mini book reviews, part 2

Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World, by Anthony D. Williams and Don Tapscott
2.5 stars

when i read wikinomics (by the same authors) some time ago, it sparked my imagination in multiple ways and had me laying down the book multiple times to write up little ideas that were bursting forth from my brain. and i was hoping for the same with this sequel. that first book was about how a collaborative culture (wiki culture) is reshaping business and other fields. this sequel widens the implications to broader cultural and societal categories. chapters include everything from wiki-government to re-dreaming the publishing industry (and a dozen macro-categories in between). the first two or three chapters had me charged up — but it was probably more from expectation than reality. problem is: the book is too long and too repetitive. in the end, i was just reading to finish it, and felt the authors showed arrogance in both approach and overstatement.

Replay, by Ken Grimwood
5 stars

someone who follows my book reviews suggested i would like this book (sorry, dude, i’m blanking on your name!); and he was right. first published more than two decades ago (which sometimes shows, but mostly doesn’t matter), replay is the story of a middle age dude who dies of a heart attack, and instantly wakes up in his college freshman body and life, but with all his memories intact. he uses all his knowledge of “the future” to build an investment empire, only to die again at the exact same moment. and wake up again, at pretty much the same 19 year-old moment. and the cycle continues. each time around he tries out a different approach to finding meaning in life, but is — of course — stuck with the deep frustration that it will all be wiped out when he dies yet again. about a third of the way into the book i was starting to get suspicious that the endless cycles were going to get repetitive and boring to read. but just in time, a couple significant additional factors play into the storyline, making it super-compelling. it’s one of those stories that elicits unavoidable self-reflection. how am i living my life? what’s the point? what am i creating? what will remain and what will be found as chaff?

StrengthsFinder 2.0, by Tom Rath
5 stars

i finally took the strengths finder test (after hearing about it for years), and read the accompanying book. the book is really more of a reference to the test, by the way. but i so deeply resonate with the basic notion that we grow more by developing our strengths than by trying to compensate for our weaknesses. i’ll definitely be using this in my coaching work (and have already assigned it to one of my coaching cohorts). i can hardly think of a human being who wouldn’t benefit from taking this (online) test and learning more about their unique (i’d say god-given) wiring. my five strongest strengths, by the way, came out as: Activator, Self-Assurance, Input, Ideation, and Maximizer, which really fit well with the work i’m doing these days.

Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby
4 stars

i love hornby’s writing. he doesn’t just tell stories, he develops characters. really, his books are more about the interplay of a collection of well-developed characters than they are about “what happens”. this collection involves a reclusive american ex-rocker (who has systematically destroyed most of his life), a going-nowhere obsessed fan from england, and that fan’s “what have i done with my life?” newly ex-girlfriend. as the story unfolds, the ex-girlfriend becomes friends with the ex-rocker. as with other hornby books, themes of redemption (or, at least, partial redemption) and taking stock of life are central. the title, by the way, refers to a newly released acoustic version of the rocker’s one critically acclaimed record.

7 thoughts on “mini book reviews, part 2”

  1. Great reviews Mark! I was the guy who suggested Replay…and who handed you a few books at NYWC last week. Good to hear a decent review for Juliet, Naked as well. I almost picked it up in the airport before flying home…but didn’t because of a Hornby book i lost interest in a few years ago. Hope you enjoy those other books as well.

  2. Marko. I had the privledge of accompanying our junior highers to your session at SoCal Youth Convention this last weekend. I loved the way you presented the story of the 5 loaves and 2 fish. My girls were asking all sorts of questions once we left. So, thank you. As a side note: my mentor/boss (I’m his intern) is Kelly Lowery and he couldn’t stop talking about your meeting together. He seriously recommends your book (3.0) to everyone.

    And. I’m Activator, Developer, Belief, Positivity, Learner. :)

  3. Awesomeness. I would have picked nearly all those strengths in you. Isn’t it interesting though – because I reflect on how much opportunity there is to be working in that Maximizer strength now, that perhaps wasn’t there a couple of years ago. Rad huh?

  4. Sounds good, I guess I’ll have to check out Hornby’s latest. I like music themed pop culture novels. Have you read Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman? It’s like Hornby, but non-fiction. Its also hilarious, and has a great chapter on the Left Behind books from the perspective of the writer, who’s a wishy-washy agnostic. Also, Generation A by Doug Coupland is excellent as well.

  5. nice! yeah, Klosterman just has such an original tone. I am trying to mimic it in the book I am writing, which combines his type of pop culture criticism with my own thoughts on faith. there’s a couple of sections up on my blog if you want to check them out. And I wish I could start a Christian book study of Coupland’s stuff — lots to be mined there about how we can engage with pop culture and young people today.

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