Category Archives: Reading Will Save the World

Reading Will Save the World: Summer Reading

June 24, 2018

Culture and Society / Reading Will Save the World

The Summer Solstice just happened, and that means it is officially summer. Reading books is one of my favorite activities during this time of year, and I have a small handful of them to recommend.

There are generally two kinds of books I read these days, and I’ll be offering up a couple of suggestions from each option.

The first kind of books I’ve been reading lately have been for pure escapism and entertainment. I love to dive deep into an imaginative space that is full of awe, mystery, intrigue, and wonder. On a daily basis, I exist in a literal and linear physical habitat, but in my head, there are no such limits. An imagination needs to be cultivated in ways that are boundless. I seek out books that help me do this.

The second kind of books I have been reading lately probably fall under what most would call “self-help” books. This designation seems to have a bad rap. It implies that it is usually a bunch of generic psycho-babble. I do not doubt that there is plenty of this out there, and this is why I take the time to find books that actually have substantive content that is well researched and thoughtfully written.

So, on with the first kind. Here is a book (or a series of them) that will take you on a sweet, engaging, and delightful adventure!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs:

As you might already know, this book was made into a feature film. I first heard about it by watching the movie in a theater. The movie was great, but this book was even better.  It tells the story of how a group of children with special powers hide in plane sight among ordinary people across time. There are some incredibly clever plot devices in the story. It is well written  with steady pacing and endearing characters. I do not want to give anything away, and I highly recommend reading it! The story is so good that I believe it will eventually stand among behemoths like the Harry Potter Series and the Golden Compass as a modern fantasy classic. When I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

Wanna know something even better about this book?

There are already two of its sequels in print:

Hollow City:


Library of Souls:

Wanna know something even better? The fourth book, Map of Days, was just announced, and it will hit bookstores on October 2, 2018:

Now, on to the second kind:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

There is so much wisdom in this little book. For myself, I want to live a life in which I am truly engaged in the activities and relationships that I actually want and desire. What this book provides is perspective and a framework on how to think more strategically about the decisions we make regarding our time and personal resources.  It gets down to the nitty gritty right off the bat, and it is truly a learning experience to devour.

Well, that’s it for now! I hope you can find a book that you can sink your teeth into and bask in for a while over these long and hot summer days.

Happy Reading!

-Roqué

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My Daily Rituals for a Meaningful Life

March 18, 2018

Culture and Society / Intention / Piano / Reading Will Save the World

I have a lot of goals and dreams in my life, and I am cultivating daily rituals to help me accomplish them.  These are incremental steps that I take on a regular basis to help me get further along in my goals. They may not seem like much, but in the overall scheme of my life, they make a huge impact.

Here are my daily rituals that I try to live by:

1. Drink lots of water every day in the morning.

One of the first things I try to do after waking up is drink one or two glasses of water. I also have coffee in the morning, but water is absolutely essential. After six to eight hours of sleeping in bed, your body needs nourishment. This is also an easy way to wake up and refresh your internal organs after a long night of sleep.

2. I make my bed after I get up every morning.

This happens immediately after I get up. Not only does this make my bedroom look more orderly and calm, but it makes coming home later in the day more pleasant. My bed is my sanctuary, and if it looks clean and cared for, it becomes a much more inviting oasis. Coming home to a messy, unkempt bed is a lot less pleasant.

3. I write every day.

These days, I have created numerous opportunities to write in my daily life. What I mean by “write” is the exercise of composing my thoughts clearly and expressively on paper or on my computer.  I have the options of writing for an assignment at school, in my daily journal, my blog, or for a post on social media. Usually, all or at least one of these options is available. I have found this to be the best way to learn how to communicate. If you can write well, you can speak well. These skills are valuable in any situation.

4. I play music every day.

I am passionate about performing music, and it is a lifelong pursuit no matter where I am or what I am up to. I know how to play the piano, the cello, and the ukulele. The piano takes up the lion’s share of my music time, but I love the contrast that the two other instruments create. Playing music engages my mind and body in a way that feels effortless, fun, and creative. Whether I am learning a cover song, writing one of my own, practicing several pieces from my original catalog, or just making stuff up, the act of using my body to syphon music out into the world is extremely fulfilling.

5. I spend time with my cat every day.

I am an animal lover at heart and a cat person. I try to spend at least 15 minutes of my time just focused on my cat Steinway. Cuddling and petting are the main activities, and these are moments when I can extend my attention to something other than myself. It works out best whenever I get home from school at the end of the day. He is often ready to purr and give me numerous cat kisses if I lie down to greet him. The affection from an animal that loves you unconditionally is healing and comforting.

