Book Recollection: What The Dog Saw

It’s time for another book review.  This one has been a long time coming and one I almost didn’t get through.  To this day, the only book I have started but not finished is Tommyknockers by Stephen King which managed to bore the crap out of me by about 50 pages in.  As another worthless tidbit, the only book I ever Cliffed in my academic career was Moby Dick because I had little interest in wasting my time reading about revenge on a sperm whale.  Summary, it takes a lot for me to actually give up on a book but halfway through this particular effort and I was beginning to regret picking it up at night.  This actually reads a little harsher that it really is meant to be, but it is somewhat amplified by the fact I have read many of Malcolm Gladwell’s book and for the most part, they have been good reads.  The last one fell below expectations (see Outliers), so I was hoping for a rebound of such with this latest offering.   What the Dog Saw is really a collection of articles written for the New Yorker over the last 10 years or so.  Collections like this are generally ideal for my nighttime reading since I can consume the topic and not have to carry thoughts or plots over to the next time I get a chance to pick it up.  There is one key point to that concept.. the topic needs to provide some return on time investment be it something that expands my knowledge, provides an interesting perspective on a known topic or at least keeps me entertained – take for example the similarly crafted book from AJ Jacobs (see Experiment).  Unfortunately, many of these articles fell outside this scope.  On the positive side, the discussion on investing significant money to improve the life of the homeless to reduce their drain on society was interesting as well as the discussion on interviewing concepts (a topic that has always interested me), the wolf cries that led up to tragic events and for some strange reason the story on ketchup dominance held my interest until the end.  These highlights were overshadowed, however, by the discussion of Cesar Milan and the completely worthless entry on plagiarism.  I’ve given Malcolm a good deal of my valuable time invested in reading his books.  I think I’ve come to a point where I’ll concentrate on other authors for awhile.

It’s good to get the first book of the year out of the way, but it was a sobering experience to head out to Walgreens on my birthday to purchase some reading glasses.  I am just thankful I went with LASIK to eliminate the need to invest in bifocals (shudder).   Here’s to a new year of reading!

Hit the jump to read my takeaways

Continue reading Book Recollection: What The Dog Saw

Book Recollection: Outliers – The Story of Success

It should be no surprise if you noticed the foreshadowing in the previous book recollection that another one was coming on its heels. Today’s post is on a book that took me awhile to get through. It was not a difficult read, but I was about halfway through the book last year when I put it down and didn’t pick it up until a few weeks ago. It has been so long now that it is hard to say with any confidence the reason for this delay. My guess at this point is it was a victim of redundancy. In the midst of the first read, my in car audio book selection was SuperFreakonomics by Levitt and Dubner. AS it turns out, that audio book and today’s recollection have an overlap in their topics and discussion. So, my advice to you is if you have read or plan to read the SuperFreakonomics book, put some time between that and book Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. This is actually the third book I have read from Malcolm having previously completed The Tipping Point and Blink. If I had to put them in rank of preference I would go with Blink first, followed by Tipping and lastly, this particular effort. Again, this might be an unfair assessment due to the previously mentioned overlap, but this book felt incomplete to me. In credit to Malcolm’s other books, those kept my attention through just about every chapter. I can not say the same about this particular book. In fact, it was definitely one chapter too long (10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back).

So in summary, I thought the book had some interesting points and definitely had some takeaways (see below). However, I thought it was a letdown from his two other works. On the topic of becoming an expert through hard work and practice as opposed to talent and luck was addressed much more succinctly by Levitt and Dubner. The good news is I can simply blame my lack of desire to become a lawyer or doctor on the fact my parents were not Jewish immigrants. Thanks to Malcolm’s other two excellent books, he still has my interest. In fact, Linda got me his latest (What the Dog Saw) for my birthday. I have absolutely no idea what the topic is in that book, but I promise not to co-read it with any other economics books. On a side note, while getting the Amazon links for the books I noticed my favorite book of his (Blink) actually has a lower rating than this book and Tipping Point. Not sure what to think about that other than raters are obviously wrong .. hehehe.

Hit the jump to read some of the takeaways from from Outliers

Continue reading Book Recollection: Outliers – The Story of Success