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A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future
A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“A Whole New Mind” offers a new paradigm for so-called “right-brainers”, people who look at the world in a more creative and expressive way, compared to those who prefer numbers and hard data. Pink argues that the rise of certain themes like “user experience” and “storytelling” in traditionally “left-brain” industries like business, computer science, and government are a direct response to 3 “A”s:

1. Abundance: There’s just too much stuff out there. People need a reason to buy your product.
2. Asia: Many jobs are being out-sourced for cheaper (legal research, accounting, etc.)
3. Automation: Computers are replacing humans in many jobs.

Rather than bemoaning this trend toward outsourcing and excess products, Pink believes that humans (especially Americans) should adopt this as a call to a “creativity revolution” (called the “Conceptual Age”). He urges readers to embrace what is typically associated with the right brain (intuitive, art, creative) activities in their business and life as our society as much as we have embraced the left brain (logic, math, etc.). He asserts that embracing the “right brain” will serve as a personal and business advantage.

To help readers develop their “right brain” thinking further, Pink offers 6 characteristics that readers should foster to begin the process.Throughout the book, Pink shares his insights and journeys on the process.

This book was an eye opener for me because it represents a powerful idea on a business and personal level. On a personal level, the book serves as path to integrate more creativity and personal in their lives. On a business level, it provides a way for talents not given its proper due. While it does not provide a straightforward path for businesses to implement the recommendations on an organization, it provides excellent ideas on a personal level.

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Gnostic Gospels: Including the Gospel of Thomas - The Gospel of Mary Magdalene
Gnostic Gospels: Including the Gospel of Thomas – The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Alan Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first introduction to the actual Gnostic Gospels. I have read articles and books ABOUT them and read excerpts, but never actually read them up close and personal. This book allowed me to do that.

After reading it, I can see why many of the books were not accepted into the New Testament. The Gnostic Gospels were a challenge to read-paradoxes, ambiguity, etc., but then again what would you expect? It was interesting to read how others interpreted the words and thoughts of Christ. Of the Gnostic Gospels I liked “The Gospel of Thomas”, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene” and “The Greatest Human Evil is the Forgetfulness of God”.

In this edition, Alan Jacobs does a great job at portraying language in as simple of a concept as you can get with Gnostic literature. The words are written in verse form, which aids in reading comprehension and taking the time to digest the content.

This edition lacked footnotes or any textual aids whatsoever, which would have helped with comprehension (at least a little!). I was stuck wondering what an aeon was and who the beings were in the book. It was really confusing. A brief historical overview is provided at the beginning of the texts, but it doesn’t provide enough information.

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The Myth of the Garage: And Other Minor Surprises
The Myth of the Garage: And Other Minor Surprises by Chip Heath
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a great (very brief) book that asks us to reconsider our preconceived notions. I picked it because I am a very big fan of the Heath brothers after reading their book “Made to Stick”, which forced me to reconsider how I thought about marketing (and it was free!). This book continues in that same vein, although there isn’t a strong theme holding everything together. The book provides plenty of thought-provoking insights with wonderfully written examples, but it doesn’t provide any content on how to use those insights.

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The 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision Into Reality
The 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision Into Reality by First Middle McGraw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I chose Dr. Phil’s book because I’m a fan of his no-nonsense, straight talk psychology as featured on his TV show. I wanted to see if he offered the same kind of advice in a diet book. The “20/20 Diet Book” is targeted to people who have failed multiple diets and are looking for a better (more scientific approach) to weight loss. I am not seeking to lose weight (actually I’m looking to gain muscle), but I was still wanted to see Dr. Phil’s approach to fitness and eating healthy.

The book definitely features Dr. Phil’s mix of straightforward language mixed in with psychology. Unlike other diet books I’ve come across, this book’s defining quality is that it focuses on why people fail on other diets. Specifically, Dr. McGraw deals with weight loss resistance, the psychological, biological, and other factors that can make it hard to lose weight and keep it off. In other words, this book focuses less on “Just use your willpower to lose the weight” and more on “This is why you might have trouble with weight loss and here’s what to do about it”. That is an approach that many might be able to gravitate to.

