My Top 10 Prime Day Book Deals

selective focus photo of pile of assorted title books
Photo by Alexander Grey on

Yes, it’s Prime Day once again. I do my best to avoid giving them too much money on these two days each year, but some things are too hard to pass up.

I’ve done a little digging and spied some great deals on a few great books that I think you’ll enjoy.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Master the art of negotiation with former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss. Discover unconventional strategies to get what you want in any situation. Perfect for anyone looking to improve their bargaining skills and achieve better outcomes.

Think Again by Adam Grant

Challenge your assumptions and embrace the power of rethinking. Adam Grant’s insightful book encourages readers to open their minds, question their beliefs, and foster a culture of learning and growth. A must-read for lifelong learners and innovators.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Unveil the timeless strategies of history’s greatest power players. Robert Greene’s compelling guide provides readers with essential laws for gaining and maintaining power in any arena. Ideal for those seeking to navigate complex social dynamics and achieve success.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Dive into the fascinating world of human decision-making with Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. This groundbreaking book explores the dual systems of thought that shape our choices, offering profound insights into how we think and why we make mistakes.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Join Matthew McConaughey on a wild and reflective journey through his life. This candid memoir is filled with humorous anecdotes, life lessons, and inspirational moments that reveal the actor’s philosophy on how to catch and ride life’s “greenlights.”

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

Unlock the mysteries of human behavior with Robert Greene’s comprehensive exploration of what drives us. This enlightening book provides readers with a deeper understanding of themselves and others, helping to navigate social complexities with greater wisdom.

Discipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday

Discover the power of self-control and how it shapes our lives. Ryan Holiday’s latest book emphasizes the importance of discipline in achieving greatness, providing practical advice and historical examples to inspire readers to cultivate this vital virtue.

The Daily Stoic Box Set by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Embrace the wisdom of the Stoics with this beautifully packaged box set. Featuring daily meditations and reflections, it offers timeless insights and practical guidance for living a more mindful, resilient, and fulfilling life.

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Explore the secrets of great leadership with Simon Sinek. This compelling book reveals how leaders can create environments of trust and cooperation, leading to more successful and fulfilling organizations. It is essential reading for anyone aspiring to inspire and lead others.

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Learn from one of the most iconic figures in modern history as Arnold Schwarzenegger shares his seven indispensable tools for a successful and meaningful life. Filled with personal stories, practical advice, and motivational insights, this book is a powerful guide to unlocking your full potential and achieving greatness in any endeavor. Perfect for anyone seeking inspiration and actionable steps to transform their life.

Each of these books will impact your life if you take the lessons and apply them. All are fantastic reads.

The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

On finding time to be creative

junk journal

This semester, I’m in a class called “Leadership for Creative Problem Solving,” with the ever-impressive Mary John O’Hair leading our group. We’ve talked a lot about what it means to be creative, specifically in the land of educational leadership, but my conversations always come back around to finding ways to be creative and flexing those muscles.

In my attempts to follow Austin Kleon’s advice and show my work, in our final discussion board post–something else I’ve tried to spice up this semester because oh my god can discussion boards be an absolute pain in the you know what and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy but understand why we have to do them–we were asked to share an article or video we found in our studies on creativity and leadership.

Like the good oversharer and curator that I am, I linked to this blog, specifically to my tags on creativity, leadership, and creative leadership.

It’s not a great usage case for setting up your own public commonplace book, but it works.

One of my peers, an excellent educator and union leader, made a comment about not knowing how I do it all.

I don’t know either, I just do it. And I think that’s the key.

Creativity is an act of repetition and drudgery. Rarely, if ever, do the clouds of your mind part, allowing rays of glorious creative inspiration to bombard your brain with ideas. Nor is there an “idea factory” in Schenectady, NY, offering a subscription idea service–but that never stopped Harlan Ellison from telling people there was.

No, creativity is backbreaking, mind-numbing, and difficult. It should be difficult. It should be work. It should take something out of you and make you pause multiple times throughout the act of creating. It should make you think and it should make you question your life choices.

But, creating is what we were born to do. And everyone has something different to create, something different to express their unique gifts.

