I'm a fan of the author's antics -- his adventures delving into the validity of topics that we have often wondered about but not thinking too deeply on. I enjoyed his other books, "My Life as an Experiment" (practicing radical honesty and outsourcing errands and tasks to India, including reading bedtime stories to his kids) and "The Know-It-All" (reading the encyclopedia from A to Z). This book is still as entertaining as the others. Where it falls short is the book doesn't really go into the effects of the exercise and eating regiments he tries out. The problem with healthy eating and living is that it doesn't always materialize. However, it still left me feeling that the book was incomplete. So what become of drinking wine and coffee? Or cutting back sugar? Or extreme exercising? Or running without shoes? Or eating raw food? The author is feeling a little more energy. Is that it? It might have been more interesting if the author had more time with people following certain regiments (like caloric restriction or caveman diet) and see what their meals and lives are like.
The title of the book gives the impression that it's a self-help book. It's more of a psychology book explaining how people can make mistakes, think they are right, and honestly believe that. A good example is false memories. How often have you said, "I could have sworn I did that." You see the event in your head, yet evidence shows it didn't happen. You rationalize it ("someone must have moved it") instead of accept the most obvious answer ("I was mistaken in thinking that I did it").
The books goes even further into big mistakes that people make and refuse to admit, such as in the criminal system where suspects are locked away for years ("I know he's the rapist so I'll interrogate him for hours until he finally confesses") until DNA finally proves their innocence. Fortunately for most people, they are not making mistakes that means life and death. The book contains many extreme examples. Still, this is great book to read to understand and recognize your own mistakes. For example, maybe a friend asked for a favor and you said no. Initially you felt a little guilty for saying no. Then you start justifying the answer, "She wouldn't have helped me if I had asked for a favor. She's always looking for someone to do her work." So that guilty feeling goes away. It's a rude awakening to realize how your feelings have completely changed -- you went from feeling a little guilty to thinking your friend is selfish and lazy.
Reading this book is like a "feel good" session with a therapist. It encourages you to let go of your imperfections and live more whole heartedly. When listening to the stories in the book, you realize all those little negative thoughts that stop you from being authentic (for example, "he's being a jerk" instead of "he said something that was true and painful). The journey towards wholehearted living is a practice you would do everyday (or try as much as you can). I'm sure the key points that I take away from this book now are those things meaningful to me at this point in my life. I plan to read the book again and see if I find other things to work on.
This was more like an essay rather than a book. It had some good points for not lying followed by some stories of how people diminished or ruined relationships through lies. At the end, the author answered questions about lying in specific situations (e.g., there is a surprise party -- no, don't lie; tell the person that plans have been made and don't ask anymore). More thought and research should have been given to these situations and been made chapters of their own in the book.
I think the title creates an unrealistic expectation -- that after reading this book, you'll know what you're meant to do. It doesn't. The answer doesn't come from someone else. You have to do some soul searching and identify what makes you happy. That's not new, nor any of the other concepts in this book. The book is useful in that it contains stories that readers can relate to... and maybe one of these stories will spark an insight or motivate a person to take actions for a career move.
This is great read on the history of Google, it's founders (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), and search technology. In the early days of the internet if you had typed in "newspaper," you would not have gotten "New York Times" or "LA Times" because they didn't have "newspaper" in its title. You had to know exactly what key words would generate the results you wanted. It's amazing to think how far search engines have come -- as you type, they predict what you want and populate key words for you. It is due to Google's extreme focus on technology and goals (speed, measurement, refinement, and openness). And there are many more amazing Google technologies that work seamlessly into our lives, which I have forgotten about -- Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Translate....
