New month? New reads! I usually have several books on the go, which I understand is controversial in some quarters, but it’s the way I prefer to read. I love making connections between different books, genres, ideas, disciplines… and my habit of switching between books helps me to do this. Currently in my reading stack:

Demystifying Evaluation – David Parsons

Last year’s Social Research Association conference piqued my interest in the differences in evaluation between the social/third sector and the private sector. Much of the terminology – and the methods – seem similar across both sectors, and I’m enjoying digging into a new frame of reference. More news as I have it.

Fun fact: the author, Professor Parsons, also runs the evaluation training courses for the SRA.

Tiny Habits – BJ Fogg

I’ve been interested in habit change for a while now, having read Charles Duhigg, Gretchen Rubin and James Cleary. Hence Tiny Habits caught my eye. Fogg has a six step process (doesn’t everyone?!): clarify the aspiration, explore options, match with specific behaviours, start tiny, find a good prompt, and celebrate successes.

The basics are good – start with the tiniest expression of the habit you want to develop, so that it is ridiculous NOT to do it (i.e. sit on your yoga mat, or do 1 press up) More often than not, you’ll do more than that, but on the days when the energy, willpower or drive is missing, all you have to do is sit on the mat. This has worked well for me, as has habit stacking: tying a new habit to an existing one, like brushing your teeth. But I found Fogg’s book overall a little acronym heavy, and I’d have preferred a shorter ‘top tips’ book.

Middlemarch – George Eliot

This book has been on my ‘to-read’ list forever, and it’s the first Eliot I’ve read. Being a modern languages undergrad on a very literature-heavy course, almost all of my time at school and university was spent reading French and German literature (here’s looking at you, George Sand, Baudelaire, und Herr Goethe!) so I still have a little treasure trove of as-yet unread English language greats which I can plunder whenever I like.

It’s a real pleasure to come to novels like Middlemarch as a ‘proper’ grown-up, with much more life experience and a whole lot more cultural references than I’d have had as a 16 year old reading a set text. I’m on Chapter 10 so far, and feeling like the action is about to commence… How exciting!