Book Review: Cardinal and Gold

Some things just go together: peanut butter and jelly, Oreos and milk, salt and pepper… you get the point.

Steve Delsohn combines two of my favorite things: football and history.  Delson’s book, Cardinal and Gold: The Oral History of USC Trojan Football, is a creative approach to share a narrative.  The author interviews prominent players, coaches and staff of the USC football program (from multiple decades) and uses their words to tell the story.

The individual testimonies, although very different, create a 360 degree view of the situation.  Even if you have no interest in football, the storyline of the USC program over the decades is compelling and a page turner.  My takeaway is this: the push for glory reveals the true character of the men who tell their version of the story.  It’s a “pull the curtain back” narrative that will inspire you, make you cringe, or feel other deep emotions.

Two drawbacks of the book.  First, some of the language is sketchy and should prevent young readers from diving in to the book.  Second, two of the most famous characters from the USC program are absent from the book.  I wish the author could have secured quotes from Pete Carroll and Reggie Bush, so we have to let other speak on their behalf.

If you like football and biography, this is a good read.

The Apache Wars Book Review

Have you ever built up an experience in your mind so much that the thing you built up could never live up to your expectations?  Me too.  My hope for The Apache Wars was far too high for the material.  The subject matter piqued my interest, but the book never did deliver for me.

Usually, I enjoy history.  I especially like learning about places where I have lived.  Hutton’s book had too many details and characters for me to keep straight,  Even though some of the places are familiar to me, I could never keep his references straight.  Maybe if he had a timeline or more maps I could have followed more closely… maybe…

The storylines never had a good pace or rhythm.  In fact, the book felt more like a text book with lots of technical references that really didn’t add much to the development of any story.  The Apache Wars is too long and has more detail than the casual reader (like me) wants to sift through.

Many books I read and review come directly from publishers. Pleasenote, however, that I am not paid to review any of these books,andthat everything I say about a book is my own opinion.

The Happiness of Pursuit – Book Review

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This is my story.  No one can take it from me.  And that has made everything entirely worth it. The Happiness of Pursuit

Have you ever thought, “There has to be something more than this!”  If so, you might be ready for a quest… according to author and adventurer Chris Guillebeau in his new book The Happiness of Pursuit.

Guillebeau has an amazing way of inspiring and making his subject matter seem reachable.  A lot of inspirational stuff seems to be about a person who is superhuman where I say at the end of the book, “Wow!  That was incredible.  Too bad I could never do that.”

The Happiness of Pursuit has a plan to take a global quest where the quest seeker only has to save only $2 a day for a year (no need to be superman to do that!).

I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of the work Chris Guillebeau does.  He travels the world (well, he literally visited every country in the world on his quest) as research to write a really inspiring book.  But, he doesn’t spend the entire book talking about himself.  He also reached out to other fellow quest followers and shares what does and doesn’t make a good quest.

Over the past five years I have been interested in the idea of “telling a better story” with my life.  Gillebeau doesn’t just talk about the need to do something inspiring, his book actually lays out some practical guidelines (or principles) for making a real quest happen.

If you feel like you need to do something more than what you are currently doing, or if you have  burning passion to make a real difference… you need to get this book!  You won’t regret taking a new pursuit, especially if you realize that the real reward is the happiness you experience along the way.

Many books I read and review come directly from publishers. Please note, however, that I am not paid to review any of these books, and that everything I say about a book is my own opinion.

 

TR Nerds Unite!

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My library has WAY more Theodore Roosevelt volumes than the average book collector.  Twenty years ago, I without shame became a “TR Nerd.”  Roosevelt’s zeal for life is contagious.  If he were alive today, the media would like describe him as a “polarizing figure.”

Even though I’ve read a variety of accounts of TR’s life, Darrin Lunde’s The Naturalist offers one more unique side to President Roosevelt.  In fact, Lunde does an excellent job to demonstrate how TR’s love for nature was a defining characteristic of his personality.  Lundy makes this case that Roosevelt was so much of a naturalist that many of the political and business decisions he made were a result of his naturalist framework.  You’ll have to get the book to understand the full impact of the previous statement.

