Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Book of the week?

One of my favorite people in the whole world is Susan Wise Bauer. She is smart, witty and so down-to-earth, in spite of being a well-known author. I was totally in awe of her accomplishments (well, I guess I still am), but after I actually saw her in person she became such a ....mom, just like me. She just has that certain something that has allowed her to be very productive and successful in spite of having some similar responsibilities as me (such as numerous children, homeschooling them, household stuff to do etc.)

Which leads me to her challenge for 2009. She's joined a group which plans to try and read one book a week for 52 weeks. For her that means unwork-related books, because she reads a number of research books as week. (And writes her own books at the same time - you see why I want to be this woman)

My nature is to jump on this bandwagon. One book a week...easy-peasy. I used to be able to pull this off no problem. Until I took up knitting. Add a crazy obsession with manipulating sticks and string for hours on end to an already full schedule of schooling, children's ministry and homemaking and there isn't a lot of free time left over for reading numbers of books a week. That's why I've taken up listening to audio books.

So I'm not offically saying that I'm going to read 52 books in 52 weeks. But....here's book number one.

OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell
This book is so exciting! If you have read any of his other books (The Tipping Point, Blink) and enjoyed them, you'll like this one as well. He is a man who can see patterns (another personality characteristic that I covet, but don't have). In Outliers he examines success to see what factors make a person successful. As the book proceeds he shatters many accepted ideas of what these factors might be by researching successful people and trying to find some common ground. I hesitate to say too much because it was just fascinating for me to read it for myself and I don't want to take away that pleasure from anyone.

One that I will divulge is the 10,000 hours theory. It appears that on average, to become a master or world-expert at something you don't necessarily have to have high IQ or an exceptional skill at it. You must just put in at least 10,000 hours doing it. Which roughs out to about 10 years. I have to admit that I got excited thinking about that 10,000 hours concept. Hmmm....manageable? Till he added the 10 years part. A bit mind boggling to think in those terms when you've already passed the half century mark. All the people that he used to determine his figures began their journeys when they were young and unattached and able to devote almost 24/7 to their passions.

Nevertheless, it is something to think about. It's more about the time that you put into a passion than the innate ability you have to do it that determines where you will go with it.

The chapter that will be of special interest to parents deals with the factors that mean the difference between success and failure even when starting with the same baseline of intelligence. It comes down to family interaction and involvement, people. Of course, we all know that. But maybe having it down in black and white will provide the discipline needed to be intentional about following through.


Anne Geddert said...

Great review and great challenge. I made one to read 12 non-fiction books which seems piddly compared to 52! But I am already doubting if I will be able to get that accomplished. I just run out of steam after supper and that is the only time I have to read right now. It really stinks. Something has to change!

Lifelines said...

Anne, maybe move your supper hour up a couple of hours, so you have more time in the evening? :)

Sounds like an interesting book, Maureen! I don't know if I can handle anything too academic at the moment. I'm enjoying fiction at the moment. I usually gravitate to nonfiction, but that's shifting.