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Quick Hits: Tales of Disconnection, Free Books, and Tips for Aspiring Writers

August 16th, 2010 · 15 comments

Update (8/17/2010): I forgot to mention that a loyal reader has set up a Facebook fan page for Study Hacks. I’m not on Facebook, but I can still view this page and the comments you leave, and I really appreciate the support. If you’re a fan, consider joining (liking? friending?) the page as a way to spread the word to your own network of friends.

Quick hits is an occasional feature where I take a breather between my epic big idea posts to share ideas, ask questions, and in general provide a catch-all place for me to catch up with you.

Tales of Disconnection

Rough Type, the blog of Nicholas Carr (my favorite commentator on digital distraction; c.f., The Shallows), recently pointed me toward two fascinating articles…

Outdoors and Out of Reach. This latest entry in the New York Times’ meme-spawning series on how data overload affects our brain, follows five neuroscientists on an offline wilderness rafting trip. My favorite quote comes near the end of the article, when a hyper-connected lab director realizes:

“I have a colleague who says that I’m being very impolite when I pull out a computer during meetings. I say: ‘I can listen.’ … Maybe I’m not listening so well. Maybe I can work at being more engaged.”

Off-Line, I Reconnect. This article, from the Montreal Gazette, follows a freelance writer who works from home with no Internet service. He makes do by going online once a day, for about an hour, at a local Internet cafe, where he checks his e-mail and looks up any needed information. My favorite quote:

“Once I eliminated the Internet from my apartment, I rediscovered the joys of reading books (not blogs). It’s a feeling I haven’t experienced this intensely since my adolescence, when I devoured books, like a human sponge with a lust for everything.”

Book Update

The launch of How to Be a High School Superstar is underway. (As always, if you like my philosophy and either know someone in high school, or are curious about how to build an interesting and engaging life — at any age — please consider buying a copy.)

You may have seen my guest post on Tim Ferriss’ blog. I have three more blockbuster guest posts lined up, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out this fantastic series on interestingness (a key concept from High School Superstar) at Justine Musk’s blog, Tribal Writer.

Last Friday, I sent out my first batch of signed books to readers who helped me spread the word about High School Superstar. Their book-earning actions included calling members of their school board to recommend my book, adding the title to a class reading list, and designing me an an excellent poster.

I have a couple more copies to give away; if you’re interested, do something cool to help spread the word, and then send me a report on what you did.

Finally, if you bought a copy of the book and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon.com, as this helps other students decide whether or not the book is right for them.

Agent Obvious

Interested in publishing a book? My sharp literary agent, Laurie Abkemeier,  became Internet-famous for the “Agent Obvious Tip of the Day” feature on her twitter feed, which corrects obvious mistakes that (too) many aspiring writers make. This wisdom has now been captured in a clever new iPhone app called Agent Obvious. If you’re trying to break into the world of publishing, listen to Laurie: trust me, she knows what she’s talking about!

15 thoughts on “Quick Hits: Tales of Disconnection, Free Books, and Tips for Aspiring Writers

  1. Suzie Bee says:

    I wonder if you could explain a little more about your new book and how it is suitable for people who are no longer in high school. I’m at university and am trying to decide whether or not to buy a copy, so I’d like to now a little more about what’s in it.

  2. Study Hacks says:

    I wonder if you could explain a little more about your new book and how it is suitable for people who are no longer in high school. I’m at university and am trying to decide whether or not to buy a copy, so I’d like to now a little more about what’s in it.

    My original proposal had the book covering the application of the Zen Valedictorian philosophy from high school through graduate school. Though we focused the topic on high school (for the sake of clarity), the general material is more or less the same I was originally planning on using. In more detail: part 1 focuses on how people become interesting; part 2 focuses on the benefit of mastering a single interest over multiple interests; and part 3 focuses on activity innovation.

  3. Suzie Bee says:

    Thanks, it sounds like just what I’m looking for. I’ll order my copy now!

  4. Majda says:

    Hello Cal,

    I’ve already sent you an e-mail asking you about this but since I know you don’t check e-mail very often and that you’re very busy, it could take months before you answer. So, I’m taking a shot at comments, I hope you don’t mind.

    The thing is, I really want to buy your Red Book : How to Become a Straight-A Student as I’ll enter college this fall, but the only way I found to access it is e-commerce web sites (Amazon, RandomHouse…) and all these web sites require credit cards or a PayPal account. Unfortunately in Algeria (my country) we don’t use such things as credit cards. So I would really appreciate if you show me another way to pay for your book. Is there an address I can send money to or anything like that ? (Knowing that I don’t have any relative living in the US).

    By the way, I want you to know that I’m extremely grateful for the help you provide us on Study Hacks, your articles are a real source of inspiration for me and have helped me tremendously (and still are). Thanks you so much.
    So bad that I can’t really help spread the word about your books because nobody can buy them from here.

