ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Reviews Archive

Sunday

21

April 2019

0

COMMENTS

Bullsh*t Jobs by David Graeber

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
People interested in labor issues and economic theory.

In a nutshell:
Some jobs don’t serve a purpose. They’re usually paid fairly well, but they don’t need to exist. Why do we as a society allow these jobs to exist, and what are they doing to the people who hold them?

Worth quoting:
“We can probably conclude that at least half of all work being done in our society could be eliminated without making any real difference at all.”
“The underlying assumption is that if humans are offered the option to be parasites, of course they’ll take it. In face, almost every bit of available evidence indicates that this is not the case.”
“How does it come to seem morally wrong to the employer that workers are not working, even if there is nothing obvious for them to do?”

Why I chose it:
It looked kind of interesting. And it was! Kind of.

Review:
There is a lot going on in this book, and while the author tries to make it accessible and interesting, it sometimes falls a bit more into the academic text realm than I’d prefer. Additionally, despite the academic appearance, so much of the data supporting the theory is qualitative, which isn’t bad per se, but there isn’t enough quantitative support for the broad statements Graeber offers.

The book grows from an essay on the topic Graeber wrote a few years back for a labor magazine. The premise is that there are many jobs out there that don’t actually need to exist, but do, and at times even pay quite well. He’s interested in exploring not only what this does to the workers who hold these positions, but what it means for society that we all just allow these jobs to exist. Capitalism suggests that such positions will be eliminated as inefficient, but still they persist. Why is that?

Graeber takes us through a quick history of labor in exchange for money, spending a fair bit of time on the concept (relatively new, apparently) that our bosses / companies are paying us for our time as opposed to our work. The idea of not being able to do something personal when you finish your work but are still ‘on the clock’ would have been odd until fairly recently, according to the author. But now we see people having to create work that doesn’t exist to fill their time.

The author spends the first chapters of the book developing a definition of bullshit jobs, which I appreciate. These aren’t shitty jobs, as those ones so ofter serve a purpose. No, these are the jobs that perhaps are middle management, or ‘box tickers.’ He ultimately offers five different categories, and support for them using anecdotes from people who contacted him after his original essay was published.

I want to have gotten more out of this book. I definitely appreciated his argument, especially as it relates to the idea that we all could be working less but our values won’t allow it. But I didn’t finish it feeling as though I had much that I could do. I have to admit to skimming the last chapter where that information would be; at that point my eyes had started to glaze over. I don’t think the book is bad, but maybe it’d be better placed in a serious book club or a course on labor studies.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it

Friday

5

April 2019

0

COMMENTS

The Secret Barrister by Anonymous

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Anyone interested in the English criminal justice system.

In a nutshell:
An actively practicing barrister shares what goes on in the English justice system, and offers suggestions of ways to fix it.

Worth quoting:
“Early guilty please equal cheap guilty please. It does not follow, of course, that early guilty please equal correct guilty please.”
“Defense legal aid, and the effective adversarialism that it permits, doesn’t simply protect the defendant; it protects the public by keeping the prosecution, and the court system, honest.”
“In many respects, the released innocent is worse off than the released convict, the latter of whom will at least have a measure of institutional assistance with their reintegration.”

Why I chose it:
I’ve seen this book prominently displayed in nearly every bookshop I’ve visited. I’ve enjoyed similar books related to the healthcare field, and thought this might be an interesting switch.

Review:
I know very little about the England / Wales justice system (which is not the same as the Scottish justice system or the Norther Ireland justice system). I’ve seen Mark Darcy defend Pussy Riot dopplegangers in British Jones’s Baby, and I watched a few episodes of that show where Gillian Anderson was a detective and the guy from 50 Shades of Grey kept killing people. But as someone born and raised in the US, there is a huge blank space where any knowledge of English justice might be.

Given that, this book was a fantastic was to fill in that space. Less ‘here’s an interesting story from my day as a barrister’ (which, side note, I finally kind of understand the difference between a barrister and a solicitor!) and more ‘let’s walk through the trial system from start to finish,’ this book is an examination of how the English adult criminal justice system is meant to work, how it works in reality, and what should be different. It is written by an anonymous — though active — barrister, who I suspect is a man (more on this in a moment) but who is dedicated to exposing how the system fails pretty much everyone, including the accused and the complainants.