And being creative is something we must do often. Daily, as a matter of fact. Stephen King talks about writing 2,000 words a day, no matter what. Ryan Holiday says to “two crappy pages a day” to progress toward your goal.

It isn’t all going to be pretty–trust me, it’s not–and you’re going to get frustrated. Teachers, you’ll always be improving lessons. Students, you’ll always be thinking about how you can improve that last bit of work.

Each of us has a gift and someone is waiting for us to share that gift with the world.

Let’s do this.

The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

Rethinking the Public Commonplace Book

commonplace book entry from Austin, TX
A bit of commonplace memories from Austin, TX

The great Cory Doctorow celebrated four years of his Pluralistic blog last week. As such, I felt it a good time to rethink my own attempts at creating a public commonplace book.

I’m unsure how effective my work at creating a commonplace book has been over the past couple of years, but I’m getting there.

I first spoke about this idea here, inspired by Cory’s work, Austin Kleon’s, Ryan Holiday’s, and a host of others.

My biggest fault is that I don’t post enough stuff. Why?

Because I’m always worried that what I post isn’t “good enough” or planned enough, or whatever. It’s silly, I know, but as a lifelong perfectionist and anxiety sufferer, it’s difficult not to think about those things.

So, I shall make another attempt to share all the awesome things I find, regardless of whether or not they specifically fit into some mold that I feel I must inhabit.

I don’t fit well in any mold. I have too many interests and passions. One day I might talk about rethinking education and the next I’ll talk about picking up a cool comic at my local shop.

Who knows where this journey will go? Not I, said the frog.

The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

How to Read More Books: Learn from the Masters

photo of woman reading book
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on

Are you looking to read more books but can’t seem to find the time or the motivation? You’re not alone. The world is full of distractions that can waste your time and energy. But for those who have a passion for the written word, there are ways to overcome these hurdles and cultivate a robust reading habit.

Reading more books is an admirable goal that can expand your mind, improve your cognitive abilities, and offer you a richer, more nuanced understanding of the world. Bibliophiles like Tyler Cowen and Ryan Holiday are well-known for consuming vast quantities of books yearly. Let’s explore their strategies and learn from their habits.

Tyler Cowen: Quantity and Quality

Economics professor and co-founder of the blog Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen, is known for his voracious reading habits, consuming hundreds of books per year. How does he do it? Here are a few insights.

1. Skim first: Cowen advocates for speed reading or skimming through a book before deciding whether to devote more time to it. Skimming allows you to get the gist of the book, which can help you decide if it’s worth delving deeper.

2. Don’t be afraid to quit: If a book isn’t engaging or useful, Cowen recommends abandoning it. There’s no sense in wasting time on a book that isn’t providing value. Life is too short, and there are too many good books out there to stick with one that’s not working for you.

3. Read broadly, but specialize too: Cowen suggests reading widely to expose yourself to a variety of ideas, but also recommends specializing in certain areas. By focusing on specific subjects, you can develop a deeper understanding and knowledge base.

Ryan Holiday: Deliberate and Reflective Reading

Ryan Holiday, author, media strategist, and populizer of all things stoic philosophy, is another avid reader who goes through hundreds of books a year. He has a different approach to reading than Cowen; here are some of his strategies:

1. Always have a book with you: Holiday suggests always having a book on hand. This allows you to fill in those idle moments with reading rather than scrolling through your phone.

2. Note-taking and marginalia: Holiday is a firm believer in active reading. He takes notes, underlines passages, and writes in the margins of his books. This helps him engage more deeply with the material and aids in recall later on.

3. Reflect and review: Holiday recommends reviewing your notes and even rereading books to ensure comprehension and retention. By reflecting on what you’ve read, you can deepen your understanding and apply the knowledge to your own life.

Conclusion: Develop Your Own Reading Habit

While Cowen and Holiday have different strategies, they share a deep love of reading and a commitment to making it a priority. If you want to read more books, consider trying some of their strategies.

Remember, the goal isn’t just to read more books for the sake of quantity but to enrich your mind and life. So skim or dive deep, read broadly or specialize, take notes or reflect — find what works best for you and make reading a part of your daily routine. The world of books is vast and varied, and there’s always something new to discover.