I’m not sure if anyone but a raving TR fan will enjoy or even be able to fully appreciate this book.  It’s deep because of the connections Lunde makes regarding TR and his great love for the outdoors. – The paradox throughout the book is mind bending: TR hunted to preserve animals. The author cited example after example of TR hunting animals, and by the end of the book the animal tally was well into the thousands.  Lundy articulates Roosevelt’s positing on the whole hunting/preserving paradox.  If you’re a TR fan, I think this book will provide a new twist on a well known historical figure.

I loved the book (which really makes me a TR Nerd) – it’s written well and adds value to the study of TR’s life.

Many books I read and review come directly from publishers. Please note, however, that I am not paid to review any of these books, and that everything I say about a book is my own opinion.

Born for This Book Review

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Discovering what you want to do with your life is complex.  Some people never get it figured out.  Others know exactly what it is and seem to go after the “calling” with a passion.

Hundreds of books cover the topic of “doing what you love.”  A lot of those books aren’t very practical.  Or, after 200 pages I find myself thinking, “I already knew all of that… and it still doesn’t help me figure out my calling!”  If you want a fresh approach to discovering your vocation, I suggest you get a copy of Born for This by Chris Guillebeau.

Guillebeua’s style is easy to read and even inspiring at times.  Included with his practical text are several free online assessments and documents to help you apply his material.  If you are an entrepreneur type, this book is especially geared toward you!  Born for This also has great suggestions for ways to improve your current situation if you feel like that thing you are “supposed” to do with your life.  The suggestions and ideas about “reframing” your life and career are worth the read.

I’m planning on keeping this one handy to reference when I get “stuck” with what to do next in my career.

Many books I read and review come directly from publishers. Please note, however, that I am not paid to review any of these books, and that everything I say about a book is my own opinion.

The Productivity Project Review

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If there is a better way to do something… I usually want to find it.  And it doesn’t matter what the activity or event is.  My mind wants to find a better way.  Sometimes, my well-intended critique isn’t always seen as constructive.  My wife has more than 20 years of listening to my so-called fixes.

Chris Bailey, in his book The Productivity Project, spent an entire year researching productivity.  He subjects himself to dozens of crazy tests to figure out a more productive way of doing things (for example: waking at 5 AM to start his day, limiting his Internet consumption to only 30 minutes a day, exposure to less blue light, etc.).  Bailey even goes so far to list the time needed to read each chapter on the beginning page of each chapter.

Admittedly, it took me longer to read this book than I thought it would.  My issue was trying to deal with the activities and exercise that accompanies each chapter.  A lot of the activities seem to involve a lot of heavy thinking and time to write out action plans to change.  Maybe my issue is less about his suggestions and more about my unwillingness to change.

One chapter was very helpful for me, and the exercise was quite simple.  He calls it the Rule of 3.  List the three biggest things you need to accomplish each day, week, month and year.  Just three.  For me, that section was worth the lengthy read of the rest of the book.

The book is full of suggestions and ways to help you improve… just make sure you have enough time to carry out the plans Bailey provides.

Many books I read and review come directly from publishers. Please note, however, that I am not paid to review any of these books, and that everything I say about abook is my own opinion.

A Review of Nonsense

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Sometimes the anticipation of a thing is more interesting than the actual thing itself.  My hopes were pretty high for Holmes’ book Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing.  Although it’s not terrible, I could never quite get into a rhythm reading a book of endless psychology tests and illustrations.  In fact, many of the sections left me scratching my head… and I finally concluded, “I’m just not smart enough to understand this part of the book.”

At other times, I really found the research fascinating.  Holmes has a few anecdotes, like the 50 day standoff in Texas (a section about the fiasco of the Branch Davidians in Waco) that shed a lot of light on living in ambiguity and uncertainty.  But, I really had a difficult time finishing the text because I’m still not sure how to apply the majority of it to my life and thinking.

Many books I read and review come directly from publishers. Please note, however, that I am not paid to review any of these books, and that everything I say about a book is my own opinion.