The writing style was refreshing, spare and streamlined, relying heavily on subtext. It was hilarious but dry. Social commentary just the way I like iThe writing style was refreshing, spare and streamlined, relying heavily on subtext. It was hilarious but dry. Social commentary just the way I like it: witty and smart, without taking itself seriously or pausing at any of the punchlines....more
I'm a fan of Dan's podcast but I wasn't fond of the book. There were some generalities in the text that felt like filler to me. An example, about theI'm a fan of Dan's podcast but I wasn't fond of the book. There were some generalities in the text that felt like filler to me. An example, about the way people act when dissatisfied with their job (p. 45) "I see women stop going to church, spend money they do not have, read romance novels rather than inspirational material, and snap at their kids when asked an innocent question."
I guess instead of this vague anecdotal stuff, I'd prefer some sort of fact, such as, "78% of people polled who experienced poor job satisfaction also had one or more credit cards in arrears." Or something tangible and concrete.
And what's that romance novel crack supposed to mean?...more
This group of short essays on being remarkable varies greatly in content, tone and style. Some essays were merely lists of big business vs. small entrThis group of short essays on being remarkable varies greatly in content, tone and style. Some essays were merely lists of big business vs. small entrepreneur, and many applied more to people who have to deal with corporate culture much more than I do. But because all the essays were short and self-contained, it didn't matter if all of them "spoke" to me equally. If one essay didn't seem to fit my needs, the next one likely did.
One essay in particular about discussing the weather with strangers struck me as particularly profound. It's not about the weather at all (which I suspect we all know) but rather a way of saying, "I validate your subjective experience." Cool way of looking at it!...more
Mr. Godin's point is that the perceived story behind a product is more important to potential buyers than the product itself. He uses "telling lies" aMr. Godin's point is that the perceived story behind a product is more important to potential buyers than the product itself. He uses "telling lies" as a shorthand for that throughout the book and I found it contrived and distracting. (He also mentions he's doing this, which makes it less problematic for me because I dig the sense of humor.)
However, as always, he supports his theories with well-known, real world examples--and this is what I always appreciate in his work. Often, nonfiction writers tell vague stories about "many people" that are little more than stereotypes, whereas Mr. Godin will say, "Nike did this," or "Sirius radio did that...and here was the strategy behind it."
I was particularly interested in the idea that all consumers have a worldview that is formed before your advertising ever reaches them. I would have liked more practical info on discovering potential customers' worldviews in order to tailor marketing efforts toward them....more
I've tried speed-reading books before and come away with nothing more than the sinking knowledge that I was a slow reader.
The most profound thing I leI've tried speed-reading books before and come away with nothing more than the sinking knowledge that I was a slow reader.
The most profound thing I learned from this book is that it's appropriate to employ different reading styles, depending on your reading material and what you need to do with the information you're reading.
Some parts of this book are kinda hokey; there's an extended racecar/racetrack metaphor that's pretty silly, however in the long run it doesn't matter. I got new insights into reading, and doubled my potential reading speed. That DOES matter. ...more
**spoiler alert** There were a lot of concepts in this book that seemed like they'd be cool, only I didn't think they meshed with each other well. The**spoiler alert** There were a lot of concepts in this book that seemed like they'd be cool, only I didn't think they meshed with each other well. The main character's sister gets a small supporting role in a film, and the whole family moves out to "Ollywood" while it's filming. The idea that people could go live in a film-world, leaving a naughty doppleganger behind, was a cool one. The futuristic setting didn't necessarily support that core idea, though. What if the story had been set in the early days of film, maybe at the advent of the talkies? What if there were actual historical Hollywood details, and not this fictional "Ollywood?"
Other than the setting not complementing the plot, I was also disappointed in the characterization. The protagonists whole family read like generic "mom," "dad," and "sisters." The protagonist had a sidekick robot dog who I liked -- he was understated in his take on the shifting reality -- but I think I would have been willing to give him up for a realistic setting.
