digitally analog

last month, i was doing some online shopping. i thought, "boxing day would be the best time to buy Christmas cards." and as i was going through the usual categories in Indigo (you know my love for stationary), i stumbled upon this video

and that was it. i was HOOKED. i love journaling in the traditional pen and paper way. in fact, the drafts for this blog are on pen & paper.

but then i realized i needed to be more realistic about this.
1. im too lazy to hand write something like this all the time
2. i would very likely forget to bring the journal with me everywhere

so i started looking for tips and tricks to make this more sustainable for me. read: make something made to be analog, digital. digitally analog. 

i found this article which was perfect for me since i already use Evernote

i was always organized and productive at work. but free time is a bit of a free for all. which, doesnt work cause i end up being side-tracked ALL DAY. aka. not productive.

i started right away and bullet journaled the rest of my free time in december and let me tell you, this is the most productive i have been during the Christmas break.

1 month into it, so far, GREAT!

the list

as promised from last week,

here are the books i read in 2017 - in order of completion:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

- began: 01/13
- completed: 01/14
- i didnt exactly breeze through this book in a day. i had started another book and in my quest for the next one, i stumbled upon this in audiobook format. i heard many people talk about this and how it has helped them declutter. truthfully, i learned a lot of things but there are a lot more in this book that i could have done without. having said that, i recently had an enormous urge to tidy up and declutter and i found myself thinking of some of the methods Marie Kondo had suggested. im very proud of the amount of junk i got rid of (threw out two recycling bags, donated/gave away about four bags of clothes, donated six large paper bags worth of books and things) however, doing it all in one go was one of the suggestions i could not adhere to.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

- began: 01/01
- completed: 01/23
- this was one of those books that are just everywhere. when i visited a bookstore early last year, i saw it right up front - the commanding orange sucked me right in. didnt buy it then though. a few days later, i was randomly clicking through instagram and saw this on someones feed - the familiar orange yet again. it was enough for me to pick it up when i saw it again in the bookstore. i found myself nodding 'yes' to many things that was said in this book. definitely not news, many books have attempted to write about a similar topic. however, it is a very welcome reminder. i passed my copy on to someone else hoping that it would be a helpful reminder for them as well.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

- began: 02/04
- completed: 02/24
- when some people heard that i started this list, more than one person recommended this book - "one of those books that you just have to read." i also learned that there is also an updated version, an adaptation of the same principles for the digital age - How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age. Very curious how different the two books might be. Apparently not curious enough to read it in 2017 though.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

- began: 02/28
- completed: 08/23
- first thought: wow that took a while for me to finish! this is a book that was selected for the leadership book club at work. we got really swamped at the beginning of the year that we kept pushing it back. i didnt have it in me to read it ahead of the team as well. however, the book club really helped me digest a lot of the topics in this book. i learned a lot about myself as i read and as we discussed this book. it also helped those in the book club have a common language to speak when we need to lean on someone for advice on a crucial conversation to be had.


- began: 04/08
- completed: 10/08
- remember when i said i judge books by their covers? yeah, this was one of those books. thick, hardcover, pastel colours - in a word, beautiful. i read the jacket and did not let it go. it was quite the challenge just by the sheer size and weight of the book. not gonna lie, it fell on me a few times as i nodded off to sleep. reading in bed is a hazard sometimes. in addition to that, i started this book in my season of dying drive - i read about a third of it, put it down as i let other things get in the way, and hardly picked it up until my end of year blitz. i dont know if i was unconsciously delaying the inevitable. you see, i really love this book. the characters really stuck with me. their stories resonated so loud. maybe i just didnt want it to end. when it did, i could not stop talking about it. this is another book that i have lent to someone else. hoping that it would touch another persons life just like it did mine.

