Update on #52books52weeks

As I wrote in the beginning of the year, I am going to try to read 52 books this year. I have been taking pictures of the books that I can read so far this year and putting those pictures on my Instagram and Facebook as well as on my Goodreads.

It’s almost 7 months in and I have completed 38 books so far which is 73% done with just over 9000 pages read. I am 9 books ahead of schedule so looks likely that I will hit my goal.

I was thinking of doing some kind of review or such for the books, but being 38 books in I am not sure I want to go back as write them. I might just pick and choose a few outstanding ones, and write reviews about them.

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Does sleeping matter to learners?

I was reading this article on sleep coaches and performance athletes, and I thought – what about learners?

There is a lot of research on the relationship between sleep deprivation and cognitive ability. Some researchers have argued that sleep deprivation has the same effects on us as intoxication does. This is an even a bigger issue when sleep deprivation is chronic. The list of the health impacts of sleep deprivation as impressively long and scary. Fast Company has this great infographic that tells the impact of not sleeping enough.

The relationship between sleep and studying is also an important one. Studies show that sleep plays an important role in managing learning while awake, as well as improving memory and retention – which are the bulwarks of learning. In fact, sleep and grades have been shown to be directly related – the better your sleep, the better your grades.

The key problem in the workplace is that we have culture in which sleep (and resting) are largely considered weaknesses. This is particularly true in the entrepreneur/start-up and self-employed world. So much so that many progressive companies are now looking to build in rest spaces or sleep pods to encourage employees to rest and recover. This is not done out of a sense of generosity but rather that it is good business as it minimises mistakes and improves productivity.

Here are some great podcasts on sleep

  • ABC Radio – Life Matters interview with Richard Wiseman, author of Nightschool:Wake up to the power of sleep (link)
  • Freakonomics Radio: The Economics of Sleep, Part 1 (link)
  • Freakonomics Radio: The Economics of Sleep, Part 2 (link)
  • Art of Maniless Podcast: The Slumbering Masses With Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer (link)

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Towards the end of 2014, I decided to attempt to read 52 books over the 52 weeks that are 2015. This idea came to me from several quarters – but as of most of the ideas, they came from colleagues, friends, and students.

Over the last few years, I have stopped reading fiction. Mostly. When I’m reading fiction, it’s often with a sense of guilt that perhaps I should be reading something more “useful” for my teaching and research. Over many lunchtime conversations with an esteemed colleague and friend, I realised that fiction has a lot more to offer and it is never not useful.

Further to that, I recently invited an alumnus to speak to my students in Singapore about employability – what they could do now, as well as what they needed to do for the future. One of the things she mentioned was reading – that she considered it vital not only for keeping up with the here and now, but also in order to anticipate future opportunities and trends. Interestingly, one’s reading habits can be used  as a barometer when interviewing potential employees.

She also said that when we meet, I usually would ask what she is reading. That made me realise that I usually ask people that question – perhaps subconsciously to understand them (or even judge them) – also to find out if there were interesting books out there worth reading.

Also, it was pointed out to me – and I had not realised – that I referred to a lot of books (both fiction and non-fiction) in the classroom. These are not just books that are academically immediately relevant to the content in a class, but also books that help challenge the students or tell a great story that helps with what happening in the classroom.

One of the things that I get asked for often from students is a reading list – not just coursework reading list, but rather a list of books that they might find interesting. So I made a couple of lists which you can access under the ‘Bibliophilia’ tab on this website.

So I decided given all that, I will try to read a book week this year. These books are, to my mind, books that are not immediately related to my teaching or research. They are my indulgences, my guilty pleasures, or simply a chance to read something outside of my normal habits.

To that end, I will document the books I have read here, on my website, as well as on Goodreads. This will give me a chance to keep track of what I’ve been reading and be able to rate it. I will also try to document my thoughts on the books, but this might slip away from me so let’s see how that tracks. Another good friend suggested that I instagram/tweet the covers of the books as I finish them.  I like that idea.

Thus begins #52books52weeks.

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Still Angry Podcast: Ep 9 EU Elections and the rise of the far right

In this podcast Terry and Hammy take a look at the recent EU elections which have seen considerable rise in the popularity of far right, ultra-nationalist and anti-EU parties as well as a boost to far-left parties.

What does the popularity of UKIP and Golden Dawn mean for the future of the EU and the free mobility of it’s citizens? Why are we seeing these changes and what does the future hold for the EU.


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Still Angry Podcast: Ep 8 Still Angry’s Budget Reply

In this episode, Terry and Hammy announce the recent budget of the Australian Federal Government. They look at the way debates around the budget have unfolded and how it has lead to a recasting of democracy and further reactions by established powers to stifle dissent.


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Still Angry Podcast: Ep 7 Journalism with Antonio Castillo

In this episode, Terry talks to Antonio Castillo – picking up their conversation from Episode 4. In this podcast, they talk about the role of journalism in contemporary society where the traditional forms of journalism and the notion of journalism as the fourth estate is increasingly being challenged. Antonio talks about the history of ojectivity in journalism and the problem with its attempted univeral application. They then have an interesting dicussion on journalism and its claims to truth – focusing on the nuances of objectivity and accuracy.


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Still Angry Podcast: Ep 6 Speeching About Race

In this podcast Terry Johal and Hammy Goonan talk about limits to speech, the role of the state in enforcing that and the recent proposed changes to the Racial Description Act in Australia. (more here)

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Lecture: Mark Marking, Storytelling and Ideology

This lecture summaries what I have been doing with the students over the last four weeks, where we have been talking about communication design, and storytelling.

In this section, the object was to get the students to understand how meaning works, and moves as the affordances of the format they are working in changes.  Key to that were the learning activities they had to do in class. Over the four weeks, they focused on telling stories visually moving from a two-colour minimalist execution, to photographs, to five-frame comic style execution. They moved on to learn how to make execution that differed in format but had to tell the same story. Key in this section was the notion of authorship and the audience. We then introduced both descriptive writing – text that could stand outside the images and still make sense – and integrated writing – text that works with the image to tell the story.

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Still Angry Podcast: Ep 5 The State and I

In this week’s podcast Terry and Hammy start talking about the state, social contract and the effect that has on out lives then veer wildly into all sorts of territory, from Refugees to the police, nationalism and social media. (more info here)


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Still Angry Podcast: Ep 4 The Other Story Of Venezuela’s Riots

In this week’s podcast Terry talks to Antonio Castillo about his latest article in the New Matilda.

They discuss the ongoing situation in Venezuela where there have been large scale anti-government protests and the way these protests have been reported the western media which has been simplistic and quite binary ‘lazy media’.

It’s a great chat covering a lot of ground.


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