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Beginners : The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning
by Tom Vanderbilt




Overview -
Beginners is ultimately about more than learning. It's about the possibilities that reside in all of us.
--Daniel H. Pink, New York Times best-selling author of When, Drive, and To Sell is Human

The best-selling author of Traffic and You May Also Like gives us an inspirational journey into the transformative joys that come with starting something new, no matter your age

Why do so many of us stop learning new skills as adults? Are we afraid to fail? Have we forgotten the sheer pleasure of being a beginner? Or is it simply a fact that you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Inspired by his young daughter's insatiable need to know how to do almost everything, and stymied by his own rut of mid-career competence, Tom Vanderbilt begins a year of learning purely for the sake of learning. He tackles five main skills (and picks up a few more along the way), choosing them for their difficulty to master and their distinct lack of career marketability--chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling.

What he doesn't expect is finding himself having rapturous experiences singing Spice Girls songs in an amateur choir, losing games of chess to eight-year-olds, and dodging scorpions at a surf camp in Costa Rica. Along the way, he interviews dozens of experts to explore the fascinating psychology and science behind the benefits of becoming an adult beginner. Weaving comprehensive research and surprising insight gained from his year of learning dangerously, Vanderbilt shows how anyone can begin again--and, more important, why they should take those first awkward steps. Ultimately, he shares how a refreshed sense of curiosity opened him up to a profound happiness and a deeper connection to the people around him--and how small acts of reinvention, at any age, can make life seem magical.

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More About Beginners by Tom Vanderbilt

 
 
 

Overview

Beginners is ultimately about more than learning. It's about the possibilities that reside in all of us.
--Daniel H. Pink, New York Times best-selling author of When, Drive, and To Sell is Human

The best-selling author of Traffic and You May Also Like gives us an inspirational journey into the transformative joys that come with starting something new, no matter your age

Why do so many of us stop learning new skills as adults? Are we afraid to fail? Have we forgotten the sheer pleasure of being a beginner? Or is it simply a fact that you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Inspired by his young daughter's insatiable need to know how to do almost everything, and stymied by his own rut of mid-career competence, Tom Vanderbilt begins a year of learning purely for the sake of learning. He tackles five main skills (and picks up a few more along the way), choosing them for their difficulty to master and their distinct lack of career marketability--chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling.

What he doesn't expect is finding himself having rapturous experiences singing Spice Girls songs in an amateur choir, losing games of chess to eight-year-olds, and dodging scorpions at a surf camp in Costa Rica. Along the way, he interviews dozens of experts to explore the fascinating psychology and science behind the benefits of becoming an adult beginner. Weaving comprehensive research and surprising insight gained from his year of learning dangerously, Vanderbilt shows how anyone can begin again--and, more important, why they should take those first awkward steps. Ultimately, he shares how a refreshed sense of curiosity opened him up to a profound happiness and a deeper connection to the people around him--and how small acts of reinvention, at any age, can make life seem magical.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781524732165
  • ISBN-10: 1524732168
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: January 2021
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Resolve to make 2021 as bright as possible

To guide you on the path of positivity in the new year, four books provide support, affirmation and inspiration.

Beginners

In Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning, author Tom Vanderbilt demonstrates the importance of cultivating curiosity and trying new skills on for size. Vanderbilt was looking for ways to reengage with life when—taking a cue from his inquisitive young daughter—he decided to immerse himself in activities he’d always wanted to tackle, including drawing, singing and surfing. “I was a quick study when it came to facts,” Vanderbilt writes, “but what had I actually learned to do lately?”

In Beginners, Vanderbilt reveals what it’s like to pick up skills as an adult novice. He blends his personal story with research into neuroscience, psychology and education and recounts his rookie experiences with humor and heart. His insights into midlife learning will resonate with readers who have a desire to try new pursuits but may need a little nudge. Beginners, he says, is not “a ‘how to do’ book as much as a ‘why to do’ book. . . . It’s about small acts of reinvention, at any age, that can make life seem magical.” As Vanderbilt proves, there’s no expiration date on the ability to learn. Pick up a copy of Beginners and make 2021 a time of discovery.

This Book Will Make You Kinder

If becoming a nicer, more tolerant human is one of your objectives for the year ahead, then check out Henry James Garrett’s This Book Will Make You Kinder: An Empathy Handbook. Garrett’s academic background is in the field of metaethics, the study of the nature and meaning of morality, and he views empathy—“our capacity to experience those feelings we witness in others”—as the primary motivator of human kindness. In his new book, he offers guidance on how to maximize our empathetic impulse.

As he provides advice on overcoming limitations to empathy, building better listening skills and coming to grips with your own potential for not being nice, Garrett outlines concrete steps to help you increase your kindness quotient. A bang-up artist (you may have seen his Instagram account, Drawings of Dogs), his delightfully droll illustrations of talking animals and objects (e.g., two magic markers discuss the impact of coloring outside the lines) bring levity to his lessons. “If you don’t do the work of good listening, of paying attention,” Garrett writes, “you’ll continue to be cruel in ways you otherwise couldn’t and will fail to be outrageously kind in ways you otherwise would.” A total attitude-changer, this book will carry you into the new year on a tide of positivity.

Laziness Does Not Exist

In Laziness Does Not Exist, social psychologist Devon Price explores the culture of work and how our society’s emphasis on achievement is leading to burnout and exhaustion. From an early age, Price says, we’re conditioned to believe that productivity equals self-worth—an idea that’s part of what they call the “laziness lie,” which leads to feelings of guilt over not doing enough. “It’s also the force that compels us to work ourselves to sickness,” Price explains.

Price proposes that we adjust our perspectives on work and stop using achievement as a benchmark for appraising personal value. In the book, they take a cleareyed look at the science and psychology behind the concepts of laziness and productivity and share stories from folks who have grappled with work-life balance.

Perhaps most importantly, the author stresses the necessity of simple relaxation: “It’s not evil to have limitations and to need breaks.” With tips on setting boundaries and integrating beneficial techniques like expressive writing into your daily routine, Price’s book will give you a fresh perspective on the meaning of success—and the confidence to schedule more “me-time” this year.

Friendshipping

Making friends is a basic element of socialization, yet the ability to bond doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and many people find that the process becomes more difficult as they get older. How can we break down the barriers that keep us from connecting with others? Authors Jenn Bane and Trin Garritano offer answers in Friendshipping: The Art of Finding Friends, Being Friends, and Keeping Friends.

Hosts of the popular “Friendshipping” podcast, the authors have devoted many hours to the study of social networks large and small, and their chatty, accessible book collects the best of their advice, with suggestions on how to make new friends, how to handle a friendship that could be morphing into something more and how to call it quits when a friendship fails. The volume also includes valuable questions from podcast listeners and sample scripts that will kick-start your socialization skills.

Featuring fabulous illustrations by Jean Wei, Friendshipping provides readers with the right tools for building—and sustaining—valuable relationships. Whether you’re looking to enlarge your circle of intimates or cultivate more one-on-one connections this year, Bane and Garritano will help you develop habits and behaviors that will widen your world.

 

BAM Customer Reviews