I am a fan of Vaynerchuk, but to me, this seemed like much of what he's already said in "Crush It." In fact, I think "Crush It" has far more info on h...moreI am a fan of Vaynerchuk, but to me, this seemed like much of what he's already said in "Crush It." In fact, I think "Crush It" has far more info on how the world is changing and why blogging and social media are valuable ways to grow and expand business. "The Thank You Economy" does give some more details on how networking in today's business world is much like networking in our grandparents' generation - everything is word of mouth. Social media gives us a great platform to do that. To me, this one lacked the passion that was so powerful in "Crush It."(less)
I enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about coffee, about the roasting, the flavors, and why you shouldn't serve melted cheese in a coffeehouse. I reme...moreI enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about coffee, about the roasting, the flavors, and why you shouldn't serve melted cheese in a coffeehouse. I remembered a lot of what had happened in 2008 when Schultz returned to lead the company. Now I know why it happened that way. (less)
Freakonomics gives a compelling set of questions to issues we don't typically investigate on our own. After reading it, we wonder why we didn't think...moreFreakonomics gives a compelling set of questions to issues we don't typically investigate on our own. After reading it, we wonder why we didn't think of them:
Why do drug dealers live with their mothers? Do real estate agents really have their clients' best interest at heart? Are American game shows racist? Does a child's name determine the kind of success he will have in the world?
These are just a few questions Freakonomics poses. There are many others that are bound to provoke a variety of strong responses (particularly one correlating the drop in crime in the late 1990s with legalized abortion 30 years earlier). Two problems I had with the book are: 1.) For a book by a rogue economist - there aren't a lot of numbers here; and 2.) it seems Stephen J. Dubner (apparently, the book's actual author) seems almost obsessive in his continual praise of Steven Levitt (the rogue economist). Each chapter is preceded by references in the New York Times Magazine praising Levitt for his uniqueness to the field of economy and mathematics.
Other than that, the book was very entertaining. As an added bonus, I listened to the audiobook and found Dubner to be a compelling narrator. The book had an almost Malcolm Gladwell appeal in its versatile subject matter. Compelling book. And it asks compelling questions.(less)
I really enjoyed this book and finished it in 2 days. I love the premise of a "visitor's guide for aliens." I didn't love it in the way that I loved S...moreI really enjoyed this book and finished it in 2 days. I love the premise of a "visitor's guide for aliens." I didn't love it in the way that I loved Stewart and Co.'s earlier book, "America: The Book." I felt this one was a little rushed and forced in parts. As with most books these days, I listened to the audiobook. Thought Stewart's narration was terrific. As thick as the book is, I expected more unabridged audio than 3 hours. The book is loaded with pictures and illustrations, though.(less)
Malcolm Gladwell may well be one of the most intriguing authors/columnists of the 21st Century. His two previous books, "The Tipping Point" (2000) and...moreMalcolm Gladwell may well be one of the most intriguing authors/columnists of the 21st Century. His two previous books, "The Tipping Point" (2000) and "Blink" (2005 - which I'm currently reading) are two of the leading New York Times Bestsellers of the last ten years, and his latest, "Outliers: The Story of Success" joins its predecessors on that bestseller list.
"Outliers" begins in a small village in Italy, where the inhabitants of this small town overwhelmingly seem to live long lives. In fact, one of the leading causes of death, heart disease, is almost entirely uncommon there. It's not because people make healthier decisions: many are overweight, smoke like chimneys, and drink to their hearts' content; yet these people are well, happy, and fully alive.
The above story is an example of an outlier. Outliers are those chosen few individuals who seem to cross over the ordinary/extraordinary threshold and rise to success. We would certainly consider outliers of our time and culture to be the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elvis Presley, or The Beatles. These success stories skyrocketed - seemingly from nowhere - to the top of their games. We think of these groups as lucky. They discovered a secret that made them famous or rich. If we were to break down their stories, however (and Gladwell does with two of these), we would find that they weren't more talented than their colleagues, they weren't smarter than anyone else, and they certainly didn't discover a secret the rest of the world missed. The fact was, these people were all influenced and surrounded by certain people, places, and events that shaped them in the beginnings of their futures. It also helped that these individuals happened to begin honing their crafts at a certain time in history where their kinds of endeavors were virtually unknown.
In "Outliers," Gladwell explores the stories behind the Stories. In one book, we move from a remote long-living village in Italy to a lucky private high school that had been donated a mainframe computer in late 1960's Seattle to an exhausted long-running struggling band in 1950's Liverpool, England to the rise of an unlikely successful group of Jewish immigrants in 1930's New York City to the vast rice patties of China. There are more intriguing stories contained between these and Gladwell is a brilliant wordsmith that paints these stories of success.
You may rise to the top of your game and become one of the most successful people in your field, but you won't get there alone. Gladwell suggests that the friends, family, events and circumstances in your life and history (including the history that predates you) will play a role in that success.