Fifteen Dogs

- began: 02/24
- completed: 10/09
- yikes! i took even longer with this one. i swear its not because this is a terrible book. it was just one of those that i started, read a bit of, put down, and didnt pick up again because i start other books. this book is similar to other books on this list in that it had been mentioned or it came up in conversation multiple times. i remember i was interviewing someone who used to work at a bookstore and we asked for them to recommend a few books to us: this was one of them. the synopsis piqued my interest (maybe because it is set in a very familiar location. ahem toronto). another time it popped up was when i was in a meeting and one of the attendees commented on another attendees dog and how it reminded her of one of the characters in this book. that was two mentions in two weeks. i picked up the book shortly after. a very curious topic/genre. definitely something outside of the usual stuff i would pick up.

Ready Player One

- began: 10/10
- completed: 10/18
- from the book that took the longest to complete, to the book that took the shortest amount of time to complete. i was really hyped about this book. i heard about it in a podcast and the description really got me. i was about to go get the book but my brother told me that he actually owns the book - score! when i brought it to work to show my coworker, she was super pumped for me. (aside: we got super excited when the extended trailer was shown when our work took us to an early screening of star wars. cant wait for this movie!) this book is both the past and the future - hopefully not our future. this was definitely one of those books that i had to tell myself to stop reading so i could get some sleep. 10/10 would recommend.

The Circle

- began: 10/23
- completed: 11/16
- i remember being so jazzed about finishing the previous book in such a short period of time that i was so determined to do the same with this book. alas, i had a vacation during this time and though i brought it with me (electronically), the call of the water was louder than the book. sorry, Dave Eggers. this is another recommendation - in fact by the woman who inspired me to keep pushing with this goal (the same woman i mentioned above). she had read this book prior to us working together and some of her first day experiences reminded her of the beginnings of this book. i like this book but i dont like it at the same time. it caused me a lot of anxiety because it was just too close to real life. still, i could not put it down. i needed to know more, no matter how eerie it was. one thing: do not watch the movie. my coworker warned me, i did not heed her warning, and i regretted it. deeply.

Rich People Problems

- began: 11/16
- completed: 11/26
- i was on a roll and i wanted to start a book as soon as i finished one. since i have read the other two books, this landed on my recommend list. those two combined made it an easy decision. i wanted to know what happens next to the ridiculously rich families in Kevin Kwan's books. this is definitely an easy read. should he decide to write another instalment, i will most likely read it too. he is really good at pushing my "this is so ridiculous but i cant stop reading" buttons. not only that, i read the books years apart but the characters are so colourful its like picking up exactly where you left off - every time. i hear the first book will be a movie soon and that they made pretty solid casting decisions (in that they actually picked Asians to play Asians. #wow #finally).

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir

- began: 11/26
- completed: 11/26
- yes thats right, i finished this book in one day. i was really craving the "Pachinko" storyline and i was looking for something same same but different. an illustrated memoir of a Vietnamese immigrant family fit the bill exactly. this was old and new at the same time. the story was familiar. i found myself saying 'same tho' for a number of the things she described. but the impact of the illustration was unexpected (but welcomed). im the curious type who Googles until the end of the internet when something interests me. i still know very little about Vietnam but this book has whetted my desire to know more.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

- began: 11/26
- completed: 12/04
- i was on fire and i was not about to stop. i visited my cousin this day and with two books completed that day, i wanted to keep going. i wanted to read another book which she said she owned but we couldnt find it. she recommended this instead. she started reading this because one of her students suffered from the same disease and she wanted to understand it better. while i was reading this book, sometimes i had to remind myself that this is non-fiction - Susannah was recounting what had happened to her. it scared me and and it fascinated me at the same time. a very unexpected read for me. i didnt search for this book but it was almost like it found its way to me. i dont know if i will be watching the movie. i dont want another "The Circle" scenario in my hands.

