Reading Fanatic ReviewsAdvice and How To Nonfiction
Too Short to Be of Much Use
I have read a variety of books about investing and personal financial management. While the author proclaims in the book description that this book is intentionally short and not meant to be a heavy technical manual, I found it to be too brief to be of much value. If you look at the table of contents, many topics appear as though they will be addressed. They are, but so briefly that there isn’t much benefit to it. I find myself wondering if the author’s knowledge and the book topic would have been better served by splitting up the information into a series of books so that he could keep the book lengths short but go into some of these ideas in more depth. I don’t honestly feel like I can recommend this book.
28 Days to an Expansive Money Mindset
I found this to be a fascinating approach to getting a better mindset for prosperity and abundance. The book is grounded in the Law of Attraction, but the author says he sees it in a slightly different way. Here’s a quote from the book: “Thinking about attracting something means that there’s a separation between you and the thing you want, let’s say money in this case. I believe that instead of working on attracting things, we need to expand our consciousness and embrace the things we want. You can’t attract a desire if you think the desire is bigger than you…”
The book has a very small introductory section, and the bulk of the book is 28 essays and a variety of exercises (one for each day)—including meditation, affirmations, tapping, and more—to help you key into the particular topic of the day. While I haven’t given it all a try, I plan to. I found the ones I have done to be relaxing if nothing else; it also was calming. I’ll be interested to see how it turns out at the end of 28 days. Will it have affected a shift in my thoughts about money?
A Case for Communication
I have an interest in neuroscience; it fascinated me while I was in nursing school even though I didn’t ultimately become a neuro nurse. So I was intrigued by this title when it showed up at one of my favorite book review sites. It is very easy to read compared to other books on the thought and communication. It felt almost too simplistic at times. But at least it is more accessible than many books I’ve read on the topic. In this book, the author explores concepts like perception, content, bias, and distractions. For me, this book felt too loosely woven together. It was hard to see the interrelationship between all the various parts of this idea. Because of my interest in neuroscience, this was not my first time hearing some of these concepts, so most were not new to me. I thought the title and the subtitle were a bit disingenuous, as neither really had much to do with the book itself. I didn’t really make the connection between the content of the book and stupidity (although it could be argued that not understanding the basics of human engagement could lead to some stupid actions or decisions) nor did I feel that the book was very heavy into neuroscience, as I hoped it would be. Also, too, the subtitle states that this is about communication in the workplace; again, this didn’t seem to be the major thrust of the book, which seemed more about the theories in general than a lot of practical information. The book at its core is about communication on a variety of levels, though. It is about aspects of thought and human behavior that can affect how we perceive, think, decide, and act. Despite some deficiencies, I did still find this to be a fascinating read. If you have an interest in communication, perception, or bias, this book might interest you.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de
Surprising Helpful, if at Times Too Simple, Guide to Word
I have used Microsoft Word since it was a DOS-only program. I still use it every day as a writer, YouTuber, and freelance editor/proofreader. I used it in the past during college as well. I thought I knew the ins and outs of Word pretty well as I’ve used it for so long and in so many capacities. But I recently updated to Microsoft Word 2019 as a part of my 365 subscription, and I had noticed that things looked a little different but didn’t really take the time to explore them.
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from this book other than a brief look at Microsoft Word. The book purports to be able to be read in 30 minutes, but it definitely takes longer than that to go through the book, especially if you decide to take a few concepts for a spin in Word itself. Maybe it would take 30 minutes if you skip the parts that you already know (or think you know). Some information in this book is too basic, like how to copy and paste or save a file. Don’t we all know how to do simple computer tasks like that now? But there are plenty of nuggets of information here for people who haven’t used every bit of Word’s impressive capabilities. For instance, it has been a long time since I had had to do anything with references or citations, so it was good to get a refresher course. I also have never built an index. I was also intrigued to see the new things added to Word 2019. There is certainly more to Word than a simple word processor. If you aren’t sure about all that Word has to offer you, you might enjoy this book so you can understand its current possibilities. If you are relatively new to Word, this quick read will introduce you to the basics and then some. I recommend this book as a quick reference to anybody who uses or wants to use Word.
Facing Christmas Overwhelm? Get This Planner
I am definitely a person who enjoys the holidays. I love that time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. When I think back on the first Thanksgiving meal that I prepared myself for my husband and me, I remember how stressful it was to try to pull together the perfect meal while working and without much help. Over the years I developed a plan (and ditched the husband) with particular timing for certain things, and it did make it so much easier. Even if I would still collapse into a heap at the end of the big days. This book is aimed at helping you tame the overwhelm that the Christmas season can be so that you can create the holiday that will mean the most for you, your family, and your friends. This is a book that is quite enjoyable to read as well as act upon. The author comes across as very caring and understanding. She knows exactly where you’re at with all of the holiday hubbub and sincerely wants to help you create a special day or season while still maintaining your sanity.
