Micromastery: Learn Small, Learn Fast and Find the Hidden Path to Happiness (2017) by Robert Twigger is a book that describes why you should learn small skills that appeal to you quickly and then improve on them.
The book has an interesting idea, namely that we often say we want to learn big, time consuming things that take ages to do but then never really undertake these things because they are often too hard and don’t provide rewards for our learning early enough. There is definitely something to it. Instead Twigger suggest learning small skills that are impressive and can be done more quickly and more easily and building on these skills. He suggests things like learning how to start a fire with two sticks, juggling four balls, telling a good children’s story and various other things.
He puts it forward as being a bit like punk, having an ethos of making your own things, which is really admirable.
However, the book definitely over reaches in suggesting learning these sorts of things is a great way to happiness or a panacea. It’s quite a good thing to do, better than watching TV, but the author oversells the idea.
Micromastery isn’t a bad book but it’s far from great either. It’s got some good suggestions and would have made a good essay.
Declutter Your Mind (2016) by SJ Scott and Barrie Davenport is a self-help book that has a lot about mindfulness about how to feel less overwhelmed. Meditation and mindfulness are recommended. As is decluttering your house. Ending bad relationships and finding out what’s important to you. Getting things done, Pomodoro and other things are mentioned. Lists are also recommended.
The book is a very quick read, the advice isn’t terrible. But it’s also all pretty forgettable.
The Inner Game of Tennis (1974) by W Timothy Gallway is a well written, insightful book on how to improve almost any activity.
Gallway posits the abstraction that there is an unconscious self, self 2 that performs physical actions while there is a conscious self, self 1 that is verbal and tells self 2 what to do and very often does more harm than good. Self 1 often makes self 2 tense up, focus on the wrong things and causes mistakes by being under confident or over confident.
Gallway describes how to quieten self 1 and observe self 2 and let self 2 work on improving and being as good as possible. He emphasises that focus and being in the zone are what really improve performance.
The book is simplistic, but it has a valuable lesson. Focus and try and observe but not criticise what you are doing and then improve. The book perhaps neglects the role of practice, but definitely makes good points. It’s also applicable to more than tennis. It’s a short and interesting read.