Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Recommendation

I am loving Steven Pressfield's, The War of Art.  On the surface, it seems like it would be yet another "creativity guru" book that makes you feel good about reading it but ultimately doesn't prompt you into doing anything.  It's not that at all.  I highly recommend it, and encourage you all to rush right out and buy it!  Well worth the time it takes to read it.

From a certain perspective, much of the "self-help" book industry is supported by the good feelings one gets from reading inspirational books.  People like to feel good.  They buy more books.

But isn't it curious how we, as readers,  never actually see any real change in our lives...  This book actually has a short discussion on how we seem to substitute the effects we feel from reading stirring passages for the actual changes or actions themselves... We short-circuit ourselves, thinking we're actually doing ourselves good by reading these kinds of books, but oddly we never actually end up applying any of their advice in a concrete fashion.   We feel centered and focused, and have a remedy to fix our problems, but it's a short-lived feeling of accomplishment.

Completion of these books is a placebo--rarely does anything actually change in one's life.  We instead somehow substitute the artificial feeling of zeal and accomplishment from the reading for actual accomplishments and tangible changes.  We feel like we're doing ourselves good by taking steps to read up on how to solve our issues, and the "high" of awareness we achieve rarely translates to actual action in our lives.

So we pick up another book that excites us, and the cycle begins again:  Feel good, do nothing.  And we rationalize that we're actually helping ourselves by reading these books because, after all, they're self-help books!

But this one is different.  This one is quite blunt.  This is an awareness book that comes right out and says to the reader, "Get off your butt!"  It frames the creative impulse in a way that makes it easily understood.  It stares you square in the soul and says, "Enough already.  Just do it."

And I can't really summarize Pressfield's work without somehow watering it down so much it's pointless...  He is already a concise writer that gets to the point by using clear and pointed examples and illustrations.  It's arranged as a "bathroom book" with small chapters that keep you thinking and on your toes.  I wanted to continue reading, but found I needed to put it away to process much of what I was reading.   It's powerful, concentrated inspiration.  And it's worth your time.

Until next time, Live Life with Relish!

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