The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast, by Josh Kaufman

Most people who know me usually say one of two things when asked to describe me. It’s either ‘boy, Drew, you sure are smart’ or ‘man, you’re an arrogant prick’. Either way, a book like this one definitely intrigued me. A) because I love learning and B) I like being smarter than other people. Any tips for improving on either of those above criteria are sure to capture my interest.

I don’t usually quote the back cover, in fact I try to avoid when reviewing a book as I feel it’s a bit of a lazy way to do it, however I have a quote this bit. “Want to learn to paint, play the piano, launch a business, fly a plane? Then pick up this book, set aside twenty hours to go from knowing nothing to performing it like a pro. That’s it.”

Whoa there, what? Really? Twenty hours? Moy moy impossiblè! Usually when something is too true to be believed, it’s usually because it’s not possible and therefore not true. Ok, author Josh Kaufman, you have my interest. If only to prove you wrong, I will endeavour to analyse this book and of course the above statement.

Kaufman accurately points out right from the start that people are too busy these days. True. All things take time and skill. Even if you had one of those two things, you probably wouldn’t even come close to possessing the other.

Rather than being a complex instruction manual on a plethora of activities that people are interested in, The First 20 Hours is a manual on getting you motivated to get up off the couch and do something. Sure, self-help books are a dime a dozen, and you most likely have already browsed to the next review or something else by now anyways. But this book aims to get you doing what you actually are capable of… if you could only set your mind to it… and not get distracted reading awesome reviews by NZ Booklover’s least arrogant reviewer.

The underpinning premise of the book is ‘rapid skill acquisition’. You don’t need to spend 10,000 hours becoming the world’s greatest [insert your favourite sport here]. Kaufmans book will help you become proficient enough in something that you are interested in. Your improved skills in tennis wont mean that you can beat Rafael Nadal, but you will be able to hit the ball over the net in a competitive manner. But most importantly you will be able to enjoy yourself much more when you playing a few sets.

If you’ve got lots of ideas but you are just too busy to implement any of them. Grab a copy of The First 20 Hours and get yourself on the right track. I guess you can always wait for it on DVD if you don’t have the time right now. Couldn’t hurt right?

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TITLE: The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast
AUTHOR(S): Josh Kaufman
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House
RRP: $26.00
ISBN: 9781591846949

Drew Thompson Drew operates a successful hobby farm for pampered cattle in rural South Auckland. He once dabbled in education, where he discovered any book was a good book. As with most ex-teachers, he realised he was better off spending his time and patience on his own awesome children.

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