What we've been reading: Body language, time and Chinese sci-fi

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AccountingWEB’s managing editor Tom Herbert has rather selfishly absconded from this week’s round-up, but the rest of the editorial team has decided to endure.

It’s often tough going in these early days of January. So hopefully these reccomendations from Rich, Valme and I will furnish you with plenty of enjoyment.

So here’s to another week!

Francois - The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

Cixin Liu’s Remembrances of Earth’s Past trilogy -- of which The Dark Forest forms a part -- has enjoyed an incredible second life in the West.

The Chinese sci-fi trilogy culminated in 2010, but remained untranslated until 2014. It’s a good thing for us Westerners that the trilogy didn't languish undiscovered. Unlike many stories that have suffered from bad translations, Liu’s trilogy has generously benefitted from intelligent and subtle translation.

Liu, a rather unassuming former programmer, has a sublime gift for sci-fi storytelling. I don’t have a scientific bone in my body. Millennial humanities graduates tend to be that way. But Liu has a seemingly limitless knack for making difficult scientific subjects palatable to the most lay of laymen.

That’s just from my perspective, there’s plenty here for a battle hardened ‘hard sci-fi’ to sink their teeth into. And it’s not just sci-fi. There’s philosophy, great characters, insane set pieces and, as a window into China’s fascinating past and culture, the novel is second-to-none.

Richard - How to Stop Time (Matt Haig)

Stop for a minute and imagine what life would be like if you could live for over 400 years. How to stop time ponders that very scenario.

Matt Haig’s time-hopping novel jumps from Captain Cook to Shakespeare, before arriving in the present day, where the main character suitably takes a history teaching role – after all, he’s lived it.  

But the narrator soon discovers that this seemingly-immortal condition can actually be a curse. As centuries pass he drifts from the rest of humanity. It’s not surprising when he’s condemned to watch loved ones succumb to the ravages of time.

What has this got to do with accounting? Reading this description it’s fair to assume very little. But the central theme weaves into many facets of life. Take self assessment season. Like the main character, this can be approached as never-ending burden.

But Haig (who also authored the memoir Reasons to Stay Alive) reminds us not to take the present moment for granted. Regardless of the amount of years lived or what the future may bring the only moment that really matters is what’s happening right now.

Valme - Your body language shapes who you are

Many people think about themselves as having a fixed personality. You are either an extrovert or an introvert, or perhaps you are a very positive or very negative person. The truth is that your personality is not entirely defined by just one particular trait, which means that we are not static and we can change. But how can you choose to feel happy when you feel sad? How can you feel confident when you are nervous?

That’s where the power of nonverbal behaviour resides. In this TED talk, Amy Cuddy explains how our body language can change how we think and feel about ourselves. Our body language is a reflection of how we feel, but interestingly, it goes both ways: you can “hack” your own personality by adopting a posture of confidence. If you pretend to be powerful, you will actually feel that way.

As Cuddy says, “Don't fake it 'til you make it. Fake it 'til you become it.”

What have you been reading this week? Comment below with your suggestions.  

About Francois Badenhorst

Francois

I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter. 

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19th Jan 2018 06:15

If you really think psychic, that's what I think. p.s. I want to go, can you tell me where it is? There could be those relatives who died and watched you. Since they care about you, I think the "powers" of this assignment writing psychic can 't go across the border of their leadership and read you. I think you're lucky.

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