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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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review: There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids

There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids by Linda Ã…keson McGurk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book touches on an important aspect of early childhood development that many parents and educators in the digital age tend to neglect. Written in a part-memoir, part-research style, the anecdotal evidence cited by the author is often backed up by relevant studies and interviews with professionals in the field.

The book also provides a fascinating contrast in the regulatory framework for outdoor play between the Scandinavian countries and the US. The "land of the free" is not so free after all.

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