this is an amazingly good book, and it's a shame it's not getting more attention.
based on the title, it's easy to mistake this for a self-help book. i...morethis is an amazingly good book, and it's a shame it's not getting more attention.
based on the title, it's easy to mistake this for a self-help book. it's something much more interesting, which is a blend of pop-science book and memoir.
the author describes lab experiments, summarizes research, guides the reader through parts of the brain, which chemicals they make when and why, and how all these things can help to stack up and create the ephemeral feeling of satisfaction in a person. this is pretty standard stuff for a book on neuroscience.
the really great aspect of the book, though, is that berns goes out into the world on adventures. he talks to people in cuba about their life under a communist regime. he visits iceland, supposedly the country with the most satisfied people in the world, and accidentally finds out how their mythology may be connected to his research.
he spends an evening cooking and talking with a famous argentinian chef, interviews people who run 100m-mile ultramarathons, and visits an SM club.
at the end of the book, berns brings his knowledge home, and tries to get more satisfaction out of his marriage. i found this part in particular really personal and honest, and it's a great illustration of how he's looking for connctions everywhere in the world around him. if it's a self-help book for anyone, it's the author, which i always find makes the most interesting books.
he's very skilled at weaving the real-life anecdotes into the relevant science material, and he's obviously got a flair for prose. these elements on top of the interesting content make for a really well-paced book that it's sad to see end. i'll be rereading this one frequently. (less)
It would be difficult to overstate how graphic and disturbing this book is. I'm not fucking around, there is imagery here that I can't shake, months a...moreIt would be difficult to overstate how graphic and disturbing this book is. I'm not fucking around, there is imagery here that I can't shake, months after reading it.
It's interesting how people make utterly serious books into comedies in an attempt to defuse them. Or maybe this movie wasn't a comedy at all, and the one attempting to defuse it is me.
This is one of those cases where the star system confuses me. The book is incredibly effective, but "like it" isn't really the right word. The five star rating system assumes that all books are to be enjoyed, when this one is definitely aiming for something else. (less)
I wish Joel was my boss. If his company started making videogames, I'd apply there tomorrow.
Spolsky's an insightful and relentlessly reasonable guy....moreI wish Joel was my boss. If his company started making videogames, I'd apply there tomorrow.
Spolsky's an insightful and relentlessly reasonable guy. Either that or he has a way of describing ideas that make them seem like the most natural thing in the world.
There are small sections that will seem too technical for non-programmers, but the details of the specific technology or programming languages aren't really the important thing. Those sections can be interpreted through context or taken in a general sense and they're still as useful.
These very detailed sections were also useful to me in that they helped me to realize anyone can learn to make a programming language achieve a goal, the hard thing is to learn to do that thing in ten different ways and know which way is the best under a given set of circumstances. just like design, context is everything.
Everyone with even a passing interest in project management, running a company, or making software of any type should read this book.
"'The first woman may have been Eve, but the first girl will always be Alma,' she'd say, the Spanish book open on her lap while I lay in bed. This was...more "'The first woman may have been Eve, but the first girl will always be Alma,' she'd say, the Spanish book open on her lap while I lay in bed. This was when I was four or five, before Dad got sick and the book was put away on a shelf. 'Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. Her hair was being pulled. Or she was pulling someone's hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted - wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a thought: please don't look at me. If you don't I can still turn away. And part of you thought: look at me.'"
This book is more of a mystery than I expected. I was having a really hard time at first keeping straight all the details and which characters did what.
Once I realized that the whole point was to let all the characters blur together into one man and one woman, It was much easier to just sit back and enjoy it. (less)
Seeing childhood photos of someone you're in love with is a pretty strange feeling: All the lust and competition are distilled away, and you're left w...moreSeeing childhood photos of someone you're in love with is a pretty strange feeling: All the lust and competition are distilled away, and you're left with this pure, almost painful feeling of love that I imagine to be something like what parents must feel toward their kids.
Niffenegger uses that feeling as her anchor, and time travel as the lens through which to examine identity, knowledge, free will, and morality.
In this book's world, you're an entirely new person every day, which was an interesting contrast to the history of love, in which every character is ultimately the same. Context is everything here.
Another aspect that I found really interesting was the unrequited form their love takes at various points. Girl meets boy when boy already knows they've been married for years in the future. Boy meets girl when girl has been in love with him for years already.
The first 20 pages of this book make an almost-perfect short story. It must have been really hard to keep writing past that point. (less)
By all rights this should have been a very boring read.
After the introduction, the book becomes a list of entries, in alphabetical order, a highlight...moreBy all rights this should have been a very boring read.
After the introduction, the book becomes a list of entries, in alphabetical order, a highlight reel of the most interesting words he found, or that apply to the plot of the book the most.
The book does have a plot, and there are often diversions under a given word, where he talks about something that happened in his life related to that word while he was reading it.
The 3 main plot threads are his relationship with his wife, his relationship with his dad, his competition with his brother-in-law, and his attempts to have a child. Jacobs does an impressive job of injecting story and conflict into a book that could have just been a list of facts. The facts alone would have been pretty interesting, but it wouldn't be a 4 star book without the story.
The stories also act as fables to help remember some of the facts, because of the stories that come with them. He'll never forget what an erythrocyte is, and neither will anyone who reads this book. (less)