The value of maths problems from those mathematics classes when we were at school was not about whether you would ever use them in real life (though I have in some of the strangest ways!) but that it rewires your wetworks.
The same, I believe, goes with expanding your general knowledge of a field outside of the one you are in.
As a general rule, I think we tend to either stick to what we know, and learning tends to be within the scope of the general field we are in. It’s natural, and it’s normal, and it occurs in every industry with every skill set.
Ever notice how after a couple of weeks, any new exercises or physical activities you take become easier? If you were trying to lose weight, you’ll notice it’s about this time that the impact starts dropping off. It’s because our bodies are designed to increase efficiency. Just like our muscles, our minds will find ways to become efficient in the areas we use most.
To increase the ability to make a bigger impact and train our muscles (or synapses) to be able to handle more, we need to keep changing gears and exercises. This is one reason I continue down this philosophy of reading a great variety of topics and challenging myself to learn something new everyday.. I see it as a way to keep training my brain to be fit. Different paths to think, different ways to see a problem. Different ways to a solution.
That said, I am also lazy. I am. I tend to recycle work, re-use and re-post. A comment I made on the workplace collaboration site gets sanitised and reposted on one of my social networks, and sometimes the opposite happens.
I was asked after one such status cross-post (Thinking is difficult; That’s why most people judge” — Carl Jung) to recommend a reading list. So, I present my leveraged post from that network to here as this weeks blog entry.
Any chance of a reading list?
You know, this is a really hard thing for me. It’s like saying, any chance of recommending your favourite oxygen particles? I am reminded of a quote by Maud Casey
“I was born with a reading list I will never finish.”
So, where do I start? This is going to take a while …
One of the greatest rewards of a reading life is discovery and I think it’s important that you go through the process of exploration and discovery … and sometimes, just read the books that happen to find their own way into your hands.
Having been lucky to accidentally find this article recently, it’s the only one I will ever recommend from now on: 28 Books You Should Read If You Want To when people ask me to recommend a reading list.
That said, I won’t weasel out of it with just that.
I’m going to leave out fiction, fantasy and sci-fi, though it’s fair to say you can’t go too far wrong with anything by Terry Pratchett. Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Feist … or you know, just go have a look at my goodreads … unless you really want to know about cookbooks, then I keep them over at eat your books.
So, what else? I have in the past stated that one of the issues in today’s day and age is that we live in an age of information overload. Data is everywhere. And with all of the sources, how does one cope and remove the blinkers to determine the value of what we have been given?
So, all of that said, let me throw out a few suggestions to see if anything sparks your inner literary explorer in arenas that may not be part of your current thinking or reading landscapes…
Why not take a look at the Theory of Evolution – from two new perspectives?
- The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution by David Quammen
- The Descent of Woman: The Classic Study of Evolution by Elaine Morgan
Consider Food as a window to history and culture?
- A Movable Feast: Ten Millennia of Food Globalization edited & compiled by Kenneth F. Kiple
- The Gastronomica Reader edited and compiled by Darra Goldstein (and the blog and magazine behind it)
or as a set of political and moral arguments?
- The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith
- Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
- In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
Geek out a bit?
- Good Math – A Geek’s Guide to the Beauty of Numbers, Logic, and Computation by Mark Chu-Carroll
- The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive by John Graham-Cumming
- Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy
Look at the lighter side of religions and myths?
- 50 Things You’re Not Supposed To Know: Religion by Daniele Bolelli
- Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes by Cory O’Brien (also his blog)
Consider the world of Data science?
- Data Smart: Using Data Science to Transform Information into Insight by John W. Foreman
- Data Science for Business: What You Need to Know About Data Mining and Data-analytic Thinking by Foster Provost & Tom Fawcett
- The Long Tail | Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of Moreby Chris Anderson
Or re-program your thinking?
- Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware by Andrew Hunt
Try and understand some other earthly species?
- Where Do Camels Belong?: The story and science of invasive species by Ken Thompson
- Animals in Translation : Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior By Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson
- The Infested Mind: Why Humans Fear, Loathe, and Love Insects by Jeffrey Lockwood
- Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life by Michael Marder
- The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-eye View of the World by Michael Pollan
or agriculture and impact …
- The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and what We Can Do to Avoid it by Julian Cribb
- Cows Save the Planet by Judith Schwartz
So … umn, there’s a start I guess … I read a lot, no really, a huge amount, so … if you want to know any other recommendations, ask?