Adventures In Books: September 2017 Edition

Whoa Nelly, I have a lot to get off my chest about books this month. I’ve upped my reading game since last month’s reviews, which is unusual for me in the summer months, and I’ll talk more about that in another post. What it did for me was help me finish a book a week, more or less. Here are the first three and they’re not all good.

MEMORY MAN – By David Baldacci

Silly me, I started reading this series out of order. At an airport months ago, on a whim for something light and easy, I picked up the second book, Last Mile, and was introduced to the cast of characters who already had somewhat deep ties. That didn’t stop Last Mile from being a great Summer read, but it made me hunt down Memory Man IN AN ACTUAL STORE AFTER ASKING FOR HELP FINDING IT! I feel this is something people older than me would do but certainly not people younger than me. 

I digress!

The book is an easy read and deceptively paged at over 500 splashings of easy reading. Page-turner, can’t-put-it-down and all that.

I felt a little lead on at times and books like that can bug me. You know, where the author reveals some clue (hint: this is about murder, like all the books in the series) and there is no way you would have known that clue and it is sometimes highly unlikely that anyone in the story would have gone in that direction. But the lead character is perfect! That’s my only gripe because it is an interesting weaving with just enough characters (books with too many characters confuse me easily). I tend to like my characters a little more human and fallible, like me.

If you like to be lead along a murder mystery romp about a guy who has a perfect memory (and you’re reminded of this many times) that is an easy read with not the most predictable ending, start the series now! The second book is equally engaging, too.

Find it at Powell’sAmazon or at your local library.


Here’s the bummer of the group. The Inevitable had promise and looked interesting but I did not finish it. Nope, not at all. I got to the sixth inevitability (there are 12) and then skimmed the crap out of the rest of it. Which was easy because each chapter title already covered 70% of what was in the chapter.

The idea is that Kevin Kelly will relate some up and coming inevitabilities during most of our lifetimes. The problem is presentation. He uses single word chapter titles with “-ing” forms of verbs such as “Becoming” and “Accessing” and “Sharing” and after that sixth chapter, I quit. The reason is most of these are obvious things that are given, in my opinion, way too much text to describe them. Plus they are off the mark.

For instance, the chapter on Accessing is all about everything being “in the cloud”. My disdain for that phase aside, that’s it! Just says, “People will store stuff in the cloud and that’s that”. No one will own anything because we just need an Internet connection and we’re set. I don’t buy it. Yes, certain swaths of society might do this, but a large percentage (which probably ends in .453%, to be accurate) will still want stuff in their house. Book stores are an example of this. While they shrank for a while there, things have stabilized as people still buy books!

Also, do you need a whole chapter to explain “put stuff into the cloud”? Not in this case.

I also believe more people will become aware of what companies do with your data, and who is offered a peek behind the curtain when you’re not looking, that we won’t all trust Amazon or Google or Microsoft or Facebook to store all our important goods. For instance, I use Dropbox but only because I keep a local copy that I have backed up on three devices in three locations. All your eggs in one basket comes to mind.

This book is worth the time if you’re in the library or bookstore and page through it. Just put it back on the shelf when done and save the $12. I did enjoy the chapter on Cognifying and his different, eye-opening ideas about artificial intelligence. Those are the things that kept me going until chapter six, but I ran out of steam due to a lack of fuel.

Still want to buy it? 🙂 Find it at Powell’sAmazon or at your local library. Or email me and I’ll send you my copy at no charge.

DEEP WORK – By Cal Newport

Deep Work is a book that has me fired up. It got me to start reading more and faster, while still comprehanding what I read. It got me to be better organized and to set aside time for important work. You may have noticed more posts on this site as a result.

If you strive to “do something useful” with your time and days (I’m a freelancer and absent a large project, it’s easy to get distracted by shiny things), this book can help. It helped me break some bad habits (leaving email open and caring about social media so much) and gave me tools to help point my focus in the right direction.

Not only that, it gave me a half dozen other books to check out as I got addicted to the ideas. I enjoy his style of educated writing with just enough depth to make a layperson like me think but not way over my head. It’s well researched and noted.

Basically it goes along pointing out ways to think and work deeper and to avoid the shallows (which is one of my next reads, by Nicholas Carr). There are a lot of examples that were reflected almost perfectly in my life, helping the book connect with me. I also enjoy that the tactics are backed by showing how successful people employ them, pointing out it is not always because they are wicked smart, but because they focus and go deep. That’s a huge difference between those of us that sit on social media and want quick dopamine hits and those that put in the drudging, deep work that pays off in spades later.

If you’re into the self-help scene, this one is not about simple tips and tricks, but it can make a solid impact. For instance, I am testing out the idea of giving up on social media for a month and only reading email in the morning and evening (twice a day). I’m failing but striving, email being the hardest to limit. Not living with social media has given me more time to read useful things, for instance.

Find it at Powell’sAmazon or at your local library

I have three more to review before this month is up, so look for Part II of this month’s comments on the Productivity Project, The Talent Code and Ghettoside. Maybe even a review of an old book called Twinkie Deconstructed for the food and science geeks out there.

Based on my past reviews, do you have a book you would suggest I read?

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