Summer is upon us here in Arizona and I have been filling the now very hot days with reading. Before I left for a week-long vacation in Mexico I went to the Phoenix Digital Library and downloaded a few books to my iPad to keep me busy. I unintentionally ended up focusing on nonfiction this month and learned a few useful things along the way. If you’re only interested in fiction, I apologize for this diversion into the realm of reality. Because I managed to read five books this month and had a lot to say about them, I will be splitting this month’s update into two posts.
For those of you who missed my initial post on this topic, I have decided to embark on a most enjoyable challenge to read 52 books in 2012. I have chosen the Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/ 2012 Reading Challenge in which I select my own goal, and a book a week is what I came up with as truly doable this year. Each month I will give you an update on where I am in the challenge and what books I was lucky enough to indulge in. I’ll also include a link to Amazon for each book in case you would like to pick a read up for yourself.
In the month of May I have read five books and according to the graph on Goodreads, I am at 38% of my goal, which is “right on track!” It looks like uninterrupted summer beach time is just what I needed to get back on schedule. Without further ado; here are the first three book reviews for this month’s challenge.
How To Win at College by Cal Newport- Completed May 6th
I read this book after reading Newport’s other study guide How to Become a Straight A Student and was looking forward to more of his easy to understand, quickly read nuggets of wisdom. Although I found the advice in his previous book to be more helpful, I did fine some words of advice that I will surely put to use in my upcoming semester.
Among the gems I found, Newport reminds students to “Study in Fifty-Minute Chunks” and “Learn to Listen.” In these short chapters there are ideas to help the student better utilize their time by minimizing distractions and knowing exactly what to listen for in a lecture. By far my favorite and most memorable line from this book is “A good analogy is that writing is to a college student what shooting hoops is to a basketball player.” Wise advice indeed. I would recommend this book to high school an college students alike. The chapters are short and jam packed with good advice.
Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs- Completed May 8th
HYSTERICAL! A.J. Jacobs delivers his narrative with humor and wit. Along his journey to become the healthiest man alive he encounters advice from conservative to radical and does not hesitate to try it all. I laughed out loud and admired his tolerant wife who supported him (with the appropriate eye rolling) along his journey. At the end of the book I don’t know that Jacobs was in fact the healthiest man alive, but I came away with ideas on how to attain better health in my own life. Above all I learned that we cannot always depend on the advice of a single physician or expert. There are as many takes on a cure as there are experts in the field, and ultimately we have to choose the plan of action that fits our moral level of comfort. I highly recommend this book!
The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferris-Completed May 9th
Timothy Ferris clearly thinks quite highly of himself and doesn’t hesitate to let you know how superior he is to you in every way in this incredibly long (592 pages) doorstop of a book. In it he professes to have the solution to many of your health woes and promises to help you accomplish such things as “Sleep 2 hours per day and perform better than on 8 hours.” (I’ll spare you the pain of reading his incredibly scientific and boring explanation by telling you that this requires an unbelievably complicated schedule of sleeping a few minutes at a time all day long. If you’re blessed by the type of lifestyle where you don’t have to work or interact with other human beings in any way, this might work for you).
Ferris’ idea of a healthy life is chock full of supplements and expensive testing. He subjects himself to a myriad of experiments and has found success in his trials, but any adult with an actual job and family obligations could never afford the pills and gadgets he touts as lifesavers. I am thankful that I got this book from the library and didn’t waste the $26.95 it costs to buy the book.
Besides being incredibly scientific and difficult to read, Ferris is simply too cocky and stuck on himself to gain my trust.
I’m curious to hear if anyone has other takes on these books. If you’ve read them (especially The 4-Hour Body) please leave a comment with your own impressions.
I’ll be back soon with the final two reviews in my May Book Challenge Update! Until then…happy reading!