My March 2018 Book Haul

March was self-help month. It wasn’t intentional, I promise you!

Here’s what I had in my March 2018 book haul.

Adult Non-Fiction

1. 2,000 to 10,000 by Rachel Aaron (5/5 stars) (review)

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How do you raise your daily word count? Rachel Aaron’s book shows you the secrets to longer writing without the stress.

Key points:

  • Practice daily writing.
  • Record your daily writing activities.
  • Time, knowledge, and enthusiasm are the keys to bigger word counts.

For readers into:

  • NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month)
  • Writing
  • Writing books

2. 10 Pillars of Wealth by Alex Becker (5/5 stars) (review)

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Frustrated with the massive military workload and low pay, Alex Becker taught himself SEO.  Now,  he’s a wildly successful online entrepreneur.

Key points:

  • One source of income is not enough to ride down millionaire highway.
  • Passive income is essential for financial freedom.
  • Your primary financial goal is to separate time from work.
  • The more hours you put into your dream goals, the more likely they’ll turn into reality.

For readers into:

  • Business & Finances
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Online entrepreneurship

3. The Keys by DJ Khaled (3/5 stars)

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You might’ve heard of DJ Khaled’s inspirational talks. In The Keys, he shares his life rising in Miami’s music industry and what you can do to succeed.

Key points:

  • Work and success never stop.
  • Opportunities lead to more opportunities.
  • Don’t listen to “they” (DJ Khaled’s version of haters).

For readers into:

  • Biographies
  • DJ Khaled
  • Self-help books

4. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod (3/5 stars) (review)

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The premise of The Miracle Morning: seize the morning!

Key points:

  • Use the morning to read, write, visualize, exercise, and meditate.
  • Pass your limits.
  • Waking up early equals success mornings.

For readers into:

  • Early bird habits
  • Productivity
  • Self-help

5. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport (5/5 stars) (review)

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Passion alone won’t make your career dreams come true. So Good They Can’t Ignore You gives you all the reasons why shouldn’t fall into the passion trap.

Key points:

  • Increase your skills sets.
  • “Follow your passion” is a lie.
  • Make yourself valuable to the point your employer would hate to see you leave their side.

For readers into:

  • Career development
  • Productivity
  • Self-help

Other books I read by this author: Deep Work.

6. Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg (3/5 stars) (review)

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Personally, Smarter, Faster, Better wasn’t as thrilling as The Power of Habit, but it’s still worth the reading time.

Key points:

  • You have control over your actions.
  • Creativity solves problems.
  • Productivity: trading energy for the most meaningful reward.

For readers into:

  • Non-Fiction books
  • Productivity
  • Self-Help

Other books I read by this author: The Power of Habit.

Comics/Graphic Novels

1 – 2. The Adventures of Tintin volumes 6 & 7 by Hergé (3/5 stars)

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Stories include:

Volume 6

  • Land of Black Gold
  • Destination Moon
  • Explorers of the Moon

Volume 7

  • The Castafiore Emerald
  • Flight 714 to Sydney
  • Tintin and the Picaros

For readers into:

  • Adventure comics
  • European comics
  • Tintin

Past volumes I’ve read in this series: 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5.

Teen Non-Fiction

1. Career for Tech Girls in Video Game Development by Laura La Bella (4/5 stars)

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Do you know the leading women in the gaming industry? I didn’t know a woman is behind the Halo franchise.

Career for Tech Girls in Video Game Development offers readers (particularly young females) tips to start a career in the gaming industry.

Key points:

  • Colleges offering video game-related degrees: NYU, Drexel, MIT, and SCAD (my alma mater).
  • Video game companies to work for: Capcom, Blizzard Entertainment, HAL Laboratory, Atari, Square Soft, and Konami.

For readers into:

  • Females in the gaming industry
  • Video game careers
  • Video games

What have you read in March 2018?

 Past book hauls:

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BOOK REVIEW: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport

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Are you following your passion? More than likely you’re doing it wrong.

Reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You might change your mind about passion. It did for me.

