Started AND finished, The Lifetime Learner’s Guide to Reading and Learning by Gary Hoover this week.

Do you get your books on Amazon? Sometimes Amazon drives me bonkers and I had begun to look into other ways to get my books, but alas, I’ve found nothing that comes close. I was buying used books at Thriftbooks, but their rating system for what’s considered good is just not anywhere close to mine. They are great about replacing books that don’t please me, but I’d rather they just fix the system. I do go there first and see if they have a new copy, but if they don’t, I go back to Amazon.

Amazon has that mean trick of saying, “If you liked this book, check out this other one!” And because I am weak, I’ve fallen for it several times and it’s sometimes a good thing. “The Lifetime Learner’s Guide” was one of those books.

That being said, I should have done a little research instead of falling for an advertising gimmick. I didn’t know it was self-published (something I don’t buy unless I’m a big fan of the blogger), pages were falling out of the binding the moment I started reading it, and it wasn’t anything like I had hoped it would be. It’s not a badly written book, there was plenty of decent information to use, just not what I was looking for and there are so many books I need to read!

The first half was more like a reference book. The chapters were basic “where to find information” and “how to study” type stories. And then there were reading lists of helpful books. I skimmed through these.

The second half had information geared more toward entrepreneurs and business creatives, but (because I’m cool) there was plenty that I could apply to what I do here.

One big take away from this book was, “Get a good thesaurus.” I’m on my way this week to my favorite used bookstore to get one. It’s a great way to look up words and phrases and get new ideas. Online ones are great, but he had a point about a book you can flip through and accidently come across great new words. I know. I know. Any excuse to buy a book.

“Really good ruts are so powerful we don’t even know we are in them.”

I’ve noticed one of my own lately. I read what I’m comfortable reading, not much outside of a certain boundary. I’d love to read a more diverse collection, but where do I turn for suggestions? The books I read are gleaned from other books I read, podcasts I listen to, and articles and television suggestions. A book club or a class might help lead me in a new direction but…there are people there and online? Read yesterday’s post Tyranny of the Majority and you’ll get an idea why I’m not comfortable in any online group activities these days.

“The foreign is understood through the familiar, the familiar better understood through the foreign.”

Here’s the crazy thing. We don’t understand something that has nothing familiar about it. If aliens came here from another galaxy, would we even recognize them as beings, let along communicate with it? The first thing we do when encountering something different is to look for similarities and go from there. We need hooks to hang things on.

Then, to get a better understanding of ourselves, we have step outside and look in, get a different perspective. How would an alien see us?

“Understanding the world around us means understanding people – lots of people. Not just ourselves, not just our friends and family, not just people who think like us. It means putting ourselves in the shoes of as many different kinds of people as we can discover.”

He wrote about the most powerful source of innovation, connecting things, citing an article on Brain Pickings titled “How Einstein Thought: Why “Combinatory Play” Is the Secret of Genius.” It brings me back to the idea of a classical liberal arts education in which high school and college age people are exposed to a smattering of different ideas and schools of thought. That’s something I attempted to do for myself when I started homeschooling in 2004 and how I raised my children.

Reading back, it sure looks like I got my money’s worth out of “The Lifetime Learner’s Guide”. I’d recommend it to anyone that is interested in becoming a better “lifetime learner.” The reading list alone would probably be worth it. And he does give a lot of examples on how to look at things a little differently.

Have you read any of Gary Hoover’s books or blog posts? I’d love to hear from you!