Show Your Work

Austin Kleon
Non-Fiction, Self-Help
Pages: 210
Suggested By: Chase Jarvis
Date Started: February 7, 2017
Date Finished: February 8, 2017

My Thoughts

I randomized the order in which I am reading these 52 Books of Titans books. So it was pretty funny to finish Steve Martin’s book Born Standing Up and then begin Show Your Work on the same day. On the very first page of the book, author Austin Kleon quotes Steve Martin. I thought that was a great confluence that always seems to happen while in deep periods of reading.

Show Your Work is a great book. It’s short at 200 pages with half of them being drawings. I read it in just a few hours of total time and it’s one of those books that I should pick up at least once a year.

This book tied in some ideas from the other books on the Books of Titans reading list so far. The first chapter talks about approaching work as an amateur. Mr. Kleon states:

…amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results.

Kevin Kelly discussed a similar idea in The Inevitable in his first chapter called Becoming. Basically, things are changing so rapidly that we’re all at amateur status. The sooner we realize this and drop the airs of knowing everything, the better situated we’ll be in the digital economy.

I also think there’s a lot of power in approaching an issue as an amateur. One of my favorite financial podcasts for a while was Listen Money Matters. The podcast started as two guys who knew very little about finance. In fact, they were trying to get their financial houses in order. For the podcast, they simply recorded their conversations and conversations with financial experts so that the audience got to learn along with them. It was a really cool approach. All of the other financial podcasts were run by professionals, but I seemed to be learning more from these amateurs. Mr. Kleon highlighted this sentiment in a C.S. Lewis quote (one of my favorite authors):

The fellow-pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him to explain is one he has recently met. The expert met it so long ago he has forgotten.

I love these short, pithy types of books. I read Mr. Kleon’s other book, Steal Like an Artist in 2015. I love his style of using photos, drawings, and newspaper blackout methods. I actually wouldn’t mind all newspapers being blacked out right now 🙂 Mr. Kleon is great at capturing this unique period of time with all of its changes and writing about it in an actionable and easily understood format.

And one more thing…

I try to make one change in my life after I read a book. More than one can become overwhelming. I also find that when I adopt one change, it helps me remember the book. This one will seem odd, but Mr. Kleon encourages the reader to read the obituary section of the newspaper. I want to begin doing this. As Mr. Kleon says:

Reading about people who are dead now and did things with their lives makes me want to get up and do something decent with mine. Thinking about death every morning makes me want to live.

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Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!