Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: The Sorcerer's Stone

The Book

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
J. K. Rowling

I nabbed this title on audiobook from overdrive. Score! I have, admittedly already seen the movies. But I wanted to experience the book as written by J. K. Rowling, even if by listening to the audiobook it technically means I still have not read the novel. Shocker I've never read a single Harry Potter book. Shame on me, I know. But now I have read it. And here is my review.

Side Note: In my Children's Literature class, I had to read a bunch of books and write reviews (which I published on this blog because, well, why not?). Students were allowed to read and review the Harry Potter books, but the professor discouraged it, alleging that the chances were slim that we have not been influenced one way or another regarding the text. She made a great point, as this book has been hotly debated as long as I can remember.

The Review

Technically speaking, this was not the most poetic or ingenious piece of writing. Honestly, it was formulaic. However, the formula works for the genre and drives the action along nicely. I found myself enjoying the flow of the story. It was masterfully told and really lends itself to the spoken word.

The story is about a young wizard (Harry Potter), an orphan raised by non-magical people (muggles). Once he becomes of age, he receives an invitation to wizarding school at Hogwarts. As one can imagine, this comes as a shock to the lad. The pressure on Harry escalates as he realizes that he is already a famous wizard who has somehow defeated a powerful wizard (Voldemort) as an infant.

Harry Potter balances friendships, enemies, schoolwork, sports, and evil wizards during his first year at Hogwarts.

The Conclusion

This is an entertaining book and the beginning of a long series of adventures. I recommend this adventure classic (yes, it's a modern classic) to fans of adventure/fantasy books. The movies are pretty good, too.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Chocolate Mice


An example highlighting the importance of grammar and spelling in certain contexts. At least, they didn't write "Chocolate Moose."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review - The 4-Hour Workweek

The Book

The 4-Hour Workweek
Timothy Ferriss

I was introduced to this book by my colleagues at Florida International University. They were raving about his other book, The 4-Hour Chef, so I decided to look him up. Of course, I did not buy the book. Instead, I borrowed this book from my local library for free. Go libraries! Yay, free!

Technical Merit

As mentioned, I borrowed this book from the library. What I did not mention was the fact that I borrowed an audio-book. As such, I did not get a good feel for the layout of the book. Nor did I really get a chance to analyse the writer's technical merit. What I can say if that it made for a good audio-book which leads me to say that Timothy writes using a very smooth, colloquial approach. The 4-Hour Workweek was not written for pleasure reading, the author is trying to convey a message in the most efficient way possible.

Since the author is trying to be efficient, he uses a sort of template in his writing. He begins with the goal: working less and playing more. Then he describes a method for doing so, like working more productively from home than you do from the office. Then he will show you how to initiate the process of getting to that goal. Finally, he gives homework—like go to the flea market and haggle three vendors down to half their asking price. Finally, he wraps up his chapter with a list of pertinent materials for further research.

I imagine this book (in written form) could be used as a reference book of sorts. Each chapter can stand alone and be re-read when facing certain challenges. Timothy would seem to endorse this approach. He is not enthusiastic of the gather information for information's sake approach to life and prefers a gather information pertinent to an immediate decision model instead.

In all, I give this book four stars for technical merit. It seems to achieve the purpose it was designed for extremely well. I was able to finish it in two days (without completing the homework).

The Review

This book seeks to help the entrepreneur to establish themselves in what Timothy Ferriss describes as the "New Rich." The New Rich (NR) is a group of individuals that seek to enjoy the things that are typically reserved for the traditional rich while not necessarily having the capital that goes along with it. He argues that by working efficiently, one can complete the typical 40-hour workweek in a fraction of the time. Therefore, they will earn more on a per-hour basis while still having the free-time to enjoy things like extensive travel and fine dining. The NR will also have the time to open new businesses that add to their revenue streams, increasing their ability to live.

The key is that the NR is not waiting to retire in order to enjoy life. The NR works hard and plays hard now. By working efficiently and cutting out superfluous things that gobble up time and capital, the NR can enjoy their preferred lifestyle while they are still young and spry.

This books goes into detail on several topics which include:
  • How to get your boss to agree to let you work from home.
  • How to train your colleagues to stop slowing you down.
  • How to plan for extensive travel.
  • What to look for in a virtual assistant.
  • How to become an expert at something.

Personally, I find his ideas on information interesting. Ferriss clearly believes that there is way too much information at our fingertips. In fact, he recommends absolutely no reading except when the information has a clear application in the short-term future. This rule only applies to non-fiction, pleasure reading is always ok. Ferriss even recommends zero news consumption under the premise that if something catastrophic happens that you need to know, someone is going to tell you about it.

Conclusion

This is an interesting read. I doubt that the tactics described in The 4-Hour Workweek are applicable on a widespread level, but some of his points are key to personal development and can be implemented for success within one's organization. For instance, Ferriss makes a lot of the 80-20 principle and applies it to every situation, both professional and personal. This could easily be applied in any situation. He also refers to Tom Rath's Strengthsfinder when noting that we sometimes spend too much energy improving weaknesses when we should be highlighting strengths.

I recommend this book for the ambitious who are able to take the principles and recommendations of this book and find creative ways to apply them in their lives.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Writer Hate

The Greats Hate

Writers are insecure people, that is true. They typically feel inadequate about their writing. Mostly, this is because they find other successful writers to be inadequate as well. This infographic illustrates this phenomenon by highlighting the nasty things that writers have said about their colleagues. Enjoy!

Direct Link

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Check Out This Dog!

Re-post of an excellent, library-related post from Dan Lewis' Now I Know email chain. Enjoy!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tech Leaders

Perception is Everything

When students want to learn how to use new technologies, where do they go? According to a fairly recent study performed by the School Library Journal (2013 wasn't THAT long ago, right?) it appears they ask their librarian!

This study focuses on K-12. I wonder what we would find if the study were expanded to higher education.