Smart Tribes

By: Christine Comaford - Available at Amazon

I wish I could remember where I heard about this book. It tackles common problem areas that organizations face when they become complacent or lose direction. I really like her chapters on accountability and "meta programs". Effective communication is more about the audience than the communicator. It's hard to say things in a way other's want to hear it, and she has some concrete ideas becoming better at this. I hope I follow up on her advice.

Posted: June 16, 2013 | | comments

Earth Afire

By: Aaron Johnston - Available at Amazon

The second installment of the Ender's Game prequel triology. I'm glad Audible offers accelerated narration. A good story, but a bit long winded. Looking forward to the conclusion.

Posted: May 31, 2013 | | comments

Earth Unaware

By: Aaron Johnston - Available at Amazon

Having been disappointed with Shadows In Flight, I decided to pick up this prequel story. It takes place right before the first time buggers come to Earth. I like it, it's fresh set of characters and it's a bit more realistic look at how we might behave in case of an alien visit. Mazer's origin story is also cool.

Posted: May 15, 2013 | | comments

Shadows In Flight

By: Orson Scott Card - Available at Amazon

We pick up Bean's story after he's left earth with this three mutant children. There's not much too the story, they find an old bugger ship and have to deal with their own mortality. Apparently the next installment will tie together Ender's books to Bean's.

Posted: May 01, 2013 | | comments

Cooked

By: Michael Pollan - Available at Amazon

Pollan decided to learn how to cook. To this end, he chose to learn foods that belonged to air (bread), water (braises), fire (BBQ), and earth (beer). The BBQ sections was the most detailed and least applicable to me, but the bread section was fascinating. His comparison of industrial bread vs. handmade bread made me understand why some people feel bread is nutritious vs. why some people think it's the cause of all modern man's ailments. Apparently, real bread dough must be cultivated extensively to allow the natural wheat enzymes and yeast to predigest the bread. This makes the nutrients available to humans. The process takes at least 24 hours from start to finish. Whereas industrial bread can be readied in 4 hours. Having recently brewed my own bit of beer, it was amusing to see how proud he was of himself for brewing. He made it sound like home brews were as rare as a winning lottery ticket.

Posted: April 01, 2013 | | comments

Gulp

By: Mary Roach - Available at Amazon

Roach is an intersting author. She finds scientists who do obscure research on her topic of interest, synthesizes their efforts into a pop research book. This time she tackles the digestive tract. I was pretty excited; however, she seemed to skip over the small intestine. I had heard about some of the experiments before; alas I didn't learn anything that changed my understanding of how it all works. Well except that HCl in your stomach isn't as acidic as I had assumed.

Posted: March 01, 2013 | | comments

The Art of Doing

By: Camille Sweeny - Available at Amazon

A book full of interviews with top performers in their field. It's been a while between reading the book and writing this post; but the main takeaway that I had was that they all were very prepared. That is, they didn't leave anything about their trade to chance. They also had a clarity of what they were trying to achieve and aimed directly for it. Clarity is underrated.

Posted: February 01, 2013 | | comments

Icarus Deception

By: Seth Godin - Available at Amazon

I like Godin's books; however, they were getting a little repetitive. This one, thankfully, was a bit different. He defines 'Art' as something new, real, and important. He argues that producing this kind of Art is what we should all strive to do and that it's really hard to do. The book seems to consist of, maybe, a hundred small essays on various aspects of making Art.

There are a lot of key insights, but my favorite is about the "lizard brain". He, and others, say that your mind will try to protect itself against judgement by making you procrastinate or otherwise avoid doing the work. Others argue that you must fight this feeling to create Art. Godin argues that you're likely not making Art unless you feel this resistance. As a result, you should welcome this feeling of mild anxiety as that's how you know you're working on the right part of the project.

I love his definition of Art and I will be trying to welcome that feeling of dread when I see that one, really hard, project on my list.

Posted: February 01, 2013 | | comments

Insanely Simple

By: Ken Segall - Available at Amazon

Going in, I wasn't expecting much. I had looked to Jobs's biography for descriptions of how he worked. However, I was surprised to find way more about that in this book. The author arugues that complexity is a force that is always trying to grow and spread and that a champion for simplicity must be constantly fighting to keep it at bay. Jobs was that champion for Apple. He never cared how muh it cost to maintain this simplicity. Loved the stories about meetings where he would be absolutely frank with people about their work. I like how the author attempted to provide practical steps to fight for simplicity. I don't know if I agreed with them all, but I do agree you have to fight simplicity if you want it. Or else, as they say, entropy wins again!

Posted: January 01, 2013 | | comments

The Hobbit reread

By: J.R.R. Tolkien - Available at Amazon

I hadn't read this guy since third grade. I figured it was time to refresh before the movie came out. What can I say, it's fun!

Posted: November 01, 2012 | | comments