Thursday, November 30, 2017

Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson

Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5)Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was supposed to be a novella, but with over 20 chapters it is a full book.
Lift is a great character, but she overshadows Wyndle, her spren. He is as interesting of a character as Lift. Together they are, at risk of being cliche, a dynamic duo. This story is totally satisfying both in growth of the characters, introduction of new characters, and further development of the overall series.

The only thing I would have liked to see more of was the Stump's other abilities. She can heal, but what is she? I felt like that one piece wasn't wrapped up well. But this is a small criticism for an extension of a series and a world that I love reading about.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like Gladwell's fresh perspective on the world, especially when he presents data about historical events that reframe our understanding of the world. On the other hand, I do feel like he is especially susceptible to seeing the world through his own political lens, and it comes through in his writings. Why does this bother me? His whole message is to question your assumptions and even your intuition about the world. To hear his bias in his message is incongruous with his purpose. Do I think his books are therefore false, or not worth your time? Absolutely not. They are good books. This is just something that bugs me in the books of his I have read so far.

On to this content specifically: looking for situations where diminishing returns have become negative returns is a valuable insight. His example of university education resonated with me personally, and several of the other examples made perfect sense. It did fall a little flat on a few examples though. Were the Reynolds in CA really overly vengeful compared to the descendants of Mennonites in Winnipeg? What about the pre-event crime rates in both locations? Crimes per capita? While I get what he was trying to show, it was less convincing when he didn't address those questions that would also lead to very different approaches. Similarly, what other factors might have caused the apparent failure of 3 strikes in CA? Was it really a bad idea, or did another condition exist, before or after the law was put into effect, that produced the less effective outcomes mentioned.

So in the end, this book does its job because it made me think of all these impacts. My 14-year old son started reading it, and was especially impacted by the concepts around wealth and raising kids. This is the type of thinking that will help generations, I believe.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of LessEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here is my one sentence summary for essentialism: essentialism is realistic minimalism. Where minimalism says to try to live with as little as possible, essentialism challenges you to live with and do the most important things and let all of the optional stuff be optional. No, like really optional. Like don't do things just because someone else wants you to, or thinks they are essential for you. You decide what is essential, and that is what you must do, or have, in life.

I think it is important to point out that this is not minimilism because an essentialist might live in a big house with lots of stuff, or be very busy and in lots of organizations/ groups. The difference is that the essentialist in that situation has decided those things are essential to them. The magic in this concept is that most often people find that most of their stuff, activities, and yes, people, are non-essential.

I likes this book, and I feel it is another advertisement for the contemporary philosophy around thoughtful living. While I don't agree with all of the implementations of this philosophy, I do think it is positive for my generation to be questioning the speed at which we live, and the costs of our largely digital lifestyles. To borrow (or apply?) a concept from my marketing classes, I think this is the zeitgeist of our times. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is another such book, which in my mind is further away from the center on the spectrum of the digital nomad's search for meaning.

It was not bad read, and I liked it, but I wouldn't put this on my must read list on its own merits alone. If you are feeling overwhelmed and ineffective in life due to the amount of stuff around you, or number of commitments you have to others, this might be a book that would help you make some improvements.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2)Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was amazing because it balanced both the need for action and movement in the plot. It also provided the extension of ideas needed to build a truly epic series on. According to online sources, this is going to be a 10 book series, so the introduction of characters and extension of plot lines is important. I appreciated how Sanderson wrapped up individual conflicts, although his propensity to bring people back to life is starting to invoke the boy-who-cried-wolf scenario.

I'm looking forward to Oathbringer! And meeting Sanderson in person at the release party!