Book Reviews

I share on this page reviews I've written about good books I read or listened to. Please feel free to send me your feedback. You can also check my profile on Good Reads.

Blink

The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

by Malcolm Gladwell


Blink

A review of the unabridged audio book edition: In this book, Malcolm Gladwell sheds the light on and gives weight to an overlooked side of the brain mechanism. The "thinking without thinking" mainly describes how things like intuition, first impressions, and discernment work and where and when they are most appropriately used... and when not (the book is not of much help here). This is achieved thorough a mix of research results and personal the author's opinions. Some conclusions based on what Malcolm thinks himself but still fit well in a coherent way.

The book however tackles the retrospective aspect of these areas, it's mainly about how these abilities working to produce conclusions and little about how they are used to think about what to do next.

Bonus: Malcolm Gladwell uses a lot of stories as the material from which he draws his conclusions and in doing so, he accompanies the reader into a rich journey in the world around us. A great plus in its own right.

Conclusion: After finishing this book, you'll look to your brain in a totally different way and start noticing and trusting the brain inside your brain. However, you must also do it right or the consequences could be disastrous.

I recommend this book.


The Tipping Point

How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

by Malcolm Gladwell


The Tipping Point

A review of the unabridged audio book edition.

A very good book... but not about the tipping point!

In this book, Malcolm Gladwell attempted to demonstrate “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” (the book subtitle) but through his attempt, he deviated and traveled a broad world that in many areas did not relate to the subject of the book, at least closely. The book tackles very diversified subjects from business to sociology to psychology to marketing to research to media to... many. It gets needlessly deep in examples and stories that explain the idea to a degree that the listener actually forgets what the book is about after getting immersed in each knowledge area.

In some instances, the books mistakes a tipping point for a "culmination point". Tipping points are supposed to express "causes" that result in differences but in many cases the examples show “culmination points” that come as the last step after a lot of effort or pressure and they not necessarily were the causes for the big difference, they just came last in the row (e.g. the train shooting incident). The Tipping Point book is like pits and pieces of unrelated information that lack cohesion. I believe that listening to the abridged edition would be sufficient to get the idea of the book without losing much.

However, it is still a very good book. It provides the reader/listener with a wealth of knowledge and insight into the workings and the hidden dynamics of many things that we get exposed to in life, things that seem unrelated but in fact have an invisible relation (e.g. the Broken Windows theory) and makes the reader look at things in a different way. While Malcolm Gladwell deviated from his original destination in this book, he managed to reach another destination, and it's a good one. I recommend this book!


Iron John

A Book About Men

by Robert Bly


Iron John

A review of the audio book edition: Robert Bly recycles an ancient story and uses it as a host to introduce what he believes to be the characteristics of masculinity and what it means to be a man. He cuts through the many layers of civilization that have covered the modern man and the many layers of city life that have isolated him from being in touch with man's world and attitude. He introduces provoking thoughts that makes one see previous and coming life events and actions of the elderly in a new way and helpful too in raising children. His ability to extract meanings from almost every minute detail in the story is amazing.

However, after a distance into the book one comes to think... how come such a story match the introduced ideas like a glove to a hand? Hardly! Especially if the story wasn't intentionally written for that purpose. It could be that Robert Bly has either twisted the story to match the ideas or surrendered to the story as a source of defining masculinity even if that leads to an incorrect definition.

A very good read/listen but with a criticizing mindset.


Freakonomics

A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner


Freakonomics

A review of the unabridged audio book edition: As the book describes itself, it does not have a unifying theme! But in a way it does. Economics?... mmm... maybe. Anyway, be prepared to travel from left to right and from north to south as Levitt hops among topics that seemingly have no relation like "What do sumo wrestlers and teachers have in common?" and "Why do drug dealers still live with their mothers?". The value of the information provided through the questions and analysis are not valuable unless you are interested in these very topics or seeking some stories to listen to but still there's a good side. Looking beyond and through the stories you get to dive under the surface and see hidden wires interconnecting things together, you get to develop a sense and a feeling of the importance of data, the right data, finding the right source for this data, and finding the right way to analyze it to extract meanings and insights form it and about the advantage of information and how it can be used and abused by those who have it. You learn that not everything is as innocent as it is and that some scrutiny and asking the right questions can uncover things that were meant to be hidden. You get to understand and see the hidden side of things. In a way, this is a unifying theme in the sense that it provides a way to think and see the hidden relations in things around us. A good read/listening if you want to be amused, distracted, and even bored!


