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How to Choose Non-Fiction: Self-Help

As the final post in my How to Choose Non-Fiction series, I present to you the most cringed upon genre, Self-Help. It takes a lot of confidence to walk over the Self-Help aisle at the bookstore, because it just seemed that there is something not right about you, that you need some pyscho-talk to yourself. Allow me to brush off that impression. Self-Help is the genre that had helped millions by emulating the techniques and practices  from the books they read. How do you expect yourself to have a one-to-one session with a successful person, if not by reading the book he had written?

In addition to that, Self-Help books aren’t those type that promises that you can be a millionaire in 45 days, with all the pep-talk that you can do it, you can do it, you can do it – and confetti falling from out of nowhere. That’s propaganda BS from publishers trying to make money out of you naïvety. Self-Help are the books that let you become the best version of yourself. The people who dare enough to visit the Self-Help shelves, are the ones nearing this attainment. Because they identified a flaw in their selves (because everyone thinks themselves perfect!) and is looking for a way to address it.

In my personal experience with reading Self-Help, nothing much happens if you don’t put the theories into action. Self-Help books could merely be books about the things you already know but don’t do, and that’s a shame. In my heart of hearts, I do believe reading Self-Help books is the first step in acknowledging that your circumstances don’t change unless you do. In order to ease your selection in the Self-Help section, I would breakdown the entire genre to three main niches and I would also recommend the best reading in that niche.

NUMBER 1: TIME MANAGEMENT

Time is free and yet it is our most valuable asset. Everyone is given the exact amount everyday and yet its impact is not the same. Most successful people are the masters of their time or they have learnt the art of using their time effectively. Most successful people spend time on things that matter and sees time as an investment, rather than a hand that tells you your schedule. Ultimately, how you spend your time is how you spend you life!

The book I recommend to read about time management is the one by Brian Tracy because he breaks down time management into the 10 most important aspects of our lives – family, career, relaxation, income improvement and others. Effective how-tos and strategies are placed according to the aforementioned aspects, including the results of practicing your best time management skill in your life. I would definitely recommend this book to those who feel overwhelmed by tasks and responsibilities and need to take a step back to assess their priorities.

NUMBER 2: PRODUCTIVITY

This book by Stephen R. Covey is a classic and every household should own one copy. Although this book is about character building, and not about making more money – I believe this is the handbook to Productivity because without solid character to base upon, no business would last. For example, we see more and more people going up the ladder just by taking orders without questioning the value of the work they’re doing – please know that there is no such thing as a zero-sum game and the journey of life is bigger than just a temporary bump in your paycheck.

Winners in life allow others to win as well because they know human relationships is for the long run and it is more effective to live in agreement, rather than playing the win-lose game. Personally, I find this book a gem because it encourages you to act in harmony with your values rather than giving-in to external pressure. There is a lot to digest (a lot about values!) in this book, so make sure you are ready for change when you pick this up so that you make the most out of it.

NUMBER 3: FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

Other than managing your time well and having solid values, managing your finances well is also key to living a beautiful life. The Richest Man in Babylon distills the best personal financial advice in the form of a fable, because personal finance advice is best narrated as a story. The book is less than 150 pages and does not contain complex financial terms to make you save and earn more money. Although a lot of investment theories have been formed since this book was written in the 1920s, the advice from this book still stands.

I would recommend this book to everyone too and to keep a copy at home so that it not only benefits you, it would benefit somebody else as well.

I hope my breaking down Self-Help into smaller niches helps you with making you book decisions. Remember, it is always about reading something that you are interested in, authored by good writers and sits well with your frame of mind. We have come to the last post of the How to Choose Non-Fiction series, do let me know if you would like more of this or something else – any feedback is welcome, either good or bad.

