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I love to read, and so far this year I’ve read more than any other year of my life. One major reason is because I try and make sure I always have something to read wherever I am. And while I love physical books, they are no match to e-readers when it comes to convenience and access to your personal library.

My preference these days is a Kindle Fire HDX – relatively small and lightweight, and easy to carry anywhere. It has my large collection of ebooks, plus notes and highlights, which I can easily search at any time. With access to millions of free and paid books, there’s no excuse not to read more. And when it comes to personal growth, time spent reading is an investment to last a lifetime.

The following are some of my favorite reads so far in 2014.

The Creative Life in Photography (Photography and the Creative Process) by Brooks Jensen
Brooks Jensen is the publisher of Lens Work, an excellent magazine dedicated to fine art black and white photography, and highly respected in the photographic community. (By the way, if you haven’t checked out Lens Work Magazine, I highly recommend it!) This book is a compilation of his best articles from the magazine over the years, providing lots of philosophical opinions and practical advice. You won’t find any how-to’s in this book, but what you will get is inspiration to ask the big important questions about your photography. What makes art, what defines excellence, and keys to productivity are just some of the great subjects covered.

“Let go of photography and make art. By that I mean recognize the highest purpose of photography as art is to communicate and connect with your fellow human beings.”

Overall a great book for those looking to move beyond taking pictures, and exploring a deeper purpose in photography.

Mastery by Robert Greene
What did all of the great masters from today and yesterday have in common? How can we apply these common traits to our own lives. What does true mastery entail? These and many more questions are explored in this expansive and well researched book. Drawing from great masters of the past such as Mozart, Da’Vinci. Goethe, Einstein, Darwin, Coltrane, and many others, we get a behind the scenes look at how these individuals achieved greatness in their respective fields.

Robert Greene defines mastery as a sensation – the feeling that you have a greater command of reality, other people, and yourself. While you might experience this feeling for a short period, and struggle to find it again, for others—masters of their field—it becomes their way of life. And most importantly, the book describes a process that can lead to mastery for anyone of us. Three phases are defined in the book that show the progression towards excellence – Apprenticeship, Creative-Active, and Mastery. Each is thoroughly explained and lots of examples are given from those who have traveled along this path.

“Mastery is not a question of genetics or luck, but of following your natural inclinations and the deep desire that stirs you from within. Everyone has such inclinations. This desire within you is not motivated by egotism or sheer ambition for power, both of which are emotions that get in the way of mastery. It is instead a deep expression of something natural, something that marked you at birth as unique.”

I don’t think I’ve ever taken more notes from any book than this one, photography specific books included. I’ll be re-reading this one may times, and have already purchased a few copies for friends.

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
While the majority of how-to books focus on making art, this book is a refreshing and much needed look at getting noticed and finding an audience. Many dislike the idea of the artist who seeks out an audience, thinking instead that getting discovered purely by the greatness of your work is somehow more idealistic. But what this book addresses is not self- promotion, but rather what Austin Kleon calls becoming findable. It’s a book for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion. And counting myself as one of those people, I found it very much in line with my own preference to earn the respect of an audience. That involves sharing your work in a way that benefits others, and brings attention to your creativity and artistry without an egocentric approach.
More importantly, it lets you become a resource for others, and in doing so lets you stay creative and gain an audience.

“Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine.”

This and many other great ideas are shared in this book, and again I found myself taking lots of notes and re-thinking some of the ways I have shared my work in the past. Overall a great and easy to read book.

Have you read any books recently you’d like to share? Please let us know below!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I adore “Show Your Work!” – I found it at a small local indie bookshop and picked it up as a lark, and I find myself returning to it and just opening to random pages and finding something useful.

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