Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Sunday Salon: On Happiness, Drive, and Ethics

Here we are, the first weekend in December.  Can someone tell me how this happened?  We put up our Christmas tree yesterday and honestly, it seems as if we just did this. I know many of you feel the same way. This will be the last relatively low-key weekend for the rest of the year.

Before we dive into December, a quick wrap-up of November's reading.  I had a great reading month, with 9 books read, including 1.5 audiobooks. (I listened to the first 150 pages of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.)  Links take you to my reviews. (I have these other reviews written, just not posted yet.)

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
Mrs. Somebody Somebody, by Tracy Winn
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, by Jon McGregor
Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays, by Joel Waldfogel
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
Bad Marie, by Marcy Dermansky
A Mango Shaped Space, by Wendy Mass
Saving Sky, by Diane Stanley
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (audiobook)

Of these, four of them will be making an appearance on my personal Best Books Read This Year Reading List. (In case you're wondering, they are Mrs. Somebody Somebody, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Bad Marie, and Half the Sky.  Saving Sky, which is a middle grade novel, might make it onto there too ... not sure.)

December is starting off somewhat uneventful, reading-wise. I finished Alice Munro's newest collection of short stories, Too Much Happiness. As I wrote in my review, I wasn't terribly impressed.  Munro gives her reader several terrific stories ("Dimensions," "Free Radicals," "Face," "Child's Play," the latter being absolutely heartwrenching if you are a parent of a child with special needs), but ultimately, the majority of these were simply adequate.  One of the commenters on my review mentioned that Munro works best by reading one at a time, and I think that might be a better approach for me when it comes to Munro.

 I'm currently reading Daniel H. Pink's book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. From the book jacket: "Most of us believe that the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money - the carrot-and-stick approach. That's a mistake .... The secret to high performance and satisfaction - at work, at school, and at home - is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world."

I happen to believe this is true - and not really all that surprising. I look at my job and The Husband's; we are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of job satisfaction, and the difference is that I have a work arrangement that allows me to work very independently (from home), to create a brand new program, and with an incredibly flexible schedule and supportive team. The Husband? Well, let's just say his situation is quite different indeed. Take a guess which one of us is happier and more motivated.

I usually don't mention the children's books we're reading, but this one is of interest. I spotted E is for Ethics: How to Talk to Kids About Morals, Values, and What Matters Most on the parenting shelf in the children's section of the library and was intrigued.  Ian James Corlett has 26 stories written in kid-friendly language and familiar situations that illustrate concepts of honesty, courage, forgiveness, and more. Each story is brief and has discussion questions at the conclusion of each story.

Finally, I've abandoned Malcolm Gladwell's latest, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures. I was listening to this on audio and while I really like Malcolm Gladwell and am finding this interesting, I'm also finding it way too jam-packed with information right now. Maybe it is a matter of timing, with this being the season of overload to begin with. I might give this another try in 2011 and just stick to music in the car for the rest of the month. 

Hope you are enjoying your Sunday and your early December reading! 

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Wendy said...

I'm with you re: how fast December and the holidays have arrived...and I am hoping to find some low key time myself in the next couple of weeks!!!

Hillary said...

Drive looks like a book I will enjoy. Thanks for sharing! I will put it on my wish list.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Drive and Half the SKy are on my lists to read. I alwasy learn something when I stop by your blog. Your posts are really insightful and warm to read. Thanks!