Best Reads: April 2016

Apparently I was long-winded in my reviews last month. Probably because I read some really thought-provoking stuff. Without further ado, April’s best read picks!

The Industries of the FutureThe Industries of the Future by Alec J. Ross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t want to give this book five stars but I think that might just be because I don’t really like the future? SO UNFAIR. I guess this is the first time I’ve really wanted half stars on Goodreads.

ANYWAY.

This book was fascinating. None of the industries surprised me, nor did Alec Ross’ picture of the future. I’ve been in the tech industry long enough to know crazy crap is gonna happen. If you need a primer, CCP Grey did a great (and a bit depressing) video on it called “Humans Need Not Apply.”

In brief, the chapters cover robots, genomics, cryptocurrency, cyberwarfare, big data/IoT, and governmental policies that help/hinder innovation. I appreciated the examples and stories told by the author. I’ve seen a few reviews that said he just name dropped and the whole book was about stroking his ego (I mean, isn’t that why most people write nonfiction jk but srsly), but most of the time I thought it was interesting and lent credibility to his theories about the future.

As I said, the “predictions” themselves weren’t new or surprising. The stories, details, and insights Alec shares WERE. I learned so much, particularly about different countries. A bit odd, I know, but I think Americans often have a silo mentality and have no idea what’s going on in innovation and the governmental role in it when it comes to China, Russia, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Rwanda, Estonia…and SO MANY MORE. I came out of this book feeling like I learned more about government and geography than all of high school. Which probably says more about how much I disliked geography than the emphasis of this book.

I was genuinely surprised by the emphasis on getting women in the workforce. This guy flat out says (in slightly less harsh words) that your country is a dummy if it’s not empowering women in the workforce because they will raise your GDP. “Women are half of every nation’s workforce- or potential workforce. To be a prosperous and competitive country requires access to the best-educated pool of workers. If a country is cutting off half of its potential workforce, it is taking itself out of the game.”

I also loved the political insight. It’s fascinating to get an inside view into what our (USA) government is doing around the world as well as what other governments are thinking and doing. The story about Estonia made me hopeful that a country can turn itself around, and the kind of effort it takes to do so. I feel like reading this book made me a lot more knowledgeable and able to vote aptly in our next election.

This book definitely put me through the wringer. At times it made me depressed (as I am wont to do), made me hopeful, and made me think…hard. It is absolutely worth the read if you plan on being in the workforce for the next 5-25 years, or know people who are, or are raising kids who will be. Just generally a good read imo.

Rabbi Harvey vs. the Wisdom Kid: A Graphic Novel of Dueling Jewish Folktales in the Wild WestRabbi Harvey vs. the Wisdom Kid: A Graphic Novel of Dueling Jewish Folktales in the Wild West by Steve Sheinkin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is definitely my favorite of the three. This one has an overarching story, and while I like the little one-offs in the previous books, this just makes it better. ALSO THE ENDING IS CUTE.

 

 

A Civil Campaign (Vorkosigan Saga, #12)A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Parents in all previous books: “WOW YOU KIDS SHOULD GET MARRIED”
Parents in this book: “NO STOP MARRYING”
Me: “WOW CALM DOWN”

*edit*
I feel bad for not having reviewed things very well, so I wanted to do a *SLIGHTLY* better job. Even though I gave this five stars I was surprised that I didn’t enjoy it more. I was so excited about a comedic book but throughout I was possibly more frustrated and stressed than I have been for any others. AND THAT’S SAYING A LOT. It was just very frustrating to watch nearly everyone make terrible decisions EVEN WHEN THEY KNEW BETTER.
That being said, Ekaterin at the end made me love it.
Also, though I don’t really agree with Mark and Kareen’s arrangement, they are by far the most responsible of the couples which is hilarious and frustrating. COME ON THIRTY SOMETHINGS, GET IT TOGETHER.

We also read and loved Diplomatic Immunity (part of the Vorkosigan Series), but let’s be real you guys are tired of seeing those books on this list and there ALREADY IS ONE. 😉

 

Honorable Mention

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with SoulThe Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whew, this book. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it all along…well maybe not “love/hate” so much as “riveted/repulsed” but clearly I should just move on with the review.

At this point I feel like I’ve been through every book, article, quiz, and goal-setting instruction known to man. I know that isn’t true, but I have been seeking my “true calling” in life like a woman possessed. Yielding nothing. There is something utterly crushing about not being able to fulfill your dreams, but it’s possibly even MORE despair worthy when you can’t even figure out what your dreams ARE. The conclusion I’ve been living with is either I’m REALLY broken, or I’ve buried my dreams so deep that they are lost to me forever. On the worst days, both.

I love goals, I love goal setting, I’m an achiever-type personality, and I’ve been living without goals or knowing what goals to set for the past eight months. I’ve gone through some great goal-setting books but always come out with either “???” or three vastly different SETS of goals for my life. An emotional breakthrough came during another book, Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold, when a character said, “But once, reminiscing, she went into this sort of litany about all the things she’d ever been. Like astrocartographer, and explorer, and ship’s captain, and POW, and wife, and mother, and politician. The list went on and on! ‘There was no telling,’ she said, about what she would be next. And I thought, ‘I want to be like that. I want to be like her. Not just one thing, but a WORLD of possibilities. I want to find out who else I can be.'” My heart nearly burst with identification and validation.

So, enter The Desire Map. A book that right up front says that goal setting is backwards. That, “You’re not chasing the goal itself – you’re chasing the feelings that you hope attaining these goals will give you. … When you get clear on how you want to feel, the pursuit itself will become more satisfying.”

This was mind-boggling to me. Feelings are not a thing I place stock in. In fact, feelings are a thing I’ve been trying to suppress and/or kill for the past several years. Feelings don’t seem to serve any purpose in the world of business, and seem fickle. You can’t run your life on feelings!

As I kept reading, though, she seemed to make all the statements I’ve adopted. She talks about how we convince ourselves that the journey should be painful or we’re not sacrificing enough. Any amount of suffering will be worth it to achieve our end goal. “Our productivity-and results-obsessed society pathologizes feelings.” “…we don’t value inner attunement as much as we value outer attainment.” It was making too much sense.

So, I kept going. There are a decent handful of things that I just flat out don’t agree with or feel the same way about in this book. The author seems to have adopted select beliefs from several religions which surface in weirdly unnecessary ways, and has no qualms about using foul language in the book. That’s really what keeps me from giving this five stars. It really pulled me out of the experience.

However, I honestly felt that going through the workbook was worthwhile. It gave me insight into myself, it was strangely what I imagine therapy sessions feel like except without having to verbalize to some stranger.

With the caveat to “keep your wits about you,” I recommend this book for those who have found their goal system lacking.

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