6. I express gratitude outwardly every day.

I say out loud something for which I am thankful. Usually, my partner and I ask each other what we are thankful for every morning. This is a daily practice for us, and I also say “Thank you” to people as much as possible.  When you cultivate thankfulness, you become aware of the abundance in your life. This is as close to happiness as I have found on a daily basis.

7. Read a minimum of 20 pages of a book every day.

Let’s do some math. If you read at least 20 pages of a book every day, that amounts to 7,300 pages. Let’s say the average book is 300 pages long. After a year, you will have read about 24 books. There are people who have not even read that many books in a lifetime.  Reading not only exercises your mind and fine tunes  your comprehension skills, but it invites new ideas and sensibilities into your mental vocabulary.  You can learn something new, laugh, cry, and be enlightened through reading books.

Again, these daily rituals may not seem like much, but for myself, here is the big picture:

1. I want to live a long life in good health. Water sustains everything on this earth. It also sustains me.

2. I want to have mental and emotional well-being. Caring for a pet, having a safe and clean place to rest, and continually being grateful are the building blocks  for a strong heart and mind.

3. I want to be an accomplished musician. Playing music every day strengthens my musical muscles.

4. I want to write a book someday and be an articulate and effective communicator. Reading allows me to learn how others communicate, and writing as a daily practice helps me express my ideas better. Like everything else in life, practice makes you better and stronger.

If you have a goal in your life or something that you deeply value, look for ways that you can integrate them into your daily existence. Weave them into the fabric of your life and watch how they can make you stronger, more focused, and more aware.

The goal becomes the process, and this is always good.

-Roqué

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Reading Will Save the World: My Book Notes

January 21, 2018

Reading Will Save the World

Will reading save the world?  Yes.  This is an ongoing series about books and reading that I am carrying over from the previous incarnation of this blog.  Here at Bloom, I will continue to highlight books that I love but also delve deeper into my thoughts about what reading books means to me.  This week, I explain my book notes.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be an active reader.  In my mind, it means questioning the content as one navigates through the highs and lows of a book.  It means grappling with conflicts, contemplating ideas, and seeking insight.  Reading guides us into exploring stories that relate to our life experiences and emotions.

It is all of these things and more.

So then, my next question is how?  How do I become a more active reader?  Is it enough to just read the story?  I have come to understand that active reading is more than just reading.

It’s more like hunting for treasure.  As you read, your eyes move along until you come across a quote, an idea, a message, or a moment that elicits an emotional or physical response from you.  Maybe you laughed out loud.  Maybe you started to cry. Whatever it is that made you do that–wouldn’t it be wonderful to remember it? Maybe it is a brilliant quote or a poignant passage. Wouldn’t it be awesome to hold on to that treasure?

My answer to that question is an emphatic “YES!!”.

This is why I have started to take notes from most of the books I read; however, they are not just merely words scribbled down on paper.  I found a way to make it a little more creative and fun.

My friend and fellow artist Megan Kelley (@studiomnivorous on Instagram) takes the coolest notes when she is in an audience and listening to a speaker.  I’ve seen her doing this for months and decided to try it out for the books I read.  Here is a photo of what my book notes now look like thanks to her inspiring note-taking template:

These notes are from a book I read a while ago called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.  (This is a fantastic book by the way.  It serves up an insightful and decisive primer on how to live a meaningful life. )  I generally do not acquire this much information from most books I read,  but there was so much knowledge from this particular book that I wanted to  document it all for future reference.

With my book notes, I basically go all arts and crafty with them.  I use one notebook until the pages are done. I include the name and author of the book, and I make each idea or quote part of a visual whole on the page.  Not only is this a lot more fun than just writing something down, but it helps me to process the information better by allowing each note/idea to be its own vignette.

You do not have to be a graphic artist to be able to do this.  The goal is to enjoy yourself and make the notes look awesome on the page.  Use different colors.  Create shapes.  Be goofy.

Roqué Book Notes

If there is one hard rule that I follow, it is that the notes still need to be legible.  If you can’t read it later, it becomes worthless.  Remember that.

If I am reading the actual book and do not want to stop reading, I mark the desired passage with a pencil or fold the corner of the page.  This lets me get back to a noteworthy point later on to add it to my book notes.

You might find just two or as much as twenty items from a book that are worthy of documentation.  In either case, this is a fun way of keeping those treasures for posterity and future inspiration.  By the way, if you have a child who loves to read, this form of treasure hunting might be a way to make reading more engaging and enjoyable.

Go ahead.  Hunt for treasure. Take your own book notes.  Make them fun.

Special thanks to Megan Kelley for ongoing inspiration.

-Roqué

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