    Thanks again and sorry to bother.

    Best regards,

    Majda from Algeria

  5. Study Hacks says:

    So I would really appreciate if you show me another way to pay for your book.

    It sounds like it might be hard for you to get a copy where you live. I don’t know of any service that will accept cash through the mail.

    But what we can do is try to recreate the main ideas using what’s publicly available here on Study Hacks. I would start by searching for my post on the Straight-A Method, to give you a sense of the strategy taught in the book. I might then search for my four post series, four weeks to a 4.0, as a way to ease yourself into this mindset during the first four weeks of your next semester.

    Finally, you can send me e-mails as more questions arise.

  6. Majda says:

    It sounds like it might be hard for you to get a copy where you live. I don’t know of any service that will accept cash through the mail.

    What a pity ! I’m really disappointed 🙁 I’m really sorry to insist, and I know it’s a bit inappropriate to ask you that. But what about you Cal, don’t you have any copies ? I mean, if I send you the cost of the book plus shipping and transportation fees, is it impossible to send it here in Algeria ? I just want the book badly because it describes a full and concise method, the few pages of preview have fascinated me and I love your writing style.
    Anyways, thank you so much Cal for taking the time to answer me.

    I would start by searching for my post on the Straight-A Method, to give you a sense of the strategy taught in the book. I might then search for my four post series, four weeks to a 4.0, as a way to ease yourself into this mindset during the first four weeks of your next semester.

    Actually, I’ve already read all those articles and a lot of what’s available here at Study Hack, the content is truly amazing ! I implemented some of your methods in high school and managed to get the first in my school in Baccalauréat exam (the one to access university) and still keeping underscheduled and updating my website and other activities, so I’m really really grateful Cal, thanks so much ! And that’s precisely why I want to “take it to the next level” by having the book.

    Again, sorry to bother Cal.

  7. May I make a suggestion? Perhaps Majda can order the book through a bookstore in Algeria. Then she can pay cash to the bookstore when your book arrives.

  8. Vedd says:

    Just saw your book in my local Barnes and Noble store; I didn’t know you were from New Jersey! May I ask which town or part, if you’re not too embarrassed? I’m about to be a freshman in college but still found many helpful tips and guidance – it feels like a distilled version of Study Hacks with plenty of new studies and recommendations. Wish I had it when I started high school! Oh well, at least I’ll have a fresh start.

  9. Study Hacks says:

    Just saw your book in my local Barnes and Noble store; I didn’t know you were from New Jersey! May I ask which town or part,

    Out of curiosity, how did seeing the book at Barnes & Nobles clue you in that I grew up in New Jersey?

    (I grew up near Princeton, in Pennington.)

  10. Vedd says:

    Oh, I was reading the part where you described how you went to the library next to your “New Jersey high school” to study for the SAT in monkish isolation. Cool to know you’re from Pennington; I have a lot of friends who live there. I live in New Brunswick.

  11. Clare says:

    I just wanted to let you know that if you google ‘study hacks’, the first two hits for your site are mis-titled ‘Online Pharmacy FDA Recommended.’ However, the blurb for the first link under that title is for this site, and the link still brings you here. I haven’t checked the second link because it looks suspicious. It looks like someone has been playing around with your links. Hopefully, it can be fixed. I’d hate to think potential study hacks readers deciding not to go to this fantastic site because of a mis-titled link on google.

    Lastly, thank you for study hacks. I’ve been following your site for two years now and it has been invaluable. I recently ordered ‘How to Win at College’ from overseas because I live in Australia.

  12. Brenda says:

    Cal,
    What a joy to have discovered your books, your Study Hacks site, etc.
    I have included your materials on my web site because they are the first materials that do the trick. Thank you. I am so grateful since my goal for my students is empowerment without stress.
    Brenda
    BrenMar Associates, Your College Connection

  13. Majda says:

    Hello Cal,

    I’m writing you today mainly to apologize for my request last time, I clearly crossed the line with that one, and I’m (really) sorry if I bothered. You know, when you’re in an under-developed country, and you feel like you can’t do everything you want, you can’t access to all the things you want, as there are so many obstacles facing you… sometimes it’s just too frustrating.

    By the way, thanks a lot Mary Campbell Gallagher for your suggestion. I actually went to some local bookstores, it seems like they can’t do such a thing, unfortunately. Thank you anyway.

    And just as you know, I finally found a solution! The CPA Bank has introduced VISA Cards in Algeria lately, my parents are thinking to get one and I hope to order your book soon via Amazon ;-D .

    Anyways, thanks overall and sorry again.

    Majda

  14. Majda,

    Thank you for your update and for your kind acknowledgment. Could your library order from Amazon.fr? Whatever happens, keep us informed.

    All the best,

    Mary

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