Books to Watch | April 26, 2022
April 26, 2022
This week, our choices are:
How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing by KC Davis, Simon Element (GMC)
If you’re struggling to stay on top of your to-do list, you probably have a good reason: anxiety, fatigue, depression, ADHD, or lack of support. For therapist KC Davis, the birth of her second child triggered a stress-mess cycle. The more behind she felt, the less motivated she was to start. She didn’t fold a single piece of laundry for seven months. One life-changing realization restored her sanity—and the functionality of her home: You don’t work for your home; your home works for you.
In other words, messiness is not a moral failing. A new sense of calm washed over her as she let go of the shame-based messaging that interpreted a pile of dirty laundry as “I can never keep up” and a chaotic kitchen as “I’m a bad mother.” Instead, she looked at unwashed clothes and thought, “I am alive,” and at stacks of dishes and thought, “I cooked my family dinner three nights in a row.”
Building on this foundation of self-compassion, KC devised the powerful practical approach that has exploded in popularity through her TikTok account, @domesticblisters. The secret is to simplify your to-do list and to find creative workarounds that accommodate your limited time and energy. In this book, you’ll learn exactly how to customize your cleaning strategy and rebuild your relationship with your home, including:
- How to see chores as kindnesses to your future self, not as a reflection of your worth
- How to start by setting priorities
- How to stagger tasks so you won’t procrastinate
- How to clean in quick bursts within your existing daily routine
- How to use creative shortcuts to transform a room from messy to functional
With KC’s help, your home will feel like a sanctuary again. It will become a place to rest, even when things aren’t finished. You will move with ease, and peace and calm will edge out guilt, self-criticism, and endless checklists. They have no place here.
On Quality: An Inquiry into Excellence: Unpublished and Selected Writings by Robert M. Pirsig & Wendy K. Pirsig, Mariner Books (DJJS)
Robert M. Pirsig wrote this unpublished line in 1962 while a patient at Downey Veteran Administration Hospital in Illinois, where he was admitted as a psychiatric patient. More than a decade before the release of the book that would make him famous, Pirsig had already caught hold of the central theme that would animate Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: Quality, a concept loosely likened to “excellence,” “rightness,” or “fitness” that Pirsig saw as kindred to the Buddhist ideas of “Dharma” or the “Tao.” As he later wrote in Zen, “Quality is Buddha.”
Though he was hounded by fans who considered him a guru, the famously private Pirsig only published two books and consented to few interviews and almost no public appearances in later decades. Yet he wrote and thought almost continually, refining his “Metaphysics of Quality” until his death in 2017.
Now for the first time, readers will be granted access to five decades of Pirsig’s personal writings in this posthumous collection that illuminates his thinking to an unprecedented degree. Skillfully edited and introduced by Wendy Pirsig, Robert’s wife of over forty years, the collection includes previously unpublished texts, speeches, letters, interviews, and private notes (including from Pirsig’s time in the mental hospital), as well as key excerpts from Zen and the Art of the Motorcycle Maintenance and his second book, Lila.
The Virtual Leader: How to Manage a Remote Workplace by Takako Hirata, Matt Holt (JAG)
Remote work is here to stay. As a result, remote leadership is now a core competency for most executives and managers. Leaders cannot simply transfer what they’ve been doing in the office to the remote context. While the goals remain the same—efficiency, engagement, community—the means of achieving those are very different. In The Virtual Leader, Takako Hirata shares the proven leadership methods she has developed over nearly a decade coordinating teams across the globe as the head of international business development at ROHTO Pharmaceutical. Hirata has seen firsthand that while the remote environment presents its own set of obstacles, the opportunities for innovation far outweigh the challenges. Because remote work is only advantageous when it’s done right, she offers workers and leaders a comprehensive guide to making the most of the world of remote work through strategies such as:
- Conserving office rituals in the remote environment
- Cultivating trust
- Enabling clear and efficient communication
- Making your company leaner and reinvesting in your teams
- Maintaining mental and physical health
- Conducting productive meetings
- Minimizing distractions and maximizing focus
- Managing new expectations for employees
With The Virtual Leader, learn how to evolve your leadership style to empower your teams to thrive wherever they work.
Where the Children Take Us: How One Family Achieved the Unimaginable by Zain E. Asher, Amistad (EPP)
Awaiting the return of her husband and young son from a road trip, Obiajulu Ejiofor receives shattering news. There’s been a fatal car crash, and one of them is dead.
In Where the Children Take Us, Obiajulu’s daughter, Zain E. Asher, tells the story of her mother’s harrowing fight to raise four children as a widowed immigrant in South London. There is tragedy in this tale, but it is not a tragedy. Drawing on tough-love parenting strategies, Obiajulu teaches her sons and daughters to overcome the daily pressures of poverty, crime and prejudice—and much more. With her relentless support, the children exceed all expectations—becoming a CNN anchor, an Oscar-nominated actor—Asher’s older brother Chiwetel Ejiofor—a medical doctor, and a thriving entrepreneur.
The generations-old Nigerian parenting techniques that lead to the family's salvation were born in the village where young Obiajulu and Arinze meet with their country on the brink of war. Together, they emigrate to London in the 1970s to escape the violence, but soon confront a different set of challenges in the West.
When grief threatens to engulf her fractured family after the accident, Obiajulu, suddenly a single mother in a foreign land, refuses to accept defeat. As her children veer down the wrong path, she instills a family book club with Western literary classics, testing their resolve and challenging their deeper understanding. Desperate for inspiration, she plasters newspaper clippings of Black success stories on the walls and hunts for overachieving neighbors to serve as role models, all while running Shakespeare theatre lines with her son and finishing homework into the early morning with Zain. When distractions persist, she literally cuts the TV cord and installs a residential pay phone.
The story of a woman who survived genocide, famine, poverty, and crushing grief to rise from war torn Africa to the streets of South London and eventually the drawing rooms of Buckingham Palace, Where the Children Take Us is an unforgettable portrait of strength, tenacity, love, and perseverance embodied in one towering woman.