After watching my beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats win the NCAA basketball championship on April 2nd, I’ve been in a really successful frame of mind, like nothing is beyond my abilities. I have no idea why, because reality shows I’m pretty incompetent. Certainly neither my cheering nor any of the lucky game day rituals I go through as a dedicated fan (many of them frighteningly pagan) powered my team to victory. Still, despite being an absolute bystander, I couldn’t help feeling like I was a part of UK’s success. Call me delusional if you want to, but also make sure to call me happy.
I think being associated with success can color your outlook on life and turn up the wattage on the morning sun. Success breeds success, as the old saying goes. It doesn’t have to take much either. In my case, for example, all it required was clapping when my team scored.
In the early 20th century, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich attempted to create quantifiable formulas for success and essentially sparked a sub-genre of self-help publishing that remains very popular. There are now over one thousand books written on the topic of success, though often it seems like 975 of them were written by Wayne Dyer.
Let’s take a look at some noteworthy, non-Wayne Dyer books on success available through the library:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. Easily one of the most popular works on success ever published, this book identifies seven habits found in most successful people in all eras, and shows you how to embrace them.
Mindset: the new psychology of success, by Carol S. Dweck. Stressing the power of a positive attitude is not new in books on success, but Dweck’s work takes it further using new psychological breakthroughs. Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? If you have no idea what I’m talking about, pick up the book to find out!
Outliers: the story of success, by Malcom Gladwell. This unusual and recent look at the factors that make people successful including genetics, geography, and economy.
The Greatness Guide, by Robin S. Sharma. This book offers 101 insights into making yourself more successful, whether it’s in your personal life or business. The advice is easy to digest and Sharma’s enthusiasm is catchy.
If you’ve read any memoirs lately, you may think the idea of a “feel-good” memoir is any oxymoron. It seems unless your past involved abuse, addiction, alcoholism, affairs or abandonment, the publishers just aren’t interested in your story. But there are some memoirs out there that are positive, uplifting and downright funny.
One good example is Growing Up True by Craig Barnes, the book selected by the Golden Public Library for its One Book. One Golden. program. Barnes grew up in rural Colorado after World War II and the lessons he learned from the hard work of mending fences, making hay and gentling horses have served him well throughout his life. His book is warm, inviting and in some places, laugh-out-loud funny.
Another author whose rural roots had a great influence on his life is Michael Perry. In his book, Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting, Perry takes both the physical and philosophical knowledge gained from growing up on a Wisconsin farm and applies it, more or less successfully, to his current situation.
Farley Mowat, probably best known for his semi-autobiographical book, Never Cry Wolf, wrote an entertaining account of his growing up years in Canada in the 1930s. In Born Naked, Mowat pays tribute to his eccentric father and long-suffering mother, recalling the love and hard work that kept them together through tough economic times.
Haven Kimmel’s, A Girl Named Zippy, is a funny and feel-good report of growing up in a small Midwestern town in the 1960s. It contains no harsh revelations of childhood abuse or personal tragedy, just keen observations of small town life as seen through a child’s eyes.
Unlike bears, many humans essentially hibernate year-round. Sure they leave their house to go to work or see a movie, but back at home it’s couch and computer time while they snack like grizzlies storing fat for next year’s winter. It's a common problem. The Library even contributes to America's lounging habit by providing thousands of great books for free. Who has time for a stomach crunch when there's Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series to catch up on?
The Library also can be your partner in physical fitness. I don't just mean jogging in place while you wait for our automated book return to accept your items. No, I'm talking about DVDs designed to help you create an exercise regimen right in your living room. I've always been skeptical of such workouts until a friend gave me P90, the "easier" version of Tony Horton's more famous P90X workout. I’m a husky gentleman who’d lose to a honey-baked ham in a flexibility contest, especially if the ham has extra glaze. But I’m 10 days into the three-month P90 program and I’m seeing encouraging results. If I can get fit from at-home exercise, you can too.
Now, while the P90 series tends to have long hold lines that might discourage you, there are hundreds of workout DVDs the Library usually has on the shelf at any given time. With this much variety, you’re bound to find something you like. I wanted to spotlight a few choices here:
Leslie Sansone's "Walk Away" series - The title says it all. Leslie Sansone's various DVDs encourage power walking in place, incorporating basic aerobic exercise and the limited use of free weights. I've tried the three-mile walk and felt great afterwards.
