Atomic Habits

28th December 2018

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, by James Clear. Sometimes it’s valuable to go back over your life and habits to get a sense of how productive you are—and how much more productive you could be so as to leave room for family, friends, and fun.  James’ book starts with a bang (literally—he was banged in the face with a baseball bat), and takes off from there to step through how to make tiny, doable changes that add up to big results. If you’re looking to make changes in the New Year, this book will be invaluable.  A useful book on reforming your habits, whether or not you’ve read Charles’ Duhigg’s The Power of Habit (which we also really liked). Atomic Habits is also good for audio. (Two free audiobooks may be possible through this link.)

The Top Free Online University Courses of 2018, Ranked by Popularity

The ever-informative Class Central is back with another great list—this one is a ranked listing of the most popular free online university courses of 2018.  #1 on the list? You guessed it, Learning How to Learn!

How to Memorize Stuff by Creating Simple Links

4-Time US Memory Champion Nelson Dellis is back with another great memory tips video.  This one shows how to memorize a listing somewhat similar to what you might have to memorize in a class, or for gaining cultural expertise (we won’t spoil the surprise by saying what the list pertains to). Watching Nelson’s memory tips series gives you a great way to build your memory abilities gradually and naturally.  (And don’t forget to cement these memory tips even more strongly into place with Nelson’s superb book, Remember It!)


We were recently pointed towards Perusall, developed by Harvard’s Eric Mazur, which provides a methodology for students to interact collaboratively with one another in their readings.  Here is a video explanation of the technology and approach. It looks fascinating—we have reservations only in that it seems that books must be purchased through Perusall to be workable in the Perusall system, which is definitely clunky and potentially more costly for students.  But if your course is more handout-centered, this approach could be a win. [Hat tip: Dennis Wilson.]

“Food for Fitness” Podcast

In this podcast, Scott Baptie and Barb talk about how you can learn how to learn, why our learning ability tends to decline as we grow older, and some learning hacks you can to do learn more effectively.

Barb’s Reading Habits

LHTLer Masako Atake asked Barb about how she’s able to read so many books.  Here’s her answer:

“I generally read from about 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm or so roughly four to five evenings a week.  I read pretty slowly—a legacy of reading technical books for my engineering studies. If my Kindle initially says it’ll take 4 hours to read the book, by the time I’m into it, it changes the estimate to 7 or more hours… But if you devote some (relaxing!) chunks of time on most days, the books are gradually consumed. I also read on planes, so during travel, which is pretty frequent, I can read more. I wish I read faster, though. I have so many samples that I’d love to read—I probably read 1 book for every 15 I’ve downloaded as a sample on Kindle. Occasionally I buy the hard copy if the book looks like it has lots of tables and such, or it’s not available in electronic version.  There is some randomness to what I read—for example, my webmaster just sent me an email that at the end of it, noted: “I’m currently reading Blood, Iron and Gold, by Christian Wolmar…”   Well, off I had to go to download a sample!  I’ll get ideas from books sometimes from LHTLers, or my younger daughter will make a recommendation.”

“I do read a few more books than I talk about on the Cheery Friday, maybe one additional book for every six or seven I read.  For example, I recently read the Autobiography of Gucci Mane, but I probably won’t tout it, just in that I kind of struggled with a lot of the terminology, people, and occurrences that Gucci referred to.  (I’m not an expert on the drug or rap scenes, and there seemed to be some selective remembering when Gucci got into trouble, which was pretty much throughout the book.)  Occasionally a book will start out strong and I get drawn in, but the ending is so weak that I just can’t recommend it. Or it’s a research book that has some good info, but is just too badly written to recommend.”  

“In any case, I mostly try to read books I hope to recommend. Every once in a while I’ll recommend a book that I’ve read most of the way through, but then, because of life’s exigencies, I won’t get around to actually finishing it. In general, though, what you see is what I’ve actually read all the way through….”

Thumb/Pinkie Interchange

We get a hoot out of this completely useless activity. Practice can help you get faster. [Hat tip: Cathi Allen.]

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team



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