creativity and the industrial school system. The book made me think hard about our educational system and how people can start to reconnect with their creative self.

Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist is a book full of humor, advice and tales from a lifetime of travel. The books is filled with insights on simple living, consumerism and initiating kindness. Absolutely awesome!

May

The Sticky eBook Forumla is one of the ebook marketing and writing resources on the market. I read the entire book cover-to-cover in one sitting. Plus it’s loaded with practical information and tips to assist writers.

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel – a brilliant book about the intersections between long-term travel and simple living.

Obsessive Consumption is filled with beautiful art and thoughtful commentary on consumerism.

Born to Run – an amazing, inspiring and beautiful story about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons. Topics covered include health, science, the shoe industry, and more. Read this book and learn why we were born to run!

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life is funny, soulful, and beautiful. Miller gave me a lot to chew on. I don’t agree with all Miller’s points but he made me think and reevaluate my perspective.

If you want to recreate your own story and start living a more authentic existence, read this book.

“…when I started learning about how to resolve a story, and when I began thinking about story as a guide for life, I took a lot of comfort in that principle. It wasn’t necessary to win for the story to be great, it was necessary to sacrifice everything.” ~Donald Miller

My Abandonment is based on a true story. It’s a mesmerizing, disturbing and tender novel. I literally couldn’t put this book down and devoured it in one evening.

June

Sh*t my Dad Says – A quick read that will have you laughing out loud in coffee shops.

Plenitude: The New Economics of True WealthAs Schor eloquently points out, “Plenitude is a powerful way of getting beyond the conversation of denial—all the things we somehow can’t do, to seeing a way forward that is life-affirming, socially just and restorative for the planet.”

Tales of a Female Nomad – Self-discovery, culture, and kindness are a few of the many beautiful themes in this travel book. A must read.

Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today! – This books takes a look at the theoretical, historical, and practical aspects of moving beyond a capitalist society and embracing a new way of working and living.

After reading this book, you’ll be forced to reexamine the nature of your work, community, and our broad economic system.

July

How Starbucks Saved My Life – The tale of Michael Gates Gills is inspiring, warm, and moving.

The Historian – Elegantly sinister and gripping. This will book will keep you up late at night, turning the pages.

Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid & Beyond The American Dream by William Powers – A beautiful memoir about the benefits of living small.

Inside-Out Simplicity – is inspiring and filled with practical tips. I didn’t agree with all of Joshua’s points, but I think that’s a good thing. The book made me think and addressed a variety of important issues, like relationships, gratitude, why our words matter, and more.

August

Chris Guillebeau was kind enough to send me a preview copy of his awesome new print book, The Art of Non-Conformity. It was one of the best book I read during August! It contains a wealth of information, stories, and practical tips. If you’ve been sleepwalking through life, this book will wake you up and inspire you to start living a more thoughtful, unconventional life.

The Joy of Less is a comprehensive manual to minimalist living. The book is “part philosophy, part pep talk, part practical advice—basically, everything you need to know to purge the clutter from your life.”

September

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior -fantastic story telling! Check out the description below:

“Recently we have seen plenty of irrational behavior, whether in politics or the world of finance. What makes people act irrationally? In a timely but thin collection of anecdotes and empirical research, the Brafman brothers—Ari (The Starfish and the Spire), a business expert, and Rom, a psychologist—look at sway, the submerged mental drives that undermine rational action, from the desire to avoid loss to a failure to consider all the evidence or to perceive a person or situation beyond the initial impression and the reluctance to alter a plan that isn’t working. To drive home their points, the authors use contemporary examples, such as the pivotal decisions of presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush, coach Steve Spurrier and his Gators football team, and a sudden apparent epidemic of bipolar disorder in children (which may be due more to flawed thinking by doctors making the diagnoses). The stories are revealing, but focused on a few common causes of irrational behavior, the book doesn’t delve deeply into the psychological demons that can devastate a person’s life and those around him.” (summary from Publisher’s Weekly)

Celebrating Time Alone – “For six years, Lionel Fisher lived by himself on a remote Pacific Northwest beach, where he had ample time to reflect on how to use solitude to become a happier, more fulfilled person. In a writing style at once eloquent and down to earth, Fisher interweaves his own experiences with other people’s real-life stories to affirm the life-changing benefits of being alone.”