The book has 21 projects. Even the author admits she doesn’t do all of them every year. But these projects are the things that you would typically do during the holiday season anyway, like trying to sort out which recipes you might use for the big days and figuring out your Christmas cards. But what I really appreciated was her guiding principles for the Christmas season (and which you do see echoed throughout the rest of the book): Namely, this should be about creating the holiday that you and others in your life want, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Just because you are the parent or the head of the household doesn’t mean it all has to be your responsibility for the big days. The author states quite firmly that you shouldn’t just do “holiday” things because they are expected; you should do them because you want to, and they will bring you and others the joy that is meant to be a part of the season. I just love that.
The projects are pretty straightforward, and she also has mini essays that go along with each project as well, where she continually urges you to do what is best for you and your family and to ask for help. Just because you have a tradition doesn’t mean you have to follow it if thinking about or doing it doesn’t bring you happiness. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the holidays and need kind advice, as well as practical plans, this book may be your ticket for a better holiday season.
Lots of Good Tips, But Not a Lot about Productivity
This bundle includes two books, 10-Minute Focus and Take Back Your Day. The first book is the one on focus. In it, he first discusses concepts like focus and procrastination. The core of the book is 25 habits you can cultivate to help improve your focus. The first section is about making your environment more conducive to focus, and other sections look at immediate actions you can take to improve your focus, procrastination, and self-care. I didn’t think that all the habits within each section necessarily fit with its subject matter. For instance, the procrastination section seems to be filled with subjects that have nothing to do with procrastination at all; it almost feels like a grab-bag section for habits the author didn’t know where else to put. They might still be valuable and viable habits/tips, but their subjects had nothing to do with procrastination. Some habits definitely take far more than 10 minutes to do. Some take more time to set up, but once implemented, they may take a short amount of time to continue with, like decluttering your workspace. Others will be an ongoing task, like not letting others distract you. I found the self-care section surprising. In it, he looks at taking breaks, aerobic exercise, meditation, healthy diet, and sleep, as ways that will turbocharge your focus.
The second book is much shorter. While this book has some useful information, I don’t necessarily see how all the topics directly relate to the title of the book, Take Back Your Day. Topics include setting the right goals, finding some free time, changing your mindset, finding your positivity, and improving your emotional intelligence. Some of the more general topics among those just don’t seem to relate to the idea of taking your day back. When I flipped through the chapter on finding free time, I was surprised at its contents. The concept behind this chapter is to create free time in your day by doing time-saving tasks. I agree that advance meal preparation, either by yourself or with someone else, can definitely help free up some time on days when you don’t have to cook as much. But the bulk of the chapter was about creating streams of passive income through course creation and selling stock photos. These just seems like odd things for this book in general and this chapter in particular. As someone who has created a course, I can say that setting it up is no mean feat. While you may be able to make passive income with it, it does take quite a bit of work to get there, and there is no guarantee that you will make much money if you don’t already have a list of people you can possibly sell it to.
For a bundle of books that is supposed to be about productivity, I don’t know if I necessarily see either of these books to be wholly about productivity. In fact, I don’t really see the second book as being about productivity at all. The first book may have habits that apply to productivity, like overcoming procrastination and batch processing similar tasks, but much of the book has topics that in no way truly relate to productivity. That is not to say that this book bundle doesn’t offer valuable ideas. There’s actually much food for thought here, especially the first book. I just don’t like it when books don’t reflect what they’re about in the title, as I believe that it is important to be wholly honest and transparent in nonfiction. I would still recommend this book for the ideas and techniques, though.
Uneven Book But Great Ideas
It is hard for me to define precisely what this book is. The author’s heart is definitely in the right place, but the book feels a little scattered and disorganized to me. As stated in the book blurb, this book encourages parents to write a book with their child or children. The first part of the book seems more motivational than instructional, with several case studies of parents or other adults who have worked on creative projects with children. The author does inject quite a bit of humor into the book and also scatters fragments of moments when he interacted with books and/or his children in a meaningful way. The later part of the book is more of a how-to about what to actually do if you want to try this out, including lots of comments about how it went for him and his sons on their projects. Even though the book itself is a bit uneven, I think it is a great idea. It’s a fantastic way to spend quality time together and connect on a completely different level, and you do have something cool as a result of it. While this book focuses on writing, the ideas within it could be used for a family project for just about any creative endeavor depending on the preferences and inclinations of the adults and children involved.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson
Translations Lack, Format Poor
I have already reviewed the books of a similar title by this company for French, Italian, and Spanish. Unfortunately, this book had the same types of errors and issues that the other books have. First, the English sections have so many mistakes that I would be leery of using the German sections for fear that they would be filled with the same. Here are a few examples of some very awkward English that no native speaker would say. “You find the best pieces in the beginning when nobody snagged them yet” and “Then I would rather prefer, you keep on watching TV.”
