Category Archives: Must Reads

Book review: Everything We Keep

Book cover for Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

My favorite reading genre is science fiction, which you already know if you frequent my blog. However, every once in a while, I’ll step outside my comfort zone and read something a bit, well, different. Such was the case with Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale.

Clearly, the book does not fit into the science fiction category. There is no mention of sentient robots, super-intelligent AI, space travel, or alien beings. In fact, there is pretty much no mention of any technology whatsoever. If anything, it fits into the romance genre, which I don’t like much and rarely read. But you know what, I liked Everything We Keep, a lot. I’m not afraid to admit it, and here’s why.

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Book review: Man’s Search for Meaning

Book cover for Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frnakl

Imagine waking up tomorrow morning in your house or apartment. You are going about you’re morning routine – making coffee, eating breakfast, watching the morning news. There is an unexpected knock at your door. You answer and are greeted by group of uniformed men. They enter your house, uninvited. Two of them immediately bind your hands behind your back while the others gather the other members of your family – your spouse, your children, other family members living with you. You are led out to a truck without the opportunity to gather any of your personal effects. They put you and your family in the back, where you see other people you recognize from your neighborhood. You are led to a train station where you are separated from your family and placed into a crowded cattle car. The car is enclosed so you cannot tell where you are going. At your destination, you are shaved head to toe, sprayed down, and given rags for clothes. For the foreseeable future, your life involves limited food, limited sleep, and hours of forced manual labor. All of the modern amenities you enjoy have been taken away from you – no cell phone, no internet, no email, no social media, no television. You have no connection to the outside world. Your only connection is to the guards and other prisoners who are in your camp.

Sound far-fetched and unbelievable? It isn’t.

Such was the fate of many Jews across Western Europe during the Second World War. They were rounded up, removed from their normal every day lives, and taken as prisoners by the Germans. They were separated from their families, subject to inhumane living conditions, and forced into performing manual labor in support of the German war effort. Many of those who were taken prisoner were doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. They were hard-working, law-abiding citizens who had done nothing wrong.

Remarkably, some survived these conditions. One of the survivors was Viktor E. Frankl, and his book Man’s Search for Meaning documents his experience in the concentration camps. More importantly, Frankl talks about how he survived, what the experience taught him about himself, and what he learned about man’s existence. His experience inspired the formulation of logotherapy, the methodology that he used as a basis for psychological treatment.

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Book review: Mastery

Book cover for Mastery by George Leonard

For my last morning read of 2019, I chose Mastery by George Leonard. Mastery was regularly referenced in other books I’ve been reading as part of my personal development journey. When it showed up on The Learning a Day blog that I follow, I knew it was time to move it up towards the top of my reading list.

Mastery was originally published in 1992, almost 30 years ago. Personal development books typically follow the latest trends and fads. I try to stay away from those and stick to the classics that stand the test of time. The question is, was Mastery one of those classics or just a book that built off the trends of its time?

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Book review: Ego Is the Enemy

Book cover for Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

One of my favorite books from last year was The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. It’s similar to a daily devotional. There is a passage for each day from an ancient Stoic philosopher, such as Marcus Aureilius, Seneca, and Epcitetus, followed by a short interpretation of it. I liked it so much that I decided to read through it a second time this year with The Daily Stoic Journal. I had wanted to start journaling daily, and this was a good way to kick-start the habit. The Journal has a prompt that follows along with the daily reading to inspire and direct my thoughts and writings.

Ryan Holiday has written other books based upon Stoic philosophies as well. Since I enjoyed his work on The Daily Stoic, I decided to read Ego Is the Enemy.

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Book review: The Go-Giver Leader

Book cover for The Go-Giver Leader by Bob Burg and John David Mann

One of my favorite books from 2018, and one of my top reads for 2019, was The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. There was so many important and essential takeaways that could be readily applied to living both a better and more successful life. As I wrote in my review (linked above), it really helped to connect the dots and codify a lot of personal development concepts that I had been studying over the past few years. The book made such an impact that I made it a point to read Burg and Mann’s follow-up book, The Go-Giver Leader, during this year.

