I’m not sure whether I should be more concerned about the American public who found it necessary to read Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less or the fact that Greg McKeown thought it was necessary to write about such common sense topics in the first place.
Essentialism is essentially nonessential. McKeown has spent the better part of 250+ pages writing about concepts of self and time management that are so routine to human existence that a kindergartner could have saved me time by telling me what McKeown has listed in this book.
Essentially (all right, I’ll stop), according to McKeown, we try to fit too much into our lives. We make ourselves unhappy by not accomplishing our goals and spending time with our families because we are absolutely dreadful at the work-personal life balance.
Everything in life can be separated into the realm of the essential, what is vital and absolutely necessary, and the nonessential, everything else, including dicking around on the internet. But because we humans have largely developed the psychological phenomenon known as learned helplessness, we struggle to be able to differentiate between to the essential and the nonessential, further complicating our lives. Ergo, we need Greg McKeown, a leadership researcher from England, to show us the light.
I’m always a little concerned with the state of affairs in the book world when the cover of a text needs to proudly (and generally, loudly) announce that they are indeed a New York Times Bestseller, persuading or tricking you to buy them and take them home with you. I am especially concerned when, upon finishing the reading of said book, there is a very prevalent, painful stinging and stabbing within the gut that is neither indigestion nor anxiety. It generally only lasts a few days, particularly when the memory of what has been read begins to fade into the distant mist of the brain.
But that stinging is very real; it is the sting of disappointment that this text, out of the billions of words written every year, all of the excellent books written in the world… this text is the one that sold however many copies it takes to be deemed “bestselling” when it hardly seems deserving at all. Yet the disappointment is twofold; for me, the disappointment derives from my inability to find anything even slightly redeeming in a text- I can literally find nothing I enjoyed about it.
Mystery: the element that sucks most people into watching shows like Law and Order from beginning to end, even when they were supposed to have left the house within the first ten minutes of the opening. Mystery: the suspense that keeps you hanging on, sitting on the edge of your seat, desperately waiting to know what in the hell happened, and God forbid if you don’t find out tonight; you’re not sleeping until you know.
Mystery: something I never actually read a great deal of for some reason.
Reading mysteries is probably more difficult for some people than watching them, especially because it requires one to sit down and read the text in a fairly punctual manner, a skill I may or may not possess, depending on the book. However, this was not the case with Susannah Cahalan’s 2012 medical mystery memoir, Brain on Fire.
Every time I order a drink from Starbucks, I hate myself a little more.
No, it’s not because I put a great deal of thought into how they are up there with the other two spectres of corporatization, rounding off the perfect Trinity that also consists of Wal-Mart and McDonalds. No, it’s not because I’m worrying about what their presence in my community, my state, my country is doing to influence the micro- and macrocosm, though I’m sure they’re doing something. And no, it’s not because I hoard those little free App cards they give out at the end of the bar that highlight hipster-fab music and games that Starbucks, like our friends at Pitchfork, say you should be listening to.
It really takes a lot for me to hate a book.
Maybe it’s because I understand the difficult and invasive process required to spew words out from the darkest corners of your soul, string them up in a pubic display that has the enormous potential to be entirely humiliating, and allow the masses to tear them to bloody shreds in an instant. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent hours–even days– ruminating endlessly over the best way to phrase something so simple as, “It was nighttime when it happened.” But mostly, it falls to my obsessive need to research every minor detail of nonfiction text before allowing the public to view anything, a skill beaten into me as an intern speechwriter for a Pennsylvania congressman in college.
This annoying or quirky act I find myself fretting over is one I view as a skill, though the internship was like some level of hell. God forbid one fallacy of logic slipped through, or I’d have my ass handed to me in the form of a rejected manuscript and having to stay up all night (again) to reresearch the damn thing.
My guilt in regards to the sheer amount of clothing I own is staggering. Though ‘staggering’ still carries a negative connotation within its use, I think it really transforms into much more of a positive when in comparison to descriptions of the amount of clothing I owned in high school.
I went through a fashionista phase between the ages of 16-20 where I would needlessly suffer in front of a mirror for hours the night before school, consumed over whether or not my red ballet pointes matched the exact shade of the red accent on my fake Hermès scarf, bought for fifty cents at a yard sale. Like I owned anything real like that!
It’s that time of the year again! That time where it gets hot; so hot that all you can do is stare at your bookshelf and realize the absurd amount of books that you have not yet gotten around to reading yet.
Or maybe that’s just me, but everyone else has begun posting their summer reading lists, and sometimes it’s easier to be a follower. So I’ve stared endlessly at my bookshelf and figured out with logical precision my 11 books to read this summer.
They will probably not be in this order because my summer will include a lot of coming-and-going, but here’s to hoping they’ll be some fab lit.