The overarching theme of this book is that it is in EVERYONE’S best interest to have a well-functioning criminal justice system that protects the rights of the accused and looks after victims in an honest way. Areas I found especially interesting — and that might run counter to what some people think — were the ones that looked at the dangers of putting victims first in the way England currently does. One question that comes up a lot is — if you were falsely accused of a crime, what protections would you want in place to ensure you were treated fairly? The Barrister’s argument is that this is where we should focus, because, as most people agree, if we need to balance the two, it is better for society if someone is wrongly freed than wrongly imprisoned.

The book is laid out as the progression of a criminal case, although it doesn’t follow just one all the way through. The first chapter introduces the players, which, again, is extremely helpful to those of us not from here. (Seriously, I feel like they should issue a copy of this book with each residency visa.) From there, they cover charges, bail, prosecution (including the lack of sufficient funding), the problems with current Victim First thinking, legal aid / paying for defense, a look at the adversarial vs. inquisitorial systems, sentencing, and appeals. It’s exhaustive but not exhausting (unless you count how exhausting it is that funds keep getting cut because elected officials don’t fully grasp the issues).

My one big complaint is that two of the cases the author chose to illustrate things are sexual assault, and I think they were the wrong choices. One was an example of someone who was probably guilty not being convicted, and that one wasn’t as problematic. However, that was then followed by the use of a false accusation of sexual assault to illustrate a deep miscarriage of justice. The author swears up and down that they fully understand how rare such false allegations are, and that the more likely scenario is someone who is guilty not even being charged. But they still chose this instead any of the hundreds and thousands of other crimes that have horrible incorrect convictions. This is what makes me think the author is a man; I don’t think a woman would have been so cavalier in her choice of example.

Setting that frustration aside, I think this book is well worth a read, and one I will be recommending to all my friends who are new to the UK or are just interested in better understanding the UK criminal justice failures.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it.

Monday

25

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer

Written by , Posted in Reviews

3 Stars

Best for:
Women needing a nudge to tend to their friendships with other women.

In a nutshell:
Through memoir and research, author Kayleen Schaefer explores the special bond women share, and how those bonds can be tested by society.

Worth quoting:
“It can hurt to break up with a friend just as much, if not more, than to break up with a lover, but women don’t grieve these losses as publicly.”
“Devoting ourselves to finding spouses, caring for children, or snagging a promotion is acceptable, productive behavior. Spending time strengthening out friendships, on the other hand, is seen more like a diversion.”

Why I chose it:
After moving back to London early last year, I’m simultaneously far away from some of my closest girlfriends and working on deepening new relationships with girlfriends I’d moved away from eight years ago. And trying to figure out how to do this in ways that make sense.

Review:
I haven’t ever had a squad of girlfriends. I wasn’t someone who shied away from having women friends (or girls as friends when I was kid); I just preferred more 1:1 time. At most, a group of three (including me) felt the best. I’ve never had long lists of close friends — or even not-so-close friends — I’ve just wanted to spend quality time with people who get me and who I get.

Right now, I’m dealing with a lot of different issues related to friendship. In addition to leaving my hometown after high school, I’ve made four big moves in my life where I’ve physically left friendships. During each move, some friendships dissipate, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; friendships don’t need to last a lifetime. But at the same time, especially as I get older (40 next year), I recognize the value, power, and beauty of someone having known me at different stages of my life, and me having known them. In fact, one of my closest girlfriends and I had a chat maybe five years ago, when she was dealing with some challenges as a parent. She shared how important it was that she still had friends like me and another of her close friends, who have known her since before she was a mom. We knew what she was like before, and could help her see how she still was that same woman in many (but not all) ways.

I’m also dealing with a friend who has, for lack of a better term, ghosted me. We’ve known each other for 16 years, and had stayed (what I thought was) good friends through her moving away, then me moving near her, then me moving away again, and now me being back in the same city. But as much as I’d thought and hoped that we’d pick up where we left off, I’ve not heard from her in months, and I don’t expect to. That’s hard.

That’s all background to say that when I saw this book, I knew I needed it, because I needed not a reminder that friendships are important, but permission to focus on making sure the existing friendships I have are tended to. Of course not all friendships will stay the same, and not all will need — or deserve — the same level of attention. But if we want to keep those relationships up (and we should), we need to work at them. And not as an afterthought.

