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Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2021
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Description
The best-selling author of Traffic and You May Also Like now gives us a thought-provoking, playful journey into the transformative joys that come with starting something new, no matter your ageWhy do so many of us stop learning new skills as adults? Are we afraid to be bad at something? Have we forgotten the sheer pleasure of beginning from the ground up? Or is it simply a fact that you can't teach an old dog new tricks?Inspired by his young daughter's insatiable need to know how to do almost everything, and stymied by his own rut of mid-career competence, Tom Vanderbilt begins a year of learning purely for the sake of learning. He tackles five main skills (and picks up a few more up along the way) choosing them for their difficulty to master and their distinct lack of career marketability—chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling. What he doesn't expect is that the circuitous paths he takes while learning these skills will prove even more satisfying than any knowledge he gains.He soon finds himself having rapturous experiences singing the Spice Girls in an amateur choir, losing games of chess to eight-year olds, and dodging scorpions at a surf camp in Costa Rica. Along the way, he interviews dozens of experts to explore the fascinating psychology and science behind the benefits of becoming an adult beginner. Weaving comprehensive research and surprising insight gained from his year of learning dangerously, Vanderbilt shows how anyone can get better at beginning again — and, more importantly, why they should take those first awkward steps. Ultimately he shares how his refreshed sense of curiosity opened him up to a profound happiness and a deeper connection to the people around him. It's about how small acts of reinvention, at any age, can make life seem magical.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/05/2021
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781524732172
ASIN:
B082S311FG
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APA Citation (style guide)

Tom Vanderbilt. (2021). Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Tom Vanderbilt. 2021. Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Tom Vanderbilt, Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2021.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Tom Vanderbilt. Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2021. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: TOM VANDERBILT has written for many publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Popular Science, Financial Times, Smithsonian, and London Review of Books, among many others. He is a contributing editor of Wired UK, Outside, and Artforum. He is author of You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), and Survival City: Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America. He has appeared on a wide range of television and radio programs, from the Today show to the BBC's World Service to NPR's Fresh Air. He has been a visiting scholar at NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, a research fellow at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, a fellow at the Design Trust for Public Space, and a winner of the Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, among other honors. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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title
Beginners
fullDescription
The best-selling author of Traffic and You May Also Like now gives us a thought-provoking, playful journey into the transformative joys that come with starting something new, no matter your age
Why do so many of us stop learning new skills as adults? Are we afraid to be bad at something? Have we forgotten the sheer pleasure of beginning from the ground up? Or is it simply a fact that you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
Inspired by his young daughter's insatiable need to know how to do almost everything, and stymied by his own rut of mid-career competence, Tom Vanderbilt begins a year of learning purely for the sake of learning. He tackles five main skills (and picks up a few more up along the way) choosing them for their difficulty to master and their distinct lack of career marketability—chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling. What he doesn't expect is that the circuitous paths he takes while learning these skills will prove even more satisfying than any knowledge he gains.
He soon finds himself having rapturous experiences singing the Spice Girls in an amateur choir, losing games of chess to eight-year olds, and dodging scorpions at a surf camp in Costa Rica. Along the way, he interviews dozens of experts to explore the fascinating psychology and science behind the benefits of becoming an adult beginner. Weaving comprehensive research and surprising insight gained from his year of learning dangerously, Vanderbilt shows how anyone can get better at beginning again — and, more importantly, why they should take those first awkward steps. Ultimately he shares how his refreshed sense of curiosity opened him up to a profound happiness and a deeper connection to the people around him. It's about how small acts of reinvention, at any age, can make life seem magical.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: A.J. Jacobs, bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically
      • content: "What a lovely, inspiring book. Tom Vanderbilt shows us why it's never too late to be a beginner, and that there should be no shame associated with the word 'dilettante.' Now I'm off to learn how to play the trombone, speak Portuguese and bake soufflés"
      • premium: False
      • source: Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author of Outliers
      • content: "Tom Vanderbilt elegantly and persuasively tackles one of the most pernicious of the lies we tells ourselves--that the pleasure of learning are reserved for the young. Beginners belongs with David Epstein's Range on the list of books that have changed the way I understand my own limitations."
