Sunday Book Review : Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer

Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and PoliticsThings That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A collection of Krauthammer’s essays over the years. I never paid any attention to Krauthammer through the years, but figured I would take a gamble based on reviews and popularity. He broke the essays into four categories: personal, political, historical and global. He covers a wide variety of topics. He definitely got me fired up about how big government has become, how out of control taxation is and how government is impeding in the free market.

It is worth nothing that for a stretch in the book it seemed to take a side alley surrounding Israel. I can not be coherent on that topic with someone that approaches it with blind vigor based on religious belief. So that was significant turn off for me.

If you like politics and want to cover a few decades with great content. This is an easy read.

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Sunday Book Review : Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no idea what to expect with this one. Books by surgeon’s seem to be pretty hit or miss. I was stunned with this one. Gawande articulately puts forth how important it is to understand what matters in the end, BEFORE THE END. We tend to avoid these conversations as they feel awkward and uncomfortable, but ultimately they are freeing when had early.

While hiking the other day my adult daughter asked “Dad is it weird to talk about buying a burial plot and how to handle death at my age?”. Her husband is active duty in the Army, so for her this is something on her mind. We had a good discussion as a family about how we viewed such things and how important these conversations can be. It was splendid.

If you have aging parents this is a must read now. Don’t put it off.

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Sunday Book Review : What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard Feynman

What Do You Care What Other People Think?What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard Feynman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I never really thought of physicists being great storytellers, but Feynman proved me wrong. Feynman recounts stories of his life. Everything from meeting the king and queen of Belgium to serving on the president’s committee to investigate the space shuttle Challenger. An easy read full of humor, but ending in tragedy. Definitely inspired to read more of his works. Science nerd? If you haven’t read this you should.

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Sunday Book Review : Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve JobsSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a marathon of a book. Easy to read and full great stories. A comprehensive look into Jobs life. From birth to death. Isaacson does a deep dive into who Jobs was and what made him tick. Everything you think about Jobs being bigger than life is confirmed in this book. While Steve could be human, it wasn’t often that you saw the vulnerable side. Walter teased it out of him as he wanted to be remembered for more than legends of Silicon Valley talk about. If you like Steve, Apple or want to know what sacrifice and discipline is required for greatness this one if for you.

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Sunday Book Review : NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and The Future of NeurodiversityNeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and The Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

By now you know I am a sucker for anything Neuroscience related. Originally I thought this was a book about connectedness of people and how we are wired to connect. When I started reading and found out it was about Autism, I almost didn’t read it. The vaccines cause Autism crowd has me fairly turned off to the Autism “epidemic”.

I am glad I kept reading. Silberman lays out the history of autism. From it’s initial diagnosis discoveries up to modern day. The change in the “definition” of autism in 1987 is likely the cause for the epidemic of cases introducing a spectrum. Silberman can get a bit wordy while giving back stories of all the cases, but there is plenty of neuroscience to be found for those that are looking.

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Sunday Book Review : Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chödrön

Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and CompassionComfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion by Pema Chödrön

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A collection of the best of Pema Chodron, doesn’t disappoint. Chodron emphasizes the art of resting in uncertainty or what is known as living the openness of the present moment and being available to others. As I been on a journey of mindfulness and awareness of late it was shown again that meditation has qualities that are beneficial for me.

Chodron introduces the practices of the four limitless qualities: loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. These are seemingly universal amongst various world religions. Who doesn’t want a more compassionate life? Full of generosity, patience, exertion, meditation and wisdom?

An easy read. It’s easy to take in the philosophy and teaching while being able to separate it from the religion, for those that may be in freak out mode about reading something non-Christian.

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Sunday Book Review : The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of ItThe Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So much in my universe is colliding around the power of mindfulness. McGonigal deep dives into the science of self-control and what it means to life (happiness, health, productivity, etc). Expected to leave understanding what willpower is and how it works. If you are wanting to be a better parent, lose weight, procrastinate less, be more healthy or just more productive this one is for you.

Get an understanding for what makes you lose control and why. Learn to avoid states of high impulse. Learn that self-forgiveness is a path to success.

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Sunday Book Review : Your Divine Fingerprint by Keith Craft

Your Divine Fingerprint: The Force That Makes You UnstoppableYour Divine Fingerprint: The Force That Makes You Unstoppable by Keith Craft

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Love the concept of a “Divine Fingerprint”. Keith lays out a strategy for finding out your unique DNA (your 1%) and putting it to work(Think, Be, Do). He puts forth things that are keeping people from their greatness (Life Sentences and Blind Spots). Overall, the book lays out a way to be a peak performer and achieve what you want in life. The book could have been more effective if it where 1/2 the length. A lot of the content seemed repetitive and the anecdotes didn’t add much except religious background. The overbearing push of the gospel instead of subtle undertones made it end a little too much like a prosperity gospel sermon. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water on this one, there is plenty of great content within.

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Sunday Book Review : The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch Jr.

The Dictionary of Cultural LiteracyThe Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love to dive into Culture and what it means and how it affects people. I had never really thought much previously about Cultural Literacy. I think Hirsch says it best himself, “Community is built up of shared knowledge and values — the same shared knowledge that is taken for granted when we read a book or newspaper, and that is also taken for granted as part of the fabric that connects us to one another.”

As I read the book I became more and more aware that part of what disconnects me with others is when there isn’t much overlap in Cultural Literacy. I find this often when working in a diverse environment where co-workers are from another country. I am sure this book will piss many people off in it’s thoughts about how to go about teaching Cultural Literacy, but there is little denying the power of a shared language/culture.

If you are wanting to find good books to read or topics to engage in to broaden your ability to connect this sucker is full of them.

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Sunday Book Review : The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes EverythingThe Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enjoyed Covey’s breaking Trust down into four components: integrity, intent, capability and results. Highlighting how integral they (and Trust) are in effective leadership. Trust is part character and part competence. This isn’t something we like to hear. Furthermore, there is a nice dissection into the waves of Trust:
Self trust: the key principle underlying this wave is credibility
Relationship trust: the key principle is consistent behavior
Organizational trust (inside the organization): the key principle is alignment (creating structures, systems, and symbols of organizational trust)
Market trust (outside the organization): the underlying principle is reputation (your organizational brand)
Societal trust: the key principle is contribution

I have been spending a lot of time on Organizational trust in the way of alignment and the work here is powerful. If you want a deep understanding of trust. I highly recommend. Super quick read that was impactful and real.

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