Book Reviews – May/June Edition

I haven’t done much of this before, but I thought it could be a good exercise to post my book reviews here. I’ve done well on my reading challenge, reading 36 of my goal of 52, and we’re not even through June!

I don’t write crazy detailed reviews, as I pull concepts from books and chew on them before writing about them in blog posts. I don’t review every book I read, because sometimes I didn’t take much or don’t feel like writing a takeaway. If you want to follow what I’m reading, you can follow me on Goodreads where you can either add me as a friend or follow my reviews.

Click on the image to see the book on Amazon. All ratings are on the Amazon 5 star scale.

Recently Read

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

Rating: 3 stars

I can’t say the book was horrible, but it didn’t keep me engaged. The ideas aren’t bad, but it’s so simple it could have been a blog. I think there were 3-4 chapters in a row on abstraction. By the time I got to the last I’d already heard that material a time or two before. Something that should have been part of a concept within a chapter was dragged out in a crazy long manner. Felt like this whole book was that way.

I’m still struggling to get his point other than being a servant leader, although he never uses that term!

The Ten-Year Turnaround: Transform Your Personal Finances and Achieve Financial Freedom in The Next Ten Years by Matthew Paulson

Rating: 5 stars

This book focuses on good personal financial management, using your skills and talents to generate more income, and planning to reach financial freedom. Paulson’s 10 year timeline is based off his own success and not necessarily a promise you’ll do the same(which is a good thing and the right approach).

Paulson does a good job of making the prospects of other income sources attainable while making sure to not promise things he cannot deliver on. His creative thinking makes it easy to see how you yourself can capture new income opportunities while properly valuing the amount of work it could be.

Paulson is a Christian and weaves that into the way he lives. He gets it right in prioritizing giving and generosity over financial windfall.

While not your typical financial book, I’d definitely recommend this to help someone think creatively about managing their money to help them realize they control their success.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Rating: 4 stars

This book was very well written and exactly what you want out of a biography. Contributions from the subject but disconnected from their direction.

I don’t really feel it’s necessary to discuss Steve as a person, because while he’s intriguing he isn’t that different. I think to an extent all people that innovative have serious issues. You don’t have the success at that level without having very focused traits. But I think it says a lot that even those he was close to and didn’t always treat well loved him.

If at all interested in Jobs, Apple, or leaders in general it’s a great inside look and worth the read.

American Gun by Chris Kyle

Rating: 4 stars

This book is a good read if:
> you love American history
> you love guns

If you love both? This is definitely worth the time! With a mixture of gun history and the folklore surrounding what made these guns famous, this read tells a story in a unique way. It doesn’t get too technical or go too far off to one side or the other.

The style of writing makes it entertaining and something that could be consumed in one setting(if you get pulled in) or just an occasional read of a section.

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution By Walter Isaacson

Rating: 3 stars

This book goes through the history of innovators in the technology era. It starts with Ada Loveless and goes all the way through present time. The thesis of this book would be this: innovation and creativity can only succeed through a collaborative creative process and with a combination of visionaries and operators in the room. I’m not sure this is a horrible thesis, but I didn’t really get it until the last 15 minutes of the audio book. Sure, he does mention this throughout the book, but the narrative is so full of details I believe this can get lost in the regular reading.

This book has many great tidbits and insights into the development of so many technologies, which makes it a good read for those interested. Whether for good or bad, it jumps from story-to-story. This means you could jump into one section and not read the preceding or following, but also means there is no real narrative.

At the end he lays out the following points for the reader(which I’m guessing he hoped you got through your reading):

– Creativity is a collaborative process; more comes from teams than individual geniuses.
– Technology is merely expanding the ideas that previously existed.
– Physical proximity is beneficial; even though the internet has allowed communications that could previously never happen, physical proximity is still needed.
– Pair visionaries with operation managers to get a solution that makes it in the marketplace; visionaries end up as footnotes if not with a manager.
– The collective wisdom of the crowd is greater than that of the individual.
– There are three ways to create a collaborative environment: government funding, private enterprise, and peers coming together in a voluntary common endeavor.
– Man is social and machines are not; all tools are commandeered for social purposes.
– Humans bring creativity, weave narratives, and emotions. Because of this, they will always be relevant

These points individually and collectively are interesting to think about about. They’re points that could be discussed endlessly, and to me, either need a book to their own or shouldn’t have been mentioned. This book straddles the line between history and Isaacson’s theory of collaboration. I wouldn’t call it a bad read, because I did enjoy learning about all the different players that are part of the narrative of our technological advances. But, I felt this book was framed in a way that left a little to be desired for me.

Next on the list