-Baini Mustafa

How to Choose Non-Fiction: Cognitive Science

Don’t let the term ‘Cognitive Science’ shun you away from this post. Hear me out, allow me to explain cognitive science and then you can decide if this is what you need. There is nothing intimidating in the word cognitive, it simply means ‘thinking behaviour’ and in today’s post I will provide the top three thinking behaviour books that are useful for you to read or just keep a copy at home and hope one day your kids might read it.

For reasons (yet) unbeknownst to me, I visit this section at the library quite often when I was younger because it made me realise that thinking is not an integral part of your self – thinking is an entity in itself and there are ways to monitor and control it. How many times in a day do you see people doing things without thinking? Driving and making a turn without signals? Liking a post on Facebook without reading its content? Buying something useless just because it was on sale? I rest my case.

So you see, thinking is NOT an integral part of your self and isn’t it worrisome? Let’s backtrack ourselves and make THINKING back in style by picking up a book on thinking behaviours. Or you may simply check out the three listed below on how to choose cognitive science non-fiction.

NUMBER 1: THE ART OF THINKING CLEARLY BY ROLF DOBELLI

In this book, Dobelli breaks cognitive theories using case studies which makes this book easy to relate to, hence easy to read. I would definitely recommend this book to those who are considering this genre of non-fiction because you would find that the case studies are interesting and the outcomes of the case study usually don’t match our expectation. Just the way anyone would read a mystery novel and your suspect isn’t the actual murderer. Aren’t those kind of reads the most satisfying ones? 🙂

Dobelli shows how people apply biases in every decisions that they make and that anxiety amplifies the smallest matter. Although Dobelli’s book showcases many examples, he did not provide a solution to overcome the problems of our thinking behaviour. This is the kind of book that would introduce you to the world of cognitive science and make you aware of your own thinking behaviour. And I believe being aware and conscious of your thoughts is AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP.

NUMBER 2: ORIGINALS BY ADAM GRANT

I super love this book! Unlike the Art of Thinking Clearly, this book is written by a professor in the study of psychology and I will always endorse quality reading of verified information from reputable writers. In the same vein, don’t let the writer’s credentials fool you into thinking this book as academic, because its writing style targets the general public with laymen terms and relatable examples and ideas. In this book, Adam Grant provides solutions to overcome degenerating cognitive practices by becoming an original.

He provides insights on what non-conformists can do to make themselves heard and understood in order to shatter groupthink – to champion change and challenge the status quo. He encourages thinking differently than we are used to, to create more opportunities for ourselves and not confine ourselves to the defaults. In my opinion, Originals is a fresh take on the normal everyday wisdom we are accustomed with, its insight on the limitations we set for our cognitive skill had hindered a lot of progress and freedom. One of the key takeaway I get from this book is to triple the amount of ideas you generate and to welcome criticism.

I would recommend this book to those who feel the need to fight when it comes to advocating their work and for those who find themselves making personal decisions (routinely)  by considering its outward impact as opposed to its inward impact on yourself. On that note, I welcome any questions you have about this book, as I really believe everyone should read or at least know about this book.

NUMBER 3: ANY BOOK BY EDWARD DE BONO

I would seriously recommend any book from the person who coined the term ‘lateral thinking’, Edward de Bono. He is best known for his widely-practiced 6 Thinking Hats and has a large collection of publication simply on the topic of cognitive science. I have read a few of his books throughout the years and I discover that we really don’t think as hard as we should, we don’t think as much as we think we do, we really don’t use much of our brain capacity – we let our brain rest too much! Edward de Bono does not only cover problem solving, his books are actually targeted to finding problems!

People might think finding problems is easier than solving one until it had to be done. By finding problems, we intentionally build something before the problem it causes becomes expensive and difficult to manage. For this to be done, a makeover on our thinking behaviour is needed – we need to harp on creativity instead of analytical skills. Edward de Bono’s books provide guides to induce creativity, case studies of where his methods have been tested and proven positive. I would say that Edward de Bono’s books are like textbooks to creativity, but then that’s an oxymoron – where oxymoron is also a branch of creativity 🙂

I hope my post provides an insight on how to chose non-fiction in the cognitive science section. These are wonderful books to read if you allow yourself to bask in the light of our thinking behaviour.