The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

Assorted Links for Friday, 20 May 2022

Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash
  1. R.I.P. Vangelis: The Composer Who Created the Future Noir Soundtrack for Blade Runner Dies at 79
  2. David Letterman hosted the Late Show for the last time seven years ago today
  3. Panic Over SEL Is Unfounded. Here’s Why.
  4. Reducing Stress Through Tech – Podcast
  5. The Summer Reads Edition from Why is this Interesting?
  6. 13 Strategies That Will Make You A Better Reader (And Person)
  7. 13 Websites That Provide Lots of Digital Books for Summer Reading

And now, your weekly wind down…

Crafting a Digital Commonplace Book

commonplace book
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

One of the most fulfilling tasks I do on a regular basis is updating my commonplace book. What’s a commonplace book? Simple: it’s a place to store all those quotes, lyrics, poems, passages, etc. that mean something to you.

It’s a way to store all the things you read, regardless of their format, in one place so that you can access it any time you want. The concept isn’t new by any means; people across history have kept some form of a commonplace book. Marcus Aurelius had one that would later be published. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, and Virginia Woolfe all had one.

Modern authors like Austin Kleon and Ryan Holiday keep one. The formats change based on the person but they all serve the same purpose: a way to keep track of things that mean something to you.

Ryan Holiday has famously used his note card system as the basis for writing his books, something he picked up while working for Robert Greene.

If you want to dive deeper into this system of note-taking, writing, and organizing, read up on the Zettelkasten Method.

Personally, I keep a daily journal and I’ve been using my own version of the notecard system for the past couple of years. However, as I’m heading into my doctoral work this fall as I write, I’m attempting to update my commonplace system.

While I agree there is tremendous benefit in writing things down on paper – I write in my journal by hand in cursive daily – the real power of keeping a record of all the things in your commonplace book is when you can make connections between different entries.

I’ve tried making those connections with my note cards, but it hasn’t worked for me. So I needed to come up with something better. Something digital.

I’ve come up with a two-pronged approach. One of those prongs is this blog you are reading now.

For too many years, I tried to take blogging far too seriously. Always trying to write something meaningful and important while sharing things that I found or learned with the world.

My anxiety (which turns out to be pretty crippling and only in the last year have I really begun to get a handle on it) wouldn’t let me craft those perfect blog posts.

But, I can create short posts that I can share quickly with the world and store on this blog while organizing it pretty quickly into different topics.

The inspiration for this shift comes from Cory Doctorow. He refers to it as “The Memex Method” and many writers use it to create a commonplace book that doubles as a public database.

memex method
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Enter the Memex

Vannevar Bush famously described the memex as “an enlarged intimate supplement to one’s memory.”

Cory’s link blog is here.

Longstanding tech columnist John Naughton has one here. And I’m sure there are many others out there you could look through.

This blog that has been in existence in one form or another for 16 years is now becoming my public memex, my online database of things I learn, like, and use regularly.

Using WordPress tags, I can quickly filter posts into multiple topics and save them for later reference. And so can any of my readers. Of course, building this will take time and input data on a daily basis.

The second prong of this memex is my personal database, powered by Evernote. I’ve had an Evernote account since March of 2008 while it was still in beta, I think. But I’ve never used it very well.

Now, I have one notebook in my Evernote account. But a bajillion tags. I’m still working through all my existing notes and adding tags which will take some time but I’m feeling good about that progress and excited for the results.

I’m also taking all my existing note cards and scanning them into Evernote for tagging. The tags will sort and connect the ideas from various notes, giving me lots of sources for new articles and possibly even books.

As Robert Greene has said, “Everything is material.”

I just had to find a way to keep my material organized. I’ll keep you updated here on my progress.

Why is this important for educators?

I don’t know. Maybe it isn’t. If you’re a researcher, I can’t help but think it would be useful to have a very organized and connected system for your research.

But for the classroom teacher or administrator, how helpful would it be to connect the threads of all your work over the years? Likely, very helpful. And think of what you could share with your colleagues or future students.