Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: It's Your Kid, Not a Gerbil: Creating a Happier & Less-Stressed Home

It's Your Kid, Not a Gerbil: Creating a Happier & Less-Stressed Home It's Your Kid, Not a Gerbil: Creating a Happier & Less-Stressed Home by Kevin Leman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you need parenting advice, get it from someone who has been there, done that. Repeatedly. Like Dr. Kevin Leman, who has five kids.

However, parents who subscribe to the notion of kiasuism, helicopter parenting, overparenting, or whatever it is called these days, may deem the tone too preachy for their liking. Which is a shame. While the front part of the book relies heavily on personal anecdotes or just pure persuasion to argue its case, some research data from relevant sources or experts in the field are used subsequently to back up Leman’s statements.

Unfortunately, some of the chapters are a bit repetitive and the points raised by Leman sound like common sense or overused arguments. Halfway through, the book meandered to parenting advice (e.g. on discipline) that’s unrelated to the subject matter of its title.

It’s a good read, but it probably won’t win many converts despite the liberal dose of humour sprinkled throughout the book.

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Thursday, February 01, 2018

Review: Lying

Lying Lying by Sam Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A complex book (or should I say, essay, to be honest) on the philosophy of practical ethics, based on an undergraduate college course that the author took at Stanford. Ironically, it takes a book about lying to lay out the merits of telling the truth whatever the situation. This last part will probably have some people up in arms, particularly those who subscribe to the notion of "white lies".

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Review: Badass: Making Users Awesome

Badass: Making Users Awesome Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A book designed for visual learners. Ironically, the slow and often repetitive build-up of topics on how to help users become badass resulted in the very cognitive leaks that the author devoted significant pages to advocate against. So at the end of about 280+ pages of what appeared to be reworked presentation slides, you might be wondering if it would be better to read it "just-in-time" rather than "just-in-case".

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: The Napkin The Melon The Monkey: How to Be Happy and Successful by Simply Changing Your Mind

The Napkin The Melon  The Monkey: How to Be Happy and Successful by Simply Changing Your Mind The Napkin The Melon The Monkey: How to Be Happy and Successful by Simply Changing Your Mind by Barbara Burke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A short and easy read (130 pages with key points repeated in many places). Conceptually sound, but a bit short on practicality. Those looking for a detailed "how-to" guide may be disappointed. However, considering the amount of effort to read this book, the ROI seems pretty remarkable, especially if you are able to put some of the more salient recommendations to good use.

Here's a summary of all the "Aha!" moments in the book:

#1: I will always have problems.
#2: It's not about me.
#3: Problems can be gifts in disguise.
#4: Just sit there. Do nothing.
#5: There is no such thing as a difficult situation.
#6: When all else fails, have a SODA.
#7: Withholding judgment allows me to observe what is.
#8: The nicer I am to myself, the nicer I am to others.
#9: A simple apology works wonder.
#10: The less I talk, the more I learn.
#11: People harmonize when they are tuned to the same frequency.
#12: Great supervisors follow the Golden Rule and do the right thing.
#13: Spreading my wings is the only way to fly.
#14: Give a little. Get a lot.
#15: Remember, we all share the same vine.
#16: United we stand. Divided we fall.
#17: Our stories connect us with each other.
#18: Success comes from bringing out the best in others.
#19: Winners don't just point out problems. They fix them.
#20: It's not what happens to you in life, it's what you do with what happens that counts.
#21: Real freedom comes from letting go of the outcome.
#22: Generous hearts make a difference.

There! On their own, some of these do not seem to make much sense/impact, while others may appear painfully obvious. That's where the stories of the melons and monkey provide the context. Give it a read if you have a few hours to spare.

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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Review: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change by Charles Duhigg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like Malcolm Gladwell's investigative journalistic style, you will take to this book like a duck to water. The notes at the back, based on my rough estimate, span almost one-quarter of the entire book, not including the footnotes that are scattered in some chapters in terribly fine print.

I initially wanted to give this book just 3 stars because I couldn't fully grasp certain parts of the book (e.g. some of the anecdotes do not seem to support the argument of how habits are formed, or for that matter, if a particular action is the direct result of a habit loop), but then I realised that the failure to understand is probably on my part, not the author's.

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