Reading Recently

Some books I’ve been loving recently.

Photo by Blaz Photo on Unsplash

One of my goals for 2020 is to read more. I don’t think I’ve actually put in effort to read books (for pleasure, at least) in a very long time. I know the benefits of reading regularly, as there is so much we can learn and experience through reading, so I wanted to share my thoughts on some of the books I’ve been reading recently, and whether I’d recommend them to others!

😈 The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F***, by Sarah Knight

This one doesn’t actually count towards my goal because I finished it at the very end of last year, but I wanted to include it in this list because of just how much I learnt from reading it, and the ability to continue to use it and practice the activities outlined in the book long after finishing it.

In this book, Knight teaches us to budget our time and effort as we would our money, and not spend it on things we don’t want to — She isn’t encouraging rudeness, or telling us to stop caring about things at the expense of other people’s feelings, but to make sure we put our own feelings first. Knight provides exercises on how to practice this kind of “effort budgeting” and encourages us to take stock of what is going on in our mind, and spring clean it, Marie Kondo style. This book offers a different perspective on time management, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a better way to prioritise and plan their time.

🏦 Bank 4.0, by Brett King

Now, I don’t usually read in-depth analysis on technology and it’s impacts on the future of the financial sector, but when I do… I read the one my mum recommends! (sounds odd but she knows her stuff.)

This book dives into the future of banking, and how FinTech competition with the likes of Monzo and Starling Bank are driving innovation all the way back to the first principles of what makes a bank… a bank. How advancements in big data and artificial intelligence might become the next trend for credit companies and tracking credit scores. Or how maybe that in the future, we won’t have credit cards at all, but we could pay for everything with facial recognition?

These technologies are still a thing of the future, and there are many ethical and technological challenges to be faced before we ever see them implemented, but it is interesting to see what the future could hold for financial services.

I can’t say I’d recommend this book, not because it’s not good, but I’d only recommend it if you are VERY interested in financial services and the future of technology within the financial sector.

🤖 Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms, by Hannah Fry

This book was FANTASTIC! I took a module on data mining at University that opened my eyes to the world of data and machine learning and I didn’t want to stop learning. After completing the module, I stumbled across this book in Waterstones, and had heard good things about it so I decided to give it a try. It did not disappoint.

Fry opens our eyes to the way algorithms and data are shaping the world around us, from medical screening, to the justice system, and even music and art. She describes the algorithms being used to not only assist in making life changing decisions, but also the ones that could one day be responsible for getting us from A to B without crashing.

If you’re interested in artificial intelligence, machine learning, or data science, I HIGHLY recommend this book, alongside Deepmind — A podcast by the same author, that gives insight into A.I. research and the challenges being faced in the field at the moment.

🎙 How To Own the Room, by Viv Groskop

Another of my goals for 2020 is to get involved with public speaking. For anyone who shivers at the thought of public speaking in any form, this is the book for you.

Owning the room is all about public speaking confidence, and the small ways you can improve your speaking and how you carry yourself. Presence and pace are two aspects of a speakers performance that are mentioned multiple times throughout the book, as well as the speakers ability to relate to and attract the audience in. This is spoken about, alongside advice on how we can practice these techniques when we are asked to speak (it doesn’t have to be an Oscars acceptance, but maybe a presentation at work?). Groskop also talks about those who are ‘happy high status’, and what we can learn from their approach to social situations, in order for us to improve our own presence.

My biggest take away from this book is that perfection isn’t the aim. None of the speakers she writes about in this book are perfect. We hold ourselves to ridiculously high standards and we don’t need to. Nobody is perfect, so instead of scrutinising ourselves or comparing ourselves to those who we deem ‘perfect’, we should aim to be the best version of ourselves that we could possibly be, as thats the best we can do.

Next up for me is In Order To Live, by Yeonmi Park, or Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez. I have heard a lot of good things about both of these titles, so I thought I would give them a try. I’m also listening to The Lord of The Rings trilogy audiobook (my favourite book / movie franchise of all time).

If you’re also trying to get into reading more this year, I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for books I should read or ones you’ve loved!

Software Engineer & Comp. Sci. graduate, writing about professional development, working in tech, and all things coding. https://www.elletownsend.co.uk

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