I’ve been reading a lot lately, and recently finished 2 books, which I want to write a quick review about here.  We’re in the age of information, where abundant amounts of information is available. It is crazy, and constantly fascinates me, how much you can learn from a book in a few hours that took someone or a group of people a lifetime to learn. Reading a simple book makes you so much more aware of the realities of the world, and a lot of it is mind blowing.

Bad Science (Amazon)

The first one is Bad Science, by Ben Goldacre.  From 2008, it “criticizes mainstream media reporting on health and science issues.” While the idea of the book is good in that it exposes reality and dismisses the sugar-coated bullshit in the health and science world, the book was a bit redundant in its critizism.  Chapter after chapter seemed to be pointing out specific people and experiments, without looking at the underlying ideas. There are countless examples in the world, and I think the book went overboard with examples.  However, I did like the chapters on the placebo, Why Clever People Believe Stupid Things, and bad stats, all of which intrigued me. I was quite familiar with the topics in the book before I read it, and it didn’t enlightened much, but I think for people curious about the health and science world who aren’t familiar with the shady reality, it is definitely worth the read.

Comic about wisdom and knowledge

Linchpin (Amazon)

The second book is Linchpin, by Seth Godin.  I’ve known of Seth Godin for many years and have enjoyed a lot of his writings online and speeches, but never actually read a book of his until this. It is excellent, and I will definitely read more of his stuff in the future. The book seems to be targeted at companies looking to grow and at employees looking to create stability, but this is a good read for anyone, and I’d highly recommend it.

It talks about people shifting from the “factory worker”, someone who goes to work following more or less a set of instructions, to someone who is indispensable and creative (a creator of “art”, as defined in the book – see below). He calls this person a linchpin. He suggests that anyone can be a linchpin, and it is more about recognizing and utilizing your creative side as opposed to simply following instructions.  He brings up some good points in that following specific instructions started after the industrial revolution when companies wanted to create factories which employed people who simply followed instructions, where cheap to hire, and easily replaceable or depensible. This way of life has carried all of the way to today. Today, however, jobs like this aren’t safe anymore and are disappearing.  Work is either being taken over by computers and machines, or outsourced to someone cheaper. He recommends becoming a linchpin. It is an excellent book and would recommend it to anyone – the audiobook is read by Seth himself and very enjoyable to listen to. Every segment of the book is very interesting, and format of many short segments makes it an easy, yet though-provoking read.

“Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.

What makes someone an artist? I don’t think is has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards, or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while swell people, aren’t artists. On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artists who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.

An artists is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artists takes it personally.

That’s why Bob Dylan is an artist, but an anonymous corporate hack who dreams up Pop 40 hits on the other side of the glass is merely a marketer. That’s why Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, is an artists, while a boiler room of telemarketers is simply a scam.

Tom Peters, corporate gadfly and writer, is an artists, even though his readers are businesspeople. He’s an artists because he takes a stand, he takes the work personally, and he doesn’t care if someone disagrees. His art is part of him, and he feels compelled to share it with you because it’s important, not because he expects you to pay him for it.

Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.

Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”
– Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Currently I’m reading “The Art of Thinking Clearly”, and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” which so far are excellent.