Recommendation of few smart books

In 2 recent months I’ve listened to few audio books on my iPhone and written short and subjective reviews to them. So if you are interested:

1. Making It All Work by David Allen – 8/10 (Amazon).

 

This is the sequel of the widely known Getting Things Done.

GTD is not just a time management system (what a nonsensical term it actually is…), but more of a comprehensive philosophical approach to life. The goal of implementation is so called state of water – the state of consciousness when there is no tension, stress or anxiety about forgetting to do something, calm state that is characterized by 100% readiness to action. To achieve this state, realize one’s full potential and achieve the highest level of productivity David suggest the certain set of habits worth having. Of course, there is a place for high level planning (vision, purpose, long-term goals, etc) in the book as well. However, with the minimum of bull-shit and a maximum of down-to-earth advice.

As it usually is with books selling a specific system, there is a terminology and algorithms attached. But it’s secondary. David presents quite interesting approach, which favors clear sorting of all the thoughts, worries and concerns in one’s head in order to enjoy life more while moving towards one’s goals at the same time.

Books itself contains quite a lot of self-PR in the beginning: stories of the successful implementation and so on. But in some way it’s even good, because let’s a reader to believe in the potential of system more and therefore raises chances to succeed with it.

The main part is quite interesting, despite the fact that it repeats the first book a lot. But, this repeating doesn’t usually bother, because it clarifies many details, gives tricks on how to apply some ideas in practice and just reminds of something that was already forgotten. Some pieces of advice I found really great even if there are isolated from the GTD context itself, such as “pay attention to what has your attention” for example. To sum up, if you’re interested in the topic, book is worth reading.

2. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – 8/10 (Amazon)

 

Tipping Point is defined by Gladwell as the moment when drastic changes become inevitable. Author thinks about and tries to answer the question of the conditions that are needed in order for “tipping point” to be reached and for world to be changed significantly. In a meanwhile he tells a lot intriguing anecdotes and quotes the results of various social science researches.

Gladwell presents details of the fight against crime in New York city, analysis of the shoe brands transfer from underground to mainstream, secrets of the people with above-the-average persuasion skills, the laws of starting ideas epidemics and many other topics.

Generally speaking, I think that books like these should be read specifically because of the stories because it’s impossible to develop a mathematically precise theory in the field of psychology and sociology. No matter how hard author tries laws will still be quite blurred and exceptions will prevail. Summing up, Tipping Point is quite educating and entertaining at the same time.

3. The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki – 8/10 (Amazon)

 

This one is very similar to the Tipping Point. Overall, I have a feeling that there is a trend of growing interest in popular science books that interpret results of social researches and try to make conclusions that are applicable in business, management and life in general. In this particular case author focused on the way groups of people make decisions, when these decisions are good when they aren’t. Well, from this description you might get an impression that the book is rather boring, but in reality it’s quite the opposite. As in the previous one, stories are the most interesting part here, no all of them, but many are rather educating and simply interesting to listen to.

Few examples of topics, covered by the book:

  • peculiarities of the stock exchange dynamics: why it’s so difficult to predict stock prices, what is needed for the optimal performance of the market, how spreading of information affects people’s decisions to buy and sell and and their expectations;
  • urban traffic, methods to fight traffic jams, application of the free market laws to the issues;
  • various psychological experiments that prove the point that we’re as rational and egoistic (sic!) as think at all;
  • dependency of the productivity and efficiency of large corporations and intelligence agencies on the degree of their centralization, etc;

4. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Peal – 5/10

 

Very short book, takes only half an hour to read. Of course, this is the classics of positive thinking. And it presents right ideas. But today they look too hackneyed and boring. Not to mention religious themes that simply seem to be out of place and inappropriate. Could be of some value for those who have lived in a cave recently not heard anything about positive thinking.

How about you, have you read anything interesting recently that you would recommend?

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