I enjoyed reading this book over Christmas


A Christmas Memory is Truman Capote's recounting of his Christmases in the 1930s, when he lived in a house with several older relatives. He becomes close to a much older eccentric cousin he calls “my friend,” and they share a unique bond during the Christmas season. 
  
A Christmas Memory was first published in the December, 1956 issue of Mademoiselle Magazine and later put into book form.
   
I read it for the first time this Christmas. A Christmas Memory is endearing, the same way that Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is endearing. My eyes got misty toward the ending. My wife read it, and she loved it too. A Christmas Memory is worthy of being included with the other great Christmas books that families like to display and read during Christmas season. I have the Alfred A. Knopf hardcover edition, beautifully illustrated by Beth Peck (see sample illustration below). To buy this book from Amazon, click here.


Four Books That Can Change Your Life In 2019


Here is my list of the top four books that can help make 2019 your most successful year yet. The tips, insights and new perspectives in these books will help you work smarter, plus give you more confidence and energy in 2019. 
    

This book by Dilbert cartoonist and bestselling author Scott Adams is about what works and what doesn’t in the game of life. This book is packed with fresh insight about the simple things anyone can do to become successful, and I really enjoyed reading it. “Goals are for losers, systems are for winners,” Adams likes to say. It sounds jarring and counter-intuitive, but what he means is, setting up a regular system to follow is always more effective than setting goals. Goal-oriented people mostly fail and feel unsatisfied. (Example―if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you will constantly think that you are not at your goal until you reach it.) A more effective and satisfying approach is to set up a system and follow it. This is a humorous, easy-to-read book with lots of insight and fresh perspectives. This would be an ideal book for someone who has just graduated from college and is beginning their career — but even someone two decades or more into the working world will find plenty of ideas to put to use. Click here to buy from Amazon. 
  
2.Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Lee Duckworth


Duckworth argues that the key to success isn’t talent or IQ but a combination of passion and persistence known as “grit.” Chapter 7 alone — “Practice” — is worth the price of the book. I happened to read “Grit” while I was training for a strenuous cycling event, and after reading about the way “gritty” athletes approach practice I changed how I was training. Duckworth says elite performers practice differently than other people—they engage in deliberate practice to work on their weaknesses or to reach specific objectives. So after reading “Grit” I started training with more intensity, doing focused drills and exercises to build leg strength, cardio, and mental toughness. The new, “gritty” approach paid off for me, and I successfully completed the cycling event. Click here to buy from Amazon.  
   

Sometimes it's tempting to skip over classic books because they seem too old-timey. Whatever you do, do not skip How to Win Friends & Influence People. For decades, the time-tested advice in this book has carried countless people up the ladder of success. Among the vital success tips in this book: the six ways to make people like you; the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking; and, the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment. Adopting only a few of the easy tips to help you get along with and influence the people in your life can be transformative. Click here to buy from Amazon.
   

Tribe of Mentors by four-time #1 best-selling author Tim Ferriss is a must-read book for anybody who wants to get to the next level. Ferriss reached out to more than 100 top performers in the world (including writers, athletes, business owners, spiritual leaders, actors, entrepreneurs, investors, and more) to identify the key tips and techniques they use to be productive and successful. Tribe of Mentors is a handy, invaluable compilation of their secrets for success. Click here to buy from Amazon.  

I wish this book had been around when I was in my 20s



How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Dilbert cartoonist and bestselling author Scott Adams is about what works and what doesn’t in the game of life. This book is packed with fresh insight about the simple things anyone can do to become successful, and I really enjoyed reading it.

“Goals are for losers, systems are for winners,” Adams likes to say. It sounds jarring and counter-intuitive, but what he means is, setting up a regular system to follow is always more effective than setting goals. Goal-oriented people mostly fail and feel unsatisfied. (Example―if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you will constantly think that you are not at your goal until you reach it.) A more effective and satisfying approach is to set up a system that you follow on a regular or daily basis that gives you a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place. (AndI liked this partAdams recommends the systems you set up minimize the need for willower, since we all have a limited storehouse of willpower.)  
  
Other important ideas: be fairly average at several skills rather than being an expert at one thing. Start developing yourself in several areas such as public speaking, business writing, conversation, overcoming shyness, proper grammar, persuasion, and others. Don't underestimate the benefits of personal energy... it's so important to realize that diet and fitness are vital to keeping your energy up. If you get diet and fitness right, the other things fall into their places more easily.
  
This is a humorous, easy-to-read book with lots of insight and fresh perspectives. This would be an ideal book for someone who has just graduated from college and is beginning their career. I wish this book had been available when I was in my mid-20s. It is unfortunate that most people in their twenties today probably don't know who Scott Adams is, since Dilbert is probably not well-known among millennials (somehow I doubt they read comics). Click here to buy from Amazon.


Finished reading Moby-Dick


Revenge is self-defeating. It will eat away at you until there is nothing left. ― Chris Bradford
      
Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville is one of those classic books I should have read long ago but never got around to reading. It took me a couple of months to get through it—about as long as it would take to sail from Nantucket around Cape Horn—but I’m glad I finally read it.
  
The dominant figure in Moby-Dick is moody, one-legged Captain Ahab, who is hell-bent on getting revenge on the white whale who took one of his legs on a previous voyage. You get the idea he’s willing to do whatever it takes to kill Moby-Dick—even if it means putting the lives of everyone on the ship in danger.
  
First Mate Starbuck becomes convinced that Ahab's obsession with Moby-Dick not only jeopardizes the investment of the ship’s investors, but puts the lives of the entire crew at risk. So Starbuck tries to reason with Ahab, without success. In Chapter 123, Starbuck considers killing Ahab in an attempt to save everyone else, but decides against it. With no one else on the ship willing to challenge Ahab, the captain continues in his mad pursuit.
  
The tragic ending—everyone on the ship except Ishmael dies—illustrates the inevitable result of Ahab’s insane quest for revenge.
  
One unexpected thing I enjoyed was noticing some of the expressions in the dialogue that are still used today. “Hay-Seeds” (pg 37), a derogatory term for unsophisticated people from the country, is still used in the US. Also: "chowder-headed people" (pg 74). Chowderhead, meaning a stupid person, is an expression still used in New England. So 170 years after Moby-Dick was published, some of America's slang expressions from the 1840s are still around. I like that for some reason.
  
Caution: several chapters explore the science of whales, whaling and whale ships, and those chapters get tedious.
  
I really like the Penguin Classics Edition. To buy it from Amazon, click here.