The Book Juggler
Management professor Nora Madjar was a speedy reader in her native Bulgarian and says she delighted in learning to read in English because it let her slow down and better absorb the material. Now, she toggles between the two languages when listening to autobiographies in her car and fiction while exercising or turning pages for pleasure before bed. Madjar, whose recent research confirmed assumptions that women pay a higher career price for remote-work interruptions than their male counterparts, is trying to find a balance like the rest of us — she finds associating different genres with contexts helps her keep them straight and saving fiction for workouts motivates her to move more to find out what happens next.
Illustration by Saskia Keultjes
“The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race” by Walter Isaacson
I enjoyed the story of this Nobel Prize winning American biochemist on multiple levels and learned a lot about CRISPR gene-editing and the creation of mRNA vaccines. Isaacson explores the scientific process; the competition vs. collaboration approaches among male and female scientists; the rush to publish in journals; the importance of funding, collaborations, and value systems; and the lag between findings and practical applications. But more than that, the fascinating story of Doudna’s path and how work affected her life allowed me to reflect on my own experience as an academic and scientist.
“Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day” by Amishi P. Jha
There is abundant evidence in my own research that multitasking is ineffective and that we need to focus more on the present. But I was looking for new motivation to refresh my lapsed mindfulness practice when I found this book. Not only is the 12-minutes-a-day promise appealing, but so far I’ve loved the evidence-based narrative and the neuroscientific perspective on why we get distracted, how we pay attention (and to what), and the emotional and cognitive benefits of mindfulness training. I’ve already been motivated by “Peak Mind” to try some of its training practices to strengthen my focus.
“Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude” by Stephanie Rosenbloom
I have a pile of books on my nightstand, but I’m particularly looking forward to this one about traveling alone to Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and New York during four different seasons. The book initially appealed to me because I love traveling with my family and am looking forward to a trip to Europe and my home country of Bulgaria with a stopover in Istanbul. Coincidentally, I managed to squeeze in a short, solo day trip to Florence during a recent work trip to Italy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and expect the book will help me revisit the experience — and maybe I will be convinced to find more alone time on my travels.