Every month I write short reviews for the books I read, and then post them to my big list of short reviews.
While last month ended up being a little disappointing, the books I read in September ranged from good to truly excellent. Without further adieu, here are the books I read in September 2019.
“The artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively. They only collect things that they really love.” A book of advice on how to be more creative – steal and copy from others (gracefully), create the things you want that don’t exist yet, explore as much as possible, and live your life so that you can dedicate your energy and efforts to making things. Parts of this remind me of something I watched many years ago called Everything is a Remix. Thankfully, the advice doesn’t just apply to traditional artists, but also to anyone looking to create something new. It’s short and sweet – only about 150 pages – but ends up containing very little filler or fluff. If you’re interested in creating something new (or something “new”), read this book.
“Honest people are a refuge: You know they mean what they say; you know they will not say one thing to your face and another behind your back; you know they will tell you when they think you have failed—and for this reason their praise cannot be mistaken for mere flattery.” A book – really a long-form essay – about lying. In short: don’t lie. All of the reasons given for lying are suspect at best. You will make your life far less stressful – and your relationships more satisfying – simply by avoiding lies at all cost, even white lies designed to avoid discomfort. That doesn’t mean being a jerk – or evading topics you’d have to tell the truth about – it means becoming skilled in diplomatically stating the objective truth. I will say that while he does deal with extreme situations suggested by Kant and others, I would have liked to see him go into more detail.
“Hope needs to be combined with action for the story to progress. A call needs to be answered. Adventure can start anytime, anywhere, but it has to start.” A book about improving your life using principles from video games (and other things from nerdy media) to radically improve your life for the better. Create a secret identity, start taking on quests, and go through your own Hero’s Journey. Pretty solid advice for gamers and other nerds. If you love video games and want to pursue self-development, this would be an excellent place to start.
“In my practice I find that the great majority of the depressed patients referred to me improve substantially if they try to help themselves. Sometimes it hardly seems to matter what you do as long as you do something with the attitude of self-help.” The most important book ever written for dealing with depression, and the book that is literally (and I do mean literally) as effective for treating depression as taking Prozac. How does this book treat depression? In short, while there are many factors that go into mood disorders (such as chemical imbalances, poor diet or exercise, etc.), the core cause for most people is dysfunctional and unrealistic negative thoughts. The book takes a deep dive into these dysfunctional thoughts, and how to combat them. Based on my own experiences, and noticing these dysfunctional thinking patterns in people my age (most of whom are depressed, anxious, or suicidal), I think Dr. Burns is absolutely correct. Even if you don’t suffer from depression, there is a HUGE amount of value in this book, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
“What is the point of being on this Earth if you are going to be like everyone else?” Total Recall tells the life story of bodybuilder, actor, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Really three books in one, it’s a true rags-to-riches story from a massively accomplished and absolutely fascinating human being (even without that, the book is absolutely hilarious). He’s not a perfect human being (no one is), and maybe you don’t share his politics (he may be a Republican, but in practical terms he’s a pragmatic libertarian), but you can still learn from him and his experiences either way. While the ending is a bit sad (with him hoping that he and Maria could still make their marriage work), the book finishes with Schwarzenegger’s personal rules for success. Whether you love biographies, want to be more successful in your life, or just love Arnold, I highly recommend this book.