Author Schaefer looks at the friendships girls and women have with each other through different stages of life. She focuses on how she treated female friendship first as a child in school (and examines the idea of ‘mean girls’), then as possible competition at the office, and then as a primary relationship in one’s life. She looks at the history of women supporting each other, and offers examples of times when women have supported their best friends through serious, trying times. She includes examples from pop culture as well as from people she knows.

She makes a strong case that we need to be supporting people in their friendships. The relationships we have with our partners (if we have one) or our kids (if we have any) are important, but friendships should be up there as well, and deserve our time and energy. Of course, that could seem like just one more thing we have to learn to juggle, but I think it’s more like something that, if we make the time, will give us much more than it takes from us.

The book obviously stirred up a lot in me, but I’m not sure it is a great book. I think it is good, and perhaps I was expecting less anecdata and memoir (which is on me, not the author), but it felt like some things were missing. There are also some areas where the author does demonstrate some ignorance (one section talks about women entering the workforce in the 50s which, I think she meant fairly well-off white women, because poor women and women of color have been working forever). In spite of that, I do think this is worth a read.

I could write more, but I’m off to dinner with two of my girlfriends.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Pass to a Friend

Tuesday

12

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

Nuts and Bolts of Self-Publishing by Chris Longmuir

Written by , Posted in Reviews, Writing

Four Stars

Best for:
People interested in self-publishing a book.

In a nutshell:
Author Chris Longmuir shares their experience in self-publishing while providing seriously detailed instructions to prospective self-publishers.

Worth quoting:
(Mostly because it’s a fun bit of trivia) “Project Gutenberg was launched in 1971. This was the year they digitized the United States Declaration of Independence, making it the first ebook in the world.”

Why I chose it:
I want to get my book out there.

Review:
A couple of weeks ago I was texting with a friend about the book I wrote a few years ago. It’s a non-fiction advice book, focused on the relationships between people who don’t have kids (me) and people who do (damn near everyone else). I’ve put together book proposals, built a supporting website (my goal is to write multiple advice books along the same theme), and reached out to agents, but I don’t have the type of platform agents look for. In lamenting this, my friend pointed out that her sibling self-published their books.

To be honest, I’d passed on this idea because I fell into the same trap that Longmuir references: self-publishing is just a vanity option for people who can’t write well. The reality is there are so many books out there, and a limited number of agents and publishers. I’m not a celebrity with a few hundred thousand followers; no one is going to make money off of me. But I like to write, and I think there is a market for the type of book I’m writing. I spent a lot of time on it (and still have editing and sensitivity reading ahead of me), and it’s silly that it’s just sitting here in Scrivener.

So, I bought this book. And it is exactly what it says it is: nuts and bolts. To the point where Longmuir provides detailed step-by-step instructions not just of the process but of the actions needed. It runs the risk of getting out of date if Amazon or other self-publishing outlets dramatically change their software, but it’s going to be wonderful when I get to the point of publishing. Instead of saying “when you get to the eBook details, fill in the information”, they list out all the information you will need (and whether you have to come up with it yourself or if they is a menu of options) so you aren’t starting at a screen, scrambling for the details.

Similarly, Longmuir offers warnings and suggestions based on their experience. Some publishing platforms will need to have exclusive rights unless you uncheck certain boxes. Others will provide the things you need (an ISBN) but then they are the publisher and you aren’t. Longmuir even offers a detailed breakdown of how royalties work.

It’s not the most riveting read, but it’s definitely as well-written as a book on this topic could be while still being useful. I’m not ready to hit submit yet, but when I am, this is the book I’m going to rely on to get me through it.

And then I hope a few of you will check it out.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it

Saturday

9

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
People who enjoy investigative journalism told in narrative form.

In a nutshell:
A very Libertarian dude decides to make a statement and start a website that sells drugs. Things spiral. The federal government gets involved in multiple ways.

Worth quoting:
N/A

Why I chose it:
After listening to Bad Blood, I needed another audio book for my runs. Memoirs have been my go-to in this format, but I think they have been replaced, as it’s easy to stay invested when it’s essential real-life suspense. And bonus: the narrator for this book happened to be the same one, and I like his style, so double-win.

Review:
I was vaguely aware of the Silk Road website, where people could buy and sell drugs and other contraband, but I had no idea about the story behind it. And OH MY GOD is it absurd. Like, this young guy with very specific ideals who is desperate to be successful in some realm just .. Starts a site. And it blows up to the point that it is doing hundreds of thousands of dollars of business a week.

A week.

What?!

