I have just completed the first 6 months of my gap year. A lot of people ask what I'm doing, and I admittedly still don't have the perfect one sentence response. The long version is that I've been doing a lot of reading, ballet, and cooking experiments, mixed in with spurts of job applications and portfolio work. Technically, that's only one sentence, but it's a lot more than I'll usually say at once.
I've just made up my mind to write a post regarding each of my main activities. That way I can look back fondly on my foray into early retirement (as my mom fondly puts it) when I'm out in the real world.
First up: Reading
I don't think I've had the time to read for fun for a long time. In some of my ergonomics and design classes, there would be a brief mention or a sub-topic on psychological aspects, and these were some of my favorite parts of the class. Of course, reading for fun was about the lowest thing on my (and everyone else's) priority list during the semester. The thing is I've always loved getting a huge stack of books from the library and spending a week sprawled across the furniture working my way through the pile. So that was one of the first things I did at the start of my gap year. A few books were about food or parenting (I don't even know how that happened), but they mostly fell under the categories of design and/or psychology. I've been keeping track of my booklist and it looks like this:
The Element by Ken Robinson
Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Before Happiness by Shawn Achor
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
100 Things Every Designer Should Know by Susan Weinshenk
Incognito by David Eagleman
Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
The Calorie Myth by Jonathon Bailor
Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
Momo by Michael Ende
Emotional Design: Why we Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Donald Norman
The Myth of the Spoiled Child by Alfie Kohn
If I had to choose a single favorite book, I would probably say French Kids Eat Everything. The book is categorized under cross-cultural studies, and this was the first time I'd read a book of cultural comparisons. I didn't even know that was a topic before. I'd also assumed that cultures were a lot more similar than they actually are, so I was pretty surprised by what I read.