Lessons From a Month of Reading

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Hey, ya'll. I know that this blog, the Helium Blog, encompasses a smorgasbord of topics, ranging from general life musings and observations, pointed advice, and transformational experiences. Today, however, I don't have any of that to offer. But, what I can do—and which I think you may enjoy—is provide you with a high-level look into the books I've consumed in the past month and the lessons I've learned from each. After all, you're likely drawn to Helium Books and this blog because you are a reader yourself.

📖 Now, I'm not just writing this at a random time, covering a random month of reading. The books I'll be discussing were truly some of the best I've come across, and not just in 2021. They are worthy of a deeper dive. So, let's jump in...

I've recently, thanks to the sage advice of my fellow co-founder, Jacob, started getting into audiobooks. This is likely no surprise to you, but Jacob and I do a lot of driving around. Music has its time and place, but why not use some of that time as an opportunity to listen, to learn, to grow? All this is to say, I listened to my first ever audiobook this past month: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. 👟

This one had been on my list for quite some time and, I'll tell ya, I wish I picked it up sooner. It is the memoir of Nike creator, Phil Knight. Filled with entrepreneurial wisdom (which I absolutely devour), emotional moments, and timeless advice, I'm not surprised it is so highly regarded by many. On the surface, Knight's winding journey preaches the principles of dedication, commitment, belief, and tenacity—and these certainly are persistent themes in his life story—however, what resonated with me most was the nature of Phil Knight himself. A once shy, reserved kid elevated himself to the confident, capable leader of the most well-known and successful shoe and apparel company the world has ever seen. For me, a shy guy myself, Shoe Dog and the story of Phil Knight are a reminder that anyone can maneuver any how as long as their why is strong enough. 💪

Simultaneously while listening to Shoe Dog I was also reading (in the old-fashioned way, lol) Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Again a highly recommended book, I was drawn in by the title. The ego is something we all struggle to contain and hold in check, myself undoubtedly included. It manifests its ugly head in myriad ways, keeping us on the constant defense of the public image we've so carefully constructed. How we are perceived has become the focus of our attention. Yet, we know this is not how it should be. This way of thinking gets in the way of true fulfillment and happiness. Well, if so, then we have to go to work to suppress and humble the fragile ego we've protected for so long. This book teaches us how to do just that. Ego is a persistent force in our journey and this book recognizes that. In life's 3️⃣ core states—aspiration, success, and failure—ego is there, on a mission to bring us down. Ryan Holiday tells us how to rewire our thoughts, perceptions, and actions to rise above it.

After these more dense, insight-laden reads, I needed a bit of a reprieve. A more mindless, but entertaining page-turner to enjoy. So I turned to a novel with a captivating storyline, Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. Tragic in that it revolves around a devastating plane crash in which a 12-year-old boy, Edward, is the lone survivor, this book also uniquely intertwines messages of hope, strength, and growth. Offering the reader a look inside the mind of someone who has suffered unimaginable loss, the story evolves into one of kinship, connection, and revitalization. More than anything, to me, it reiterates a fundamental human truth: We all need help. We all need love. ❤️

So, there you have it, a month of reading/listening, summed up in four paragraphs. As I mentioned, this isn't just any monthly batch o' books...no, no, no. These are 3 books I would recommend to anyone, all filled with wisdom and lessons we too often overlook or don't fully understand.

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