-Baini Mustafa

 

How to Choose Non-Fiction: Lifestyle

It is a little known niche at the Non-Fiction shelves, a section for Self-Help that is dedicated for Lifestyle. I personally love lifestyle non-fictions as far as books go, because it gives you an insight to a way of living that you have not experienced before. While not every stranger would willingly open up to you about what they do the first hour of their day, lifestyle non-fiction elaborates in breadth and depth on the habits of people who are happy, enjoy long life, minimalism and many other positive traits.

Furthermore, lifestyle non-fictions are a breeze to read with no heavy theories to comprehend and is best read while on vacation, in a relaxed setting. Below are my tips on how to choose Non-Fiction: Lifestyle, depending on your aim and the lifestyle you are seeking for. Do note that the books I recommend below are ones with the clearest ‘how-to’ guides to change the way you live.

NUMBER 1 – THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE, DANISH WAY TO LIVE WELL

If you are one of those who just want to slump into bed right after a long day of work, here is a recommended reading for you. It is important to notice that this book is about living well as opposed to being happy. That’s really because happiness is a by-product, and living well IS a means to happiness.

Hygge is a Danish word that implies coziness, the way the word ‘istirahat’ in Malay would imply because it creates the feeling of stillness, relaxation, gratitude. By ‘istirahat’, I don’t mean sleeping in all day but more to enjoying the FEELING while doing the small things like reading newspaper with hot tea and piping hot ‘cekodok’ at your grandma’s patio – stuff like that. In this book, the writer emphasised on the importance of creating vs. consuming to create the sense of hygge. For example, instead of hitting the mall with your kids to enjoy some pastries after a movie, why not stay in and let the pastries you bake (with your kids) fill the house with its aroma while you watch a movie at home?

I would recommend those who want more quality in life to read this book as it not only lets you in on how to do that, it also gives tips on how to turn your house into your own hygge haven. I would also remark here that the book contains a lot of hygge images, even flipping through the book created hygge 🙂

NUMBER 2 – IKIGAI: THE JAPANESE SECRET TO A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE

The term ikigai means ‘life effect’ which is believed to be the essence of being and purpose that lead people to happiness. In this book, the lifestyle of Okinawan is studied as it boasts the largest population of those over the age of 100 years old. The most astonishing fact is their community of centenarian do not suffer from dementia and are fit. Surely there must be something about their diet, daily habit and mental state that we could learn from.

What I take away from this book is that in order to enjoy life, we must SERVE. Life is best enjoyed creating, being outdoors, having intimate relationships. If we want to live strong with vitality, the only way is to be out there and live it. Nobody gets stronger in life by sprawling on the sofa, thinking you are conserving energy. Energy needs to be used to be created.

Getting yourself out there, creating, gives your life purpose and the happiness you seek. And that would make life worth living 100 years more.

NUMBER 3 – THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP

I would definitely command this book for changing my life. I did a total ‘konmari’ (Marie Kondo is the name of the author) on my clothes, handbags and shoes last year and found that I have not missed any of my stuff. Liberating myself from the little items that are kept for years without use, gave me a lot of clarity to the things that actually matter. Not only does this book provide the how-to, it provides insight on the emotional up and downs on parting with physical things.

I find Marie’s thoughts are expressed from an expert’s view who not only weighs the visual impact of tidiness but also the psychological effects of living simply. I would recommend this book for people who tend to cling to dusty memorabilia, loves shopping for the sake of shopping and people who would want to dip their toes into minimalism.

The three books I’ve listed here on how to choose a lifestyle non-fiction are easy reads, almost like reading lifestyle magazines in fact – only that the writing is by industry experts and backed by data and studies. As always, I highly recommend reading verified quality materials if you decide to invest your time in reading.

