Last year two things happened that have not occurred in many many years. I didn’t go beyond the UK borders and I didn’t buy a book. Yep. Zero book buying.
The intention wasn’t to cut reading time — far from it — I wanted to open up opportunities that I hadn’t tried before. Book swaps, telephone libraries, borrowing books and being open to recommendations. On a couple of occasions I was sent books out-of-the-blue from people I’d worked with and friends who got wind of my new years resolution.
It’s funny what happens when you have an intention!
The biggest driver was that I wanted to re-read a bunch of books I’d been keeping hold of — for some reason or another. New ideas always develop and it’s amazing how much we miss first time around.
There was one occasion however where I feel I cheated a little. Where I couldn’t resist the temptation of a specific title.
I heard Priya Parker speak on a podcast about her work on gathering with intention. This was May/June 2021 and gosh, I really didn’t want to wait 6 months to immerse myself in her words and wisdom. My birthday was around the corner and I asked for the book, eek! Is that cheating?
Well if it was cheating, it was worth it.
Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters is hands down the best book I read last year. Not because it was a brand spanking new read — which is was — but because it was a familiar read. As I said, I hadn’t read it before…but the ideas contained in these pages were not new to me.
This may have been disappointing because I was hoping for new content and theory. Far from it.
Many of Parker’s ideas and philosophy’s were already in my mind. I’d experimented with events in the past and this reinforcement provided a more textured experience. What better way to be reading a mixology of ideas when some of them you have already explored. When the explored ideas provide a vibrancy because I could relate to experiments going wrong and having gone right.
“Gatherings crackle and flourish when real thought goes into them, when (often invisible) structure is baked into them, and when a host has a curiosity, willingness, and generosity of spirit to try.” — Priya Parker
I didn’t realise how important it was to find a mirror in the words I read. How good it feels to be nodding along with such vigour.
Because I’d used similar techniques and have aligned ideas of positioning and gathering, this handbook was a cheerleader. I found a sense of belonging and heightened curiosity.
Should bringing people together be more of a focus for me?
Will this contribute to my creative life?
I will definitely be reading The Art of Gathering again this year…already looking forward to picking up the missed nuggets of knowledge from the first time around.
Read more of my musings over at Medium.