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Book Reviews

One of my goals for the New Year is to read at least thirty books and write a brief book review afterward.

My reviews will typically only be a paragraph or two. To write longer, a more detailed book review requires a lot more effort. Once I have finished a book, I want to move on to the next one, not spend several hours writing a review.

Furthermore, I expect most of my ratings will be five stars. When reading, I am not looking for perfection or riveting information on every page. Instead, if I can come away with one good idea, something that I never knew before, or am forced to reevaluate a current belief or bias, then I will consider my time reading well spent. I got this idea of what constitutes success from Alex Honnold in a Harvard Business Review article “Life’s Work: An Interview with Alex Honnold.” Alex Honnold is the free solo climber who conquered the 3,000-foot ascent of El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park.

Is the way you train—memorizing and rehearsing your plan—typical?

Visualizing how you’re going to navigate a difficult section is pretty common. Where are my hands going to go? Where should I place my foot? Even recreational climbers in gyms make plans for themselves before they leave the ground. With free soloing, you’re both remembering or anticipating how to do certain climbs and trying to imagine the emotional component. What will it feel like to be up high in a crazy, contorted position without protection during a difficult stretch? When I’m not climbing, I spend most of my time reading books about training, psychology, and performance. If I get one good idea from one book, that’s a success.

As an aside, nonsubscribers to Harvard Business Review can read three articles, I believe, per month free of charge. So if Honnold’s interview piques your interest, head over to HBR to enjoy the article.

Also, sometimes when I read a book, I realize that I am not in the target audience. Even so, I keep reading because I might learn something interesting or helpful. And to penalize an author’s work by not giving a five-star rating just because I am not part of his target audience seems unfair.

My book reviews on my blog will be very similar, if not identical, to my reviews on Goodreads.

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