3 Books Every Research Scholar Must Read on becoming a productive writer.
You are in a swimming pool, and you feel that you can swim.
Suddenly, you feel that the water has turned dense, and you cannot move your limbs.
The very next moment, everything turns normal and dense and normal.
Welcome to the journey.
Ph.D. can be one such swim, and knowledge is your life jacket.
Knowledge can save you a lot of hard work, especially about the subject, what works for you, and how to keep churning out high-quality work.
We compiled a set of books to help you find the secret of what works for you and, more importantly, how to make it work.
How can I be so sure?
So sure, about the use of the word ‘EVERY’ in ‘books every research scholar must read’?
Here is why?
I dropped out of my Ph.D. a few years ago. I learned from this experience the importance of daily discipline and managing my energy (before I fine-tuned working my days).
Why is this important?
No matter what you do, some capabilities are required to sail through and come out alive (we also name them as ‘must have’ or zero-order capabilities) – reading, writing, and asking questions is one such set.
But there is a little more to the whole picture – the secret of how do you become good at these?
The answer is compounding and consistent practice.
Everyone knows this.
Aren’t productivity pundits all over the world have been talking about it for decades?
Yes and No.
They have been professing about:
You need to Read (daily)
You need to Write (daily), and
You need to ask tough questions (to yourself first).
Now I know what to do, how do I figure out the ‘How’?
Scott Adams once said,” Losers have Goals, Winners have Systems.’ & It stayed.
Here are three books to help you develop systems, beat resistance (more of it coming soon), and make the most of your research days.
Book 1 –
Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.
We live in a distracted world, with a ping here and beep there.
No previous generation has seen so many things vying for our attention every moment and every second.
Here is a book that hopes to thrive in this distraction-loving world and stand a chance to create valuable work (your Ph.D. is one such landmark).
Written by an accomplished academician (and a computer scientist) Cal Newport, this book makes the case in favour of Deep Work (the one that requires the use of cognitive capabilities, is of high value, cannot be mechanized, and cannot be replicated) as against the Shallow Work (the exact opposite). Additionally, the book proposes cases comprising four deep work modes that you can explore for yourself and make the most of your time during your Ph.D. (and later on).
The work modes are – monastic, bimodal, rhythmic, and journalistic.
With Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Adam Grant, Jerry Seinfeld (the comedian), Walter Isaacson, Donald E Knuth (the famed computer scientist), and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists – you name them. They were there in history, churning out value by deep work.
The book ends with a truckload of tips, tricks, and methods that can help you dive into the deep work mode more often.
When to read?
As soon as you start your research journey.
Knowing what works for you can be a real lifesaver.
About the Author:
Calvin Newport is an American nonfiction author and an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He is an advocate of Deep Work, Digital Minimalism. His works are woven around helping college students make the most of their college years.
Book 2 –
Smarter, Faster and Better – The Secrets of Being Productive by Charles Duhigg
Remember when you were a kid and wanted to become a superman (or superwoman).
While we may be decades away from becoming a literal superman (I hope someone is searching for Plant Krypton), here is something that can make you hyper-productive. For a research scholar, that can be equivalent to becoming a superman/superwoman.
Written by an award-winning journalist Charles Duhigg (he has written extensively about Habits and that alone qualifies him to be considered here, isn’t it?).
The book shares the latest in productivity (personal, team, and organization-wide – you can pick what works for you) and busts myths around it.
The chapters that may be of particular interest to you comprise motivation, Focus, Decision Making, and Absorbing Data.
Yes, it may seem like a big book, but it is fun to read, and every page has a takeaway you will love as someone expecting to get a lot done.
When to read?
Once you have got a place to sit during your research journey (before the 90th Day).
Knowing what not to do can save you a lot of wasted effort.
About the Author –
Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning Investigative Journalist for the New York Times and author of the best-selling book ‘The Power of Habits.’ Charles is a graduate of the Harvard Business School.
Book 3 –
Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
Artists love him. Doers love him.
Steven Pressfield is the big-daddy of motivation for authors and artists. Do the work is part of a trilogy for artists or anyone fighting resistance (other books in the trilogy – The War of Art and Turing Pro).
He talks about the demonic ‘Resistance’ – the procrastination, self-doubt, distractions that stops you from doing an exceptional work, and offers a personal advice to combat the enemy (bingo! Now that is something everyone needs in here.)
A thin book (but dense) will act as the kick in the butt or the soft push during your tough days. The no-nonsense tone of the book will offer you a kick or the push as and when needed.
When to read?
The moment you lose the momentum.
This one is a bedside book.
About the Author:
Steven Pressfield has made a professional life in five different writing arenas – advertising, screenwriting, fiction, narrative nonfiction, and self-help. His books have been turned into movies, and he is known for his cult-book series – The War of Art, Turning Pro, and DO the Work.
Will these three be enough?
I wish that were the truth, but I am glad that it is not.
If it was so easy, anyone could have done it; and you are not anyone.
Happy (Deep) Working
PS: This is a monthly feature.