Blog Archives

Great by Choice (Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen)

3 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is an interesting look into some companies that have thrived throughout the sometimes chaotic economic ups and downs of recent years. Similar to what he has done in his past works, Collins (working with Hansen here) researched a variety of companies and then chose the ones that significantly outperformed their peers despite similar circumstances and starting points. The book focuses on the set of companies that succeeded despite uncertain environmental influences and conditions.  If you’ve read other works by Collins, it has a similar feel and ring — with a lot of well told/interesting anecdotes followed by seemingly boiled down, bare bones advice and to-dos. It’s an interesting read, though a little repetitive compared to Collins’s past works.
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The Gift of Fear (Gavin de Becker)

5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Everyone should read this book, and not just because it might quite literally be life saving; it’s a fascinating read.  de Becker’s premise is that our intuition has evolved to send us signals which can keep us safe, and by listening to those signals, we can pay attention to fear when it is useful and be free from anxiety and worry when there is no true threat to safety.  The book is full of fascinating anecdotes from de Becker’s security firm and practical information about how to hone your intuition and keep yourself safe.
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A Man Without a Country (Kurt Vonnegut)

4 out of 5 Stars

Cut to the Chase:
“You know the truth can be really powerful stuff.  You’re not expecting it…” This is a wonderfully put together collection of essays; Vonnegut’s voice is distinct, cutting, witty and insightful.  The essays are very opinionated and after a while, you can easily predict some of his standpoints, yet they’re expressed so vividly that the collection is still worth reading, still compelling.  He compares Cinderella to Kafka, and then both to Hamlet (there’s a very interesting, but brief, section near the beginning where he includes graphs showing character journeys of each of these stories).  He talks about the war and his childhood as a jokester, admits that his wife is the oldest woman he’s slept with, discusses his writing life, the war, and how he feels as though he should sue the cigarette companies for not killing him off.  This was a quick read that I finished in the bookstore, but then had to buy anyway.

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The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old: Revised Edition (Paula Spencer and Harvey Karp)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
More reassuring than educational, this is an easy-to-read, humorous collection of parenting advice dealing with how to manage your pesky toddler from their first step through the terrible twos and beyond.  Drawing a lot of parallels between the developmental patterns of cavemen, chimps, and toddlers, Harvey argues that if we can communicate on the toddler’s level (or the caveman level), we can soothe, reassure, and diffuse tantrums quickly.  Though it is entertaining, it is long on analogies and anecdotes, and short on delivering what it really promises – a too-good-to-be-true, one-style-fits-all solution.  Consider it reassurance that others have also struggled, and take the solutions with a grain of salt.
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The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued (Ann Crittenden)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Though well-written and thought provoking, The Price of Motherhood is going to be a divisive book for many people – in it, Crittenden effectively argues that the “mother” (defined as the primary nurturer/caregiver within the household) is often asked, consciously and unconsciously,  to give up a large portion of her professional identity, her future income, and even her sense of self-respect.  The book is a well-organized mixture of surveys, journalistic-style reporting and interviews, as well as an analysis of how other countries have handled the issues of parenting,  including paid time off, etc.  Though there wasn’t much that I hadn’t heard of tangentially, it’s presented here with a blend of anecdotes and data that is engrossing and articulate and addresses an issue that should be generating more conversation and debate.

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