Whittling down my collection of books to just a few to bring away was a challenge in itself. I decided that I would use the downtime in the van for learning and the books reflect that.
Let me know if you think I’m missing any ‘must-reads’ in the comments below. Read on for my 30second and three-minute reviews of the books I’ve finished so far.
Click a title to jump to the review.
Waiting on the Shelf
Space Below My Feet – Gwen Moffat
30 Second: Get inspired to explore the joys of climbing by following Gwen as she falls in love with mountains. From beginnings as a deserter who hitch-hiked to Wales; to exploring the Alps and becoming Britain’s first female mountain guide.
3 Minute: I was drawn to read this book by watching the Operation Moffat short film at Kendal Mountain Festival. It reminded me of why I enjoy climbing so much but also gave me a yearning to do more. Gwen has such an amazing skill in describing a situation so vividly that you are benighted on the mountainside with her, you are staring up at the crux of a welsh classic climb by her side, you really are living the experience with her.
During the KMF Gwen took park in a Q&A session, when asked about how she felt being a pioneer, she said “but I wasn’t a pioneer, I was just a link in the chain”. This book made me disagree with her. There aren’t many, even today, who would live 16miles off the road in a leaky old cottage to be near to the rocks. There are less who would hitchhike to the Alps and fewer still who would sleep by the hedgerows walking across country from crag to crag.
She was climbing at a time when you couldn’t fall off without risk of serious injury, and she was climbing harder than most of the routes I climb. Learning about her escapades puts my freakouts on easy routes, with plenty of gear, to shame. It made me realise both how good we have it climbing in this time, but also a little melancholy about how easy it is now — it used to be much more of an adventure.
You should read this if you are in anyway shape or form interested in climbing or mountaineering. But you should also read this if someone you know loves climbing and you can’t fathom the attraction. This book will give you a better understanding of how someone can fall in love with climbing and the mountains.
The Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss
30 Second: Very ‘American’ as you thought it would be, but many useable techniques tips and tricks for those wanting to optimise their life.
3 Minute: If you already own a small business or have an idea for one and you want to take a set back – then this book is perfect for you. This book will give you a step by step guide for automating your work life into the smallest timeframe possible. For someone like me who doesn’t even have a job at the moment, I had a different take on many of the points in the book.
I mean, a lot of this book is common sense, but you do need someone to tell you the obvious sometimes. And Tim does do this in a friendly, but firm, structured way. Spend less time on emails, and a structure for how to do it – set times for answering emails and stick to them. Side note, I mentioned the ‘only answering emails at set times of the day’ to my boss once he was less than impressed and thought it very impractical, little did he know I had already implemented it with success… Anyway back to the review.
Buy this book if you want some tips and tricks on becoming more efficient at what you do, or if you actually want to try being the ‘new rich’. But be warned, it’s very American.
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
30 Second: A well-informed book on how the brain makes decisions (spoiler alert: it makes them badly). A little heavy at times, but stuffed full of useful information. Now how to apply everything I just learnt…
Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug
30 Second: Everyone working on a website should read this, then read it again, then give it to someone on their team. Ensure your site, or product has purpose and usability.
A Brief History of Time – Prof. Stephen Hawking
30 Second: Much funnier than expected, and very understandable. I think i got most of it until the last few chapters. Definitly needs a second read in a year or so.
The Design of Everyday Things – Don Norman
30 Second: Head this warning, if you read this book you should prepare yourself to be annoyed at 80% of doors you use. However you will also learn to appreciate finding a product that is designed perfectly.