“Beginners” by Tom Vanderbilt

Beginners by best-selling author, Tom Vanderbilt is a self-help book. Psychologically very uplifting. It is down-to-earth and humble. It is nice to see a memoir-cum-selfhelp book share with all humility one’s own shortcomings and the learnings gleaned from challenging oneself. It is very challenging at the best of times to hurl oneself into an “intensely immersive learning environment” but to do it over and over again as the author has done is commendable. One does learn even if it is to come to terms with one’s own limitations, not be an over reacher and yet continuously be alive to the myriad learning prospects life throws up— accept them and be challenged.

To begin the book with a chess match where he loses to his own daughter is a great start. Tom Vanderbilt does not come across as a snoot or with a large ego. But what is astonishing is the number of things he tries his hand at — chess, jewellery design, swimming, choral music, surfing etc. This book talks about how one is challenged to think beyond one’s own comfort zone especially once the children are born. This is a curious book as it criss-crosses genres such as self-help, parenting, psychology, education, lifeskill classes/workshops, corporate trainers etc. It will work also because it is so accessible in its easy style of chatting to the reader. It is also a positive book to read during the pandemic as it is motivating in the classical sense. It will do well in translation.

27 Jan 2021

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