-Baini Mustafa

How to Choose Non-Fiction: Social Science

Without a doubt, a good non-fiction on social science is the best non-fiction reading materials around as it explains about ourselves. Why we do the things we do, how we have come to doing the things we do and when we will stop doing these things. The whole nine yards on the study of human behaviour is parked under non-fiction as Social Science. Such reading is not limited to just textbooks for schools and my goal is to enlighten the fact such books provide vast knowledge and is not intimidating.

When reading social science non-fiction, I believe the writing skill of the author is not as important as the idea that the author is bringing forward. It is important to get to know whether the content of the book would pique your interest and curiosity in order to keep the momentum of reading from cover to cover. I have listed below three best books to choose when reading non fiction sectioned under Social Science, where I have further categorised them into narrower brackets for your ‘easy consumption’ 🙂

NUMBER 1: SAPIENS BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI

The rave reviews about this book is true, it is definitely something to read to find out the perspective of human evolution from a historian’s point of view. Harari points out the reason that human advances is not because our fingers function better (who came up with that theory, again?), but because of our ability to form an idea and disseminate it. Throughout history, ideas have been disseminated where the process of convincing and believing happens in exchange through conversations, publications and broadcasts. Harari points out that one of the most popularly believed and practiced idea is capitalism.

Harari explains that the advancement of the world today would not have been possible without the idea of ‘credit’ and explains the change in human behaviour as the idea of developing something based on someone’s future worth is condoned by human. He also went on to the assert that the future of human is dependant on automation. I would recommend this book if you are interested in human behaviour throughout history as I would section this book under social science non-fiction and further catogerise it under Anthropology.

NUMBER 2: TIPPING POINT BY MALCOLM GLADWELL

Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell covers a lot of technical social science theory into a readable and enjoyable book. In this book he covers the Pareto Principle at length, not in theory, but in the form of real-life stories that anyone could relate to so that the effects of Pareto Principle is easily understood. If you are new to non-fiction, Malcolm Gladwell is definitely an author you should try reading as I had stated in my post about Tried and Tested Authors.

I would recommend The Tipping Point to anybody who is interested to see the explanation on why sometimes things happen and why sometimes things don’t. Malcolm Gladwell has that all in this page turner that can be finished within a weekend and I would park this social science non-fiction under Sociology.

NUMBER 3: THE MALAY DILEMMA

In this controversial book, Tun Mahathir pointed out the problems that the Malay race faces if they don’t change their behaviour. Not only did he not sugar coat when he spoke about his own race, he also exercised the same writing style when commenting about the behaviours of other races. As a Malay myself, I would say that even though Tun M’s writing at the time was not backed by data but merely his own observation, his claims are true. As a Malaysian, I read his book without feeling offended because I read from the perspective of a person who wanted to solve a problem that exists in his country.

I would recommend this book to all Malaysians who would like to understand Tun M’s perspective in racial harmony and the importance of education and can-do attitude in the long run. I would further categorise this read under social science non-fiction as Politics.

There you go, three different types of non-fiction under the arm of Social Science that you could choose from. I hope my recommendations help you to assess the type of reading that is suitable for your need and more importantly, it keeps you peeling page after page!

-Baini Mustafa

 

How to Choose Non-Fiction: Science

It is a peculiar fact that anybody who had freely chosen to read non-fiction in the Science section would freely pick up more and more of the same kind. I have found reading books of this genre particularly interesting and difficult to put down. Never mistake science non-fiction books as boring and difficult to read. Movies like Star Wars, Planet of the Apes all stem from the creative use of science knowledge.

The essence of choosing a great science non-fiction heavily depends on the author’s storytelling skills. The writings of great scientists paired with their knack for storytelling, creates magic of a book that I often find myself spellbound amidst reading. I would not be exaggerating to say that there is a sense of ‘lift’ after completing such book for just having experienced an upheaval of my mediocre science knowledge to its application level. Probably the brain just loves new triggers for ideas or the fact that reading such genre would always trace back to A Higher Order or An Invisible Hand or A Creator or in any other name, God.