There is a lot of reference to "Googley" people and culture and the company's motto of "don't be evil." I think some readers will find it as a bias towards Google. I think it simply describes a workforce obsessively dedicated to doing what they love. For example, many might argue that Google's entry into China was a major stumble and the book doesn't place much accountability on the executives of Google. I think it was daring that Google did that. Selling technology in China is a high-risk proposition. Corruption and copyright infringements turn many companies away from China. Google had to know failure was very likely. Google took a chance to do something for the people of China. Although they censored results as required by the Chinese government, the users were informed on the page whenever results were censored. It was a small step... but an important step to reflect the value of openness -- the Chinese people were told when they weren't getting everything they wanted to see because the government was censoring it.
This book is filled with shocking stories of how Kevin Mitnick was able to hack into systems through social engineering and computing security holes. He collected information from dumpster diving and other simple methods. Then he brazenly bluff his way in getting more information by acting as an "insider." He patiently kept mining for more information from different people to fill in gaps in his "insider" persona... until he was able to access the restricted information he wanted -- codes, dial-in numbers, IDs, and passwords.
Since the book is co-written by Kevin Mitnick, he paints himself as an awkward youth hacking into systems out of curiosity and the satisfaction of being able to do it. He repeats throughout the book that he didn't profit from the information he had stolen. When he's finally caught, he portrays himself as a victim of unethical governmental prosecution. Although he may not have sold the information he had stolen, he shared his hacking techniques with other hackers who did cause damages. There was good reason why the government wanted to put him away for life. I think the book would have been improved if it was a biography and had a more balanced view of Kevin Mitnick.
This book is illuminating on how easily social engineering can work and how the collection of seemly unconnected, basic information can make a company vulnerable to hacking.
The simple message from the book is to do vigorous exercise daily or at least three times a week. Throughout the book is the science and stories about how exercise can improve the quality of life whether you're stressed or suffering from a disease. I think most people can relate to many of the topics in the book because they may be going through it or know someone who is, such as obesity, Alzheimer's, addiction, depression, and ADD. Even for topics that I didn't find to be relevant in my life, I found the scientific evidence fascinating. Whereas medication almost always have side effects, exercising isn't harmful. As long as people can keep slowly work up to a vigorous pace and do it consistently, they'll see that exercising is good medicine.
The book lacked a tight integration of all the concepts into a step-by-step program. It approach varied -- sometimes it was about "try mediation... do this...." Then it switched to information, like how your brain works and how your willpower can be depleted. Then there's a little of both, like good behaviors are used to justify bad behavior ("I exercised today so I'm going to reward myself with some chocolates"). I think you need to read only one chapter a week to absorb the information and practice it for a few days before moving on to the next chapter.
This book is a balanced blend of scientific data and storytelling. The author explains how your brain works (e.g., it's easier to drive and talk at the same time, but not read email and listen to a conversation). You learn what to do -- minimize multitasking as much as possible and don't do it at all when the two tasks rely on the same region of the brain. The author then takes you through the problems faced by two fictitious characters, Emily and Paul. The same scenes are replayed following his advice. Although the scenarios are fictitious, they represent common situations at work and how they can be handled poorly (as we react without thinking) or effectively (stay calm and re-direct it to a positive outcome). The pattern in the book of data, scene, and replay of scene reminds you to slow down and think, especially as you see how Emily and Paul in their rush to get things done, they end up doing rework to fix their problems. I think this is a book you can read again to identity bad habits you continue to do and work on those.
I enjoyed this book in college and 15 years later, I re-read it and still enjoyed it. I think the plot of brilliant children in battle school makes this book intriguing. As you're reading to find out what happens next, you're also contemplating their circumstances - "do brilliant children think like adults and so is it acceptable to treat them as such?" and "if they excel at that age in military tactics, should you be afraid of them when they get older?"
Only a small portion of the book weakened the story. There were hints of overpopulation and prohibition of religious practice. You're left wondering if the parents were allowed only one or two children... what does that mean to the protagonist (the third child). Also there were a few scenes of religious acts, such as praying, that didn't seem relevant to the story -- other than breaking the law to express a thought or an emotion to show how they felt about the protagonist??
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