Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: 康熙大帝

康熙大帝 康熙大帝 by 纪连海
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

如果你是那种看历史书就想睡觉的人,不妨拿这本书瞅一眼。虽然写法不伦不类(好比让周星驰重新编出来的“红楼梦”),但娱乐性高,容易读。只是部分内容有说教的嫌疑,加上说教的部分有时前后矛盾,所描述的历史事件在时间线上也不对办。若想认真对待这本书,则难免有点失望。

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Review: Find Your Why: A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team

Find Your Why: A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team Find Your Why: A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team by Simon Sinek
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a classic example of too many cooks spoil the broth. I've watch the talk by Simon Sinek and he definitely has some thought-provoking ideas. Unfortunately when he and the rest of the gang tried to pull together a project like this, their voices are disjointed and their messaging, repetitive. The book ended up making Sinek sound like a self-righteous prick.

Granted, it was mentioned that the project was challenging as the authors live on different continents and had to coordinate their efforts across different timezones. But that is precisely why they need to eat their own dog food and "find the why" for co-authoring this book in the first place.

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Review: Now, Discover Your Strengths

Now, Discover Your Strengths Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The central theme (ahem!) of this book - that we should focus on developing strengths rather than correcting weaknesses - has a lot merit and the research seems to back up the authors' claim that this is a better use of the limited resources we have.

However, the point here is not that we should just focus on the strengths and ignore the weaknesses. The problem is that we have the tendency to focus on weaknesses most of the time.

Consider this scenario: Suppose your child returns home with the following grades - an A in English, an A in social studies, a C in biology, and an F in algebra. Which of these grades would you focus on? According to the authors' research, 77 percent of parents chose to focus on the F in algebra, only 6 percent on the A in English, and an even more minuscule number (1 percent) on the A in social studies.

If you have no patience, go to Chapter 4 to read the description of all 34 themes of StrengthsFinder. When you are running through the themes, you may find yourself perplexed by some of the words used to label the talents. This seems to contradict the authors' claim that a revolutionary, common and precise language is now used to describe the talents. Some of the themes, like activator, ideation, intellection, even "Woo", may leave you scratching your head.

Fortunately, Chapter 5 is more beneficial as it includes a list of questions you may want to ask about the StrengthsFinder and the talent themes. It's like an FAQ section, but with a great deal of insights.

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam M. Grant
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Disappointed. A book that purports to be a cutting-edge primer on what it takes to be "original" (as Sheryl Sandberg puts it in the Foreword) has very little original insights in it.

In fact, this mash-up of snippets from other books on pop psychology contradicts its original premise that "to become original, you have to take risks". Instead, the author droned on and on about how risk-averse people achieved the level of success they had.

The author also seemed to cherry-pick data sets to support many of his narratives (e.g. the example on "procrastination").

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Friday, September 07, 2018

Review: The Circle

The Circle The Circle by Dave Eggers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This cautionary tale of a dysfunctional Utopian society may well illustrate the end of privacy as we know it. The story revolves around the Circle (no pun intended), an omnipresent tech company that implements increasingly invasive business practices on its employees, known as Circlers (hard not to draw a link to real life), as well as the world at large, in the name of full transparency.

The Circle's ethos -- secrets are lies; sharing is caring; privacy is theft -- will probably leave you conflicted, depending on how far down the transparency scale you're tipping.

You'll also have to draw your own conclusion about how (and whether) the increased surveillance will eventually lead to a totalitarian society, because the book's ending doesn't provide sufficient ammunition for conspiracy theorists to come home to roost.

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