Thursday, December 18, 2008

Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box by Arbinger Institute

Completed: December 18, 2008
Rating: 4.5

Yes, I am giving this one of the highest rating I have ever given, and it is a self-help book. The basic ideas of the book is that we all struggle with the ability to constantly view and treat others as human beings--with interests, wants and needs--rather than as objects. Basic, but deep. In my opinion, this goes on my Must Be Read By Everyone list under the topic of Human Relations, similar to how Robert Kiyosaki's book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, is a must read under the money topic. Do what you have to to get your hands on this one.

So let me just list the reasons this is a must read:
1. It is written as a narrative, making the non-fiction subject matter extremely accessible and consumable.
2. It is succinct. It gets to the point and makes the point.
3. It rings true. I use this expression frequently when I can't think of a better way to describe the feeling to the general public. The gist of this is that when you are reading it, there are certain parts that when you read them you just know there is truth at the heart of the message. You just know.
4. It is applicable.

So if I am such a huge fan, why not give it a 5.0? Well, I have one key complaint. While the material is applicable I would have liked to see more in the way of examples of how it could be applied in certain situations. The theory is explained well, and with that conceptual base it is an easy step to make basic, meaningful changes in your own life, but it would be great to see specific examples that might help you apply the information in many-to-all situations.

I have since re-read this book and have an updated review here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Completed: December 9, 2008
Rating: 3.0

This is the first book in the Dark Is Rising Series by Susan Cooper, which includes a Newberry Award winner, I believe. It is another nostalgic read for me, since I read the whole series about 20 years ago, and I have been returning to the classics on-and-off all year. Unfortunately, a few of the other characteristics common to these nostalgic reads are found in this book as well.

A well-written work, the speed of the novel is a half-step behind where today's readers would expect. A good portion of that can be attributed to mannerisms that seemed normal when the book was authored, but just seem so slow and awkward by today's standards. After a chase seen where the hero narrowly escapes the bad guys, it is weird to pause the story to "put the car away." Also, the whole story hints at a mystical power found in people and objects; in fact the main goal of the protagonists is to find one such object. However, we never run into this power, either in function or form. To me that made it all a little anticlimactic.

Aside from that, it was a solidly written story, and I can appreciate that. I will be taking on the second book sometime soon, so it isn't like I would give up on the series. Instead I would label it as I have indicated with my rating: average.