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Book review: Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Book cover for Essentialism by Greg McKeown

While getting my MBA, a professor told us that we should get our news from multiple sources. Why? Because each editor has an opinion, a story they want to tell, a way of interpreting the facts and presenting them.

I can apply the same argument to books, particularly personal development books. I’ve read enough books in this genre to recognize that many of the books cover the same concepts. However, each author has their own way of interpreting, presenting, and applying them. The way one author presents a topic can resonate much better with me than the way another author presents it.

Where am I going with this?

It applies to one of my latest reads, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. According to McKeown, essentialism is the practice of focusing on and doing fewer things to make progress on what matters most. Since I’ve recently read Eat That Frog!, Getting Things Done, and the 80/20 Principle, Essentialism seems like it would be more of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol – get organized, de-clutter, prioritize, focus, achieve results.

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Book review: Factfulness

Book cover of Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Turn on the evening news, and you will be overwhelmed with the tragic events of the day:

  • Terrorist attacks
  • Horrific storms and natural disasters
  • War, or the imminent threat of one
  • Mass shootings
  • School violence
  • Kidnappings
  • Animal attacks (e.g. sharks, bears, lions, etc.)

And the list goes on. It’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that the world is a lot more dangerous, unsafe, and scarier than it’s ever been.

If you subscribe to the premise that the world is a more dangerous place, you should grab a copy of Factfulness by Hans Rosling. Rosling takes a measured, fact-based approach to show that the world is not as dangerous as the media would lead us to believe. Using numbers and statistics, he shows us that the world has never been a better and safer place than it is today.

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Book review: The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs

Book cover for The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs by Hal Elrod and Cameron HeroldI’m continually on the lookout for ways to improve. I especially like reading books that provide tips and techniques on managing myself. With each book I read, there is often at least a couple of things, and sometimes more, that I learn about and can incorporate into my daily routine.

It’s one of main reasons that I became interested in The Miracle Morning, which is available in numerous versions. There is a generic title that is applicable to everyone and other versions tailored to specific occupations. For example, there is a version for real estate agents, one for salespeople, one for writers, and one for college students. Since I spend the majority of my days running my own business. I chose to read the version titled The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs by Hal Elrod and Cameron Herold.

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Book review: Getting Things Done

Book cover for Getting Things Done by David AllenI’m in the middle of a productivity reading binge this year. It was inspired by Cal Newport’s Deep Work, which I read during the first half of 2018. Since then I’ve read the 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch and Get It Done by Michael Mackintosh. The next book up on my productivity journey was Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity by David Allen. It was recommended by one of my co-workers, Julie Yousefi. Given how organized her desk always is, I figured she must be on to something and that Allen’s book was worth a read.

I wasn’t prepared for what I was getting into when I opened up Getting Things Done. Most books on productivity are theoretical. They give you some broad, generalized ideas that are left as an exercise to the reader to figure out how to incorporate into your daily routine. More often than not, I store away those theories as “to-do’s” and never get around to figuring out how to put them into practice.

Well, I’m here to tell you that Getting Things Done is short on theory and long on practical ideas that you can implement immediately, which is a good thing.

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Book review: The Complete Guide to Fasting

Book cover for The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason FungOne of my primary reading genres is health and fitness. I have an interest in understanding how diet and exercise affect our physiology. I’ve learned a lot over the last few years that have led to adjustments in my personal eating habits and exercise routines. It’s helped me to control my appetite, maintain a healthy weight, and generally feel better all around.

One area that I’ve been particularly intrigued by is fasting. I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting for the past couple of years and have occasionally mixed in a full 24-hour fast. I even did a 48-hour fast a little over a year ago, which was a great learning experience.

I want to continue fasting and to incorporate longer periods of fasting into my routine. To help me understand more about it, how to prepare, and what to do during a fast, I decided to read The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day and Extended Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung.

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