For the longest time, I thought it was great to follow what makes you happy. While I was reading this book, I realized why my initial idea wasn’t always the best.

I wanted to be an actress since I watched Home Alone for the first time when I was a kid. The career looked like fun. Throughout middle and high school, I took theatre classes and performed various stage productions.

While I was taking those opportunities, I realized I had a knack for scriptwriting, but didn’t pay much attention to it.

Eventually, I majored in theatre in college. The excitement for acting began to wane as my interest for scriptwriting grew. There weren’t many writing opportunities, so I took the little what was offered and a playwriting apprenticeship outside of school.

Not only did writing made me happy, but I also wanted to get better at it. Something I didn’t mainly think about when I was on the acting path.

After undergrad, I moved on to obtain my master’s degree in dramatic writing, a study mixing playwriting, screenwriting, and television writing altogether.

To this day, I continue to learn by endlessly writing, submitting scripts to competitions, and reading books on the craft.

Cal Newport’s main point in So Good They Can’t Ignore You is to have passion following you instead you following it.

Ask yourself consistently what do you enjoy and how to get better at it.  The better your skills, the more valuable you are in the career market.

Key Terms

Here are some key terms in So Good They Can’t Ignore You you’ll find.

  • Career capital
  • Craftsman mindset
  • Deliberate practice
  • Pasion mindset

Career Capital

Career capital is the number of rare skills you obtain in your field.

How many languages you know working at the UN? What skills make you stand out as a photographer than the rest?

The main goal of upgrading your career capital is to know what the average don’t know, to do what they don’t do. That’s how you become extraordinary.

As you grow, you’ll become a valuable asset to your employer. If you’re working solo, potential clients will be banging on your door and jamming your inbox for your expertise.

The more career capital, the better. You’ll be able to shape your schedule and choose your projects.

Craftsman Mindset

The craftsman mindset is to improve your craft, experimenting with your skills endlessly.Newport uses TV writer Alex Berger as a craftsman example.

Berger moved to Los Angeles and began writing for National Lampoon magazine. Seeing it wasn’t taking him where he wanted to go with his writing, he landed a TV writing position working on multiple scripts at once. Eventually, he fell in the TV producer’s seat.

How? He never stopped writing and always reached for the opportunities to do better.

Now, if he came to Hollywood following his passion, he would’ve dropped out as soon as the work grew too hectic. Hollywood’s no kids playground. To get stronger, you need deliberate practice.

Deliberate Practice

 

Deliberate practice is repeatedly improving and asking for feedback on your skills. Plus, it’s stretching yourself out to do the uncomfortable until it becomes the new comfortable.

Back in college, for example, I wanted to lose weight. I started walking around the school track field for 30 minutes about 4-5 times a week. The workout was more than I was used to so it worked.

Later on, I went up to walking for 45 minutes to two hours (only on weekends). Doing this five times a week helped me lose weight (my legs hated me for it though).

Passion Mindset

If you dream of being a successful travel blogger, don’t quit your day job and try to live off overseas like you’re Tim Ferriss. You’re working with passion the wrong way with this mindset.

If you want to blog about the best restaurants in Paris or your encounter with the Maori tribe in New Zealand, you have to let the passion follow you by:

  • learning survival skills
  • learn multiple languages (become a teacher or a translator)
  • Develop expert traveling tips (right time to book a flight, passports, etc.)
  • Photography
  • Blogging experience
  • Expert knowledge of various cultures and customs
  • Travel writing (travel reviews, submitting stories to travel magazines)

Become a master of these skills, and the world will become your oyster. You’ll have travel opportunities coming left and right.

Conclusion

So Good They Can’t Ignore You has changed my outlook on passion. Passion is more about career development than searching for that one “happily ever after” fulfilling career.

After reading Deep Work, I knew this book wasn’t going to be a disappointment. Cal Newport always takes the concept of work success to a whole new level.

What is your definition of passion? Do you agree with Cal Newport’s argument on passion or not?

