Friday, February 5, 2010

The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar

I remember a TV documentary where Stephen Hawking’s sister said that her brother’s Lou Gehrig’s disease actually helped Hawking in developing many of his theories, because Hawking couldn’t write his computations, and thereby performed many mental 3D models.

Though not in the same league as Hawking, the Iyengar’s findings are comparable in distinctive perspective and findings—out of the box, so to say. Iyengar is blind, works in social sciences which is primarily visual observations testing. Best social-science-psychology book I’ve read in 3 years.

The other reviews here will describe what the book is about, so, I’ll add my two cents on why it’s valuable and what I perceive it’s weaknesses are.

Iyengar writes about choice and happiness—choice meaning about the same as freedom, liberty and the right to pursue happiness. Her primary question is is happiness successfully pursued this way—lots of choices? Iyengar describes cultures that are lesser-individuals’ choiced--more collective-decision-making or authoritarian, and explains that in these, happiness is attained by lesser choice. For example, is arranged marriage (no choice) or dating marriages (choice) better in producing happiness for the individuals and for its society?

Because the Iyengar is an Indian woman, this arranged or free choice marriage question was likely one she thought about extensively. Iyengar expands on this question to further research on the implications of more or less choices on other personal daily actions. Her questions on the decision processes of more or less choices has major implications for anyone visiting from a collective to a free-choice culture or vice-versa, and her work is the best explanation of its implications I’ve ever read.

Additionally, by bringing presenting the problem of choice (I hadn’t even fully understand that this was a serious problem), Iyengar points out, accurately, that choice has a cost, and understanding this helps anyone’s life.

Now the downside of her work. The problem in this book has to do with, in my opinion, that the author doesn’t fathom how drives affect choices much. In another word, her questions are—do more or less choices able to produce happiness, instead of, how drives affect choices. Her answers to choices involve expanding the use of reasoning when making choices. However, my belief is that the drivers of choices are more emotional.

A 5 star for an unmatched book that will stretch one’s thinking and also change the way you do things daily.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NoLo Business Loans from Family and Friends, by Ahseesh Advani

Get this book. I’ve read over 15 Nolo titles, and this ranks among the top two. Most Nolo books are filled with forms and layman law information. This is a strategic book. Identify who to ask, how to tactfully ask them, assess the financial-personal relationship situation, provide them with sound paperwork, ensure if the worst happens that they receive at least an IRS deduction, become an investor PR department. I had thought loans involved primarily begging and then basic paperwork. This one shows the strategies, tactics, and relationships involved. I was really surprised at the quality of this book.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Curves, Twists & Bends, by Annette Wellings

I never had read a book on scoliosis, but suspect that this is a much needed book; but it is very limited.

If one has severe scoliosis, this book is likely profitable, because it can supplement the services of a professional physical therapist and thus save a great deal of money.

If one has mild scoliosis, this book is a fast read with limited information. It discusses some causes, emphasize awareness, offers a few exercises, and provides some fashion-concealment tips. However, these are marginal information.

Scoliosis causes and is caused by entire series of posture issues, and these are treated in different ways. For example, using certain forms of furniture, one can regularly stretch the back. The book’s illustration given on watching TV while lying on one’s back is very difficult to do—one needs certain furnitures. Sitting imbalanced can be corrected often by placing a towel under one side. Nearly no information on ergonomics ways of adjusting for scoliosis.

Furthermore, understanding posture is important; because in addition to stretches, one should constantly monitor one’s posture. This book doesn’t explain many of the causes of bad posture and its corrective methods. For example, a $5US heel lift can correct imbalance legs. Hypertonicity in muscles need to be dealt with in other ways.

Also, it is known that those with scoliosis are frequently acid reflux sufferers, and the book’s exercises given—flat on the ground—likely aggravates acid reflux.

The exercises are also very basic and mild. For those with mild scoliosis, any yoga class would yield far more effective.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Credit Repair by Robin Leonard J.D., John Lamb Attorney NOLO Press

Credit Repair by Robin Leonard J.D., John Lamb Attorney NOLO Press

I had just reviewed "Your Credit Score, Your Money & What's at Stake"
by: Liz Pulliam Weston and this book is superior. "Credit Repair" offers more details, includes forms, gives more specific and accurate information, and, in the section on collections, provides lots of legal answers that protect the consumer that aren’t even in the other book.

Excellent that this book has lots of forms on CD.

An outstanding 5 star plus.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Book review: You Are How You Move: Experiental Chi Kung by Ged Sumner

Book review: You Are How You Move: Experiental Chi Kung by Ged Sumner

I’m usually weary of books on Eastern motion arts, such as Tai Chi, Chi Gong, and to some degree even yoga because these are nearly impossible to learn by a book. The movements are too difficult to capture, and generally the author additionally advocates unusual spiritual ideas.

This book, instead, is written by a capable writer and master practitioner who simply explains the applicability of Chi Gong principles into daily movement. No hype or spiritual mumbo jumbo.

The problem remains that the movements still remain very difficult to describe by text. And as each individual’s starting posture is different, even if one reads the text carefully, one can be doing the explained Chi Gong movements by the book, and be doing these incorrectly.

So, for learning Chi Gong, I believe the better methods are DVDs or classes—this book would be better served by an accompanying DVD. Additionally, the book’s B&W photos are grainy, insufficient in numbers, and needs overlay arrows and numbers to better tie into the book’s text.

So, why am I giving this book a 5 star? It has some of the best explanations on body movement and awareness I’ve ever read. For examples, the explanations on how to stand straight, how to move—these are instantly valuable--for nearly everyone. This is one of the few books that explain the whys of simple body movements—extremely valuable information for everybody.

Bottom line—if you want to learn Chi Gong by this book, this is very difficult. If you want to understand why Chi Gong and why body movements work the way they do—best book I’ve ever read. One of the few books I review and want to reread.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Retaining Your Best People: Harvard Business School Press

Retaining Your Best People: Harvard Business School Press

This is the best investment of 2 hours on people management reading I’ve ever experienced.

Most people management books are motivational writing. These provide a general philosophical goal (e.g. be good to your employees) and then describe how wonderful the results are. These books don’t really tell the tactical challenges involved; and these motivational books are partial, in that their partial view is claimed to be a whole fix-all.

Other people-management books I’ve read are usually dry textbooks—I’ve never read through these, as I keep falling asleep.

This book though is fast-reading and provides numerous practical tips. I’ve always thought Harvard Business Review provided excellent reading, and this fast-reading book is so far superior to the other (limited) management books I've read that I regard it in a class by itself.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Your Credit Score by Liz Pulliam Weston

This is an excellent overview, as it describes legitimate guess-estimate information about how to improve one’s credit score. Very well, clearly written.

I feel though that the author should have provided more interviews with FICO score designers, insurance underwriters, creditors, collections agencies, lawyers, and more of those on the creditor and ratings side. It is these people who really know how to affect the credit score and reduce payments. How, for example, do some debtors get away and some don’t. The author gives a “by-the-book” answer, and actuality is done by those involved; and the author did not interview those on the credit side. Thus, this book lacks real insiders’ techniques. This is not an insightful and easily-out-dated book, but I give it a 5 star for its ease of reading. Needs interviews and current website information.

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