The story alternates among a few major players: the site’s founder, two different homeland security inspectors, the FBI, and an IRS agent. The personalities are strong and interesting. Some people make horrible decisions. Some people make good decisions. And I yell “Are you KIDDING ME?” at least every 15 minutes. I felt like I was listening to a suspense novel, and then had to remind myself that this was real life.

If the whole Theranos situation has you intrigued, I think you’ll find this an interesting read as well.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it

Tuesday

5

March 2019

0

COMMENTS

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
Anyone who enjoys a true story about shady people who (for the most part) get what’s coming to them.

In a nutshell:
An experienced Elizabeth Holmes convinces a lot of people that she is on to the next big thing in biotechnology. She isn’t, and she gets VERY touchy when people point that out. Also, lots of powerful old white guys make some absurd financial decisions.

Worth quoting:
N/A

Why I chose it:
I listened to the podcast “The Drop Out,” which is just a few episodes long, but was definitely enough to get me interested.

Review:
Oh MY god did I love this book. I purchased the audio version and planned to listen to it during some long runs I have coming up. Instead, I could barely put it down, and listened to it every chance I got. It is a meticulously researched book, and Carreyrou explains complicated things (like how blood tests work) in ways that are not condescending or difficult to understand. The story develops slowly but never drags, as Carreyrou lays out the entire fiasco step by step.

What it comes down to is the Elisabeth Holmes was — is — a fraud. I think she started out with an idea (blood testing without the needles), and then became like a dog with a bone. She couldn’t and wouldn’t accept anyone disagreeing with her, because she was going to change the world. I don’t believe she was motivated by greed or money; I think she was fully motivated by her ego. She couldn’t dare admit that she was in over her head, or that her company Theranos wasn’t able to do what she promised; she just kept lying to others (and possibly herself) in the hopes that everything would work itself out.

The story is at times unbelievable. The number of attorneys involved. The cloak and dagger way the company treated its ‘trade secrets.’ The threatening letters. The lawsuits. The firings of anyone who questions anything. To think that people act this way — and think it is justified — is distressing to say the least. And frankly, I reserve about as much disgust for the attorneys who did Elisabeth Holmes’s bidding as I do for Holmes and her C-suite colleagues. The way the tormented people is offensive.

One area I think could have been developed a little bit more is the exploration of what the failures of the blood testing did to people’s lives. Carreyrou does share some stories of those who were harmed — such as a woman who ended up with $3,000 in unnecessary medical bills — but that can at times get lost in the story. And of course many of the whistle-blowers were motivated by the danger that faulty blood testing can cause, but it still wasn’t necessarily woven in as much as I would have liked. But that’s a very minor quibble, because it’s definitely discussed.

A little more than halfway through the book, the author become part of the story. It’s a slightly dramatic moment, but I think it is handled very well. The investigation of the Wall Street Journal article that predates the book is a huge reason why Theranos has been sued and why some of its leadership have been charged with crimes. It would be impossible for him to stay out of it, and the book would have suffered greatly without his perspective being shared in this way.

There were many moment when I got so angry at the things people were getting away with, but the last couple of chapters — I mean, there are some serious just deserts being served. It’s chef’s kiss come to life.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: Keep it. And probably listen again soon.

Thursday

28

February 2019

0

COMMENTS

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Written by , Posted in Reviews

4 Stars

Best for:
People who enjoy autobiographies that don’t feel overly edited or ghost written.

In a nutshell:
Former (sob) First Lady Michelle Obama tells her story, from early childhood through her departure from the White House.

Worth quoting:
“This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path — the my-isn’t-that-impressive path — and keep you there for a long time.”
“…because having been brought up in a family where everyone always showed up, I could be extra let down when someone didn’t show.”
“As the only African American First Lady to set foot in the White House I was ‘other’ almost by default. If there was a presumed grace assigned to my white predecessors, I knew it wasn’t likely to be the same for me.”

Why I chose it:
I mean, duh. It’s Michelle Obama. How could I not?

Review:
I love the fact that Obama doesn’t become First Lady of the U.S. until page 282 in a 426 page book. She was only First Lady for eight years, but I can see a lesser publishing house or editor wanting to really focus on those eight years. In fact, given what was kept in and what was left out, I can see that this could EASILY have been a two-book volume. Instead, it is a true auto-biography that gives us real insight into who Michelle Robinson is, and how her life became entwined with our 44th President.

