The Art Of Learning

I came across this book while I was looking for Searching For Bobby Fischer. That book+movie is about chess whizkid Josh Waitzkin who went on to be the US Chess Champion many times. This book The Art Of Learning: An Inner Journey To Optimal Performance is written by the subject of that book Josh Waitzkin, who’s now much older. That book and the popular movie which was made after that brought a lot of fame to Waitzkin and (according to him) destroyed his chess game. Looking for something peaceful after that, he learnt Tai Chi. His Tai Chi master invited him to learn Tai Chi Push Hands, the martial art style of Tai Chi. Using the experiences from his chess career, Waitzkin was able to hone his Push Hands skills well enough to win the Tai Chi World Championship.

This book is part (auto)biography and part philosophical. Using his life’s ups and downs as the analogy, Waitzkin tries to distill the elements which help in learning (anything). Themes touched upon include how to start learning something new, improve in it, enjoy it, increase the performance in it and finally excel in it. All through the book this discourse uses chess and martial arts metaphors from his own life for achieving this. I found the book quite useful and might read it again in a few years.

Should you be reading this book? Check out this short video (10 min) and this Authors@Google talk (56 min) where he talks about his life and the book and decide for yourself.

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