Books, Books and More Books

Ever since I was a young girl, I loved to read.  My parents used to say that I carried a book  everywhere.

This hasn’t changed but rather than carry a book, I carry a library.

Having all your books on one device is both a blessing and a nightmare.  Confronted with so many choices to read, I’ve now had to stop the habit of downloading willy nilly off Amazon and instead, make sure that I read one (ok, two) books at the same time.

Although not entire list of books read this year, I have linked the ones that I found valuable and interesting for my own learning and development.

You may like them too:

Some of the fiction I enjoyed this year are:

Reflections on Reading:


This was the first and only physical book I read this year and check out the post-it notes! Thanks to Ryan Tracey for this great gift. @RyanTracey

One of the things I’ve noticed nowadays is that I tend to forget what I’ve read on the Kindle over the hard cover book.   The key messages don’t seem to stay with me long enough.  Also,  gone are the days when someone asks you for something and you say, “ah, I have just the book for you” and walk over to your bookshelves to run your finger along the spines to locate it.  Somehow the romance is lost when you say, “I’ll send you a link to my Evernotes”.

I don’t know about you but this doesn’t exactly appeal to me.

Sure, I annotate and make notes on the Kindle but it’s not the same as the tactile nature of a book with post-it notes.  Something I can just pick up, open to the relevant page, scribble a note on a post it and most of all, share it with someone else.

So I have to change my behaviour in 2014 and actually hand-write my notes and key points – or sketch note – each book just so I can remember the main themes and refer to them with my work.

Before you ask, “but Helen, you can review the book!”  – yes, I can but sometimes, you just need to make notes for yourself that don’t need to be shared with the world.

So it’s quite timely that I stumbled upon this article today, “How to Read a Book

What do you think?



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  1. says

    I love this post, Helen. I too love my Kindle for the convenience (and it makes holiday packing MUCH easier) but there are two big downsides: I’m a sucker for the 99p Amazon Daily Deal so I have dozens of ebooks waiting to be read; and if I REALLY love a book on my Kindle, I will also buy it in paperback. I have to discipline myself: I don’t really buy Kindle books unless it’s cheaper than the paperback and ideally cheaper than about £3. I also found I wasn’t remembering all the books I read over the past couple of years, but I think that’s more to do with quantity (as my commute more than doubled in time in 2012) than format. I don’t make notes in books (I’m quite fussy about keeping them pristine) but I do like to remember what I loved about them, and that’s why I started my blog – a record for me, as well as a way of sharing what I’m reading with others. From your 2013 list, it looks like we have similar tastes in fiction, so I’ll be adding some of your suggestions to my ‘recommended by friends’ page!

    • activatelearning says

      Thanks for the comment Stephanie – and the link to your site. Wonderful. I’m going to check it out and see what else I can read from your recommendations. Like you, I never write into the book but certainly use post it notes to tag important areas. I’ve just discovered the Kindle deals – yeah I know, late comer but that’s because I go by my friends recommendations and I always have this image of those cheap books sitting on dusty tables outside bookstores and figure that this is the electronic version of this. Also I prefer non-fiction and any fiction I read must have a pretty good story line. Interestingly, sometimes I don’t even go with the trends. I read Neil Gaiman’s novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane – and I simply couldn’t get into it. I read it entirely and thought, “what the?” – however, there were many people who simply couldn’t understand why I didn’t like it. Same with Wolf Hall. I wanted to poke my eyes out with that. Yet, people raved about this book.

      I guess we all have different tastes.

      I’m going to check out your blog now and put some books down for my 2014 reading list!!

      • says

        I’m a big believer in reading what you enjoy, not what other people tell you to read. I read a wide range, including young adult and fantasy alongside contemporary and the classics. Sometimes I enjoy bestsellers but other times they don’t interest me – I was never grabbed by Wolf Hall either. I do have The Ocean at the End of the Lane sitting on my bookshelves, though, so will try that next year and let you know what I think!

        • says

          Phew, I thought I was the only one on Wolf Hall for thinking like that. Yes, let me know about the Ocean at the End of the Lane. It was intriguing at the start and middle but I felt it got lost towards the third quarter and I just couldn’t wait for it to just end. Everyone else raved about it. One of the books I loved was The Historian. I liked it because it had an ominous story telling quality about it. Mystery, old letters, dark… The novels that have really moved me have been:
          – The Historian
          – The Book Thief
          – Perfume
          – Captain Correlli’s Mandolin (I was crying in a train one day – one book that made me laugh and cry)
          – A Fortunate Life by A. B. Facey (the one book I have given out as gifts to people – I have bought it to 6 people in my life – significant, life changing book)

          I’m looking forward to 2014 for more reading…

  2. says

    It’s intriguing to me that Ryan’s volume was the only physical book you read this year – as it is a compilation of (digital) blog posts. I was actually going to ask him why he chose to make his posts into a book – I suspect the reason is what you’ve described here: to have a tangible representation of your work which you can hold, flick through, and put on a shelf. There’s certainly a different quality to physical objects.
    I also find it interesting that you say you process things more deeply when you hand write notes. I need to write notes in any format to remember stuff I’ve read or heard, but find I often lose handwritten ones, or can’t read them afterwards! So, actually prefer typing notes…Anyway, interesting post which made me reflect on my own preferences (mark of a good post!)

    • activatelearning says

      Thanks Tanya. I didn’t actually explain that Ryan was kind enough to gift the book to me so it was a lovely surprise in the mail one day. I read it in two sittings but it made me think that having all the blog posts in the one book was a great way for me to really think, annotate, highlight sections (with post it notes – I never write IN a book) as it was all there in the one place. Otherwise, like all others, I would have downloaded the book. That’s another thing too – it’s such a lovely gesture to give someone something physical too. I don’t think it would have had the same impact if someone said to me, “here’s my eBook for free – I’m gifting that to you”. Is it because we’ve come to expect ‘free stuff’ online? I don’t know…

      Yes, I think I have to go back to actually handwriting things for me to remember. Simply highlighting and transferring notes into Evernote is not making me remember unless I’m actually writing, typing, or doing stuff with that information – processing and applying.

      Or maybe I’m just getting old?

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