Although science writers rarely state this fact themselves, it would require your own train of thoughts to develop your own ideas as you read science non-fiction effectively. Here below, my recommendation on how to choose science non-fiction by the most compelling Non-Fiction: Science writers I have experienced.

NUMBER 1: STEPHEN HAWKING

Most famous for his book A Brief History of Time but I choose The Grand Design as the best I’ve read of his work because I can’t remember how much I smiled reading it. Nope, I didn’t smile sarcastically because I thought his theories were absurd, I smiled/chuckled because it was really funny and I totally enjoyed going through the pages. In the non-fiction genre of Science, I would further categorise Hawking’s books to cosmology. If you are interested in cosmology, try picking up a Stephen Hawking book – you would be surprised that Hawking had a great personality that is reflected from his writing.

NUMBER 2: RICHARD DAWKINS

Richard Dawkin’s works are always controversial because his thoughts are so advanced and new, it is difficult for people to accept. Acceptance of an idea is a totally different ballgame when it comes to reading because in my opinion, reading critical thoughts of a highly intellectual person allows yourself the freedom to weigh his opinion and then for you to form your own opinion. Reading books by a man who purportedly claimed that there is no such thing as God in all the unguided process that happens in all humanly or worldly whether intrinsic or extrinsic – would surely rub off a little on you in terms of critical thinking. Richard Dawkins has written a plethora of books which I would further catogerise as non-fiction science: Biology.

NUMBER 3: THE MYSTERIOUS WORLD OF THE HUMAN GENOME BY FRANK RYAN

Although Frank Ryan is the least famous of the authors I have listed, I must say that his book, The Mysterious World of the Human Genome is one of its kind. I would describe my experience reading this book as an intellectual adventure. Never had I ever read a book that covers the history of evolution with all the theories and personnel involved in it be captured in a way a novel would. A box in my head imagined DNA, proteins, bacteria, virus, all at play when reading this book. Definitely not something you get from a science textbook. I would recommend this book to anybody who would like to understand the works of genetics without its intimidating terms. I would categorise Frank Ryan’s book as non-fiction science: Genetics.

I hope my list above helps you loosen up around the Non-Fiction: Science shelf. The books are there to teach and entertain, not to create an elite section for superior readers only. Especially Stephen Hawking books with all his hilarious toons in his explanation. Go on, give it a try!

-Baini Mustafa

How To Choose Non-Fiction: Business Books

Picking up business books as a leisurely read sure need to come with time and practice. I have a few in this genre that I am very keen on and found too heavy to read even a single chapter in one sitting, so I tend to break it down to be read through several months. Truth be told, I started reading The Intelligent Investor in 2008 and haven’t finished it. But as I have always iterated in this blog, just put the book down and move on. The book will be ready for you when YOU are READY!

Let’s begin with the definition of business books here – when I say business book, what I mean is books which contains text on how business is run or managed through innovation, use of case study, well placed strategies or even data analytics. Don’t be intimidated by the terms, as some books are great to be read before sleeping to assist your subconscious with dreaming up a solution to your problem. Yes, that’s a by-product of reading 🙂

Although a lot of business books are aimed for corporate managers, you shouldn’t have to wait until you are one to begin reading business books. If you are an adult who needs money, that is an identification enough that you need to read business books. The books will help you understand how the corporate works, how entrepreneurs persevere, how to climb the right ladder and most importantly the hardship and time investment it takes to be on top. If my previous sentence did not appeal in any way to you, I would really wonder why you are still reading this.

Now that we have the definition and purpose of reading business books sorted, I will list three types of business book to read depending on your interest. Here goes how to choose non-fiction: business books.

NUMBER 1: ANYTHING WRITTEN BY RICHARD BRANSON

Richard Branson is an amazing writer, and I can feel that he contemplates each word and term he uses in his books. I have read his books over the decade not as a business person, but as a person who loves good books. That said, if you are looking for business books to read why not pick up a book written by him? He usually covers his concept with an example that came from his own experience so you not only get some business knowledge, you get a personal insight by him as well.

