It is going to be hard for me to provide a truly objective review of this book. The situations that Collins describes as he and his wife learn about a...moreIt is going to be hard for me to provide a truly objective review of this book. The situations that Collins describes as he and his wife learn about autism and their autistic son are so familiar to me that it was almost (though not quite) like reading my own story. Things that others may find shocking or hard to understand seem like "just the way it is" to me.
(I had a similar problem with Temple Grandin's "Thinking in Pictures": people I recommended it to found it unnerving and didn't understand it, when I "got it" right away and couldn't understand why they didn't.)
If you want to read a story that shows parents loving their child unconditionally, not trying to fix him and yet trying to make sure he finds his place in this world, this is an excellent place to start.(less)
When I was young, I went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark with my mom. At the conclusion of the opening sequence, as Indy's escape plane flies away, my...moreWhen I was young, I went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark with my mom. At the conclusion of the opening sequence, as Indy's escape plane flies away, my mom leaned over and said, "Oh my God. Is the whole movie going to be like this?" I had a very similar feeling when - on page 20 of his new book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? - Seth Godin asks the reader for "one last favor before you start..."
"Before I start? Is the rest of the book going to be like this?!?"
Divided into 13 chapters, each chapter is made up of a large number of small sections, very few of which are longer than a page; one section clocked in at just one word (even though the section title is 52 words long). Though related to the chapters that hold them, these little sections seem almost like a stream of consciousness of questions and answers, insights and mandates. To risk another pop-culture metaphor, I felt at times like I was inside a Robin Williams improv routine; as soon as one idea comes out, another is liberated and thrown out into the mix.
I like this book. Or, more accurately, I like the ideas in this book. In just over 200+ pages, Seth Godin asks, explores, and answers many of the ideas questions that have been on my mind lately, especially as it relates to work and the possibility of work as art. I've been considering this not just for myself but for my sons, one a junior and the other a senior in high school. This book is a must read for anyone considering their own future, or what to tell their kids about how they can live their own lives.
There are many themes and ideas within this book that different people will lock onto. I have the feeling that I will be exploring the ideas in the book for many weeks to come. For me, though, the two that jumped out were the discussions of "Indoctrination: How we got here" and "The Resistance".
The former explains how we have all - or nearly all - become "factory workers" and compares this with what we are capable of - art. The latter exposes the "scaredy cat" (my term, not his) inside our brains - our lizard brains. This part of our brain was very effective - and very essential - in our survival and evolution, but now is getting in our way. The key to overcoming any adversary is a knowledge of that adversary, and he gives us an excellent understanding of this particular one.
Earlier I mentioned an especially short section with an unusually long section title. As it turns out, that section - title and all - really sums up the entire book for me:
"Wait! Are You Saying That I Have to Stop Following Instructions and Start Being an Artist? Someone Who Dreams Up New Ideas and Makes Them Real? Someone Who Finds New Ways to Interact, New Pathways to Deliver Emotion, New Ways to Connect? Someone Who Acts Like a Human, Not a Cog? Me?"
By the time you finish reading Linchpin, you will believe that you can do all of this. All you have to do, as Seth reminds us again and again, is to make the choice.(less)
After reading Quicksilver, the first book in Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, I became very interested to learn more about some the historical figures...moreAfter reading Quicksilver, the first book in Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, I became very interested to learn more about some the historical figures around whom the story revolved – Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, John Wilkens, Christopher Wren, …, and Isaac Newton, the founders and early members of the Royal Society. Given my interest in physics, optics, and math, especially Isaac Newton.
Fortunately for me, James Gleick’s biography of Newton, simply titled Isaac Newton, was published earlier that year (2003). Gleick was not new to me – both Chaos: Making a New Science and Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, have a place on my bookshelves – so I had high hopes for his biography of Newton. I was not disappointed.
Chances are you’ve heard of Isaac Newton, if for nothing else than the fact that he came up with the idea of gravity when he saw an apple fall from a tree. (Which, by the way, is a vast oversimplification.) You may have even heard of his 3 laws of motion or that he invented – some might say discovered – the calculus. You may even think that he invented calculus so he could figure out his laws of motion. (As it turns out, he used geometry.)
Newton didn’t actually publish – or care to publish – his work in mathematics, or anything else, until someone else published similar work. Unlike the rest of the fellows of the Royal Society, who were interested in sharing their new found knowledge as much as possible, Newton experimented and discovered and wrote to satisfy his own curiosity, not that of anyone else. Only in the very recent past have the many documents of Newton come to light, and it is through these many documents that Gleick tells this unique story of arguably the greatest mind ever.