Obama is a great writer. I found her stories evocative, and interesting. I could picture the apartment she grew up in, her law office, her family. And while fairly early on her future husband enters the picture, the focus is still on her and how she experienced all these adventures. He’s almost a minor character; I feel like I get more of a sense of her children than her husband. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing — he tells his story, and has told his story, many times. This is about HER and how she felt about the things she has experienced as a Black woman filling a role that no Black woman has filled before.

It was hard to read again about some of the political things — reading asshole Mitch McConnell’s offensive and frankly anti-American comments, and being reminded of how aggressively Republicans fought to harm so many people in the US by blocking any sort of progress, just pissed me off even more than my regularly daily pissed-offedness thanks to the current President. But it was fascinating to learn a bit more about how the White House works, and how their family adjusted to that life.

I found myself relating to her in some ways – she is a planner, and super organized, and had a good home life growing up. I related hard to the quote I included up top, about staying on a path because one is worried about what other’s might think. I spent most of my youth through the end of college thinking I was going to be a lawyer, and it wasn’t until the summer before I was supposed to enroll at UCLA Law that I got the courage to tell my folks I didn’t want to do that. I had to figure everything out from scratch, and it terrified me. And I did another form of that again a year ago, when I moved overseas and left my career behind. For some of us its hard to not care what other people think, and it was refreshing to see someone be so honest about that.

There were definitely quite a few things that were either edited out or just never written. There is virtually nothing in there about her time in law school, which I found odd. But there is a lot about her time in college, so perhaps the two experiences weren’t different enough to be considered compelling reading? There is also not a ton in the White House, nor a lot about the second Presidential campaign. It’s a good read, but some of it does feel a bit ‘wait, you’re not even going to mention that?’, which is what kept me from giving it the full five stars.

I started this book in January and found myself only reading it in spurts, primarily because I tend to read on the go, and this book is HUGE. It was just too heavy to cart back and forth. But I sucked it up and read the back half in two days. So it’s not a slow read, or a dense read, but it’s not a book you can stick in a small purse and bring with you on the bus.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: Keep it AND Pass to a Friend

Friday

8

February 2019

1

COMMENTS

Give People Money by Annie Lowrey

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Anyone interested in changing the world, addressing poverty, or fixing the ills of capitalism.

In a nutshell:
What would the world — or just the US — look like if every single person received money every single month. Regardless of need. Regardless of ability to work. Just to keep them at a baseline level of existence, out of poverty.

Worth quoting (so much – sorry!):
“We no longer have a jobs crisis … but we do have a good-jobs crisis, a more permanent, festering problem that started more than a generation ago.”
“…we find no evidence that cash transfers reduce the labor supply, while service sector workers appear to have increased their hours of work.”
“Providing the poor with those steps might mean seeing them as deserving for no other reason than their poverty — something that is not and has never been part of this country’s social contract. We believe that there is a moral difference between taking a home mortgage interest deduction and receiving a Section 8 voucher.”

Why I chose it:
The train to a friend’s wedding was delayed, so we had some time and I hadn’t brought a book (damn tiny fancy purses). Said fuck it and bought this. I met said friend in a philosophy program where I first heard universal basic income even mentioned, so it seemed appropriate.

Review:
This book is FASCINATING. I was expecting an examination of Universal Basic Income (UBI) and how it can help in places in the world where people live on less than $2 per day, and it does offer that. But author Lowrey spends the majority of the book looking at what UBI could do for the US. And after reading it, I’m still a bit up in the air about how it can work in practice, but absolutely on board for it in theory.

Lowrey’s starts by looking at the reality that jobs are going to start shrinking in hours and eventually going away as we become a more automated society. Driverless cars and trucks will put loads of people out of work — what are we to do with them? Some sectors will shrink and disappear (coal mining), and we haven’t necessarily seen the commensurate growth in other sectors. If everyone was guaranteed enough money to survive, then those who do not want to work 40+ hour weeks, or those who can’t, wouldn’t be subjected to life lived homeless.

But that’s not the main point of Lowrey’s book. We don’t need UBI because some jobs are going away; we need UBI because it can help address numerous societal wrongs right here in the US. Her chapter on racism and how US policies over the years have kept people of color from acquiring wealth and a rate anywhere near that of white people is brilliant, and a chapter I will be referring back to often. She also explores how the care economy and the work that women overwhelmingly do is completely undervalued, and a UBI could raise those workers up. And of course she is deeply interested in the overall poverty rate in the US. I think this is an absolutely true and desperately sad statement:

“The issue is not that the Unites States cannot pull its people above the poverty line, but that it does not want to.”