Sway

The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

by Ori Brafman & Rom Brafman


Sway

A review of the audio book edition. The subject of this book is very interesting... why do rational people do irrational things that defy logic and common sense. What "sways" some people from rationality to irrationality, and sometimes insanity. In doing so, the book sheds the light on the decision making process and shows us how that process works. It also explains the factors that affect or influence that process, and the forces that divert it from rationality as intended, to something else. There are four things to gain from this book. Firstly, understanding how the decision making process works. Secondly, understanding what makes that process malfunction. Thirdly but indirectly from the book, knowing how to spot out when irrationality kicks in in our behavior and how to stop this and get back on track. And fourthly, the authors use an approach similar to that of Malcolm Gladwell in his books; a wealth of anecdotes to deliver their ideas which is a huge bonus in its own right.


Focusing

by Eugene T. Gendlin


Focusing

A review of the abridged audio book edition. This book is about helping people identify the true reasons of problems that make them uncomfortable or unhappy which in turn could be useful to solving these problems or overcoming these feelings. The approach used is systematic and lengthy and in all cases not for the average Joe as it needs training, discipline, and time at least in the beginning. The Focusing approach itself is something that must be learned as it is cascaded from psychotherapy research to personal practice.

The book did not provide evidence of the success of the Focusing approach which is a gap that needs to be filled in the book to encourage the reader to start trying it on his own.

Regardless whether the approach itself works or not, the reader/listener must be very skeptical about the premise of the approach itself. Although a person does not need to know how a car works to drive it and can benefit fromt the approach if it works with him, still giving in to the premise of the "bodily feeling" will confuse and shake traditional mind-body relation. Thinking of the body as a place for feelings and that in a way it can do a part of the function traditionally thought to be only in the mind is not something easy to swallow or pass and yet the book did not provide any evidence on the validity of this idea. Personally, I decided to ignore this premise and replace the "bodily feeling" idea with "feeling of comfort generated in the mind". Again, if the approach works, I don't need to know how to use it.


Good to Great

Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

by Jim Collins


Good to Great

A valuable piece of research! "Good to Great" introduces a lot of alerting concepts that make one think differently about the acceptable level of achievements. Is "good" good enough or should companies aim to being "great"? The findings of the research are intriguing, for example the "who" then "what" concept. It's controversial though if the findings could be practically applied in today's tough business world. The suggestion that companies should aim to being "great" rather than "good" and that it's easier this way is debatable.

As a bonus, there are two side benefits form this book. Firstly, the concepts and ideas introduced can also be applied on the personal level with some tweaks. Secondly, the way the research was conducted including information collection, analysis, reaching results and validating them, are valuable in their own right

.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

by Daniel Goleman


A review of the abridged edition of the audio book: This book provides a good insight in how our emotional system works. Such understanding can greatly help in enhancing one's interaction with the society and circumstances at will, separate emotions from actions, and in reshaping one's character for the better by interfering with and changing the way his emotional system has come to behave. This can lead to steering one's life through a better route through life. Also a good aid for parents in how to treat their children to develop their emotional system in a healthy way which in turn can lead to better building their character.


Working with Emotional Intelligence

Working with Emotional Intelligence

by Daniel Goleman


A review of the audio book edition: In this book, Daniel Goleman takes the theoretical foundation and concepts laid in the previous book "Emotional Intelligence" and puts them into application. While "Emotional Intelligence" is about how to understand emotional intelligence, this book is about how to practice it. Although Daniel Goleman mainly addresses the workplace and professional life in this book, still the knowledge provided can be effectively applied on the personal level and in dealing with the family.