There were also dragons involved, but their connection to the rest of the plot seemed so tenuous that they didn't feel integrated to me.
The structure involved sections that read like set directions and personal logs -- I enjoyed that, but again, probably would have enjoyed it more without the incongruous futuristic setting....more
This book was a strange combination of really pertinent advice, bizarre and obvious advice (such as "get on the Internet!) and advice that you'd needThis book was a strange combination of really pertinent advice, bizarre and obvious advice (such as "get on the Internet!) and advice that you'd need a huge budget to follow. E-publishing wasn't really touched upon in a current or realistic way. Electronic rights were given an "afterthought" kind of status, maybe because the slant was mainstream/non-fiction. Print-on-demand was dealt with well.
The typesetting was too fussy for my taste, with callouts and sidebars that called attention to information tidbits that didn't seem to deserve special treatment. (New titles are called the "front list." Old titles are called the "back list.")
Meanwhile, it was also assumed that small publishers would go out, get bank loans, rent mailing lists and send huge mailings. So much of the info was way below my level (get on the Internet???) or so far beyond my means (mailing out dozens of copies for review) that I found myself frustrated on both levels.
However, the information at my level, such as what various publishing rights mean in plain language, or how to calculate your cover price, were very valuable and useful. Of particular help was the how-to on putting together a promo package. ...more
I'm struggling with whether or not I found this book educational or disturbing. The message is that in this day and age, people have no more attentionI'm struggling with whether or not I found this book educational or disturbing. The message is that in this day and age, people have no more attention spans, so you have to make everything simple and direct, and break it up with plenty of diagrams, bulleted lists and sidebars. The book itself does this--but I would argue, it takes the concepts too far.
The text in this book is SO broken up that there is no narrative flow. It was so difficult for me to get into that it almost proved the opposite of the point it was trying to make.
While I don't consider it successful because I had difficulty reading its disjointed flow, I still think the concepts behind it are valuable to be aware of. There's also a possibility it's simply ahead of its time, and five years from now everything will be presented in an overly-simplified, fragmented manner....more
I loved aspects of this story and hated others. I adored the magic, the description of how power worked, how Harry created his spells. I also loved hoI loved aspects of this story and hated others. I adored the magic, the description of how power worked, how Harry created his spells. I also loved how he got put through the wringer and had to really be willing to sacrifice himself for the survival of the people he loved.
I hated the female characters. I hated that their breasts were described at every available opportunity, particularly the villains. During a climactic fight scene, a female villain was "distracted" by a vampire sliding his hands under her top, and I thought, "Yes, of course the story had to go there." Susan, the girlfriend character, walks into danger and puts everyone else in danger with such willfully ignorant and selfish motives I could scream. (She is supposed to be smart, so why does she do something so moronic?) I feel like the women are all selfish sex objects.
The writing technique is mostly clean and conversational with a few dips into purple prose, but I noticed the tendency to hurtle up to a tipping point, end the chapter, and then draw way, way back into a philosophical musing at the beginning of the next chapter rather than continuing with the action. I would have liked that on occasion, but not chapter after chapter.
So even though I rated it a three (because of the icky representation of women), I really loved certain elements of the book, and reading the way it was worded and constructed helped me wrap my head around the way I approach writing myself, what works for me and what doesn't....more
This story is a real bang for its length. Although it’s a novella, A Twist and Two Balls packed in more character development than many novels I read.This story is a real bang for its length. Although it’s a novella, A Twist and Two Balls packed in more character development than many novels I read. A main thing I look for in a book is whether I get a sense of who the characters are right away. The very first scene in this gem of a story really delivered. Right away, I felt Eddie’s energy as he struggled to scrape together a career that simply wasn’t happening. He’d become so accustomed to the message that he wasn’t enough that he had become Eduardo in an attempt to create a buzz for himself.
