The World is a Carpet by Anna Badkhen Riverhead Books (e-book) You'll never look at an Afghan carpet the same way after reading this book. Anna Badkhen, who did her research on carpet-making in an area renowned for its weavers but so isolated that she couldn't even find it on Google Maps, tells how it takes a whole village to weave a carpet and how the tradition continues for a "timeless people in a timeless landscape keeping alive a timeless craft". Badkhen's evocative language carries her memoir, which expertly ties together life in a nowhere land, where women are paid less than US$1 a day for carpets that may fetch thousands of dollars in the West. She explains that devout Muslims will purposely make a few mistakes in their carpets because a flawless design would challenge the perfection of God; tells of opium use so extensive that even babies are given the drug when they cry; and the factors that determine whether a carpet is beautiful. Hardship is part of the warp and weft of everyday life, although she is welcomed because guests arriving with stories allowed their hosts to forget the misery of life in a war zone. The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman Portfolio / Penguin (e-book) You will sense that Josh Kaufman read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers , underlined those bits about the "10,000-hour rule" and thought: "I can do better." Where Gladwell gave many examples of people who had devoted that amount of time to a subject to become experts at it, however, Kaufman mostly writes about his own experiences in learning certain skills in just 20 hours. That's the amount of time, he says, you need to go from neophyte level to performing something noticeably well. Those who are hoping for really useful tips, however, will be disappointed. Of the 10 major principles in rapid skill acquisition that Kaufman lists, probably the most important is that you need to "choose a lovable project". Kaufman describes how he became proficient at yoga, computer programming, touch typing, the game Go, playing the ukulele and windsurfing. But bar programming (the basics of which he already knew), becoming competent at the others would not be beyond anybody with an interest ... without the help of this book.