List? What List?

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been reading from The List for some time now. I warned you all that this would happen from time to time! Still, I feel that is a weak excuse, at best. In short, I’ve been a bad bad girl (get your heads out of the gutter now, we’re talking about reading here, not sexy time).

First, I diverged from the reading list to read The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, which I’ve documented in previous posts. No regrets!

Then my reading ran away with itself…

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Someone I greatly respect (and one of my superiors) at work recommended The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi. The last book recommended by this superior was Arlene Dickinson’s Persuasion, which I really enjoyed. As far as professional reading goes, it was very insightful and it made a lot of sense to me – it also ended up being some required reading for the company. So it follows that once I saw her recommendation for The Effortless Experience pop up, I used one of my Audible credits for the audiobook. I’m glad I did, too. Essentially, the authors posit that the new goal for companies should be to focus on making the customer experience easier. Apparently there has been too much of a focus over the years on providing an over-the-top amazing customer experience, when all people really want is for you to make their lives easier. You make their life easier, you win their business and potentially their loyalty. BAM! Eureka! But in all seriousness it has had a positive impact on the way I do my job. For that reason, I’m glad I took the time to listen to this audiobook. Also I wouldn’t be too surprised to see it pop up as required reading at work, or having some kind of influence on strategies for next year. So if you think about it that way, I’m one step ahead!

Next up, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. (SIDE BAR: that man has a lot of “L”s in his name, doesn’t he?) This was also acquired with Audible credits. Listen – I went into my account one day and saw that I had saved up 6 credits. That’s a lot of credits considering you only get one a month! I had no choice but to use them!! Right? Right. Of course. Let’s not be wasteful. For those of you out there still raising an incredulous eyebrow in my general direction, here was my justification: (1) I wanted to use my Audible credits, (2) I still wanted to finish Allegiant before returning to the Lord of The Rings series, and (3) I wanted an audiobook to listen to for my commute.

So after finishing Effortless Experience I moved on to David and Goliath. It was really interesting – I didn’t agree with all of the conclusions drawn by Gladwell in his discussion of our perceptions of advantages and disadvantages, but I still found the conversation to be thought provoking and intriguing. It’s the sort of thing I think a debate club or Toastmaster’s club could really have fun with. Actually, it might make for an interesting blog post of its own…maybe I’ll do a follow-up post on that one…we’ll see, no promises.

Now I’m reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth, which I think I should be able to finish up in the next week or so, and listening to Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. To be honest, I think I’m a bit premature in my listening of Dad is Fat. I think I might enjoy it more when kids start being a factor in my life.

After I finish Allegiant I PROMISE I’ll go back to Lord of the Rings. Pinky swear! I already have the audiobook and everything!

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LOTR: one down!

As it turns out, the wisdom of “the longest tasks to complete are the ones you never start” (did I say that right?) applies to reading as well — well, duh. That’s a little bit of an obvious reflection now isn’t it? The point I think I’m trying to make is that Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring was really only long to read when I was dragging my feet through it. I did it to myself, really. Of course a story is going seem dull when you take it in five to ten pages at a time. Once I really got in to it and started making some significant progress, that increased to 30, 50, even 100 pages at a time, and then lo and behold the book got interesting.

What I learned is this: some books completely engross you and make it impossible for you to put them down. It’s like they have some hold over you to keep turning the page. You just HAVE to know what happens next; “I’m just going to read until I find out what happens to X with Y” or “just one more chapter, then I’ll go do the laundry.” All of a sudden you’re 8 chapters past what happened to X with Y and you have no clean underwear left.

Some books, like all great relationships, take a little bit more work. There are ups and downs in the denouement, and maybe the author has a penchant for tangents about lore for this realm he’s created. But you’ve committed to the book, dammit, so you sit your ass down and you read it! You owe it to yourself to finish what you started (unless it’s really bad – who amongst us hasn’t walked away from a terrible book before? Let them cast the first stone!). Also, once you finish the book, you feel proud and accomplished.

An observation: When I finish reading an engrossing book (like the kind I first described above), I feel spent and often left wanting. It’s not enough! This thing has just completely swept me away, taken over my thoughts, and now it’s just over? Just like that? I think the only one night stands I’ve ever had have been with books. Yup, that says something about me, doesn’t it? But I’m getting married now, so shush.

ANYWAYS – what I’ve found is that when I finish reading books that take work to get through (the ‘you gotta work, bitch’ books – shout out to Britney Spears and Ru Paul) I feel proud and accomplished, like I’ve passed some milestone. In my case, it might be more significant because in many instances it puts me one step closer to completing The List. I think that this theory has wider applications, though. If you work harder to finish something, you feel more accomplished when you finish.

Maybe? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, people!

Moving on. Back to the point. Finished Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. Yes. As you all know (if you read my last few posts) this really happened because The Republic of Thieves finally arrived and I want to read that like an insecure girl on a diet wants cake.

The first 300 pages or so of Fellowship took me a long time to read through. J.R.R. Tolkien sure does love his lore and fantasy! There are more foreign names in that book than in a (insert clever joke here). Thank God that they aren’t relevant to the plot because I don’t think I ever had a chance of remembering them all. Well, I guess I could have tried, but then it would have been more like studying than reading. If I wanted to do that I could just go to one of those colleges that offer classes on The Lord of the Rings. I could take the Harry Potter classes too – man that would be one freaking awesome semester.

Who would win in a fight: Gandalf vs. Dumbledore? Sauron vs. Voldemort? Harry vs. Frodo?

So, in conclusion, Fellowship wasn’t that bad. I’m actually looking forward to the next installment of that series. For the time being, however, I fully intend on ignoring everyone and everything (as much as I can while still maintain positive relationships in my life and not getting fired from my job) to read The Republic of Thieves.

SQUEAL! Republic of Thieves has a release date! OMFG!

I found out this morning that Scott Lynch will be publishing the third installment of his Gentlemen Bastards  Sequence, Republic of Thieves, this coming October 2013. Now I don’t get all jazzed up and start throwing out my teenage “OMFG”s for just anything … Continue reading