Tag: Books

Book Review: How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big / Business Self-Help

Book Review: How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big / Business Self-Help

Scott Adams is the creator of the comic Dilbert. As a successful entrepreneur, he wrote this memoir/business/self-help book to provide examples of life strategies that might help others. The book starts out strong with helpful advice about business strategy. The ending becomes preachy as he turns to habits & lifestyles. Leslie Rating: 2/5

How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

I initially enjoyed reading How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams. The best piece of advice from him is to use systems not goals. This is exactly how I’ve been looking at life for the past few years. Goals are for losers. You need to have systems. Without a system in place, you will fall back into the old routine. He is definitely on point there.

Adams also has a lot of optimism and focus. I like the idea of a forward focus. Being optimistic means learning from failures rather than becoming stagnant from them. His attitude is upbeat and the book starts out as an enjoyable read. The beginning of the book is very memoir so it is interesting to learn about someone else. However, from there the book is just him telling us how to live our lives.

Moving into business, the tone definitely changes and he starts to sound a little bit like an asshole. His business strategy is to always be an entrepreneur and sell a product, never selling his own time. He makes it clear that his comics are a business; he is not an artist. So if he will earn more money by changing something in the comic, he does not have the limitation of artistic integrity. This is a product so it must be designed for those willing to buy it. It also is simple so it can be easily recreated and mass produced. That way he is making the most money in the least amount of time. This is likely the type of attitude it takes to be really rich (and Adams is really rich, really really rich, and he won’t let you forget that fact).

From Business advice, he turns to straight-up life advice. This is the asshole bit. Because these things worked for him, he is certain they are key to everyone’s success. Yes, it is that preachy and self righteous. He states that this might not work for everyone but his attitude is clearly that it will. This section also has a Dale Carnegie feel to it. Which is no surprise because one of his Life Tips is to learn how to manipulate others. Sure, you’ll get other people to like you. And I guess when you’re asking people for money in the business world that is important. But it just feels so icky to me. (Clearly I am not cut out for the business world).

Another of his Life Tips is to drink coffee for the energy boost. Yes, that is a pro-tip. He also has a huge section on Daily Affirmations. But the whole idea is such a joke I’m ignoring it.

The few takeaways the book has can be found in other places. The rest of the book has a know-it-all tone that does not seem helpful. The more I thought of the book after, the less I liked it. I give it a 2/5 because the information is nothing new and his explanation of it is unnecessarily condescending.

Book Review: Sleeping Giants / Contemporary Sci-Fi

Book Review: Sleeping Giants / Contemporary Sci-Fi

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel is a contemporary sci-fi novel that interweaves the possibility of alien life with current International politics. It is Book 1 of the “Themis Files”, which means this book has a non-ending and empty characters. The story line is still very strong. Leslie Rating: 4/5.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

As I read this book, I loved it. And immediately afterward, I loved it. But within a short period of time, I’ve thought more about the book’s flaws. The core problem I see, which causes a lot of smaller problems, is this is the first book in the eventual series “Themis Files.” Because this novel was written with a series in mind, the characters are shallow & boring. We learn about the characters in a form of “tell” not “show”. We don’t learn about them, we are told about them. For the most part, I was able to ignore this. There is also a cliche love triangle which I also was able to tune out. At least it is used as a vital plot device. But since the characters have zero depth, they also have zero chemistry with each other. I’m sure it will become a focus later on in the series and I have no interest in that.

Let’s get back to the good stuff! The story is really imaginative and unique. I enjoyed it being the sci-fi aspect of alien life forms. Combined with the contemporary aspect of politics. The question as it is presented in the book is, if parts of an alien weapon are found all over the world, who owns the weapon once it’s together? Who provides the funding? Where is the project located? I found all those questions fascinating.

Since this is first in a series, this book has a non ending which is disappointing. I mean, it answers all my questions. But never fully tells the reader what it is they found. The alien robot weapon really is the best part of the book. I wish Neuvel spent longer finding parts and building the robot weapon. Instead, it happens pretty quickly which is why I mention it here. It’s not a spoiler. I was expecting that to be the big reveal at the end. Instead it was pretty rushed.

The more I think about it the less I enjoyed the book. But I absolutely loved it while reading so maybe that is the important part. I am still going to give it a 4/5 because the writing of plot is on point and it is an original sci-fi story.

Book Review: Queen of the Night / Historical Fiction

Book Review: Queen of the Night / Historical Fiction

Novel Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee is a historical fiction novel set in 1800’s Europe telling the life of an opera singer and her journey to high society. Leslie Rating: 3/5

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Originally, I heard about this novel via a book podcast that I no longer subscribe to. Including this one, their recommendations have been duds for me, personally. The plot was described as something far more interesting than it actually is. However, I did not know that when I picked this up from the library.

The day I began The Queen of the Night, I was reading it outside on my lunch break. A man walked by and in passing said, I just read that book and I really recommend it. It was rather long but a good book. I thanked him for his recommendation. Skipping to the end of the book, I took notice of the 550 page count but didn’t think anything particularly lengthy about it. After finishing the story, I now realize he meant ‘long’ figuratively. Because the story definitely went on for about 100-pages too many.

The first 300 pages were rather captivating. The story begins at the end, where we learn a very popular opera singer is asked to play a role in an opera being written specifically for her. I know nothing about opera but apparently this is a really big deal. As the story is being described to her, she realizes it is based on her own life, which was supposed to be a mystery.

Then the book goes back in time and we learn about her life history. This is a typical rags-to-riches story except interwoven with a historical timeline. The middle of the story is when the Franco-Prussian war hits. In what should be interesting, these parts were definitely a slog. Chee’s writing style is exceptional when writing a character-driven story. When writing a scene-based story, he struggles. Writing about the streets of Paris when there are bombings, dead bodies, and rivers of blood had never felt so boring and forced. Chee’s method of writing is “tell” rather than “show”. There was little emotion when describing these war scenes. And they did little to drive the plot or add depth to the main character. You can easily skim through the middle and not miss anything.

Once that part is over, we are brought back to the Soprano’s life story and Chee finds his writing niche again. The story moves rather suddenly at the end but does wrap up nicely. I found the story overall enjoyable. It probably would be more enjoyable if I knew anything about Opera. Or about that period in history.

This is very much a character-driven historical fiction story. Chee’s writing is on point for most of the book. I am interested to see where he goes from here. I did not (and probably will not) read his previous work. Overall, I did enjoy Queen of the Night and am giving it a 3 out of 5 rating.