Recently, I guested on the Bookworm podcast to chat with Mike about On Quality by Robert Pirsig. This is the same guy that wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and my feelings on both books are … complicated.
I read a lot of books and spend some time after the fact digesting them. I’ve decided to start sharing some of my book notes here. I hope you enjoy this first one.
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life is a worthy read. Written by Héctor García and Frances Miralles, the book looks closely at the people of Okinawa, who live longer than anyone else, and the Japanese concept of ikigai. Ikigai, or at least my understanding of it, is the Japanese notion of one’s purpose in life. It’s a mixture of vocation, passion, and abilities, which I came to think of as the reason to jump out of bed in the morning.
Moreover, you don’t just necessarily have one ikigai or keep the same ikigai throughout your life. It can evolve as you do. The book explains that having a purpose in life is so important in Japanese culture that the western concept of retirement doesn’t exist there.
The authors spent a lot of time talking to very old Okinawans, looking for commonalities and the thing that stood out most was the concept of ikigai. They all had it and embraced it.
The book goes into depth associating the ikigai concept with Japanese culture, exercise, meditation, and mental health. But the book is definitely written for westerners, attempting to translate these concepts and ideas for the western mindset, and it largely succeeds.
The authors explain ten rules of ikigai:
Stay active; don’t retire.
Take it slow.
Don’t fill your stomach.
Surround yourself with good friends.
Get in shape for your next birthday.
Reconnect with nature.
Live in the moment.
Follow your ikigai.
Read as this summarized list, it can feel pretty shallow, but the book adds more depth. At 208 pages, it is a fairly quick read, and I got a lot from it. I particularly enjoyed reading the advice from Japanese centenarians. This book got me thinking about many of my own habits and how well I’m tending to my own ikigai. It also led to some changes in the ways I handle stress. If you’d like to dig deeper on this topic, check out Ikigai.
My friend Kourosh Dini is a smart guy, and I’ve always thought of him as a kindred spirit. He spends his days working as a practicing psychiatrist, but he also makes music and writes books. His latest book, Being Productive: Simple Steps to Calm Focus, is a good one. This book follows Kourosh’s prior productivity book, Zen & The Art of Work.
Before telling you why I like this new book, I should come clean about my relationship with productivity books. I have always had a negative reaction to self-help/productivity books. I have friends who read piles of these books, but they never really seem to get anything out of them.
My attitudes on the subject are changing, however. I’m now reading a few productivity-type books, but slowly. I have been going through the books and incorporating a few good ideas into my life and not moving on until they stick.
The reason I’m telling you this is because Being Productive is an excellent jumping off point for just that experience. The book not only includes theory and advice, but also exercises and techniques to apply what you are learning in your life. I’m currently only halfway through the book. I’m taking it slow and learning as I go, but I’m far enough in the book now to easily recommend it if you are looking for a little help.
Everyone who worked with computers back in the 8 bit days thinks of himself as a programmer. I’m no different. I remember the days …
10 Print “Hello World” 20 Goto 10
I even tried my hand at assembly code at which, in hindsight, I was terrible.
So fast forwarding 20 (or 30) years I still like the idea of pushing pixels around the screen and want to pick it up again. I’m not looking for a new career. I just think as a hobbyist (and Mac nerd), it would be fun to understand Xcode more. I’ve bought a few books for this purpose over the years. The problem is, I never seem to finish them.
I am probably not the only one who buys a programming book with the greatest intentions and never makes it to the end. The reason for this is that the landscape of programming has changed so much since I was “in the game” that I can’t keep up with a book that takes anything for granted. I need the basics. That is what led me to read Objective-C for Absolute Beginners by Gary Bennett, Mitch Fisher, and Brad Lees.
If you are looking to get started with Xcode, this is the book. The point of an objective based programming language is working with, well … objects. The trouble is, applying (and learning) the basic concepts of Objective-C objects requires a lot more knowledge of Objective-C than just the basics. As a result, a lot of new programmers get stuck at the gate.
The authors have a solution. They use the open source Alice Project to teach basic objective programming concepts and then move back to Xcode to use those principals with Objective-C.
The title gets it right. This book is for absolute beginners. You can pick it up without a lick of programming knowledge and (with a little patience) work your way through the book. If you are looking to get a working knowledge of Objective-C, this one is for you.
The publisher has a 25% discount for MacSparky readers. If you are interested buy it here and enter the discount code “MACSPARKYDFT”.