Book Review: Smarter Than You Think

in Book reviews, General

It’s wise to read books with points of view you don’t share. It’s the only way you get exposed to ideas with the power to change your mind. For a long time I’ve been a techno-neutralist. I’m not convinced technology is good or bad, it depends. I know from history how many unintended consequences our inventions […]

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The 3 best books I read in 2013

in Book reviews, Books

It’s common in December to see lists of “best of the year” for books and films. I read 20 to 30 books a year but rarely do I read books published in the current year. I don’t have anything against new books, I certainly buy many of them, but I’m drawn to books that have […]

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Book Review: Jung’s Man and His Symbols

in Book reviews

I’d heard of the work of Carl Jung by reference, and despite never reading anything he wrote I knew about archetypes and the abused false dichotomy introvert and extrovert. He’s referenced often, even by the Police in the songs and the title of their popular Synchronicity album. I like to read original sources for ideas, […]

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Book Review: Designing Together

in Book reviews, Design

I was honored to write the forward for Dan Brown’s new book, Designing Together, because I thought it was excellent. It’s the first book I’ve seen that solves a primary reason why designers fail: we stink at working with each other or other people. Brown’s book is the best, and possibly only, resource I’ve seen for […]

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Book Review: Good Prose – The Art of Non Fiction

in Book reviews, Writing Well

I gave a talk at WordCamp Seattle recently about writing. One point I made was the limitations for improving writing skills merely by listening or reading. For the same reasons reading about playing guitar or juggling knives is insufficient to learn how to be a great guitar player or fully limbed knife juggler, mere reading […]

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Book Review: Microinteractions

in Book reviews, Design

They say the devil is in the details, but the angels are in there too. That is, if you have a clue about what you’re doing. People who want to design things have large egos and presume that they’re skilled enough to work on large, grand ideas. But so rarely do designs in this world […]

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Don’t Go Back to School: Book Review

in Book reviews

I wrote recently about whether a college degree is worth the expense, and when I heard about Kio Stark’s new book called Don’t Go Back To School: A Handbook For Learning Anything, I was intrigued.  I asked her for a copy in exchange for consideration for writing a review, and here we are. It’s a […]

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The Great Gatsby: Book Review

in Book reviews

I’ve read the Great Gatsby more than a dozen times. It’s one of those reference books for me, in that I find I can come back to it again and again are learn something new each time. Recently I saw a preview for the upcoming film version of The Great Gatsby (directed by Baz Luhrmann […]

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Why We Love Sociopaths: Interview

in Book reviews, interviews

Last week I reviewed the book Why We Love Sociopaths: a guide to late capitalist television and I enjoyed it so much I asked the author, Adam Kotsko for an interview. To my delight he agreed. SB: Your book elegantly frames why we’re attracted to TV shows involving sociopathic behavior. Do you have a theory about […]

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Why We Love Sociopaths: Book Review

in Book reviews

The other day I saw some high school students in a coffeeshop, and on the table was a book titled Why We Love Sociopaths. I laughed when I saw it, thinking it was an excellent book title. Then I looked it up on kindle and read the whole thing that night. At 100 pages it […]

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The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: Book Review

in Book reviews, General, history

This book, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things, by Matthew White, is a masterpiece. This is a tour de force of world history, using warfare and atrocity as the thread running through the history of civilization. He winds his way through every major conflict with insight, wit, theory and more, avoiding all of the traps historians […]

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We Learn Nothing: Book Review

in Book reviews, Books

I love books comprised of essays as they free writers to go in a wide range of directions and styles, unhinged from the burden of a single narrative theme. When I heard Nancy Pearl mention it offhand in her list of the year’s best books, I picked it up (its actually the first book I’ve purchased […]

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Mind over mind: book review

in Book reviews

Why do great players sometimes choke in key games? How do scientists explain the placebo effect, where merely believing in something makes it real? These questions about our minds and how they help and hurt our ambitions are explored in Chris Berdik’s new book, Mind over Mind: the surprising power of expectations. The good news is […]

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Man’s Search for Meaning: Book Review

in Book reviews, Books, Philosophy

This is one of those classic books I’ve had on my shelf for over a decade, but never touched. A friend was going to read it, and as I’ve been depressed with my recent injury, it seemed a good time for me to read it too. It’s a well known classic of philosophy / Holocaust […]

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Book review: The War of Art

in Book reviews, Books

I didn’t like this book. It was just too unintentionally silly to like. Now I know silly books can be meaningful or moving, or just plain fun, but this one is hard to recommend. It’s particularly hard to suggest it to anyone in serious pursuit of writing or making of any kind. It’s too weird, […]

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Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From

in Book reviews, Books, Innovation

Sometimes life provides happy surprises. I contacted Steven Johnson this summer asking for a blurb for the new edition of The Myths of Innovation – I knew he was a fan of my book from years ago. He provided the blurb, which was great, but the surprise was, after a brief conversation, he asked me […]

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