The problem comes in with the diet itself. Because the book focuses on the scientific, it is too structured. The book features very precise meal plans (down to the individual meal, which can be helpful if you want to know exactly what you should be eating. On the other hand, that doesn’t give you a lot of wriggle room, if you want something different or have a situation where you can’t follow the plan (working late, birthday party, etc.) The emphasis on stages can also make things a little confusing.

Overall, this might be a great book if you:
1. Feel your body is weigh-loss resistant and you want someone to guide you meal-by-meal
2. Want to know about some of the psychological triggers or motivations that can impact your journey to weight loss.

The book is most applicable to the audience mentioned in #1, but people in #2 should get some insights from the book as well.

This book was based on an electronic copy of the book provided by NetGalley

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The Art of Growing a Beard
The Art of Growing a Beard by Marvin Grosswirth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a great thematic and historical look at the beard. Think “Art of Manliness” meets “History Channel”. The first half of the book takes a rather humorous look at beards through history (Ancient Egypt & Europe), while the second half provides detail on how to select and grow a beard. I was entertained by the first part of the book, but the second half was OK. The second half provided enough information to get started, but I was looking for a little more content as well as more illustrations (preferably pictures).

Overall, though, this book was a great introduction to the care and art of growing a beard. I reviewed the electronic copy of the book and look forward to purchasing the actual copy for my own personal collection.

This review was based on an electronic copy provided by Netgalley.

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The Modern No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo
The Modern No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo by Alison Golden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Paleo book focuses on answering the question: What do I do after I decide to Paleo?” It delves into the practical psychology and reality of trying to eat a Paleo diet in a modern world. For example, what happens when you go on vacation? How do you stick to a diet when you fall off “the Paleo wagon”? These questions are missing from just about every other Paleo book, so it’s important that someone actually tackle them. When you make a commitment to follow Paleo, a whole set of circumstances pop up: “How much will it cost?”, “Do I just drop all of my processed foods now or do it gradually?” All of these tiny considerations form the core of this book. Along the way, Golden shares her story of how and why she transitioned to Paleo. Her perspective from a mom trying to find something healthy for her family guides the whole book and serves as the viewpoint from which she gives her perspective. Her recommendations, though, are helpful for everyone (no matter what situation they are in) trying to eat Paleo.

After reading this book, I became more psychologically equipped to handle some of the pitfalls that I encountered early on in my transition to Paleo. I am still transitioning now, but I am better off than I used to be. This book would be a lot of help back when I first started because this book answered questions that I had about how to get started and stay on the Paleo diet.

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The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health by John Durant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a great book if you’ve read a little bit about the Paleo diet or lifestyle and wanted to know more about the historical connections behind the “caveman” that Paleo enthusiasts aspire to. If you have ever wondered how the “Paleo” diet and lifestyle may have actually looked in the past, this book provides a brief (but insightful look) exploration through various periods of human history. John Durant draws on anthropology, biology, culture, and even the Bible to show how humans from the past ate a diet that was uniquely adapted to the environment. Since Durant has a science background (Evolutionary Psychology from Harvard), he seeks to find the answers from that perspective. As a result, readers get to hear about Durant’s experiments in cold water plunging, hunting, and fasting. You get to read about the shape of prehistoric man’s brain development influenced their diet. Durant provides the science behind his perspective and then conducts an experiment in the real world to see if it has applicability to him. It’s a personal journey and a scientific journey rolled into one and Durant does it with his characteristic and sometimes satirical humor (Just check his Twitter page:@johndurant) and excellent writing.

Reading this book helped me gain a deeper perspective on the modern man’s attempt to “dial back the clock”. I now have a stronger historical and biological basis for my knowledge of Paleo. I was particularly interested in the sections where Durant covers ancient Hebrew culture and the Bible. First of all, it was unexpected (no Paleo book I’ve read covered this angle). Second, I had never made some of the connections from the viewpoint that Durant does, even though I have read Genesis and Leviticus hundreds of times. This is just one example of the insights that I gained from reading this book.

As a result of reading this book, I have a stronger knowledge base for answering the question “Why are you trying to live like a caveman?”

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