Thursday, October 1, 2009

Summer Book Reviews: What I've Been Reading

Previously posted on Book of Kells, Summer 2009

What I've Read--

Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else By Geoff Colvin -- Let me save you $18, I can summarize this book for you right here -- His theory is that people aren't born with "talent" (i.e. Tiger Woods, Mozart, Bill Gates, etc.), but were born into the right circumstances with teachers who helped them and taught them intentional practice. He talks a lot regular practicing of something vs. practicing in a focused way. Practice is not fun, but it is what makes the difference. Not talent. In the end, he concludes that anyone can be good at something but it just takes 10 years of intentional and focused practice. 10 years was the magic number in his mind with practicing with focus and intent several (or more) times a week.

It's an interesting book, but was a little too close to Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell for me. It even had some of the same examples like Bill Gates. Of course, I read Outliers first, so that may shade this review a bit.

So while I'd recommend this book if you're interested in this topic, I'd recommend OUTLIERS first.

This book still had good info and I did finish it, but I think I just read it close to Outliers. But honestly, the main idea is that it's practice not talent that matters.

* * *

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction
by David Sheff - RECOMMEND!

I've been listening to this book on my iPod and it's pretty powerful walking back through a child's life from being born into addiction to see if you can figure out how someone falls into this world. There are no answers. David Sheff does a great job of sharing this story of his son's addiction and how it hurts families and what the parent goes through.

On a personal note, my sister is/was an addict. She was out of the house when I was 4, but her dramas have stayed with us through the years even though she now lives on the other side of the country from us. She has basically become the poster child for our family on why not to use drugs. Because of what I've seen in my own family, this book is a fascinating look into addiction.

I would recommend the print version of this book vs. the audio (which I'm listening to), because the book is read by the author and while he is a pretty decent reader, when he tries to talk in the voice of a child it's somewhat annoying to me. He also has that kind of smug professor voice that gets a little tiring to listen to.

* * *

Grayson: 50 cent library late fee - and I never read it.

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Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You
by Ray Bradbury - HIGHLY RECOMMEND! -

Ray says it better than me, so here's a snippet:

"...if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It mean you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one year peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don't even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is --excite. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it would be better for his health."

(Note: Ladies insert "she" for "he" in this passage.)

* * *

I have a few more books I'm working on, so more later. I hope you've had a summer of good books. I'd be open to any you'd like to recommend.

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