Lowrey is not oblivious to the problems of implementation. We already have a serious issue in the US of people disparaging and looking down upon people living in poverty; if benefits programs were re-organized and some of the benefits middle-class people have become used to getting go away, that resentment will build. Plus, if everyone in the US gets UBI, how we decide who qualifies? Only citizens? Legal residents? What will that do to a country that is already so deeply fucked up when it comes to immigration?

Finally, she looks at how we might pay for this, and this is the one area that I wish she spent more time on (and what brings this from a five-star to a four-star book for me). I have zero problem with giving people money for existing. I don’t think we should sentence people to lives without homes or health care because their ability or desire to work doesn’t match mine. But the money has to come from somewhere, right? Taxes on workers? Businesses? Carbon? ROBOTS? (seriously, it’s an interesting idea).

There is not enough political will for this to be a real thing in the US right now. But I think it deserves serious examination. There is no reason why anyone in the US — let along the world — should be living in poverty. No reason. We just have to have the courage to make some real changes.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it (and buy copies for other people)

Monday

4

February 2019

0

COMMENTS

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Anyone interested in a quick read about family, crime,and the choices we make.

In a nutshell:
Korede’s sister Ayoola has just killed her third boyfriend. Korede has once again helped dispose of the body. Next up on Ayoola’s dance card? Korede’s coworker, who she has feelings for.

Worth quoting:
“I console myself with the knowledge that even the most beautiful flowers wither and die.”

Why I chose it:
I’ve seen so many people talking about it, and it sounded interesting.

Review:
What would you do if a close relative killed someone? How about three someones? Would you help them bury the bodies? Would it matter if there was a chance — however slight — that each act was an act of self-defense?

One of the pull quotes on the back of my copy (courtesy of Marie Claire) calls this ‘The wittiest and most fun murder party you’ve ever been invited to.’ I think that’s a pretty gross mischaracterization of the story. It’s not ‘fun’ and it’s not meant to be fun. There’s no murder party. It’s an exploration of values and the limits (if there are any) of what we do for the love of family.

I could go on, but I think many of you have heard of this book, and hopefully you’re planning to read it. If you’re expecting a ‘fun murder party,’ you might be a bit disappointed. But if that pull quote turned you off a bit, I hope you’ll reconsider, because I think this is an enjoyable, interesting, and well-told story.

This book is SUCH a quick read that I do sort of wish I’d checked it out of the library. It’s just over 220 pages, but many pages are only 1/2 full of text, given the author’s style. Plus, with a pretty big font, it honestly is more like 100 pages. Longer than a novella, but not really. Still worth checking out though.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Pass to a friend

Saturday

19

January 2019

0

COMMENTS

The Communication Book by Mikael Krogerus & Roman Tschäppeler

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Two Stars

Best for:
Perhaps people who need to negotiate? Or maybe people who just want a quick reference of different ideas or theories on communication? I’m not totally sure.

In a nutshell:
An attempt at narrowing down — into two pages and a diagram — theories of communication.

Worth quoting:
“Negotiating properly means everyone gets more than they expected to.”

Why I chose it:
I was about a week away from starting up an office job for the first time in nearly a year, and figured I could use a refresher on communicating with people who aren’t my partner or friends.

Review:
I’m not sure what this book is. It’s not a book that you read cover to cover (well, I did, but I didn’t need to). It is more of a reference book. And while the ideas the authors explore are loosely collected into communication realms (Job and Career, Self and Knowledge, Love and Friendship, Words and Meanings), I didn’t notice much of a difference between certain ideas that warranted them being siloed into such categories. But I appreciate the attempt at good organization.

I think this book would work much better in a larger format, where one page is the diagram of the idea (and the diagrams are cute and somewhat helpful), and one page is the overview / explanation. There isn’t a lot of content here — each section is a very high-level overview — so my suggestion would result in a much thinner book, but I think that book would be better for it. The diagrams all take up two pages, which means there’s the spine smack in the middle. It’s hard to read.

The fact that I don’t recall much of what I read, and that my focus is on organization and formatting should be a hint as to why I’m not a big fan of this book. I appreciate the concept and even some of the content, but the execution just didn’t work for me.

Keep it / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it, because it might be a good reference point.