The Mesh – “In short, the Mesh outlines how sharing resources and information creates an entirely new class of commerce. When you travel to another city, you don’t buy a house. You stay in a hotel. A hotel, because it allows hundreds of people a year to share a single room, is a mesh business.” ~Seth Godin

The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want – this book is full of fascinating research and story telling. It’s a comprehensive guide on how to become happier.

“Drawing on her own groundbreaking research with thousands of men and women, research psychologist and University of California professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky has pioneered a detailed yet easy-to-follow plan to increase happiness in our day-to-day lives-in the short term and over the long term. The How of Happiness is a different kind of happiness book, one that offers a comprehensive guide to understanding what happiness is, and isn’t, and what can be done to bring us all closer to the happy life we envision for ourselves. Using more than a dozen uniquely formulated happiness-increasing strategies, The How of Happiness offers a new and potentially life- changing way to understand our innate potential for joy and happiness as well as our ability to sustain it in our lives.”

October

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – If you’re a writer or want to start writing, you must read this book. It offers invaluable advice on writing and life.

“Anne Lamott isn’t afraid to help you let it out. She’ll help you find your passion and your voice, beginning from the first really crummy draft to the peculiar letdown of publication. Readers will be reminded of the energizing books of writer Natalie Goldberg and will be seduced by Lamott’s witty take on the reality of a writer’s life, which has little to do with literary parties and a lot to do with jealousy, writer’s block and going for broke with each paragraph. Marvelously wise and best of all, great reading.” ~Amazon.com

Eat, Pray, Love – I finally read Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir and I loved every word. I thought it was a brave book and I really enjoyed her conversational writing style.

“At the age of thirty-one, Gilbert moved with her husband to the suburbs of New York and began trying to get pregnant, only to realize that she wanted neither a child nor a husband. Three years later, after a protracted divorce, she embarked on a yearlong trip of recovery, with three main stops: Rome, for pleasure (mostly gustatory, with a special emphasis on gelato); an ashram outside of Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for “balancing.” These destinations are all on the beaten track, but Gilbert’s exuberance and her self-deprecating humor enliven the proceedings: recalling the first time she attempted to speak directly to God, she says, “It was all I could do to stop myself from saying, ‘I’ve always been a big fan of your work.'” ~via The New Yorker

The Power of Half – A great little story about an wealthy family who decided to live with less and start giving back.

“In this well-meaning but self-congratulatory memoir, the Salwen family decides to sell their gorgeous Atlanta mansion, move to a home half the size, and commit half the proceeds to the needy. Putting their plan into action, a raft of family decisions and meetings are led by mom Joan, a former corporate consulting executive and teacher, with the help of an actual whiteboard. Entrepreneur and activist Kevin, a former Wall Street Journal editor, writes with daughter Hannah, who, as instigator of the family project, provides commentary and practical suggestions. The chronicle is intriguing and the cohesiveness of the four family members is remarkable.”

November

Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic – A practical book on yoga, especially for those of us who live in the urban jungle.

“Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic brings classical teachings alive and helps us move our rewarding experience of yoga beyond the mat and meditation cushion and into the whole of life.

For modern yogis feeling challenged in our efforts to remain deeply spiritual, contemplative, and centered amid the stresses and complications of urban life, this book serves as both inspiration and guide. Darren Main’s fresh, down-to-earth approach to the time-tested practice and philosophy of yoga shows us the way to apply the ancient wisdom of India to every moment and every breath so that even our busiest days can be powerful and mystical adventures, filled with all the wonder and magic that was once reserved for those living as monks and nuns. Yoga for the twenty-first century, this is the fulfilling and joyful path of the urban mystic.”

—The Bodhi Tree Review

Committed is a memoir, plus a fascinating look at the history of marriage. I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing.

Little House on a Small Planet – If you’re thinking of downsizing this is a fantastic book. It features stories about couples and families living in small spaces. A must read for anyone who wants to build their own little home.

“Live in less space but have more room to enjoy it. Does that sound like a contradiction? Smart readers will discover that, on the contrary, living small can free up your mind, your wallet, and your soul. With the cost of living rising, and the environment suffering from excessive building, now is the time to scale back. Join the movement.
Little House on a Small Planet is a guidebook and an invitation. With floor plans, photographs, advice, and anecdotes, this unique book asks and answers, “What fills a home when the excess is cut away, and how do we get there from here?”

