Shortform Reads: Using Books as Therapy & Motivation

What book’s cover caught Edel’s attention faster than any other? What author has she chosen as her therapist? What book does she read once a year?

Edel could tell you all about it. Based in the Philippines, she works in customer support at Shortform. We interviewed her recently to learn a bit about her relationship with books.

Our Interview With Edel

Edel has long been inspired and motivated by books. Here’s what she had to say about her reading experiences, which might inspire and motivate you, as well.

What kind of work do you do at Shortform?

I work as a customer support agent for Shortform.

What’s your favorite book and why?

V.C. Andrews’s Misty. This is the book that got me into reading, so it will always have a special place in my heart. I enjoyed how the author made everything so emotional, yet the words were so simple. I’ve read a couple of other books where the words were so advanced that I had to check the dictionary just to continue feeling the character’s emotion.

Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter. An absolutely mind-blowing true crime book from a prosecutor’s perspective. I never thought I’d be into reading true crime until I read this book. I’ve always been an avid true crime documentary watcher, but a book is another level.

Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The movie is okay, but it did not give justice to the magnificent book. No other book cover has caught my attention so fast as this one, and I’m glad the content did not fail me.

What are you reading these days?

The most recent book I finished is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I promised myself that I would read this book at least once every year, and 2022 is the second year since I made this promise.

I’m currently reading The Mountain Is You by Brianna Wiest, and I am 100% glad I followed the hype because it is 100% worth it.

I’m planning to read 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think by Brianna Wiest because I have decided that this genius will be my therapist.

If you could have a dinner party with any three authors—dead or alive—who would they be and why?

Ransom Riggs, V.C. Andrews, and Brianna Wiest. They all seem like such amazing human beings who have achieved so much in their lives. I definitely would ask them what books they love and what writing routines helped them when things get tough.

What’s your favorite genre? Why does it intrigue you?

I love true crime, horror, and mystery stories! They’re so interesting to me because they focus on horror and evilness—things we can’t understand. The dark, disturbing yet alluring quality of horror captivates me. It’s hard not to be interested in what writers are doing if they’re immersed in an evil world where anything could happen at any moment. Even something as simple and normal as going about your day-to-day life can seem extraordinary when you’re surrounded by these forces and ideas. You know you have to turn it into a masterpiece of literature.

Are there any book genres or tropes that you dislike or refuse to read?

I’ve tried to read Fifty Shades of Grey, but it’s just not my cup of tea. The sexual scenes are too long for me, and the book seems boring overall. There are so many other books out there with a similar theme, but they’re less tedious and boring than one entire book about sex scenes. So, I guess anything that falls under the category of Fifty Shades of Grey is a no-no for me at the moment.

Another book I refuse to read again is Children Who Kill: Profiles of Pre-Teen and Teenage Killers by Carol Anne Davis. As a true crime fanatic, I thought I’d love this book, but it ended up giving me nightmares for days! I did not finish this book and ended up crying to my mom out of fear.

What’s your favorite way to read a book?

The convenience of audiobooks and eBooks has me purring with delight. What I do is listen to the audiobook first and, if it’s absolutely amazing, I buy the hardcover!

What book do you think everyone should read in their lifetime?

Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins. This book is great because David Goggins sounds like someone who would be an amazing person to meet. He has such a powerful presence, and it’s inspiring to listen in on his stories. This book will open your mind to new ways of thinking, and it also helps you feel empathy for other people who may be going through hard times. Goggins’s experience has inspired me on many levels.

Who are your favorite authors?

James Clear, Brianna Wiest, Ransom Riggs, V.C. Andrews, and Mitch Albom.

How have your reading tastes changed over the years?

