Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book review: Hardwiring Happiness

Book cover for Hardwiring Happiness by Dr. Rick Hanson

Every day, we have to make hundreds of choices, if not more. One of the most important ones we make is at the beginning of every day. We must choose our disposition. We can choose to be happy, or we can choose to be miserable.

Researchers have proven time and again that those who choose happiness tend to live healthier, more successful, and overall better lives. The Happiness Advantage is one of my favorite books that examines this correlation.

For most of us, we have to make a conscience decision to be happy. It is not something that comes naturally. But what if we could make happiness our default operating condition? Dr. Rick Hanson explores how one can achieve this state in the book Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.

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Book review: Delta-v

Book cover for Delta-v by Daniel Suarez

Daniel Suarez has been near or at the top of my favorite authors ever since I read Daemon and Freedom. I enjoy how he combines action and suspense with believable near-term science fiction concepts.

In his latest novel, Delta-v, Suarez explores the topic of space exploration and the various options that are currently under evaluation such as colonizing Mars, asteroid mining, and space hotels. Around this backdrop, he creates a techno-thriller around the first team that is selected and sent to space to mine an asteroid in hopes of providing a method to sustain the human race.

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Book review: Trampled By Unicorns

Book cover Trampled By Unicorns: Big Tech's Empathy Problem And How To Fix It by Maëlle Gavet

In case you haven’t noticed, the big tech companies continue to grow in power. That growth is allowing them to not only generate massive amounts of wealth for investors but also shape society. When I say big tech, I’m not just referring to the public companies that make up what is known as the FAANG group of stocks that includes Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and of which I would also include Microsoft. My definition of big tech also includes privately held companies known as “unicorns”, companies that have rapidly went from zero to $1,000,000,000 valuations such as Nextdoor, Udemy, Instacart, SpaceX, Stripe, and the like.

As someone who works in technology, it’s great to see companies in this space have success. However, that success has not come without controversy. The more we learn about how these companies operate, how they make money, and how they exploit their users, the more we should be concerned about the impact they have on the world around us. It’s a multi-faceted problem that Maëlle Gavet explores in her book Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem And How To Fix It.

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Book review: The Road

Book cover for The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I’ve read a few Ryan Holiday books including Stillness Is the Key, Ego Is the Enemy, and Trust Me I’m Lying, which is one of my personal favorites. I also read The Daily Stoic, which inspired me to sign-up to both of his daily newsletters – Daily Stoic and Daily Dad.

It was through Daily Dad that I learned about The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Holiday has made numerous references to the book in the newsletter, so I figured it would be worth adding to my reading list.

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Book review: The Midnight Library

Book cover for The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Are you living the life you want? If you could make different choices in your life, would you? If you could see how your choices turned out, would you want to experience your ‘alternate’ life to see if it was everything you thought it would be?

That’s the premise of The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Here’s the summary as written on his website:

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

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Book review: Afterparty

Book cover for Afterparty by Daryl Gregory

My reading list suffers from shiny object syndrome. I get bombarded with recommendations from friends, as well as my arch nemesis – Amazon. If it looks good, I’ll let it jump the queue. So one of my reading goals this year was being more disciplined and reading through some titles that had been on my list for a long time, in some cases two years, three years, or more.

So far, I’ve done a pretty good sticking to plan. Fat Chance, Lexicon, The God’s Eye View, Permutation City, Luna, and (R)evolution were all books that were added to my reading list in 2018, or earlier. The latest book I can check off this list is Afterparty by Daryl Gregory.

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Book review: The Diet Myth

Book cover for The Diet Myth by Tim Spector

One of my primary reading genres is books about health and nutrition. I feel it’s vitally important that we’re aware of what we’re feeding our bodies. I typically make it a point to read at least one book from this group every year, although I wouldn’t mind reading more. Unfortunately, I’d gotten away from reading in this area over the last year or two with the last good book I read about nutrition being The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung back in in 2019 (which I would highly recommend, by the way).

One of the challenges with reading health and nutrition books is identifying books based on solid science. There are so many books on the subject that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Depending on the quality of the book, suggestions can be life changing for the better, or, if not researched properly and supported by quality data, they can have negative effects on one’s health, potentially even hazardous outcomes in the extreme.

Fortunately, one of my favorite blogs, A Learning a Day, made a strong recommendation for a nutrition book, The Diet Myth by Tim Spector. Given the good experiences I’ve had with previous recommendations from the blog, I added it to my (lengthy) reading list and finally got around to reading it.

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Book review: (R)evolution

Book cover for (R)evolution by PJ Manney

I’ve been doing a little better this year sticking to my reading list. I’ve also been doing a better job of reading books that have been languishing on my reading list for some time. The latest example was (R)evolution by PJ Manney.

I’m not exactly sure when I first discovered the book, but it first showed up on my 2019 reading list at #35. Since I usually read about 25-30 books a year, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll read any books below #20. So it took a couple of years to get to this one.

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Book review: How We’ll Live on Mars

Book cover for How We'll Live on Mars by Stephen L. Petranek

At our core, I feel like humans are natural explorers. That nature led our ancestors to spread across the face of the Earth. It drove our desire to visit the moon. And it is currently driving us to explore Mars.

There are all sorts of reasons why we might want to live on Mars, but curiosity is probably the biggest. People just want to know what it would be like. It’s a blank slate, a new opportunity.

However, there are some big questions that need to be answered before a human sets foot on Mars. In fact, there are a lot of questions and issues that need to be addressed before someone even attempts the trip. It’s those questions and issues that Stephen Petranek explores in How We’ll Live on Mars.

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Book review: Stillness Is the Key

Book cover for Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday

I’ve been reading books related to Stoicism and ancient Stoic philosophers for a few years now. I can trace my interest to Brad Feld’s blog, which is one of few that I still follow regularly. He wrote a book review about The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman at the end of 2017. I was intrigued.

I had heard of Ryan Holiday. His book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, transformed the way I view mainstream media and popular news websites. Little would I know that reading The Daily Stoic during 2018 would change my outlook and approach to life.

Since then, I’ve continued my exploration of Stoicism. I’ve read additional books related to Stoic philosophy, including other Ryan Holiday books such as Ego Is the Enemy and Stillness Is the Key, which I recently finished.

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