The Price of Everything

Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do

by Eduardo Porter


The Price of Everything

A review about the audio book edition. An informative and clearly-written book that mixes sociology, psychology, and economics and takes the reader/listener behind the scenes to provide an insight into the intricate process of how prices of "things" we see and deal with in our lives are both determined and perceived. Such "things" are not necessarily physical as it goes far beyond that to tackle the prices of things like happiness, work, faith, and even life. At the beginning you might feel intrigued about how such things could be priced but Porter takes logical approaches with clear real-life references and methods that make sense to reach the monetary values given to things like happiness and life.

He also shows how such prices play a huge role in our lives as the choices we make everyday are based on the prices we pay for things and the values we put in them, and how these decisions may not make any sense form a purely economic point of view but we still choose to do them for other reasons. The prices he mentions are not necessarily monetary such as the time associated with doing an activity. He tackles how the values of things are perceived and how the value of the same thing might change form person to another or for the same person according to the situation. For example, the value of the same object might change for the same person according to whether he bought it or received it as a present. The value of time might change from a highly paid person who does not have much free time to a lowly paid one who has a lot of extra time. The books discusses different approaches to pricing throughout history and puts the pricing process in different contexts to further clarify how the different factors play out to reach those prices according to different situations.

A good book if you are curious about how the value written on the next price tag you see came to be and how things in the world around you are valued and priced.


Trading For A Living

Trading For A Living

Psychology, Trading Tactics, Money Management

by Alexander Elder


A review of the audio book edition: A very good book about stock trading that not only gives an insight into the trading process but also a glimpse of psychology that's worth something in its own. It explains how psychology plays an important role in the stock markets and how it affects the traders' decisions which armors the trader with a new weapon in his trading and lets him look beyond the cold world of technical trading. Reading/listening to this book can make you approach your trading with more confidence.


The Promise of Sleep

A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night's Sleep

by William C. Dement, Christopher Vaughan, Christopher Vaughn


A review of the abridged audio book edition: This book missed the point by turning to statistics and data instead of adding value by interpreting them into workable meanings and actions, at some points it became even boring. It's more of a test lab journal than a book about enhancing the quality of life. The book could be reduced to half its size by removing the test details and still the average reader wouldn't miss a lot. There could be two editions, one for the reader/listener seeking results and another detailed with data for researchers.


The Worry Cure

The Worry Cure

Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You

by Robert L. Leahy


A review of the abridged audio book edition: The purpose of this book is to teach the listener/reader how to cure his worries through practical steps but it turns out to be more than that. What this book actually teaches is how to deal with and practice life wisely, practically, and reasonably. By doing so, worry will be cured by itself.

When it comes to worry in specific, it teaches how to worry right. Worry is not all bad after all and sometimes necessary.


Koshtomor (قشتمر)

Koshtomor (قشتمر)

by Naguib Mahfouz


Koshtomor by Naguib Mahfouz: Naguib Mahfouz brilliantly pulls the reader to sit with the group of friends at their favorite spot in Koshtomor cafe and share a whole life with them through a strong friendship that spans more than seventy years full of hopes, dreams, love, emotions, pain, disappointment, mishaps, and politics. A rich experience that's worth living via reading this novel.


Body For Life

Body For Life

12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength

by Bill Phillips, Michael D'Orso


A life changer... only if applied. At the surface it's a book about health, fitness, and nutrition. But under the hood, you gain an insight of the interworkings of these factors and you develop a "philosophy" and a sense about how the whole "system" works.




Life Strategies

Life Strategies

The No-Nonsense Approach to Turning Your Life Around

by Phillip C. McGraw


A review of the audio book edition: A good book that lets you think results/actions instead of actions/results by putting the outcome in mind first before embarking on a course of actions and hence how to lead your life instead of letting life lead you.




Economics in One Lesson

Economics in One Lesson

The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics

by Henry Hazlitt


Not only economics but also a methodology of thinking.