Audiobook Review: Listful Thinking

Listful Thinking:  Using Lists To Be More Productive, Highly Successful, And Less Stressed, by Paula Rizzo

Listening to this book was a pleasant diversion, and the book was short, and one of the benefits of listening to a book like this (or reading it, if you choose), is to find plenty of material to read that the author references.  My own feelings about this book are somewhat mixed to positive, in that the author’s politics, fondness of Oprah, and some of her software choices (like her love of Asana) are somewhat irksome and irritating, although thankfully there are plenty of areas where we agree a great deal, such as our shared love of making lists and enjoying the lists made by others [1].  It is hard to exaggerate just how much time I spend dealing with lists, whether it comes with making my own shopping list or lists of books I want to read at the library or lists of things I want to accomplish, or whether it involves the lists of best or worst songs of a given year that I enjoy listening to from various music critics.  Lists enrich my life and this book does a good job at dealing with them.

The author’s use of lists goes back a long way, and in this audiobook, which is three discs long and read by the author, we see the way that lists can serve to make life better.  The author includes a lot of examples from her personal life, including a humorous list about housing needs and wants that helped her to find a good place to move to upon the urging of her husband, as well as various approaches to lists that allow one to outsource one’s thinking to others.  Indeed, a great deal of this book advocates people to outsource as much as possible of their lives to others to save time and frustration, and to focus on what they do best.  A large part of the book also deals with the applications that people can use in order to simplify their life and remember more information–some of which, like Pintrest and Goodreads, I don’t tend to think of as list sites.  Be that as it may, this book was a lot more expansive about lists and it was certainly very energetic in its appeal to lists as a way of making one’s thinking more routine and therefore more reliable and accurate, and whatever quirks the author has this book is generally enjoyable to read or listen to.

That is not to say that the book was perfect, though.  Readers who do not have as high an opinion of Oprah as the author does will find much to be annoyed at in this particular book.  The author also is guilty perhaps of a bit of oversharing about her personal life, including her struggles to get the dry-cleaning done and her left-handedness, which at least made her more relatable to me, so I am not sure I would consider that a problem.  The author’s use of pilots as an example where checklists are extremely common reminded me that there is a downside to lists as well.  While there are many useful and important aspects of lists, we cannot pretend that lists provide us with a complete understanding of something, for they tend to emphasize what is quantifiable and easy to evaluate.  While these aspects of life are very common and lists are useful in routinizing these parts of our existence, we cannot assume that they provide complete understanding. Simply because we can use a checklist to ask a lot of questions about something does not mean that we have a firm or complete knowledge of what we are making a list about, and that is something we would do well to remember even if we use lists often and should use them more.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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