I would recommend Richard Branson’s books to managers, entrepreneurs, basically anybody above the age of 18, EXCEPT (yes, except..) EXCEPT if you are narrow minded (like who would admit that, lol) or can’t accept liberal ideas that involve parties, fun, music. Then don’t ever pick up any of Richard Branson’s books because they’re not for you.

NUMBER 2: FREAKONOMICS

There are various case-study books out there that I have read and I found the Freakonomics series the easiest to read for us without a Masters Degree in Economy. When I read Freakonomics, I get a feeling like I’m listening to a talk show on radio. It doesn’t feel too much of a read and the sentences just flow as you nod at the nuances that totally explains something that had puzzled you before.

Here’s what I say whenever I recommend Freakonomics to people: Do you want to know why whenever you receive a scam chain email from somebody asking you to help get their inheritance money from blablabla, the person would always include the fact that they are from Nigeria? Wouldn’t they have a higher chance of you helping them out if they hadn’t mentioned the fact that they are from that country? I welcome you to be enlightened to the concept of ‘False Positive’ by reading Freakonomics.

NUMBER 3: HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

I always know in my heart of hearts that my HBRs are the most precious in my collection of book. I always know if in any situation that requires me to abandon the house, my HBRs would come along with me (stuffed in the handbags that I can’t leave behind, of course). The reason being, I find the journals selected in HBR are by far the most functioning piece of information in the best indexed titles. Have you ever searched for information on the Internet and suddenly you find thousands of useless information. HBR covers that for you so that whenever you look up the Internet, you know if the search result is not relevant to your problem.

Besides that, there are various topics covered by HBR ranging from Managing Yourself (this is super important) to Leadership Lessons from Sports. Personally, reading HBR is the biggest favour I’ve done to myself as it covers the important aspects I need when reading – verified knowledge, great writing skills, the pull to reread the book. I believe there is an HBR copy for everybody out there, I will write a blog post on how to choose an HBR in the future for you.

There goes my three answers on how to choose non-fiction: business books. I hope you benefit from the post and will have more clarity in making a decision when choosing what to read and enjoy.

-Baini Mustafa

 

 

How to Choose Non-Fiction: Memoirs of Terminal Illness

One of the easiest ways to start reading non-fiction is to read memoirs. Memoirs are biography or autobiography of events in a person’s life. In my blog today, I zoom in to a specific shelf I call ‘memoirs of terminal illness’. The reason I narrow down the selection is because when you want to read and stay interested in reading, you should know what you are choosing to read and then let the author’s writing skill drive you towards the end of the book.

In today’s post, I will provide recommended terminal illness memoirs because I believe it is easy to relate to as we are all mortals and would eventually face death. On top of that, there is a beauty in the literature of a person who knows he/she was dying and vows to live to the fullest – when we, the ones blessed with freedom and health choose to browse our phone for hours a day! In that note, I would recommend reading terminal illness memoir if you would like to delve into non-fiction but not interested to read the ones from the business or self-help shelves.

But also, get ready to have your heart tugged with the list below: three terminal illness memoir and how one is different than the other. I hope my recommendation will help you select your reading!

NUMBER 1: TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE BY MITCH ALBOM

This book is Mitch Albom’s personal account of his professor (Morrie Schwartz) who faced a terminal illness. Mitch would make time to visit Morrie every Tuesday just to spend some time with him, not really to see Morrie’s progress but to just talk and be with Morrie. Along the time they spent together, Morrie began sharing some wisdom about life and Mitch began recording their conversation which he compiled as this book.

Tuesdays with Morrie is not only a memoir of a person who witnessed the degrade and suffering of a person dying with ALS, it is a philosophical account on how life should be lived.