Related book reviews:

(Book Pic: Goodreads)

(Pics: Pixabay)

BOOK REVIEW: “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod

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  • Title: The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8 am) (Amazon) (Goodreads)
  • Author: Hal Elrod
  • Publication: Hal Elrod International Inc. (Dec. 7, 2012)
  • Pages: 150
  • Genre: Self-Help
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Source: Library
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

As I read through Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning, I realized his information is nothing new. Smash your personal goals early before you have to face the morning hustle and bustle!

Before I go to work, I wake up at 4 am to get my exercise and writing routine out of the way. Since I’m a part-timer, my days are pretty sporadic, so it gives me an extra advantage.

I never understood the appeal of living life exclusively for an employer. You wake up for them (not really for yourself), drive through terrible traffic for them, and you have to ask permission for a measly 30 min lunch break.

Feeling like this guy?

I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty messed up to me.

We were born to create our own lives, right? Otherwise, we’re living in a depressing dystopian story.

One of the best takeaways from The Miracle Morning is making personal development a top priority. Nobody’s going to take you to the next level in life but you.

For example, do want to lose weight? Your 9-5 job keeps tempting you with way too many birthday parties and potlucks?

Wake up early. It’ll suck at first, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Early Birds = Success

Most successful people are early birds. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi wakes up at 4 am while Richard Branson wakes up at 5 am. Look at where they are in life.

A Texas study has reported students who wake up early are more likely to have higher GPAs.  Early birds truly get the worm!

The Miracle Morning‘s message is to start taking control of your life in the mornings.  The rituals. In your morning routine, you should include:

  • Meditation
  • Affirmations
  • Writing (daily progress of your long-term and other thoughts)
  • Exercise
  • Creative visualization
  • Reading (Inspirational, Business, Productivity, etc.)

Do this daily, and you’ll start to see significant changes in your life.

Conclusion

To change your life, you have to change what you do in the mornings.

Sometimes, The Miracle Morning reads like an expanded informercial. Casually skim the pages Hal keeps shouting out at you to check out his products.

On the other hand, it’s a refreshing read for anybody who feels like their life is out of their control.

What’s your daily morning routine?

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(Book pic: Amazon)

(Gifs: Giphy)

BOOK REVIEW: “2,000 to 10,000” by Rachel Aaron

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2,000 to 10,000 is a blessing.  Rachel Aaron is a gift from the writing gods.

I’ve decided to set a weekly goal of 3,000 words (consisting of blog posts/articles)  a few months ago. It’s challenging since I usually write around 900 to 1,000.

Writing more weekly will upgrade my writing skills.  The problem: I keep missing the mark, and I don’t know why. I’ve noticed I can write forever in my journals, but my mind’s blank when it comes to blogging (like wtf). Sometimes when I get a post done, it feels like I’ve dragged myself through it.

Writing’s supposed to be fun. I love it!

Why is it effortless for me to write in my journals opposed to online? Seriously, blogging is merely writing in an online journal.

To find some solutions to my problem, I found this cool guy, Nicholas Cole, who manages to write from 3,000 to 10,000 words a day. Yep, you read that right!

I’ve searched for more people and found an impressive triangle model on Rachel Aaron’s site. It presents three things you need to increase your daily word count: Time, Knowledge, and Enthusiasm.  

Time

time clock GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

To write more, you have to give yourself more time. For example, If you want to write 1,000 words in one sitting, give yourself at least 90 minutes (depending on your writing/typing speed).

For me, I’d give myself three hours minimum with small breaks in between. This time block includes researching and writing an outline.

Knowledge

How much do you know about your story? Your article? Your script?

I take this piece of Aaron’s advice to collect as much relevant data as possible for my writing project.  If you don’t know much, it’ll show in your final word count.

Back in college, my professors used to have these page requirements for research assignments. Depending on the instructor, they would be between 5-20 pages. Most of my classmates hated them.

I’d make sure I’ve written down a tremendous amount of notes and a massively detailed outline. With all of that work combined, I’ve reached the page requirements easily.

