Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Man's Search for MeaningMan's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm obviously not qualified to debate the academic value of this book, but I also don't think that books should measured on only one dimension, or that my non-academic background invalidates my opinion. In this case my opinion is that a book is more than just the information it delivers, it is also about the delivery. It is about the reader as much as the author.

I related to many of Frankl's conclusions about life, and man's meaning, even though I don't have the background or interest in psychology that he does. Of course, his experiences in Nazi concentration camps were amazing and thankfully unrelatable for me, but it added the heart and soul to the book. As for the rest of it, I'm not sure who his audience was. Was this written for other academics? Practicing doctors? Society at large? Without that question answered I can't know if he hit his mark, but to me his avoidance of a direct narrative of his experiences was a huge missed opportunity. Could he have just told his story, and still given us the lesson he wanted to give? Or did he need to push the stories into the background as mere illustrations in order to reach his true audience of psychologists? Or was the choice of delivery less conscious, and more of a result of who he was and how he approached life? Perhaps dinner at the Frankl home included discussions of not how the vegetables were delicious, but how one farmer's meaning in life was validated (actualized?) by a perfect harvest, and the meal before them was just an anecdotal example of his mastery. (See what this book has done to me?)

So for the rambling delivery, lack of accessibility, and unclear intent, I can only give this one 2 stars. At the same time, I have every respect for Frankl, for what he went through, for his strength in returning to a "normal" life, and for what he contributed to his field. I gained a lot from reading this book, whether or not I was qualified to pick it up. I am not grading the man, or his contribution, just sharing my feelings about the experience I had between the covers of his book. It could have been better.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Getting Past No by William Ury

Getting Past NoGetting Past No by William Ury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is another great book on Negotiation but wasn't quite as useful to me as the Truths About Negotiation I read a few months back. The points/strategies were good, but seemed to use more words to reinforce some of the same concepts. Oddly enough, I still haven't cracked its predecessor, Getting To Yes, which is sitting on my side table right here beside me. It will have its turn sometime soon.

So, all in all, I liked it. If this is the only book you read on negotiating, it won't be wasted time, but I'd still recommend the Truths book first.

3 stars.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Book List

While 2013 was an improvement over 2012, I was still hampered by being in grad school.  I should graduate this summer and then my reading, and its companion commentary, can compete with my other hobbies of hiking, basketball, running, and of course parenting.  I do hope to get back to my standard annual book list of 52 this next year.  So, for posterity's sake, since there really is no other reason for this, here is my 2013 book list.

#BookAuthorDate Completed
1A World Without Heros (Beyonders 1)Brandon MullJanuary 21
2Seeds of Rebellion (Beyonders 2)Brandon MullJanuary 25
3Chasing the Prophecy (Beyonders 3)Brandon MullMarch 27
4Fablehaven (Fablehaven 1)Brandon MullApril 16
5Rise of the Evening Star (Fablehaven 2)Brandon MullApril 21
6The Goal: A Process of Ongoing ImprovementEliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff CoxApril 27
7Grip of the Shadow Plague (Fablehaven 3)Brandon MullApril 29
8Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven 4)Brandon MullMay 5
9Keys to the Demon Prison (Fablehaven 5) Brandon MullMay 26
10The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman and Ben CasnochaReid Hoffman, Ben CasnochaJune 24
11Magyk (Septimus Heap 1)Angie SageJune 27
12Flyte (Septimus Heap 2)Angie SageJuly 3
13Physik (Septimus Heap 3)Angie SageJuly 8
14Queste (Septimus Heap 4) Angie SageAugust 3
15Syren (Septimus Heap 5)Angie SageAugust 14
16Ender's GameOrson Scott CardAugust 15
17Darke (Septimus Heap 6)Angie SageAugust 17
18The Truth about Negotiations - 2nd EditionLeigh ThompsonSeptember 19
19Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and RightJoseph L. Badaracco Jr.October 11
20Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionLaura HillenbrandNovember 29
21Fyre (Septimus Heap 7)Angie SageNovember 30