NUMBER 2: THE LAST LECTURE BY RANDY PAUSCH

This is my personal favourite among the three because it is written as a first person, by Randy Pausch himself when was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Randy had small children and wanted to leave his kids something they can remember him of, little did he know his book about achieving childhood dreams is one EVERYONE should read in their lifetime. Randy’s narration of his perspective was highly positive in spite of his condition, he expressed his gratitude for his illness as it allowed him to make time for the things that really matter before his death.

Randy stressed that everyone should be happy at what they are doing because life is short and life can be taken away from us at any time. His vision of achieving ones childhood dreams is anchored together with his vision of enabling others’ childhood dreams, because he also emphasises the importance of quality relationship with those around us. I choose this book as the best among the three because it was easy to read and it doesn’t try to make you cry. (Randy is against sympathy to his illness.)

NUMBER 3: WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

This book is a personal account of Paul Kalanithi who was neurosurgeon and was very used to breaking bad news to patients and supporting his dying patients physically and mentally. One fateful day, his own prognosis came back with the possibility of lung cancer and after series of tests, the prognosis was positive. Upon learning that he had a terminal disease, his wife and he decided it was time to have a baby and to write a memoir about helping the dying while fully knowing he was dying too.

Some pages in this book can get a bit technical about neuro but I must give a hand at Paul Kalanithi’s writing skill. He has the ability to describe situations, feelings, taste, in a mix of words that are antagonistic – yet is fully understood. I would recommend this book for those who love literature (first and foremost) and those who wants a doctor’s perspective on living with a terminal disease.

I hope my list helps you choose the kind of books to find that ‘reader’ in you. It is best to read a memoir you can relate to according to professions, gender, the ordeal etc. Remember, it is always about making the right choice of books for yourself and I think reading on terminal disease memoir is relatable to all of us because without us realising, we are all in fact – dying.

-Baini Mustafa

When to Stop Reading

There are times when one is required to stop reading and take a book fast. Withdrawing yourself from books can sometimes save yourself. See below the top three telltale signs of when to stop reading.

NUMBER 1: THE BOOK DOESN’T ‘LAUNCH’ IN YOUR HEAD

I have probably mentioned this a few times now and I would still repeat this: Put the book down if you have lost interest. It very important that you not waste time on something you do not like. If the book doesn’t keep you coming back after the first chapter, move on. Don’t take it personally, that book was just not your ‘type’.

NUMBER 2: GRAMMATICAL ERROR PEPPERED EVERYWHERE!

I have endured many of these types of books but I have also returned books that were badly edited (the ones that I paid full price). It is very important for readers to return the books because more and more books at bookstores seem to have this problem and of course, business will take advantage over consumers’ ignorance. So please, stop reading if the book has grammatical errors and return it to the store. Publishers should be responsible as to only release quality books because that’s what you paid for. If consumers keep buying and never returning the low quality books, publishers would just sit on the sales profit.

NUMBER 3: WHEN YOU NEED TO WRITE

There is a high tendency to imitate the writing style of the author you have just read. Not because you do not have your own writing style, but because you spend a lot of time with his/her book that it was only natural to adapt what you like. So if you do write, it always good to take a reading hiatus before you craft your own writing. This is especially important if you aim to be consistent with your writing style so that it would reflect your personality.

Although I only talk about books and reading, I would also like to caution here the detrimental effects of reading bad quality writing online. Just do yourself a favor and do not accept bad writing quality in exchange for some excitement that most probably did not come from a reputable source to begin with.

-Baini Mustafa

What Happens When You Read

I have a confession to make. I have forever been ashamed of myself for liking books, especially during my teenage years. Reading was a boring hobby and was not cool, I would tell myself that – all the while borrowing loads of book from the library to bring back home to read while on semester breaks during university. It took a lot of courage for me to come out that I love reading, what more advocating this love that has shaped me since I was young.

Since I became more open about reading, I find more people just like me on social media. People who get excited at the thought of reading, the sight of books, the joy of being alone to read. Naturally, I was hesitant with people but with time, I realise that this bunch of people are genuinely reading and loving books. I have never met them personally (maybe one or two) but knowing that there are people who exude the same energy with you about books, is priceless.

