Category Archives: Book Reviews

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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Book review: Sourdough

Book cover for Sourdough by Robin SloanOne of my all-time favorite books is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I loved how he showed that life’s real adventures are the ones that don’t rely on technology. They occur when we connect with and engage our friends to help us solve problems and find the answers to what we’re looking for.

Given how much I liked his debut novel, I was looking forward to reading his second book, Sourdough, or Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market. It was released in 2017 and languished on my 2018 reading list. A nudge from one of my top recommendation sources, Brad Feld’s blog, nudged it to the top of my reading list earlier this year.

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Book review: The Subprimes

Book cover for The Subprimes by Karl Taro GreenfieldDespite my contentious relationship with the Amazon recommendation engine, it continues to have a significant influence on my reading list. The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfield is yet another example of a book that I found through their email newsletter. I purchased it near the end of 2016 (thanks again Amazon for the reminder), and it languished on my reading list for a couple of years before I finally managed to get to it earlier this year.

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Book review: The Business Blockchain

Book cover for The Business Blockchain by William MougayarIn addition to working in technology, I enjoy observing trends and watching up-and-coming technologies. Blockchain is one of those new technologies that I’ve been watching closely over the last couple of years. General, as well as my interest in blockchain has risen due to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. While I’m not a fan of cryptocurrencies (a rant I’ll post some other time), I am fascinated and keenly interested in blockchain. So much so that I felt it was worth the effort to read a book on the subject, which led me to The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology by William Mougayar.

A lot of people mistakenly think that blockchain is just another name for cryptocurrency. In reality, crytpocurrencies are just one application that is made possible because of blockchain technology. Blockchain enables cryptocurrencies. So if I’m not a fan of cryptocurrencies, why am I interested in blockchain?

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Book review: Summer Frost

Book cover for Summer Frost by Blake CrouchI have a love-hate relationship with the Amazon recommendation engine. There are times when I get email recommendations that leave me scratching my head, saying “What the…?” And then there are other times when I feel like it knows me better than I do.

For example, I love the short story genre and feel it is underrepresented in books these days. It feels like so many authors and publishers are focused on prolonged series. Now it could be my ADHD speaking, but there’s something to be said for a captivating short story. So when I got an email from Amazon saying they created a new short story series focused on science fiction by the genre’s up and coming authors, called Forward, I was intrigued.

Favorite genre? Check.

Favorite authors? Check.

Short stories? Check.

Available to Prime members for free (via borrowing)? Double check.

Count me in. Since Blake Crouch has become one of my favorite authors as of late, I decided I would start with his contribution to the series, Summer Frost.

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Book review: The 80/20 Principle – The Secret to Achieving More with Less

Bokk cover of The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with LessI’ve written about this before, but I’m always amazed at how deep you can go into any one genre or subject when reading. Here’s a case in point. I like to read personal improvement books, especially those that help me set priorities, get things done, and, on the whole, manage myself better. I’d have to go pretty far back to find the first book I read on the topic, but the genre only seems to get deeper and wider the more books I read in it. Whether it’s exploring other books by the same author, references to other books embedded in the ones I’m reading, recommendations by friends, families, or blogs I follow, or my ultimate nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, the quantity of books that I can read on the subject never ends.

It should be no surprise then that I happened upon The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch. I added the book to my reading list after I saw it referenced in Ninja Selling by Larry Kendall. I’ve found that when a book you really like makes reference to other books, you generally can’t go wrong reading them.

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Book review: Zero Hour

Book cover for Zero Hour by Eamon AmbroseMy favorite reading genre is science fiction. I especially like the stories that use current technology as the basis for the plot, or build off current technology trends. Stories based on hard science fiction both engage and captivate my imagination. Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose fits into that category.

Zero Hour is a post apocalyptic glimpse into the future. It examines the consequences of an artificial general intelligence that goes into a runaway improvement state, meaning it becomes smarter at a faster and faster rate. It’s a condition often referred to as the technical singularity – the point at which machines become smarter than humans.

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Book review: Pandemic

Book cover for Pandemic by A.G. RiddleAs part of my reading, I like coming back to my favorite authors, of which A.G. Riddle is one. I’ve read and enjoyed his trilogy The Origin Mystery and his stand-alone novel Departure. Both were well written, action-packed, and contained enough near-term, hard science fiction concepts to keep my imagination engaged. Pandemic was the next A.G. Riddle work to make its way onto my reading list.

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Book review: The Glass Cage – How Our Computers Are Changing Us

Book cover for The Glass Cage by Nicholas CarrComputers perform a lot of tasks that we used to do manually and continue to take over more of the things we do every day. We use computers to perform basic arithmetic operations for us. They check and even auto-correct our spelling mistakes (not always as intended). Google reads maps for us, gives us directions, and even tells us when we’ll arrive based on traffic conditions. Computers can fly planes. They can drive cars. They can even perform many simple, and even some complex medical operations.

In the book The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us, Nicholas Carr examines the role computers play in our lives and asks an important question: What are the impacts and consequences of the growing levels of automation on our behaviors, learning, and overall development as humans?

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