290 Peak

peak (1)by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool, 2016

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise is simply one of the best books on personal and professional development I’ve ever read. There exists a myth in our culture that people who are good at something were born good at it, that they have an inexplicable talent that has allowed them to achieve a greatness to which others cannot aspire. Ericsson and Pool seek to dismantle this myth and show that those who have reached a high level of success in their endeavors have not done so without time, practice, and effort. The book serves as great inspiration for anyone who has wanted to master a skill but who has felt that, for reasons beyond their control, they are relegated to failure. The truth is that anyone can achieve greatness (or, very good-ness) if they’re willing to dedicate themselves to the work.

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289 The Testaments

testamentsby Margaret Atwood, 2019

Fifteen years after Offred attempted her escape from Gilead, we return to the war-ravaged country that has seen fit to protect women by means of restriction and oppression. In this sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, three women provide their testimonies to the atrocities they witnessed in their lives. One is a young girl growing up in Gilead, on the brink of being married to a Commander; one is a young girl who has grown up in Canada, seemingly separate from all that is happening on the other side of the border; and one is a powerful Aunt who serves Gilead and promises to uphold the subjugation of her own gender. In these three accounts, a more complete picture of Gilead and the terrifying effects of its regime are made clear.

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288 El coronel no tiene quien le escriba

elcoronelde Gabriel García Márquez, 1961

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El argumento de esta novela se desarrolla en un pueblo desconocido, donde un coronel sin nombre espera con paciencia una carta que contiene noticias vitales; además, dicho militar retirado lleva 56 años viviendo con su esposa en el pueblo. Los dos tienen ilusiones de oír hablar del fin de la guerra civil que ha destruido numerosas vidas. Como veterano del ejército dirigido por el famoso Aureliano Buendía (al que los seguidores de García Márquez reconocerán de su gran obra Cien años de soledad), hace quince años que el coronel espera la pensión por sus servicios militares. Todos los viernes, va a la oficina de correos para comprobar si la carta ha llegado. Sin embargo, cada semana el resultado es el mismo: “No esperaba nada” –dice el coronel–. “Yo no tengo quien me escriba.” De allí procede el nombre de esta novela corta que, en pocas palabras, revela una situación de espera interminable que amenaza el bienestar y la felicidad de los personajes principales.

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287 All the Names They Used for God

allthenamesforgodby Anjali Sachdeva, 2018

Chalk this up to another random Kindle sale purchased that was backed by Liberty’s adulation on All the Books. I didn’t know anything about this collection of short stories when I bought it, but the description of the stories as “genre-bending” captured my speculative-fiction-loving attention. In truth, these stories defy categorization into any one genre. Part fantasy, part science-fiction, part historical fiction, part social commentary, the collection offers a bevy of themes that many will find enthralling.

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286 Green Shadows, White Whale

greenshadowswhitewhaleby Ray Bradbury, 1992

Green Shadows, White Whale is the semi-autobiographical novel of Ray Bradbury’s attempts to adapt Moby Dick to the big screen. Called to Ireland by director John Huston, Bradbury wrestles with the “Beast” of a classic that is “overweight in pages and the author’s intent.” While that is the premise for this tale, the narrative quickly deviates from this purpose. Instead, it reads as a series of connected stories featuring portraits of those with whom Bradbury shared sometimes bewildering and sometimes uproarious interactions overseas.

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285 El ruido de las cosas al caer

elruidode Juan Gabriel Vásquez, 2011

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Una historia que empieza con un hipopótamo escapado se convierte en una familia quebrada, destruida por el narcotráfico en Bogotá, Colombia, y suceso fuera de su control que dirigen sus vidas. Aunque el narrador es Antonio Yammara, nuevo profesor de Derecho, la novela se centra en la familia Laverde, empezando con el padre Ricardo a quien Antonio conoce en los billares y es testigo de su asesinato unas semanas más tarde. A  los cuarenta años, Antonio ha decidido contar su historia sobre este hombre fascinante y lo que ocurrió en los días después de su muerte, casi quince años atrás.

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284 Smarter Faster Better

smarterfasterbetterby Charles Duhigg, 2016

I recently decided to catch up on Chris Bailey’s Becoming Better, a podcast that focuses on productivity. This gave me the itch to read something on this topic, so I went diving in my library of Kindle books that I’ve bought while on sale, and I pulled up Duhigg’s Smarter Faster Better. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of his first book, The Power of Habit, I was still curious to read what he had to say about getting things done. I have my own issues with productivity to contend with, as I often feel like I focus on some things as the expense of others. Reading books, learning Spanish, learning French, cooking, working out: could this book help me get it all done, well, smarter, faster, and better?

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