Discover how to:
– Build, remodel, redecorate, or just rethink your needs
– Think, sometimes literally, outside the box
– Live close and simple
– Apply spiritual and social solutions to your material desires”

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things takes an in-depth look at hoarding, consumerism, and stuff. It’s fascinating and worth reading. Take a look at the Amazon.com product review:

“What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper that’s ever come into his home? What compulsions drive a woman like Irene, whose hoarding cost her her marriage? Or Ralph, whose imagined uses for castoff items like leaky old buckets almost lost him his house? Or Jerry and Alvin, wealthy twin bachelors who filled up matching luxury apartments with countless pieces of fine art, not even leaving themselves room to sleep?

Randy Frost and Gail Steketee were the first to study hoarding when they began their work a decade ago; they expected to find a few sufferers but ended up treating hundreds of patients and fielding thousands of calls from the families of others. Now they explore the compulsion through a series of compelling case studies in the vein of Oliver Sacks.With vivid portraits that show us the traits by which you can identify a hoarder–piles on sofas and beds that make the furniture useless, houses that can be navigated only by following small paths called goat trails, vast piles of paper that the hoarders “churn” but never discard, even collections of animals and garbage–Frost and Steketee explain the causes and outline the often ineffective treatments for the disorder. They also illuminate the pull that possessions exert on all of us. Whether we’re savers, collectors, or compulsive cleaners, none of us is free of the impulses that drive hoarders to the extremes in which they live.

For the six million sufferers, their relatives and friends, and all the rest of us with complicated relationships to our things, Stuff answers the question of what happens when our stuff starts to own us.”

focus : a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction – Are you searching for tools to help you focus? Then Leo’s book is the perfect starting point. Stop checking twitter and your email every 2 seconds and create art.

December

Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid & Beyond The American Dream — I read Twelve by Twelve earlier this year, but I loved the book so much that I decided to re-read it this month. It was worth the time. William Powers is a very talented writer.

“Take four giant steps forward. Turn right; do it again. Turn right again; repeat. Right; repeat. Now imagine living in a space roughly the size of the area just paced off. Without electricity or running water. In the middle of nowhere. Having recently returned from years in the Bolivian rain forest, environmental activist Powers experienced a nearly debilitating form of culture shock upon his reentry into the heart of American consumerism. His salvation came from ardent permaculturist Dr. Jackie Benton, who offered Powers the use of her spartan cabin in rural North Carolina. Living among other “wildcrafters”—organic farmers, furniture artisans, and eco-developers—Powers learned firsthand what it means to be self-sufficient in the midst of a nation that profligately squanders its resources and looks askance at those who choose to live deliberately. While there are no easy answers to be found in such an extreme experiment, Powers’ eloquent memoir reveals the breadth of this conflict and the depth of one man’s commitment to himself and his community.” –Carol Haggas

House Lust: America’s Obsession With Our Homes — Ever wonder why Americans are so obsessed with homes? Then this book is for you.

“Despite the current downturn in the housing market, the country’s mania for homes that exploded during the last half-decade is still alive and well, according to Newsweek writer McGinn. The fascination with homes—talking about, valuing, scheming over, envying, shopping for, refinancing, or just plain ogling homes—has continued even after the market has cooled, McGinn argues, and can be seen in the ongoing popularity of HGTV, the 24-7 real estate and home improvement cable channel and its flagship show, House Hunters.

To prove his thesis, McGinn entertainingly explores the gamut of housing obsessions, from buying personally designed and oversized trophy homes, attempting large-scale renovations and spending obscene amounts of time on real estate Web sites such as Zillow and PropertyShark to actually going out and getting a real estate license, which McGinn himself does after only minimal training. It is this ability to get inside the actual lives of the housing-obsessed rather that relying purely on statistics to prove his point that makes this book as enjoyable as an episode of Flip This House, another popular housing reality show that McGinn cites in a book that is, at heart, all about behavior, not economics.” via Publishers Weekley

Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life — This is a fantastic memoir and how to book. Made from Scratch might sit on my tiny bookshelf for a while. More than likely I’ll re-read it next year and refer to a number of the recipes and resources in the back. It’s a fun and quick read.

I read Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life for a second time. I love this book! It was incredibly inspiring.

The Geography of Bliss by Weiner — This book is funny, clever, and entertaining. I loved how Weiner integrated the latest happiness research into the story. I highly recommend picking up a copy.

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Looking for my 2011 list? Click here.

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