Considering the subject, the book is relatively short with just under 200 pages of main text and about 50 pages of notes. It is a pretty quick read, though I did find that flipping back and forth to the end notes tended to slow me down. And if you are looking for detailed discussion and analysis of the actual content of Newton’s various writings, this is not your book.
If, however, you want to gain an understanding of what drove Newton, of why he wanted to figure things out, and get a glimpse into his incredible mind, this is an excellent book with which to begin.(less)
**spoiler alert** Like many others, I gave myself a 50 book challenge for 2008. (Actually my personal challenge went from 1 Dec 07 to 30 Nov 08, but t...more**spoiler alert** Like many others, I gave myself a 50 book challenge for 2008. (Actually my personal challenge went from 1 Dec 07 to 30 Nov 08, but that’s a minor detail.) Unfortunately, I only got through 40 books in the past 12 months (though some were as long as several books); fortunately, most of those 40 were good, quality reads. I also managed to meet my commitment to read more fiction.
Though I enjoyed reading all of these books, by far my favorite of the year was Neal Stephenson’s newest book, Anathem. In fact, it is probably safe to say that Anathem has replaced Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon as my favorite work of fiction. The story is both broad and deep, as fans have become accustomed to getting from Stephenson.
Anathem is, in many ways, three books in one. If anyone were to make this into a movie, which I hope someone does, they should do it in three parts. The breadth and depth of the stories would crumble with anything less.
The first act is an introduction to Fraa Erasmas and the mathic world. Stephenson manages to keep you confused, curious, and frustrated - and thoroughly entertained - as we become comfortable with this strange yet familiar environment. The world that Stephenson creates in Anathem is at once very Earth-like and very Earth-different. There is familiarity in almost everything, and yet everything is different. For example, the concents are nothing more than monasteries, except that the inhabitants are theors, not enthusiasts (as it is here in our world).
Act 2 sees Fraa Erasmas and some of his new found Extramuros friends making their way across what is to Erasmas a strange, often frightening and dangerous world. Like the middle of any trilogy, there is a lot of explanation of what has come before and setting up for what is to come. Some reviewers have criticized this part of the book as slow and dragging down the plot, but to me it is an essential piece to understanding how Erasmas becomes able to face what is to come in Act 3.
Act 3 is the culmination of everything that Erasmas has learned, and has him questioning everything he knows and thought he knew. It’s hard to say more without giving away anything/everything. Suffice it to say, by the time you get to the end you’ll be ready to flip back to the first page and start all over again.
At its heart, Anathem is a reflection - a meditation almost - on the relationship between pure theory and the practical arts of engineering and technology, with a touch of skepticism and mysticism thrown in. It helped me realize - or, more accurately, remember - that what i really enjoy is figuring out where theory and practice come together in all the great achievements of the past and how I can use that intersection of theory and practice to achieve great things of my own in the future.
Those two sentences pretty much sum up what Seth Godin is trying to get across in All Marketers are Liars...moreHave a good story to tell. And then tell it.
Those two sentences pretty much sum up what Seth Godin is trying to get across in All Marketers are Liars Storytellers. As always, he provides plenty of anecdotal and scholarly evidence and background to support his argument, but in the end his advice can be easily summarized.
That's not to say that it is as easily implemented.
Having read Seth's blog for a few months now, and a couple of his other books (Tribes, Linchpin), going back to this one exposed me to some ideas of his I'd already seen. The difference is that these are early versions of the arguments that he makes in the early works. Having read the more recent things first gives an idea of how things have changed (or not) that reading them from earliest to latest just wouldn't do.
If you are a fan of his work, by all means read this book. Like I said, a lot of the same stuff, but it's always good to get a refresher that comes in from a slightly different perspective. If you havfe not read any of his other books, I would recommend starting with his most recent, Linchpin, and then going back to his earlier books if you want more from him.(less)
Many of the books I've read this year have referenced - either explicitly or implicitly - this fantastic book. Written nearly 20 years ago, it is stil...moreMany of the books I've read this year have referenced - either explicitly or implicitly - this fantastic book. Written nearly 20 years ago, it is still relevant. My copy is now heavily annotated and dog-eared, I'm going to have to go back through my notes and delve deeper into the ideas. Highly recommended.(less)
A good book, though not nearly as exciting or enjoyable as the first book, "Time's Eye." The experience of reading this book was very like seeing "Mat...moreA good book, though not nearly as exciting or enjoyable as the first book, "Time's Eye." The experience of reading this book was very like seeing "Matrix Reloaded"; good story, worth reading, but lacking just about everything that made the original so much fun.
Probably the best way to describe Sunstorm is as a straightforward action/drama. Some suspense in terms of the details of the final outcome, but no real doubt in how the big picture would turn out.
Looking forward to what book 3, "First Born", has in store.(less)