Purple Cow

- began: 12/05
- completed: 11/29
- last but not least, the final book - just barely squeaking through. i bought this book at the beginning of the year. lent it to my brother who is self-employed, hoping that it would spark something within him in his new venture. got it back and decided that i will wrap up the year with one of the first books i bought in 2017. this was written in 2003 and it is fascinating to see how business has shifted since then. the edition that i have has a bonus section where readers submitted their experiences with companies who they feel have or are Purple Cows. there was a little bit of a surprise for me there as there is a little blurb about the company that i work for now, FreshBooks. our customer wrote about something that had happened 10 years ago - and yes, he is still a customer today. this book was recommended to me by my dad. he usually sends me articles that mention FreshBooks so i asked him if this was the reason why he recommended this to me. nope. just a massive coincidence. what a crazy way to go full circle with this adventure.

when i was preparing to write this, writing down the timelines, it really hit me how quickly i blazed through some of these books. it also surprised me how i was able to really stick to my decision to complete this goal.

october was definitely the clean up month. all the books i had started i made sure i finished. november 26th was the blitz day. something mustve come over me that day and i really just wanted to blaze through more.

its mid-January now and i have my 2018 goals and books lined up. with my 2017 accomplishment under my belt, i can see myself really getting better at reading regularly again. im quite excited. i look forward to all the things that i will learn about myself, the world and the people around me - through the books they recommend and the conversations we will have about them and book clubs at work.

here's to another 12 books in 2018!
maybe more.

just one a month

last week, i wrote about something i accomplished in 2017. i was going through the photos, as i sometimes do, and landed on a particular memory trigger

aside: i like that term - memory trigger. i certainly did not invent it but i like calling my 365 photos that term. these days, more than ever, i feel the word "trigger" is mostly attached to negative statements. i definitely see how "memory trigger" could be unpleasant. however, because i am so pleased with the outcome of my imperfect Project365, i just cant read any negativity into that term when i use it in that capacity. 

whoa, super long aside. anyway, back to the memory trigger:

i told myself that day that i would commit to reading 12 books in 2017 - one book a month. i did the math and it shouldnt take me an entire month to read even a 500-page book. it seemed very doable. just like with Project365, it started great. in fact, i finished two books in January. until i let it go. one missed day turned into one missed week, and then to one missed month.

then, i looked up and it was already the end of September and i had only finished four books. i started reading a few others but did not finish them. not that they were bad - i finished almost all of them later. i just lost the drive to keep going. i was very ready to give up and just try again in the new year.

but there is this woman at work - i always see her with a book and she always visits the library next door. i remember asking her when she finds the time to read and if she sleeps. it was simple, she found books that she liked and found time to read them - on the weekends, in transit, before bed. and if she didnt like the book - bye! i have started saying the same thing to myself: life is too short to read a book you dont like. i was inspired and determined to catch up. this meant i had to read eight books in three months. happy to report that on December 29th 2017, i finished my 12th book!

another aside: i had planned to list all of the books here with details of when i began and completed them and some thoughts i had. i started it and realized how loooooong this one entry would be. so i decided to make a part two of this topic - just for the list. 

2018 goals
somehow i felt like i didnt do it right. i guess this is my personality type talking again. i was rushed in the end and there was no structure. it was like the wild west - just read something, ANYTHING! so this year i have laid out some rules for myself:
  1. read books. no audiobooks, no illustrated books. i would like to actually go through the motions of traditional reading. doesnt mean i wont pick up an audiobook or illustrated books - they can count as bonus books.
  2. somewhat focused topics. one each quarter of the year
    • leadership
    • non-fiction
    • fiction
  3. one year bible. the last service of the year has compelled me to give this another try. i have tried it before and failed miserably. i have better tools and a better understanding of myself so im hoping this time, i will be able complete it. 
so far...
before the break i signed up for a book club for managers. we will be reading Radical Candor by Kim Scott - scheduled to meet 4 times in January. leadership book for Q1: check! 

during the break i was perusing the usual sites for boxing day discounts and deals. i noticed that Google Play had a $5 voucher for Google Book. used that sucker almost immediately on The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. im not gonna lie, when im browsing i usually judge books by their covers and/or titles. this one really caught my eye when it popped up in my recommended books somewhere because of my growing appreciation for tea since my trip to Cameron Highlands. i have gone off topic - again. anyway, i think im going to enjoy this book since i have read and enjoyed Shanghai Girls. also because the goodreads reviews on it are pretty good. cant wait to sip all the tea while i read this. currently drinking: ginger peach tea!

press play to view the magic of Cameron Highlands

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