In April, I came across a book and author that both quickly became favorites. I'd actually hoped to read Being Mortal first. Atul Gawande has a knack for exploring and sharing medical narratives in a way that stimulates compassion and introspection. Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance is a collection of fascinating stories of diligence, ingenuity, and doing right. His insight goes beyond benefiting medical professionals only; this book is relevant and inspiring to anyone striving to improve performance and "do better." TAKE AWAYS: (1) amazing innovations on the battle field mean soldiers are surviving wounds considered fatal in the past; I can't help but think about what the day to day life will look like for these soldiers though...and what this means in terms of the evolution of physical therapy and rehabilitation. (2) the difference 99.95% daily success, versus 99.5% success, makes in the long run. (3) the best have a capacity to learn and change, and to do so more quickly than the rest. (4) the camaraderie of Nanded surgeons making time in the afternoon to exchange case stories over chai. (5) complaining is boring: it doesn't solve anything and only brings us down.
When I was offered a review copy of HomeFront: Design for Modern Living, my initial reaction was to say "no thank you...that's not really my thing...doesn't seem like a fit". It only took a quick research of Windsor Smith and this book to become immediately intrigued by her vision though. Her call to reclaim neglected/unused/single-use spaces and to use design to foster togetherness in the home clicked. We might lack much in the way of "design elements" - or even curtains - in our home, but we do enjoy cultivating rituals out of the ordinary and creating space in our day to be together more honestly and meaningfully. This togetherness is reflected in the hobbies we share, in taking time in the kitchen together, in sitting face to face over drinks, even in the way we choose to greet one another. I like the idea of filling in "design" gaps with the intention of enhancing - rather than simply reflecting - our lives. The waste-not part of me also wants to make better use of every space in our home. Gorgeous photos fill the pages, making it a nice coffee table option, but some of the descriptions can feel a bit pretentious. This book could easily be aimed at...well, those who can identify with a foyer inspired by hotels along the French Riviera...and the like. This is kind of a shame, because Smith's perspective has value for those of us without a foyer or huge décor budget. The average family can still use design to do more than create a pretty room; we can change the way we live in these room. TAKE AWAYS: (1) interesting correlation between creating separateness in our literal spaces and separateness in our relationships. (2) noticing how the light changes throughout the home during the day...make use of the best morning light, evening light, etc. (3) letting go of intended uses or "shoehorning" our lifestyles into outdated layouts determined by architects and builders; reclaim spaces and design them around how they are actually used. (4) creating all-embracing spaces.
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