Nuri is a fantastic compliment to Eddy. He’s centered and steady, and phenomenally perceptive. From the start, there’s a sense that he sees through all the set dressing an into the core of things. The intimacy between them is tender and touching. And yet, as is so often the case in real life, while Nuri's got 20/20 vision for what’s going on with Eddy, he’s less perceptive about what he needs for himself. ...more
There were parts of this book I loved and parts I hated, so it was really difficult for me to figure out how to rate it. I loved the first chapter soThere were parts of this book I loved and parts I hated, so it was really difficult for me to figure out how to rate it. I loved the first chapter so much -- about how exercise makes your thinking sharper -- that I devoted a podcast episode to it. Other chapters were fascinating too, in particular the sleep chapter.
However, there was a description of the making of foie gras on page 88 that was a dealbreaker for me. And because it came during the chapter on "Attention," I presume it was a technique the author was employing to break the monotony of a bunch of dry scientific facts with an anecdote the listener would remember.
I remembered it all right.
So much so that I was enraged for the rest of the book, that the mere thought of the book makes me sick. So if this particular page could be stripped, the book would have rated a five for me. But the author's choice, to relay a deeply disturbing explanation about how animals are tortured for the sake of gluttony, tainted the book for me to the point where I'm going to need to give it a two. (He was using the explanation because it was so disturbing; it disturbed his mother to the point that she can't get it out of her head.)
There are other incidents where disturbing animal experiments are described -- but those are experiments for the sake of medicine. The practice of making foie gras is a socially condoned torture for no reason other than the fact that a force-fed goose's liver tastes rich -- how insane that it even happens, that no one has put a stop to it. That we, as a society in general, condone it. And so the author's tactic has worked a bit too well here. I'll remember this book, all right. For the rest of my life.
To be clear: I understand that the author does not condone foie gras. What I resent is the fact that I've been manipulated....more
Since Mr. Bell’s earlier writing book, Plot and Structure, is one of my all-time favorites, and since I’m currently in the midst of a huge revision ofSince Mr. Bell’s earlier writing book, Plot and Structure, is one of my all-time favorites, and since I’m currently in the midst of a huge revision of a stalled novel, I was eager to get my hands on this book. I didn’t feel the contents and its title really did each other justice.
Much of the advice is about creating the right amount of conflict to keep a story plugging along. There are useful chapters on crafting a solid beginning, middle and end. Avoiding dry exposition is explained. And there’s an interesting chapter on letting your subconscious chew on your story problems.
The reason this book didn’t seem to fit the title was that most of these considerations are things that really need to be present early in the writing process rather than in the revision process. Can you tweak tension between characters to make it more effective during revision? Sure. But it’s kinda hard to add a whole conflict that wasn’t there to begin with. Planning Your Novel seems like a more apt title.
I always thought Plot and Structure was badly titled, too. It made a lively and engaging book about the craft of writing sound dry.
Something I read in Revision and Self-Editing last night really stuck with me is that many writers are “putter inners” who write bare bones stuff and need to fill it out during revision, while others are “taker outers” who write down anything and everything and later need to prune it back to streamline and polish the story. I’m not sure exactly why I found it so heartening, but as I was axing the words today, I just thought, “I’m a taker outer,” and didn’t stress out over words I was deleting.
Five stars for the content even though the title was not exactly a great match for it. I’d rather read a good book with a bad title than vice versa. Highly recommended for writers of all sorts, but especially novelists, who need to whip big, cumbersome manuscripts into shape. But read this before you start writing your next sprawly piece, not after....more
I'm so excited to be re-issuing this book. My favorite scene is when they discover who's behind all the disappearances, and they don't really know whaI'm so excited to be re-issuing this book. My favorite scene is when they discover who's behind all the disappearances, and they don't really know what to make of the stuff they actually do find.
I love Vic's bland acceptance of what's happening when the mechanics of it dawn on him, and I think this was the first time I gave a little glimpse of how steely he actually is inside, that a situation that would send most people packing doesn't even faze him. (How's that for convoluted? Trying not to be spoilery!)...more