The fact is, even if you disagree with Gladwell's conclusions, you can't help but to be inspired by the stories of his research. And if you're like me, if it's your first read, you'll read the other two books by this award-winning New Yorker columnist. Read "outliers" and consider the history, people, and places that are shaping your own success story.(less)
I began reading this book after Christmas and couldn't get past the first four chapters for a long time. The Shack begins with Mack, a simple salesman...moreI began reading this book after Christmas and couldn't get past the first four chapters for a long time. The Shack begins with Mack, a simple salesman who has recently lost his young daughter to a brutal murderer in the Oregon wilderness (This is the first four chapters, by the way). After trying to come to grips with this nightmare and keeping his wife and other kids together, Mack is nearly numb when he receives a strange letter addressed to him by simply "Poppa" inviting him to the old abandoned shack where his daughter's murder took place. Mack eventually reasons that this invitation must be a message from God, so when his wife and remaining kids take a trip for a weekend, Mack takes the invitation and drives back to the scene of the crime. What he gets is unlike anything he expects. Throughout the weekend, Mack has a divine encounter with God and learns some tough lessons about relationships, expectations, spirituality, and forgiveness.
After putting the book down following the fourth chapter, I picked it back up in audiobook form as I moved from Springfield, MO to Portland, OR.
The story of The Shack's ascendence to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list is almost as fascinating as the novel itself. A never-before-published author (William P. Young) has a tough time getting agents and publishing houses to take his mainstream novel with deep spiritual themes seriously. Eventually, he decides to publish the book himself under the guidance of a group of friends. In the short time since its release, The Shack has become hailed as one of the best Christian fiction books of all-time, outselling the evangelical Left Behind series.
What Young lacks in extensive grammatical training (and he uses adverbs liberally, something my college Creative Writing professor would have cringed at), he makes up for with a highly entertaining story with characters who are emotional and authentic. It doesn't take long to find yourself lost in a painful story of loss and heartache. With the heartbreaking true stories of child murders that have haunted the news media in the last year, it hits a little close to home.
While The Shack is not entirely theologically orthodox according to many Christian standards (God first appears to Mack as an elderly African American woman named - of all things - Poppa), it has done phenomenally well among the evangelical market. The story has helped many evangelicals to stop relying on their preconceived expectations and notions of what they imagine God to be - which is what God (Poppa) is doing with Mack in the early part of the novel by appearing as an African-American woman. While this sub-storyline doesn't particularly score well with fundamentalists (though the biblical author of Isaiah also refers to the feminine nature of God), many readers can agree that God is Spirit, and can get the core fundamentals of the story.
The Shack deals powerfully with issues of loss and abandonment, relationships between friends, husbands, wives, and children, and how much of the world (including the church) has missed the point of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The story also is a powerful tale of forgiveness, even when it seems impossible.
If you haven't read this provocative book, I recommend you do so. You may not always like where Young is going, but you certainly won't find it boring. (less)
Audrey Niffenegger writes a tender love story about a subject that, at first glance, typical chick-lit/flick-loving women like my wife would roll thei...moreAudrey Niffenegger writes a tender love story about a subject that, at first glance, typical chick-lit/flick-loving women like my wife would roll their eyes at. While the subject of time travel is stereotypically a "guy subject," this story introduces the concept in a way that is incredibly romantic, adventurous, and often hilarious.
Niffenegger instantly draws the reader into the story with a flawless attention to detail in a way that is still interesting. While the audio version of the story can be a little mundane after a while (the novel is written from a sort-of diary perspective from both Henry and Clare). Henry's sudden unwilling disappearances into different moments from his past and future are humorous, touching, and sometimes heartbreakingly sad, while Clare is forced to wait for him to return sometimes moments, days, or even years later. This story is also about what happens when love happens to two strangers, bringing them together against the strangest of all odds.
Although there were moments where Henry's character seems a little too good to be true based on the bizarre life he's led, this story is an instant classic, and I think the film version coming this Christmas (starring Eric Bana and Rachel MacAdams) will introduce a vast new audience to it. Four stars for this imaginative romantic novel.(less)
This book is very, very short, but is so full of great advice to writers (like leaving out prologues and other boring stuff nobody reads). I was deepl...moreThis book is very, very short, but is so full of great advice to writers (like leaving out prologues and other boring stuff nobody reads). I was deeply inspired and was, again, reminded to leave out adverbs. Nice to know Stephen King doesn't stand alone on that.(less)
This book was far overrated. While Dan Brown is not a bad storyteller, and this is an interesting story in itself, I thought the controversy surroundi...moreThis book was far overrated. While Dan Brown is not a bad storyteller, and this is an interesting story in itself, I thought the controversy surrounding it was a little over-the-top (especially the film). Still, as interesting as the subject matter was, Dan Brown is really just an okay writer in my opinion. Not a bad storyteller, but he is pretty basic in descriptions, in imagery, etc. It seemed to me that Brown wrote this with only the movie in mind. (less)
The audiobook on iTunes was pretty pricey, but the book is a great recollection of stories from Martin's stand-up career and personal biography. It's...moreThe audiobook on iTunes was pretty pricey, but the book is a great recollection of stories from Martin's stand-up career and personal biography. It's shocking just how much of an introvert he really was and is. I performed stand-up in small clubs and comedy venues from 2000-2004, and can relate with some of the chilling accounts of nights when it just doesn't "click," and times when no one seems to be laughing. Martin, a far funnier comic than I, is genuine and intimate in his account of the craft.(less)