I didn’t receive a good grade for the page minimum, but for the knowledge presented in those pages.

Enthusiasm

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Make sure what you’re writing about excites you. I mean, like you’re going to Disney World excited.  The more fired up you are, the more you write. Simple as that.

Think about the topics and stories you can talk about all day to friends to the point where they beg you to chill out. Yeah, write those.

Conclusion

After reading 2,000 to 10,000, I knew what I must do.

I keep an inventory of topics to write for this book blog, script ideas, and more. I keep the exciting ones and scrap the rest.

I’m more empowered now to smash my weekly word count. I’m sure I’ll be writing 3,000 words and beyond in a day real soon.

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Do you have a daily, weekly, or monthly word count?

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(Book pic source: Goodreads)

(Gif sources: Giphy)

 

BOOK REVIEW: “The 10 Pillars of Wealth” by Alex Becker

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Life: A Virtual Reality

Reading The 10 Pillars of Wealth reminded me how much life is a video game.

In Sims, we create and control people. We give them jobs, aspirations, beautiful homes, and all of the money we want them to have through cheat codes.

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When I was an avid Sims player, I made my Sims get money strictly through their careers. Besides that, I had them side-hustling selling paintings, building robots, and investing in stocks. Within a few weeks of consistent playing, my Sims were millionaires.

Now, how come we don’t focus on making more money and upgrading our skills as we do for our Sims? We tend to get upset about not having any.

With The 10 Pillars in mind,  I could make money like in video games. It won’t be easy, but what’s a video game without challenges?

With enough focus and consistent habits, we can design our lives instead of living by default.

Take those super gamers who end up making millions of dollars playing night and day.

“You can’t make money playing video games!” -Some Naysayer

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How in the world did gamers get so much money? They repeatedly played until they become masters.

People can have fun making money. Working in a lame cubicle environment is not our only option.

Whatever we want to do in our lives, we have to focus raising our game every day.

The 10 Pillars

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To play the game of money mastery, Becker presents the ten pillars  you need to level up your finances:

  1. “Rejecting Getting Rich Slowly”
  2. “Separating Time From Money”
  3. “Accepting That You Must Be Better than Everyone Else”
  4. “Knowing Every Little Thing is 100% Your Fault”
  5. “Adopting an Abundant Mind-Set”
  6. “Forgetting “What Ifs” and Focusing on “What Is”
  7. “Mapping Out Actions that Achieve Goals”
  8. “Focus Solely On What Gets You Paid”
  9. “People Give Money to People That Get People”
  10. “Finding Competitive Friends and Suitable Mentors”

The 10 Pillars of Wealth is only a sliver of valuable knowledge Alex offers to his readers. More can be found on his website and Youtube videos.

I watch some of his videos occasionally. Be warned if you’re sensitive to foul language.

I’d recommend reading this book if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur and tired of having a mundane financial life. You want money to work for you, not you being a slave to it.

Have you read this book? Any entrepreneur books you’d recommend? 

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(Book pic: Goodreads)

(Gif sources: Giphy)

BOOK REVIEW: “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg

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Have you ever been so excited for a new book from your favorite author only to be disappointed?

I felt this way while reading Smarter Better Faster at first. I was so excited to sink into this book after reading The Power of Habit a few years back.

Why was I slightly disappointed? I was impatient.

I wanted to know how to become smarter and better as the title entailed in the shortest time possible. In summary, I wanted to devour the information, instantly apply it to real life scenarios, and move on with life.

Charles Duhigg is not just any writer; he’s a journalist. Journalists are great storytellers. They tend to go down to the most specific details to make their stories more alive.

I’ve received the gist of Duhigg’s narrative style when I read The Power of Habit. For some reason with Smarter Faster Better, it felt like it took 20 million years for Duhigg to get straight to the information I wanted.

However, I’ve benefited from the narratives Duhigg picked up and their connection to the book’s main topic.

So while you’re reading Smarter Faster Better, you have to go through Duhigg’s jungle of narratives to take in his productivity tips.

