Book Review: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything – Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

Overall a very strong “ok” rating. Nothing that blew me away but interesting and informative, just a little long winded and slow to read at times.

Lot of interesting case studies, but it felt like the same narrow points were made over and over and every example was brought out to just repeat the authors firmly entrenched views again and again. Never was there any sort of counter argument offered or any sort of outlier example featured.

While the concept of “wikinomics” or I think more appropriate termed “collaborative economics” is very valid, I felt this book was just trying to capitalize on being the first to the press and the first to have “wiki” in the name. If it was released today it would probably be called “Facebooknomics”.

But after rereading this review it feels like I’m bashing, that wasn’t the intent, the book was good but just wandering at times and the author chose to approach a very interesting topic in an odd way. Not the way I would have written it for sure.

Book Review: The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun – Gretchen Rubin

I enjoyed this book overall, though it was nothing great and I’m not on a huge tear to recommend it far and wide. Very similar to an AJ Jacobs or Tim Ferriss type lifestyle experiment. Just not quite as interesting or exciting.

Nevertheless I do like the idea of creating a monthly project list and working towards each goal and ideally creating a routine and habits that at the end of the time period help you to improve and grow. I did pick up a couple ideas, but not enough to make the time reading a full book worthwhile. Another great example of a book that I would have raved about had it been a 100 page ebook.

I guess I may be inclined to recommend this book to anyone that has never read a book of this sort, but if you are working towards constant improvement and are already on this sort of path of monthly and yearly goal setting, feel free to skip it.

Book review: How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Considering all the how to and personal improvement books I read I have no idea why it has taken me this long to read this classic! I almost wonder if I had heard the title so many times it had taken on an info-merical feel to me.

Overall a great book and a very fast read, while a little dated in parts I almost thought towards the end that added charm to the writing. The “old” style language while a little off putting at first, actually was interesting towards the latter parts of the book.

Only bummer is I certainly wish I would have read it twenty years ago instead of today! The majority of the information is very basic and very common sense based. While reading I said to myself multiple times, “I already do that on a routine basis.” But do not construe this as a knock against the material, I also think the fundamental aspects of it may be its best selling point. Great to be reminded of techniques, and also I think helpful to reinforce behavior that you may be already exhibiting.

I certainly think that this book is a good read for anyone and everyone and certainly worth the time, unless you spend 99% of your time on Facebook or playing World of Warcraft, in that case save your money for some Farmville cash or WOW credits.

But if you actually deal with REAL people, pick up a copy!

And ESPECIALLY if you are a younger person with limited real world business experience run, DON’T walk to get a copy!

Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation – Steven Johnson

Exceptional book on the creation and cultivation of ideas and innovation. Really enjoyed the brevity more then anything! I frequently complain about the constant need to push the 300 page mark in business books. This concise book clocks in at a very efficient just over 200 pages. I was able to read it completely in a couple day span and frequently looked forward to picking it back up.

I seem to fall in love with most ideas I read in books and this is no departure. Not sure if I can find anything to disagree about, many of the concepts and techniques described are methods I have used myself. One of the best parts was discovering that I was using ideas that some of the greats had used for many years. Kind of a funny seque since this book is firmly centered on the idea of “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

Not sure if I will now cultivate some great idea, but this book was for sure motivating and exciting to think about both during and after the fact!

Book Review: Freedom, Inc.: Free Your Employees and Let Them Lead Your Business to Higher Productivity, Profits, and Growth – Carney, Getz

I enjoyed this book and there was tons of great content, but like so many business books it was just to damn long. I know there is some sort of unwritten rule that you have to hit 300 pages, or who knows maybe its not even an unwritten rule. But so many books like this have the feel that the writer is really just trying to stretch things out. Overall GREAT book, with tons of awesome case examples and research. But strip the filler and cut it done to 200 pages and it might be in the top 10 business improvement books I’ve ever read.

Lots of great ideas and examples on how to improve your business by creating more freedom in your enterprise. I have already implemented several of the ideas in my business. And I have plans to utilize more concepts found in this book. If you are a business owner or manager looking to enhance the productivity of your staff I highly recommend it. Just be prepared to get bored at times with the filler content.

