Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The 4-Hour Workweek, expanded and updated, by Timothy Ferriss

Seven years after the publication of The 4-Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferriss has come out with an expanded and updated version of the book. Having read the first edition when it came out in 2007, I was eager to re-read it and see what changed. Mr. Ferriss states that he wanted to confirm that the principles that he originally shared in 4HWW, which came before the 2008 economic crisis, were still valid in a recession (he claims they are, unsurprisingly). He's added additional content, including many letters from readers who adopted his principles and have been successful in re-designing their lives. Content from his blog has also been incorporated into the book.

Mr. Ferriss advocates lifestyle design, which for him means that he outsourced much of the drudgery of life (making appointments, doing background research, etc.), obtained a source of income that is self-perpetuating and requires little oversight, allowing him to travel and live around the world for months at a time learning new skills and living his dream. He assures readers that they too can achieve this, and lays out the steps it takes to get there.

Who is the audience for this book? Mr. Ferris would say everyone, and the sales of the first edition and likely this expanded edition would indicate that many would agree. But many of his claims and recommendations will only work for a select group of people, whom I would classify as business majors or entrepreneurs, and for the most part, single or otherwise unattached with no children or pets. Anyone in a profession: teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, librarians, accountants, bankers, etc. wouldn't be able to drop everything and move to Buenos Aires for three or four months. No one who falls into the "working class" would be able to do it either. The most significant recommendation in Mr. Ferriss' book, the claim that the reader can start an internet business that basically runs itself, would only be an option for a small sector of the population.

However, I found that many of Mr. Ferriss' recommendations could be useful to most readers. He suggests that readers outsource many of the activities that they don't enjoy. He recommends the elimination of excess possessions. He provides tips on managing people, meetings, communication (email and phone), interruptions, and more that are very useful and which could be applied by most of us. His travel advice and suggestions about how to pack lightly are definitely worthwhile. One of them (plan to buy some necessities when you get where you're going) reminded me of a friend's claim that you can go anywhere with a credit card and a passport (so stop fretting about forgetting something).

In the end, even though most people will not be able to, or even want to, drop everything so they can gallivant around the world, there is still a lot in this book that they will find beneficial. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about time management, productivity, lifestyle re-design, and simplifying.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Timothy Ferriss. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. Expanded and updated. New York: Crown Archetype, 2015. 426 pages. ISBN 97803074655351.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Daily Dose of Ghosts, v.1, by D.L. Kaiser

I'm so impressed with my friend Lu Kaiser, who has written and published a collection of short stories, A Daily Dose of Ghosts. These witty and imaginative stories are suitable for readers of all ages. I found myself laughing out loud in many places as I read through the 30 stories in this collection. From ghosts who throw such loud parties that they qualify as nuisance neighbors to ghosts who manifest themselves to help solve murder mysteries, this book includes a thoroughly diverse assortment of otherworldly beings.

Lu is also an accomplished artist, and she's demonstrated this talent by creating the cover art for A Daily Dose of Ghosts. Lu published the book through Amazon's publishing program, and it's available as both an e-book as well as print-on-demand. I was fascinated by this project as Lu was compiling the manuscript, editing the stories, and going through the publication and promotion process. As someone who has only dreamt of writing and publishing creative fiction, I'm especially impressed with folks like Lu who actually do it! I recommend this clever collection to anyone who enjoys ghost stories with a funny streak.

D.L. Kaiser. A Daily Dose of Ghosts, v. 1. Published 2014. Available from Amazon here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top

Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top is a guide to modern etiquette aimed at young adults and teenagers. Its authors are Dorothea Johnson, a long-time etiquette expert and consultant, and her granddaughter Liv Tyler (whom I will always think of as Arwen).

Modern Manners is organized into six parts addressing meeting others, business etiquette, electronic communication, travelling, dining, and hosting. It’s illustrated with colorful drawings throughout, and includes an index and additional references for those who want to learn more. Most topics are addressed with just one page of text or less. There are many sidebars with additional information, including “Did you know?” sections, lists of do’s and don’ts, and comments by Ms. Tyler, such as “Liv on eye contact,” or “Liv on body language.” These are generally short, anecdotal, and personal comments about her own experiences and observations about etiquette.

Overall, this is a friendly and accessible guide to etiquette and manners that would be a great gift for any young adult. Sections on eating out, email and text etiquette, and behavior at social events are particularly helpful.

Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler. Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top. New York: Potter Style, 2013. 176 pages. ISBN 9780770434083.