Fat Burning Kickboxing Workout For Dummies - Don't let the word kickboxing intimidate you. There are 10 basic steps in this 60-minute DVD, which is estimated to burn 700 calories per session. Released in 2006, it was named by Fitness Magazine as the best calorie blasting DVD of the year.
Physique 57 – This series from New York City’s most popular exercise studio gives a full-body workout and requires no equipment except a ball and chair.
Exhale. Core Fusion Pilates Plus – Five 10-minute workouts mix Pilates and Yoga. A great program for people who don’t want to have to buy any gear such as dumbbells.
Tracy Anderson’s 30 Day Method – This one is particularly challenging because it’s long, to the tune of 90 minutes. It’s cardio with a lot of dance moves, so if you like to bust a move then this may be the workout for you.
Is it just me, or do you have days when you just can’t find anything to read? It’s on those no-read days, that I fall back on a secret guilty pleasure. Picture books. Those big, heavy tomes meant to sit on coffee tables, as Wikipedia says, “inspiring conversation or alleviating boredom.” David Brower, former executive director of the Sierra Club is often credited with inventing the modern coffee table book. Indeed, the Sierra Club book, In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World with text by Henry David Thoreau and photographs by Eliot Porter was one of the first books I ever purchased.
My latest coffee table book discovery is Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s based on a 2011 show at the Museum featuring items from the late fashion designer’s collection. Let’s take a leap from fashion to geology. If you ever thought of rocks as dull and boring, check out Within the Stone: Nature’s Abstract Rock Art by Bill Atkinson. After a visit to the Painted Desert, Atkins, a former Silicon-Valley whiz kid, became fascinated with the colors of the petrified rocks he found scattered on the desert floor. He purchased some polished slabs and began photographing them. This stunning book is the result.
Another stunning coffee table book that takes its inspiration from nature is Bark: An Intimate Look at the World’s Trees by Cédric Pollet. Just as the title implies, it’s a photographic study of tree bark. After browsing the pages of this splendid book, you’ll never look at trees the same way again.
My favorite coffee table books list wouldn’t be complete without Among the Amishby Keith Bowen. Part sketchbook and part journal, this lovely book records in pastels and ink the day-to-day activities of the Amish community in Lancaster County, Penn.
Michel de Nostradame here. That’s Nostradamus for short. Boy, what an incredible year 2012 was! I can’t believe Alcorn State University won the NCAA basketball championship. No one could have seen that one coming (except yours truly). And don’t even get me started on the election. Hello, President Rick Santorum!
You don’t know it yet, but 2012 is going to absolutely gob-smack you in a lot of ways, and none more so than the number of excellent books that come out this year. Who would have thought that James Patterson could publish ten new novels in twelve months? It’s like the guy has a team of people who just write books under his name or something!
But you don’t have to be moi to predict some of the big authors from previous years will be just as big in the future. No, it takes a real seer—such as myself–to give you the lowdown on the future must-reads. So heed my advice now and you won’t end up being number 350 in line for a library book with only 10 copies. I, the big N, the Man Who Reads Tomorrow, the Seer without Peer, proudly present my can’t-miss, must-get, sure-thing forthcoming book list of 2012. You’ll thank me for this (I’ve already seen you do it). Some of these are so far out there the library doesn’t even have a catalog record for it yet, so be sure to check back.
Some Assembly Required – Fascinating examination of a mother dealing with the reality of her first son having his first son.
The Forever Fix – Narrative science at his best with this look at gene therapy and childhood illnesses.
The Red House – Ever had a terrible family reunion full of estrangement and guilt? The family in this novel is still worse than yours.
Talulla Rising– This is the sequel to Glen Duncan’s 2011 world-weary novel, The Last Werewolf. Literate, hipper-than-thou horror at its best.
Waiting for Sunrise– Suspenseful historical thriller set in early 20th century Vienna featuring a young actor and lots of Freudian weirdness.
I’m signing off for now. Before I go, you should know that the winning lotto numbers are 5, 28, 41, 3, 62, 01, and 7. And if you hit it big, think about making a charitable donation to the Jefferson County Public Library system. Even I can’t tell if it’ll be around next year.