Monthly Archives: March 2013

The power of habit – Charles Duhigg

 

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This book was quite interesting, and did in some respects present a clear picture of what a habit is and how it can be changed. Just how it is changed might be a different story. Duhigg (hilarious name), who is a writer at the NY Times wrote a book that was insightful, somewhat practical and slow. The main reason for the snail pace, well for me anyway, was the personal stories again and again of people who had habits. It did become a bit tedious and at times and I wanted to shout ‘GET TO THE POINT DUHIGG!’ Despite the story book there was some great stuff in this book, and I did find some of the perspectives on certain habits and their outworking implications interesting. For example Michael Phelps’ training habits and interesting consumer habits that big companies make us have. Actually this was for me the most interesting part of the book, the part about consumer habits and companies plots to market to us based on these habits. Some examples of interesting product marketing was that tooth paste apparently has a chemical in it to make our mouth tingle, and it has nothing to do with the cleaning, it’s added because we think it makes us feel clean. Same with shampoo and the frothing.

I feel like this book was good, however the main points could have been in a good book easily half the size. I give it a 7/10 for an interesting read but not revolutionary in any way.


Prince of the Blood – Raymond E Feist

 

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I can see why Feist said this is his least favourite work, it’s just not quite as good as the previous three books. However it was quite enjoyable, if not a tad confusing at times. It is the first of two books in the ‘Sons of Krondor’ series and focuses and Arutha’s twin boys Borric and Earland as they travel to the empire of Kesh. It started out average and did pick up as the story progressed. I found the dialogue at the beginning quite scripted, but this did wear off thankfully. What I did find a little crazy was the speed, mere pages, that James met and married Pugs daughter.

It was a much lighter read than the other three I read, and I managed to get through this one in about four days. It did have some comical tones and there was a few times I caught myself grinning and also a few times I held my breath in anticipation as Borric’s disguise was almost revealed. The thief boy Suli ( I think that was his name) was a great character but the character that really won the show later in the story was Nakor, the trickster magician.

Overall a 7/10 for a fun read, but not the best read.


A darkness at Sethanon Raymond E Feist

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Another installment of awesome-ness. A darkness at sethanon was the conclusion to the first rift war trilogy and summed up the 1543 page saga well, but did not conclude it by any means.  There is still a lot to be known.  The final battle was epic and that bastard murmandamus is no longer. I actually ordered this book on the bookdepository.co.uk but it took two weeks and I couldn’t wait, so got it from the library instead.  My fave characters from the series are Pug and Macros the black. Those two are brilliant, Amos and Jimmy are also up there too. Prior to this series I’d not read much fantasy for a while and missed the grand scope of a good series, similar to that of Terry Goodkind, the troy series from David Gemmell and a bit of David Eddings. There is a bunch of Crap out there and I’ve abandoned more mediocre fantasy novels than any other genre. But luckily s was recommended this and am grateful.  I’m going to try and have a break from it now and read a couple of other books, but I’m not too sure I’ll handle it. My only disappointment in this book was that I’d hoped Pug would return to Crydee, just to remind us of where it all started. I give it an 8.5/10.


Fathers Raising Daughters Nigel Latta

 

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I generally am not a huge fan of Nigel and his TV shows, not that I think he has nothing good to say, cause he does, but I suppose it just doesn’t appeal to me, and I find his jokes silly (and not in a silly funny way). But I bought this book and whipped through it. It’s got some good points in it and there is some waffle… mainly the waffle is his going on tangents about zombies, sports and ‘manly’ stuff that I’m sure some blokes would like, but not this one (me). In amongst him trying to be funny, and hip, there are some good takeaway points but nothing that stands out above common sense. My take home points are: 1) Be present and involved in your daughter’s life and 2) Don’t display conflict in front of them and react to bad situations calmly and without panic. Which were pretty obvious I would have thought? It’s a very light read but I think it is aimed at Dad’s who don’t really read and need something easy to make it less of a chore. That’s sad though that Dad’s generally read less and spend more time watching movies, because reading to Kids is super important.

The other thing it did do, which I’m not sure is a good thing, is let me know what I’m in for once my lovely daughter hit’s the teenage years. He doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

So I give it a 5.5/10. Not great, but ok.


On the Origin of Species Charles Darwin

 

SpeciesDawkins

Brilliant, Wonderful, Revolutionary and Tedious. I can easily see how this book was a sensation at the time, and in a way it still is, but it’s tough going. It started out fantastic and really interesting as Darwin set the scene for his theory but as chapters of facts were heaped upon me I did start to tire. There were some stand out moments and some extremely interesting facts, not to mention the implications of natural selection for the world we live in. I enjoyed the end also, and not just because it was less facts on insects, birds and plants, but because he summed up well and forecast his expectations for future development of the theory, which was great in light of subsequent findings and research.

I was a little disappointed to hear only about his naturalist findings and not anything on his theories on the evolution of man, in my ignorance I realised I had needed to read The Decent of Man for that, but this was a good foundation for that I suppose. I found his thoughts on environmental factors for natural selection interesting and especially in light of the recent book on Epigenetics I read, fascinating stuff but much too boring for you if I went into it now. It’s interesting, explains Darwin, that natural selection is caused by both nature and man in his either conscious or unconscious efforts of domestication.

Overall I did enjoy it but, due to not really being a naturalist and particularly interested in the specifics of plants, animals, birds and insects and all their quirks it was at times boring. A 6.5/10 for being both a bit tedious but also amazing in it’s implications.


Silverthorn Raymond E Feist

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After Magician I had a few other books to read but just couldn’t get into them because all I could think about was the next Raymond E Feist book, so I went out and bought it. It was great. It started out quite dark with zombies and throats being pulled out amongst pentagram incantations against pure evil. But then it came into its own once the quest to find the plant ‘Silverthorn’ began. I feel a bit like Feist finished Magician and then let his hair down creative-wise and we see some evidence of that in his disfigured baby operated glowing sphere weapon and the giant goat legged woman with wings that got killed by a magic hammer up the arse.

I did enjoy this book but in hindsight not a lot happened that really matters, it does however pose a foundation for the final book in the trilogy, which I have already bought and is being shipped as we speak. Overall a good and entertaining read. An 8/10