10 Years on the Toilet (Jan ’16)

Books taken out from library:
Developing Talent in Young People by Benjamin Bloom (among others)
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Rust Vol. 2 by Royden Lepp
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff (soon to be appearing at Happy Harbor Comics)

Books Read:
* The Outlander by Gil Adamson (to be discussed in podcast)
Developing Talent in Young People by Benjamin Bloom (among others)
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente (currently in midst of)
Doctor Strange Issues 1-4 by Jason Aaron
Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby (still)

Yes, I’m still reading the Hornby. To be fair, it’s my bathroom read and it is almost 500 pages, so it could take me awhile. As a bathroom read it gets a 5/5 as the articles are a great length for a visit to the can.

I read two non-fiction books this month in my quest to become a better dance teacher: Developing Talent in Young People by Benjamin Bloom (among others) and Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. My science on reading the first is that since this book looks at environmental factors in creating talent, rather than biological, much of it could apply to developing talent in older people (a book I’m surprised hasn’t been written yet, given our Boomer population takeover at the moment…hmm, with a different title perhaps…don’t think How to Develop Talent in Old People will be marketable…How to Develop Talent in the Differently Aged?). The book is well-researched, and it was a pleasure to read something academic instead of the “marketing my inspirational merch 101” books I have been reading on the subject (see last month). I’m going to assume many of you book bloggers won’t be picking this one up, so wanna know what it says? In a very basic sense, the research states that there are 3 stages of learning that I think could be applied to any age: Beginning (first 4-5 years of training) where teachers should be kind and fun, Intermediate (6-12 years of training) where teachers should be task masters about perfecting technique, and Advanced (13-to pro) where teachers should help develop how students will bring their own personal mark/angle to their talent, how to make it “theirs.” What adults who are learning a skill are missing is our parents. And what did parents contribute most greatly too? Practice. Daily Practice. The parents who made their kids practice their particular talent 1 hour/day, even if it was a pouty, recalcitrant practice, had kids who went on to succeed. Who do I get to make my students practice on a daily basis, once they start to get more serious? Spouses? Pets? I have no one to enlist, and so I must rely on my students to motivate themselves to daily practice. And Yoda knows adults are just as, if not more, pouty about responsibility and practice than children. Yes, I’m including myself in the pouty group.

According to Csikszentmihalyi, whose research is quoted in a lot of other books I have been reading, in order to achieve real satisfaction and motivation from your practice, you must make a conscious decision to achieve what he calls “flow.” His research talks about how to make all our experiences in life have flow to them, how to make them have meaning and value through conscious decisions to make them do so. One of his basic ideas is that boredom and frustration are the two main sides of the spectrum that interrupt flow. In order to combat them we must find challenges that are clear and goal-oriented, and constantly up the challenge at the skill so we can continue to feel invigorated by it. When something is overly challenging and frustrates us, we should try to look at it as encouragement to practice more to elevate our skills to meet that challenge. I feel comfortable summarizing random parts of his book as he felt comfortable making rather extreme statements about all sorts of random stuff – including a glasses-removal inducing, temple-rubbing two sentences where he talks about the reasons for the material poverty in India – that had little, if anything, to do with the state of mind he actually researched. If you look at his ideas on how to create flow, it’s not a bad little read. Just ignore the other stuff he feels like he has a right to comment on.

My fiction this month was almost entirely limited to polishing off The Outlander by Gil Adamson, which Kirtles and I will be talking about in the next podcast. I am quite ashamed to admit that while two years of living in the Czech Republic left me with the ability to spell and pronounce many-consonanted names like Csikszentmihalyi without a second thought, I managed to mispronounce the name Gil on a podcast (which is short for Gillian, btw).

A slew of books I’d been waiting for at the library all came in at the same time (isn’t that always the way?) and I decided to start with Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente. Dude. This book. It’s a very meta book about film and stories (the prologue is a character in the film), and though I know it makes me pretentious, I love me some good meta. And this meta is not only done well, it’s done entertainingly. This book can most certainly be described as “ambitious” as Valente writes about father and daughter film makers in a tale that mixes formats (script, fiction, gossip column, detective case to name just the ones I’ve come across so far) and spans decades and planets in a world where our science moved forward far ahead of schedule, but our filmed storytelling remained quite firmly in the silent film era. But usually ambitious in a book means “unreadable by 70% of the reading population” and I’m happy to say this book is fun, thoughtful, and just a blast to read through. So far. I’m probably gonna say it was too long next month, but that’s what I say about most books.

The comic book you should be reading this month? Doctor Strange. Jason Aaron’s first few issues of the magical doctor’s escapades are witty, arrogant and delicious. Pick these comics up, if for no other reason than Batches (that’s what I call him in my head, okay?) will be playing him in the upcoming film and you’ll want to have all the back story, won’t you?


About writereads

A Canadian book club podcast that will change the world of literature forever.
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12 Responses to 10 Years on the Toilet (Jan ’16)

  1. writereads says:

    You give a whole new meaning to Can Lit, Bestie. – Kirtles

  2. ebookclassics says:

    It never occurred to me keep a long book handy in the bathroom. Or maybe short stories? And you’re right, I think I do need to know the backs story for Batches … I mean, Doctor Strange. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Karen says:

    I have been thinking about picking up Radiance. Now I have substantive evidence that I should!

    • writereads says:

      If you’re a fan of meta, film and/or storytelling, I think you’ll love this one. It’s still really impressing me and I still don’t think it’s too long, which is a good sign 🙂 – Tania

  4. Naomi says:

    So now you have me all curious about Radiance. I looked it up and it doesn’t sound like the kind of book I usually like, but on the other hand, it sounds pretty crazy which I do often like. So, should I add it to the list, or not add it to the list? I’m leaving it up to you. 🙂 Have you read Palimpsest? That one also sounds possibly good.

    • writereads says:

      Ahh! Don’t leave it up to me! Too much pressure! Hmm, it really isn’t the sort of book you usually read…I’m not sure if you’d love it, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to check it out of the library and peruse it? I think it’s the kind of book that if you aren’t hooked by the Prologue, then it’s probably not going to be your thing.

      I actually own most of Valente’s books because they sound like something I’d like to read, but this is the first one I’ve actually read. Her kids’ book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, also received a boatload of attention. -Tania

      • Naomi says:

        I’ve heard of her children’s book (we might even have it somewhere on that crazy shelf). If our library has Radiance, I’ll take it as a sign to borrow it and look it over. If not, then I’ll let it go for now.
        Nope. It wasn’t there. Now I feel kind of let down. Ha!

  5. Naomi says:

    I also meant to say that bathroom books are the best. I have been on a Will Ferguson bathroom book kick for a while. A few of his books are broken up into little sections just right for the bathroom. And it’s also the kind of humour I wouldn’t want to read for more than a few minutes at a time. Perfect. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Week 21: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley | The Book-A-Week Project

    • writereads says:

      Thanks for the nomination 🙂
      And yes, Carolyn is never wrong. Seriously.
      I was looking at Rosalie Lightning when it came into the store, will have to take a closer look. Thanks for the reminder! -Tania

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