So here are three common traits we share (me and other fellow readers) that I have observed and come to love. And I believe this is what happens when you read.

NUMBER 1: YOU SPEAK FLUENTLY

Have you met a person whose hobby is reading that could not speak fluently? A person who reads might not have the loudest voice in the room but when the person speaks, you would notice that his/her idea flows easily. Sentences simply roll out from their tongue because reading has trained the person’s mind to express an idea eloquently.

NUMBER 2: YOU ARE LESS JUDGEMENTAL

If there is one way for you to feel and understand how a hungry person could kill, you need to read lots and lots of fiction. I am not saying that a person who reads would totally understand something beyond normal comprehension, but I strongly believe a person who reads would be less judgemental. If you had read A. Samad Said’s Salina, it would change your perception about prostitutes because reading the book had opened your mind that things aren’t always as it seem.

NUMBER 3: YOU ARE NOT AFRAID TO BE WEIRD

Reading by the load exposes you to a plethora of ideas and a person who reads will tend to pick up books that uphold their personal ideals. When you feed your mind with your idea of how life should be lived, backed by the myriad of books that support it, fear ceases. You are not afraid to live and show the world what you are made of. That said, a person who reads does not mind being called weird because really, who would want to be just one of the rest?

I hope I haven’t been too weird that it dispelled your interest in reading. LOL. In all honesty, coming out with my love of reading and deciding to build a website dedicated to encouraging people to read was MY BIGGEST FEAR. I guess I reached the tipping point of reading and I knew my purpose on earth is to make people read better stuff – one person at a time.

-Baini Mustafa

Three Tried and Tested Authors

Throughout my years of reading, there are some authors that I find could inject more ‘sit-down-and-finish-my-book’ substance into their sentences. Although I did no research to test if author preference is deeply rooted to ones personality, here are three tried and tested authors that could make most people endure more pages than others. My opinion is strictly based on author’s writing style and observation on reader’s tendency to pick their books.

NUMBER 1: JOHN GRISHAM

John Grisham’s niche is strictly law crime and it is a wonder how he makes courtroom and investigation activities interesting. Not only is he a good writer, his story plot is always fresh, engaging and leaves you wanting. I would highly recommend John Grisham’s books to those who love speculative drama, mystery and a novel that ends with a problem solved (there are books that don’t end this way). John Grisham now also has another range of novels targeted to young boys aged 8 to 13, the series are called Theodore Boone. If I were to read Theodore Boone when I was younger, I would have considered careers in Law for sure.

NUMBER 2: MALCOLM GLADWELL

Malcolm Gladwell writes non-fiction that is engaging because he reveals truth through his sentences just the way one opens up a wrapped up present. His truths are presented as stories that you do not realise you are really reading a non-fiction. I listed Malcolm Gladwell as one of the three tried and tested authors because I have read all his books and I could not really pinpoint his ‘special sauce’ building his sentences. His writing skill is totally level seventh heaven! In my opinion, Malcolm Gladwell is top-notch writer as he is a top-notch storyteller as well. I always recommend picking up any of Malcolm Gladwell books to those who are keen to read non-fiction.

NUMBER 3: TIM FERRIS

Tim Ferris is probably the least famous of the three tried and tested authors, but personally he is the number one author in my own list. None of his books is less than 500 pages but it had never taken me more than a few days to finish. I believe his writing style is also backed by his various knowledge in productivity, fitness, stoicm and salesmanship that makes his books seem like this big nine course meal and every bite is just as tasty. Other than that, Tim Ferris’s books are always organised by content so you zoom in for what you need and you know right away if something is irrelevant to you. He is THE author of our times and his works had the most impact on my life.

So there you have it, three authors I recommend if you are looking for books that you don’t have to read. Because, trust me, their books speak 🙂

-Baini Mustafa

(All pictures were Googled)