This is not a bad thing. Honestly, it’s worth the read.

Think Like an Engineer

My favorite story was about Delia, a Cincinnati teen who faced odds using the Engineering Design Process,  a system created to observe problems and conclude with practical solutions.

The steps:

  1. Defining the dilemma
  2. Collecting the data
  3. Brainstorming solutions
  4. Debate approaches
  5. Experiment
  6. Repeat

Delia used this process to go through high school while living in an impoverished household. Using the engineering design process helped her find a way to take care of her family and graduated valedictorian from her school.

Indecisive with the choices laid out in front of you? See how the process works out for you.

For example, let’s say you’re done living on the East Coast, and you had your eyes on living in either California or Washington State.

Time to bring up the Engineering Design Process to help us out!

  1. Defining the Dilemma: “Should I move to California or Washington State?”
  2. Collecting data on these states
    • Employment
    • House prices
    • State taxes
    • Weather
    • Recreation
    • Healthcare
    • Social life
  3. Brainstorming Solutions
    • Visualizing what your life will be like in each state depending on the collected data
    • Talking to friends or read online reviews on their experiences living in these states
  4. Debate: “What are the pros and cons of living in ___ and why?”
  5. Experiment: Take a week or two visiting each state.

After going this process, you should come up with with a final solution.

Personally, I would choose California (specifically the Los Angeles area), but that’s just me.

For Readers Short On Time

In case you’re not looking forward to reading over 300 pages of Smarter Faster Better, check out the appendix. There you’ll gain the secrets of having a more productive, better life with focus and set goals without the 30+ page narratives.

Have you read this book? What is your favorite productivity book? 

Related book reviews:

(Book Source: Goodreads)

(Gif Source: Giphy)

The Many Times Tintin Almost Died (Part 2)

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You’d think Tintin would take a break after reading Part 1, right? That’s only the beginning. Tintin creator Hergé wrote new adventures for our young Belgian reporter.

You know what that means? New dangers!

Here are the many times Tintin almost died (Part 2).

Red Rackham’s Treasure

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After gathering Sir Francis Haddock’s clues in The Secret of the Unicorn, Tintin and the gang sail to the West Indies to find Red Rackham’s long-lost treasure.

Almost died: 2 times

  1. Trapped in a one-man submarine tangled in seaweed
  2. Shark attack

The Seven Crystal Balls

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Seven explorers end up in mysterious comas after their archaeological dig in Peru. This case leads Tintin into a strange journey filled with ancient curses and creepy Inca mummies.

Almost died: Once (surprisingly enough)

  1. Shooting standoff

Prisoners of the Sun

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Tintin and Captain Haddock travel to Peru to further solve an Inca curse and find their kidnapped buddy Professor Calculus.

Almost died: 8 times

  1. Avalanche
  2. Saving Snowy from being condor food
  3. Hungry crocodiles
  4. Falling down a waterfall
  5. Shooting
  6. Angry Incas
  7. Attempted stabbing
  8. Pyre burning

Land of Black Gold

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Detectives Thompson & Thomson’s car explodes after a pit stop at a local gas station. Cars have been blowing up all over the country due to tainted gas.

Tintin heads out to the Middle East to sort out the problem.

Almost died: 2 times

  1. Dehydration in the desert (didn’t he learn from The Crab with the Golden Claws?)
  2. Shot in the face while unconscious

Destination Moon

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 Professor Calculus invites Tintin to a secret base in Syldavia to show off his upcoming moon project.

 

Almost died: Once

  1. Gunshot graze through the skull

Explorers on the Moon

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Tintin experiences his first interstellar journey to the moon. Of course, unexpected obstacles soon follow.

Almost died: 3 times

  1. Falling into a moon crater in a space tank
  2. Saving drunk Captain Haddock from becoming an asteroid’s satellite
  3. Dying inside a space rocket trying to put it on autopilot

 

You think Tintin’s had enough? Wait until you see how he cheats death in Part Three coming soon!

What is your favorite Tintin story?

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