Tag Archives: Adam Grant

The Best of EatReadSleep, Part 2

General Adult Nonfiction and Anti-Racist Reads

I love nonfiction so much that I am going to divide it up into categories. I read widely across the Dewey Decimal System (a little library lingo) because I am omnicurious. If you don’t see your interests in general nonfiction, I have a couple of specialized categories coming up in this post and the next.

Click on the title links for the full review.

General Nonfiction and Memoirs

Think Again, by Adam Grant. The review on this title has been very popular, with continuing interest over the past year or so. Grant examines the value of changing our minds in both business and personal decisions.
Deep Work, by Cal Newport. The most creative people guard their uninterrupted time. This book has brought about positive innovation in many lives and organizations.
Stolen Focus, by Johann Hari. A fantastic title that did not get enough love. Listen to the audio. Important and engaging.
Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution, by Dr. Richard Bernstein. This famous doctor is a pioneer in the field of diabetes research. Anyone with diabetes, type 1 or 2, should own this book.
A Craftsman’s Legacy, by Eric Gorges. I have a longer, related post on TheReaderWrites, and both have received tons of hits from mechanics to knitters. I think we humans love to create with our hands.
Salad Love, by David Bez. Of all the many cookbooks I’ve reviewed, this simple, thorough volume with a crystal-clear layout is still a favorite in our house after 7 years.
Educated, by Tara Westover. This harrowing memoir of a woman raised in the fundamentalist Mormon church was on the bestseller list for years. Riveting.
Vincent and Theo, by Deborah Heiligman. A young adult biography of the famous artist and his brother that won all the awards and is perfect for art-loving adults.
The Dark Queens, by Shelley Puhak. Two wild women of the Dark Ages whose stories had been nearly erased. Think Brunhilda and Circe Lannister.
Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance. A difficult American story out of Appalachia, honestly revealed by one of its favorite sons. Oh, I had such hopes for Vance before he sold out.

Anti-Racist Reads

A few years ago, David and I looked around at our very white world and realized that we lived in a bubble. We started intentionally reading as many books as we could on race in America. I began with White Fragility, which was a complete mistake, since I found it elitist and ridiculous. It is one of the very few negative reviews I’ve ever written. However, things improved greatly after that, and many of these books have been influential in our lives. Some are aimed at the white evangelical church and its members. These are all adult nonfiction, but many fiction titles in the blog, especially children’s and young adults’ banned book reviews, are also anti-racist.

Click on the title link for full reviews.

Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson. This is the most scholarly and thoroughly researched of all the anti-racist books we own. A must-read for everyone.
Rediscipling the White Church, by David W. Swanson. Written by a pastor for other church leaders, really. Wisdom for those seeking to be part of the solution.
Be the Bridge, by Latasha Morrison. This was the best book we read by a black Christian leader, compassionately targeted to white Christians. She has a network of discussion groups all over the country.
So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. The best-organized anti-racist book we read. It is set up in question-and-answer format to make it easy to navigate and understand.
How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith. Learning racial history by geography. Very effective, and filled with surprises.

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Think Again, by Adam Grant

Black and white, red and blue, and scores of other binary choices; our world has drawn into camps. The sudden slowdown caused by the pandemic may be the best time in our lives to re-examine those opinions to which we cling with the greatest fervor, especially those we hold just because “it’s always been that way.”

Adam Grant is a professor at Wharton and a frequent TED talk presenter. In Think Again, Grant details the results of research that were surprising even to him. He has discovered that people who are willing to listen to opposing opinions and be flexible in their thinking are often the most successful. The book is divided into three sections: individual rethinking, business flexibility, and building organizations of lifelong learning. The very best academics are eager to listen to opposing opinions and are willing to admit that they were wrong. They are thrilled to find new insights. The most successful managers will readily unlearn and re-learn processes and strategies in order to keep their teams producing at the top level. Any group of people who remain curious and open-minded will grow and flourish, rather than becoming stale and rigid.

When I first heard of this new book, I was intrigued, since I am beginning what will be a few years of transition in my life. The book turned out to be somewhat more business-focused than I had anticipated, but it is an enjoyable read with many universal applications. Grant is a young father of three, and his illustrations include relatable stories of family life.

The ability to change his mind is why you know who Steve Jobs was, but you probably don’t know who Mike Lazaridis is, even though he was a smashing success before Apple made it big. Lazaridis and his colleague, Douglas Fredin, invented the Blackberry, the very first hand-held data device. When the iPhone came along, Lazaridis thought it was ridiculous to think that people would want to tap on glass instead of using a real keyboard, as on the Blackberry. Besides, no one would want to use a hand-held device for personal things; it was only meant for business emails– and that was the end of the Blackberry. On the other hand, Steve Jobs was happy with the success of the iPod for music and the iPhone for talk and text. However, when his team was enthusiastic about putting music on the iPhone, he agreed, even though it would mean the slow death of the iPod. The company he was building continued to expand as they stayed open to even more creative ideas, evolving and thriving.

Grant gives many other stories of success through flexibility. He devotes a section to persuading others to think as you do, and the key ingredient is listening more than we talk. That’s a tough one for those of us who love to talk! One of his discoveries concerning lifelong learning is that we do not necessarily learn best the way we enjoy the most. Study participants who were most comfortable and content listening to lectures did not always retain the information as well as they did when asked to perform experiments or conduct research and compile reports. In other words, venture outside of your comfort zone to learn new skills or fields of research.

It is encouraging to see books like Think Again being published at this critical time. Our culture has become reactionary to the point of violence, as we have seen over the past year, and it is time to take a step back, cool down, and listen. Our sources of information seem to lack any attempt at neutrality, so even our input is already tainted. It is so important to read beyond the headlines and to have real conversations with people with opposing viewpoints in order to understand one another’s thinking and to work toward peace and cooperation. On an individual level, we need to live a larger life, keep learning new things, and remain open to creativity and discovery. We can do so much better than this.

Disclaimer: I listened to a library audiobook of this title, read by the author. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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