Book Review: The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It – Scott Patterson

I read this as a follow up to “More money then God” and while it was good it was not nearly as good as Mallaby’s book. I did enjoy it and its a pretty good recap of some of the financial shenanigans that may or may not have created the turbulence in the markets over the last couple years. But it simply did not flow nearly as well as “More money then God”, not to put the writer down, since it was an enjoyable read, I just don’t think Patterson is as good of a writer as Mallaby.

I was probably most disappointed by the fact that I had anticipated more of the “inside baseball” type of material, and while the history and some of the how to was there, all in all it was more of a 10,000 foot view of quantitative analysis. I had hoped for more nitty gritty, but of course it is a mainstream book and I doubt more then 2% of the population has any interest in the real under the hood workings of Quants.

My other goal in buying the book was to get a little more history on Ken Griffin. The book did feature him and provided me with enough information to change my viewpoint on him. Whether fair or not I have a diminished respect for him after reading the book. Of course he is involved in finance, so not sure why I ever had a heightened opinion of him. I should know that anyone and everyone in finance should NEVER be looked up to or admired..

All in all a good book, I think I went into reading it with a little too much excitement and maybe never gave it the full chance it deserved. Indeed interesting material, just tough to get into it after reading the great “More money then God” right before reading this, maybe if I read them 6 months apart I would have a higher opinion of it.

Book Review:Public Speaking in an Instant: 60 Ways to Stand Up and Be Heard – Keith Bailey and Karen Leland

Very, very cool little book. While a lot of the info was pretty much common sense it was nice to have it all bundled up in a quick and concise format. I doubt I’m significantly better at public speaking now, but I did for sure pick up numerous solid tips and feel like this book was a perfect springboard for further research.

I would also say if you’ve never read any books on presenting or public speaking this would be a TERRIFIC place to start. Again while it was far from a be all end all reference tome, if sparked a lot of ideas and further piqued my interest in reading more on the topic.

This may be the first book in several years I was bummed to have read on my Kindle. I could see this title being a handy reference to have sitting on a bookshelf to grab and review while prepping for a presentation. While the Kindle serves a great purpose it will never approach the handiness of a paper book when looking for a quick review of a topic.

Book Review:More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite – Sebastian Mallaby

Wow, another book that necessitates either a couple sentence quick recap, or a 25 page analysis. Since I doubt anyone cares to spend the time to read that lengthy of a review I will keep my comments brief.

Awesome review of the history of hedge funds and the biographies of some of the biggest and most successful managers. Very fun and fast read considering it is a roughly 400 page book. Of course it is geared perfectly towards my interests, but nevertheless I think anyone with even a mild interest in high finance and hedge funds would enjoy it. The author did an awesome job covering tons and tons of information in a high tempo manner! I think the notes section was 30 pages or more with hundreds or maybe even over a thousand references.

I’ve read plenty of “hedge fund history” books through the years, and barring Michael Lewis’s work this is by far one of the best!

But always remember to never be rushed into applying something you have just read, you may get lucky from time to time, but thats usually all it is!

Book Review: Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age – Clay Shirky

Very cool and SHORT book! Before I get to the review, I wish more book writers, especially business book writers would not stick to what I call the “300 Page” rule. Almost every book I read is almost exactly 300 pages and quite frequently its obvious the writer is just trying to write words to hit a certain page quota. This book was 200 pages of VERY solid content, very very little fluff.

One of the main ideas in this book is centered around is how technology has allowed humans to now replace wasting time with media consumption with spending time creating media and content. One of the greatest things I have always thought technology allowed us to do was replace TV watching and other mind numbing worthless tasks with learning and creating. This block of time that had in years past been spent watching TV or reading shitty newspapers is a huge untapped pool of “Cognitive Surplus”.

Also a lot of social network discussion, which I was a little bored by, but I’ve heard it all before. Very inspirational book when it somes to productivity, especially in the aspects of learning, reading and writing. And particularly making the best use of the time you have!

Book Review: Anthem – Ayn Rand

Very cool and very short early Ayn Rand book. I’m happy I read it this late, long after reading “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” multiple times. It was fun to look for all the early ideas that later became her two big hits.

It almost reminds me of loose “cliff notes” or pre-history of the later two books, while the subject matter was completly different it was easy to pick out the early remnants of the ideas more clearly fleshed out in her later writings.

Again VERY short, I think I read it in a couple hours including a couple breaks to eat and do other things. Highly recommended.