Reading habits and The Creative Habit

I’ve been doing the 50-book challenge this year. Although I’m way behind on writing up what I’ve been reading, I think I have enough in the queue to hit the goal by year’s end. A quick count says I’ve posted 27 short reviews, I have another 6 books finished that I need to write up, and I have somewhere between 19 and 28 other books I have in various stages of completion.

For years my reading habits typically have multiple books in various stages of being read. Sometimes I get sidetracked enough on some books that I end up having to start over, but generally I find it more interesting to have multiple threads running in parallel because I then get the additional benefit of watching and reacting to how different books interact with one another and with whatever I happen to be working on at the time.

Perverse, I suppose, and YMMV.

At the same time, this strategy also allows me to plow through particular books when I’m in the mood or they resonate in some way with my immediate needs. Often that may be nothing more than retreating into a good story. I blew through about half of The Rule of Four this weekend. Certainly doesn’t hurt that besides being a good read, it’s set on the campus of Princeton and that makes it feel like a mini-reunion.

I chose to leave that on my bedside table when I headed out to O’hare this morning, however, to leave room in my backpack for Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. I’m not done yet, but will be before week’s end. I came upon this by way of a recommendation that showed up in my aggregator a while back from Dennis Kennedy (I think). This is an absolute must read (and re-read) for any of us who has to create as some part of what we do. In my own view, that includes anyone who would even loosely describe themselves as a knowledge worker.

Among many insights, Tharp shows why most knowledge management efforts have been disappointing at best and points to how they will need to change to succeed. See Chapter 5, “Before You Can Think out of the Box, You Have to Start with a Box,” for insight into why knowledge management needs to start at the personal level, even if it must ultimately connect with those around you.

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