Beginners

Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt

Journalist Tom Vanderbilt was inspired by his young daughter to step off the sidelines and learn some new skills. He describes his experiences as a beginner in chess, singing, surfing, drawing, juggling, ocean swimming, snowboarding, and helping to make a wedding band to replace one lost while surfing. I really enjoyed the sections on learning to sing, in which he takes private lessons and then joins a no-audition Britpop choir, and surfing, where he gets lessons and surfs in places ordinary and exotic. Vanderbilt also explores the educational psychology of how and when we learn new skills, and finds that it’s challenging to be an adult beginner, but very worthwhile. His writing style is engaging and and readers may be inspired to try something new. Readalikes include The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Range by David Epstein, and Grit by Angela Duckworth, and the author’s first book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do.

Brenda

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