Some topics are ones you would expect from a book aimed mostly at travelers and language students, like how to order food or ask directions. But other topics actually seem quite bizarre for a casual visitor to Germany, like a clothing exchange party and discussing animals of Australia. Neither would be an everyday or even common occurrence.
The book uses some unusual and incorrect capitalization in the German sections. The format of the eBook makes it not suitable for beginners or near beginners to learn from (even if the German translations are okay) as it is tricky to flip between the English and German versions of the dialogue for every line. I think it would be better to have the translated lines right next to each other, perhaps one bolded and one italicized, for easier assimilation and comparison. I took German in college, but I have forgotten most of it, so I found it frustrating to flip between the English and German sections for each dialogue sentence. I certainly do not remember enough of the language to say if the German translations are truly good or bad. It would be helpful to have at least an intermediate understanding of German to know if these are accurate dialogues and phrases that would actually be used in conversation with native German speakers.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson
Poor English Translations Make Italian Ones Suspect
I have already reviewed the books by this company for French and Spanish. Unfortunately, this book had the same types of errors and issues that the other books have. First, the English sections have so many errors that I would be leery of using the Italian sections for fear that they would be as rife with them as the English ones. Here are a few examples of some very awkward English that no native speaker would say; these are actually from just one of the dialogues about ordering pizza. “Can you recommend me a light one?” and “Your pizzas will be there for half-past eight.” By the way, the dialogue for the Italian pizza ordering was almost the same as the one in the French book!
The English translations in this particular book are so bad that I actually wonder if they just use something like Google Translate or some other online automatic translation to make these. However the translations were arrived at, the book is poorly done, and that’s unfortunate as a book like this has great potential for both students of the language and people who might be traveling to Italy.
Some topics are ones you would expect from a book aimed mostly at travelers and language students, like how to order food or ask for directions. But some of the topics actually seemed quite bizarre for a casual visitor to Italy, like “renewing your wardrobe” and “the printer doesn’t work.” Neither would be an everyday or even common occurrence.
The format of the eBook makes it not suitable for beginners or near beginners to learn from (even if the Italian translations are fine) as it is tricky to flip between the English and Italian versions of the dialogue for every line. I think it would be better to have the translated lines right next to each other, perhaps one bolded and one italicized, for easier assimilation and comparison. I have only a very basic understanding of Italian, so aside from a few food terms and other common words, most of this just looks like gibberish and it does get frustrating to flip between the English and Italian sections for each dialogue. I certainly do not know enough of the language to say if the Italian parts are truly good or bad. It would be helpful to have at least an intermediate understanding of Italian to know if these are accurate dialogues and phrases that would actually be used in conversation with Italians. The book does have an audiobook version that you could purchase separately, but the book proper has no pronunciation guide.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson
Rife with Errors in Both English and Spanish
I have previously reviewed the book on Conversational French Dialogues, so I was expecting more of the same from this book. Unfortunately, that was true, but this book has even more issues than the French book did.
Again, I find that the English sections within the book to be written in a way that no English speaker would talk. As with the other book, this makes me question whether the Spanish itself is actually a good reflection of the way Spanish speakers talk. There definitely are some issues with spelling and grammar on the Spanish side. While I have never taken any Spanish classes, I did grow up in California and so did assimilate some concepts of Spanish spelling and grammar. I know, for instance, that Spanish speakers don’t typically use many personal pronouns while speaking; the Spanish sections had a lot of this usage. The word “sí” is often spelled without the accent over the “i,” which actually changes the meaning of the word. Clearly, the word with the accent meaning yes most often appeared to be the correct word in context, but it was spelled without the accent, which makes it the word “if.”
A lot of the dialogues are on topics that would help a traveler or exchange student to a Spanish-speaking country, like how to order in a restaurant or find your classroom. I did think, though, that some choices for dialogues were a little bizarre; for instance, there were dialogues about getting the wrong job application in the airline industry or asking for help with your computer’s operating system (including licensing it). Neither of these topics would be needed for someone who was just casually visiting a Spanish-speaking country. And there definitely seemed to be a bias towards Spain rather than Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America, as there were topics about moving around Europe and North Africa—like flying to London or returning from Amsterdam—compared to similar about Central and South America.
I think the formatting of the eBook makes it hard to truly assimilate and compare Spanish and English because the sentences aren’t right next to each other; it isn’t so easy to flip around in an eBook to compare back and forth. This book, too, would certainly not be suitable for anyone who is a beginner or near beginner learning Spanish. I would think that someone should be at least an intermediate level to be able to use this book so that you would know some of the phrases and concepts and could better correlate between the Spanish and English sides of the dialogue (as well as have a better sense of the errors. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this book. There are undoubtedly better books on conversational Spanish.