      • premium: False
      • source: Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator
      • content:
        "A wonderful and inspirational book. The only thing that will make you put it down is a burning desire to try something new. It's full of the sort of encouragement and wisdom that bridges the small, tricky gulf between enthusiasm and action. A book that will launch thousands of journeys that might not otherwise have happened and prove life-changing for many who take those first steps."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:
        "Vanderbilt.. composes lucid prose and explains concepts... with relative ease, and his thesis is practical and worthwhile... compelling... A solid beginner's guide to beginning."
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 1, 2020
        A middle-aged journalist engages his childlike curiosity--and argues that you should, too. A cynic might call the idea for this book gimmicky, complete with ready-made marketing ideas (imagine click-bait articles about 10 new things to try this year). But as he did in Traffic and You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice, Vanderbilt brings heft to the enterprise, which is very much in the A.J. Jacobs vein. He expresses seemingly genuine curiosity in his various new hobbies, spending considerable time learning to surf, sing, draw, juggle, and play chess. It's clear that the author isn't mailing it in, and he displays the engaging style that has characterized his magazine articles in Wired, Slate, Popular Science, and elsewhere. He composes lucid prose and explains concepts--foremost, this is a book about learning--with relative ease, and his thesis is practical and worthwhile. As Vanderbilt demonstrates, learning novel skills has benefits aside from the skills being acquired. In our utilitarian culture, there's value in learning new things--even if they are not directly applicable to your job or don't directly help with a DIY home improvement project, and even if you're not young. Taking up wholly new pursuits, not to become an expert but rather to activate the otherwise dormant "beginner's mind," has myriad benefits. The sections of the book that elucidate those benefits are compelling, but sections in which we "watch" the novice practice singing and the like--in some cases, lengthy play-by-play passages--won't appeal to everyone. (The chapter on drawing is perhaps the most appealing.) Ultimately, these deep dives support Vanderbilt's convincing argument that new is good. The text is a useful "handbook for the clueless, a first-aid kit for the crushed ego, a survival guide for coping with this most painful, most poignant stage: the awkward, self-conscious, exhilarating dawning of the novice." A solid beginner's guide to beginning.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 9, 2020
        Journalist Vanderbilt (Traffic) chronicles his attempts to gain new skills in this charming celebration of lifelong learning. While encouraging his daughter to explore new interests, Vanderbilt writes, he was inspired to pursue his own journey of skill acquisition—not for professionalization or utility, but merely for the joy of it. He entertainingly recounts his struggles and triumphs in various pursuits—chess, singing, surfing, drawing, juggling, and making jewelry—in which he achieved no grand successes, but merely the satisfaction of “modest competency.” Noting that dilettante originally meant “one who exhibits delight,” Vanderbilt encourages readers to put aside the fear of making mistakes and looking like an amateur. While readers may wonder about the author’s unusually abundant amount of spare time, he makes a persuasive case for the benefits—cognitive, physical, emotional, and social—of being a beginner. This enjoyable reminder to embrace the “small acts of reinvention, at any age, that can make life seem magical” will appeal to those who enjoyed Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

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shortDescription
The best-selling author of Traffic and You May Also Like now gives us a thought-provoking, playful journey into the transformative joys that come with starting something new, no matter your age
Why do so many of us stop learning new skills as adults? Are we afraid to be bad at something? Have we forgotten the sheer pleasure of beginning from the ground up? Or is it simply a fact that you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
Inspired by his young daughter's insatiable need to know how to do almost everything, and stymied by his own rut of mid-career competence, Tom Vanderbilt begins a year of learning purely for the sake of learning. He tackles five main skills (and picks up a few more up along the way) choosing them for their difficulty to master and their distinct lack of career marketability—chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling. What he doesn't expect is that the circuitous paths he takes while learning these skills will prove even more...
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