I used to love reading fiction novels. It was a way for me to escape the reality of my life and immerse myself in a world of fantasy. I would read about heroines who always managed to find their Prince Charming or about rebels who overthrew traditional systems and forged their own destinies. But, eventually, I began to realize that these stories were just that—stories. They weren’t reflective of my own life or of the lives of the people around me. So, I started to read more self-improvement and productivity books. These books helped me to see the potential in my own life and to realize that I could create my own story. They showed me that it was possible to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, even if it didn’t look like the fairy tales I used to read. So, I’m grateful for the change in my reading taste and habits. Now, instead of dreaming of a life that I’ll never have, I’m working towards creating the life that I want.

Do you have any guilty-pleasure books?

V.C. Andrews’s books are a guilty pleasure for me because her characters usually have money, but they’re always running from one drama to another. I can’t help myself!

What’s an interesting fact that you learned from a book recently?

From The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I learned the four ways you can respond when someone shares an intimate story of their life’s struggles: Evaluating, Probing, Advising, and Interpreting. These responses all stem from one of the most basic human instincts: to understand why people do what they do. Then, we can live our lives and help others live theirs! Seek first to truly comprehend where these individuals are coming from before offering feedback or advice because this will provide a more fulfilling relationship, whether it be personal or professional.

Have any books you’ve read caused you to make any life changes or to develop any habits?

I recently read Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. This book was an immense help, prompting me to change my daily routine and break bad habits.

I started to be more aware of my environment and arrange it in a way that will help me be more productive. I made my desk clean and clutter-free, and I stopped working on my bed. I started to take new classes for certain skills I’ve always wanted to try but was too overwhelmed to start.

One of the most important things I learned from the book was to start with baby steps. I didn’t try to change everything at once but rather took small steps that eventually led to big changes. For example, I instituted a “no work on bed” rule for myself, meaning that I would work only at my desk. This small change helped me be more productive and focused when I was working, and it eventually led me to take fewer breaks and get more work done.

If you’re looking for a book to help you change your habits, Atomic Habits is a great place to start. It’s an easy read with actionable advice, and it will help you become more aware of the choices you make every day.

What’s your favorite quote from a book or an author?

“Getting one percent better every day counts for a lot in the long run.” (James Clear, Atomic Habits)

What are your favorite book adaptations and why?

The Lovely Bones. The movie was much more interesting than the book. The director did a great job at adapting this story for film, and it really showed how much better they were able to make everything look! Saoirse Ronan is the best person to play Susie Salmon.

Are there any lesser-known books that you’ve read that you want others to know exist?

The Unfair Advantage: How You Already Have What It Takes to Succeed by Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba. Most people believe that success is a matter of working hard and being lucky. This book shows readers how they can tap into their natural strengths and abilities to accomplish their goals.

The book then provides readers with a framework for identifying their strengths and developing a plan for putting them to use. This includes strategies for dealing with difficult challenges and setbacks. Throughout, the authors emphasize the importance of staying true to yourself and pursuing your passions.

If you’re looking for a practical guide to achieving your goals, The Unfair Advantage is worth checking out. With its down-to-earth advice and inspiring stories, this book will show you that you already have everything you need to succeed.

What are your favorite books in the Shortform library and why?

Some of my favorite books in the Shortform library are Deep Work by Cal Newport, Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar, Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio, The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch, and Atomic Habits by James Clear.  So often our days are spent in a state of overwhelm, juggling all the balls and meeting the demands of our never-ending to-do lists. It can feel like we’re on a hamster wheel, going nowhere fast. Thankfully, these excellent books have been published, and I highly recommend checking them out. These books have vastly improved my life and work, and I’m confident they can do the same for you. Shortform is a great resource for finding summaries of these books; they’ve saved me hours and helped me focus on the key points. I hope you, too, find them helpful!

About the Series

At Shortform, we want to give our employees names and faces so you can get to know the people who make the magic happen. That’s why we’re doing the Shortform Reads series, where we interview our employees and share their thoughts and opinions. You can check out more employee interviews here.

Shortform Reads: Using Books as Therapy & Motivation

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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