Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book review: Way Station

Book cover for Way Station by Clifford D. Simak

When reading for recreation, I primarily read science fiction for reasons I’ve previously documented. I particularly enjoy near-term, hard science fiction. It fascinates me to see how authors extrapolate current technology trends into believable stories. It’s amazing how many of the trends projected in these stories have come to pass.

I also enjoy classic science fiction. Authors such as Isaac Asimov, Philip K Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ray Bradbury wrote books that were well ahead of their time. Some of their writings are just as applicable today, if not more so, than when they were written back in the day. That’s why I like to occasionally slip a classic author into my reading, which is how I happened upon Way Station by Clifford D. Simak.

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Book review: Dream Golf

Book cover for Dream Golf by Stephen Goodwin

For our annual golf trip this year, Brad and I went to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. It was a true once-in-a-lifetime experience, which I documented here. It’s hard to put into words what an amazing trip it was. If you’re considering a golf trip there, my simple advice is to go. Now. You won’t regret it.

While we were there, Our caddie Eddie suggested I read Dream Golf by Stephen Goodwin. It delves into the inspiration for the resort and covers the building of the first four courses – Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, and Old MacDonald. Given how much I enjoyed the experience, Eddie didn’t have to mention it twice. I purchased the book from the gift shop the day we left the resort.

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Book review: The Biology of Belief

Book cover for The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton

At the beginning of 2018, I read a modern translation of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. It’s a short read, but it’s very powerful and easy applied to one’s thinking around life.

Author Sam Torode did the translation of the Allen’s work. At the end of the book he offers application ideas along with a couple of book recommendations. One of the books he recommends is The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton. His intro to it reads:

For a scientific perspective on how our thoughts affect our lives – even at the cellular level – read these fascinating books.

That was all I needed to read to know I had to add the book to my reading list.

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Book review: The Magic of Reality

Book cover for The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins

The world we live in is a special and awe-inspiring place. It can also feel rather mystical. Just think about the sheer number of animals and insects that roam the earth, the sun, the seasons. The list goes on and on.

In the past, humans created stories to explain how and why these natural phenomena occurred. It’s only natural. We’re a curious lot, and stories are a great way to describe the unexplained. Stories are also a great way to pass information down from generation to generation.

Fortunately, science has come a long way over the years. We no longer have to rely solely on generational stories to explain natural phenomena. Many of these have plausible explanations, some quite simple and obvious. In The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, author Richard Dawkins looks at a number of the seemingly magical things that occur around us and how they can be explained.

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Book review: The Naturalist

Book cover for The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

I like reading books by authors I haven’t read before. Every author has their own writing style, and each has their own perspective of reality. Reading a new author can be like seeing the world through another set of eyes.

The problem I have is that I can easily fall into a rut reading books by authors I like. The Amazon recommendation engine, my arch nemesis, doesn’t help either. Because it knows what I buy and what I read, it feeds me a steady diet of books by authors I’m familiar with.

Fortunately, there are a few ways I have of discovering new authors. One is the Amazon First Reads program where they offer up free books to Prime members. Most of the featured authors are ones that I’m not familiar with, but it can be difficult to find titles in my preferred genres. The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne was one such book that appeared on the list. It wasn’t in my preferred genre, but I decided to take a risk anyway and add it to my reading list.

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Book review: The Extinction Trials

Book cover for The Extinction Trials by A.G. Riddle.

When I think of great storytellers, Hugh Howey and Blake Crouch are two authors that would be at the top of my list. They have a way of writing a story that draws you in immediately, keeps your attention, and captivates your imagination.

Another one of my favorite authors who I would put right up there with them is A.G. Riddle. I’ve been a fan of his starting with the The Atlantis Gene, which is the first book in The Origin Mystery trilogy.

I usually make it a point to have an A.G. Riddle novel on my reading list every year or two. The Extinction Trials was the book I chose to put on this year’s reading list.

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Book review: The Suitcase Clone

Book cover for The Suitcase Clone by Robin Sloan

One of my favorite “under the radar” authors is Robin Sloan. He’s not a prolific writer, but he has written two of my favorite books: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore and Sourdough: A Novel. If you haven’t read either of these novels yet, I highly recommend. They are both fun, adventurous reads.

When the Goodreads newsletter announced that Sloan was coming out with a new book, The Suitcase Clone, I had to take a look. When I saw that it was part of the Penumbra-verse and a prequel to Sourdough, I had to read it.

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Book review: Mindfulness

Book cover for Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman

I started meditating on a regular basis three years ago. Wait, let me rephrase that, I started meditating three years ago. Up until that time, I didn’t understand meditation nor did I understand the potential benefits. After a few fits and starts, I came to realize that meditation isn’t an exercise where you look for meaning or embark on a journey to a destination. Like exercising to stay physically fit or watching your diet to care for your body, meditation is a regular practice that you do to care for your mind.

Given that meditation is a regular practice, it can be easy to fall into and get stuck in ruts. Think about staying physically fit. You need to do different activities and exercises to continually challenge your body. With your diet, you need to mix foods for variety and to get the diverse set of nutrients your body requires. Likewise, with meditation, it’s good to learn about different tools and techniques that you can use to better develop and care for your mind. It’s what led me to reading Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman.

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Book cover for Dr. Rick Will See You Now

Progressive’s Dr. Rick commercials are favorites among me and the family. I suppose it’s because a lot of them hit just a little too close to home. I’ll be the first to admit that he’s nailed more than one of my mannerisms that’s had the kids giving me “the look.”

When I saw that there was a book coming out, Dr. Rick Will See You Now, imagine my surprise. The summary was that it was advice from Dr. Rick himself on how to not become your parents. I figured it would be a fun read. And when it was promoted as a free download from Amazon, I jumped on it.

Turns out, it wasn’t what I expected.

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Book review: Commander in Cheat

Book cover for Commander in Cheat by Rick Reilly

Many years ago, a good friend of mine had me read the Michael Murphy classic, Golf in the Kingdom. I knew how to play the game, but Murphy’s book helped me understand it. On the surface, golf is a silly game. You try to hit a little white ball into a small hole with a bunch of crooked sticks. But at a deeper level, the game can teach you a lot about yourself, people around you, and the world in general. Golf in the Kingdom helped me grasp the depth of the game.

That same friend recently gave me a copy of Rick Reilly’s book, Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump. The book is a collection of stories and anecdotes detailing Trump’s involvement and interest in golf, both on and off the course. I thought it would be an interesting read to test my theories about golf being a generally good indicator of a person’s character.

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