Monday, May 15, 2017

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, by Sarah Knight

When I first saw this book I thought the author had written a manifesto against Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Organizing and Decluttering, which I reviewed on this blog in 2014. However, I was pleased to see that author Sarah Knight confessed to reading Ms. Kondo's book on tidying up and had actually applied many of the concepts. In fact, she was inspired to write this book about how to de-clutter your personal life and schedule, and to set priorities for what really matters to you. In this book, she writes about how to make the transition to being able to do what you want to do rather than doing what is expected of you.

Ms. Knight suggests that readers think about what is truly important to them. What do they really care about? She discusses work, friends, family, and more. Throughout the book she uses anecdotes from her own life to make her point, and she suggests exercises at the end of each chapter to help readers think about their own priorities. Overall, she provides a lot of food for thought and gives readers tools they can use in their own lives to help cut down on the overwhelming number of obligations that everyone takes on. She does all this with a strong dose of humor.

If I have any criticism of this book, it's the overuse of the work "f*ck." It's in every section title, many chapter titles, and peppered through almost every paragraph. I'm not a prude or afraid to use the word "f*ck," but it does get old after a while. In addition, she strains to use it in phrases where it's just not natural. I think the book would have been stronger if she had resisted the urge to use that word so frequently and limited it to just the title and a few other strategic uses. Nevertheless, this book has a lot of good advice in it, and I would recommend it for anyone who's interested in a humorous take on time management and taking control of your life.

Sarah Knight. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want To Do. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. 208 pages. ISBN 9780316270724.

Recent reads May 2017

In no particular order, here are some of my recent reads:

I loved this unconventional novel about Lincoln's young son Willie's death.

Charming, funny, sweet, and well written.

These should be called "Difficult stories." Very well-written stories about women and the challenges they face in their relationships.

I'm a fan of Jo Nesbo, but this first novel is a bit amateurish.

This novel has been getting a lot of good reviews, but I found it a bit predictable.

I really enjoyed this novel about family and relationships.

All about the reading brain; very interesting if you're interested in brain science and how the brain has evolved to read.

This is a great antidote to today's politics. Thoughtful and well written. I have to read more like this!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Future humans, by Scott Solomon

In this fascinating look at how humans continue to evolve, evolutionary biologist Scott Solomon explains the ways in which humans are still adapting through evolution to changes in their environment. Writing in a style that is clear and straightforward, he makes difficult concepts easy to understand.
Mapping the human genome has allowed researchers to study how evolution happened in the past. They've learned that microscopic organisms have been major drivers of evolution in humans, and it appears to be continuing today. Additionally, because humans are moving around the world in a way that never happened before the modern age, there is increasing genetic variation, which leads to evolutionary change. Even our changing diets, including higher calorie processed food and less fiber, may lead to changes in how we evolve.

It is clear that not only have we gotten where we are through the process of evolution, but that evolution is continuing all around us. I think this book would be of interest to anyone who enjoys popular science, especially the life sciences. It includes a robust notes section and an index.

Scott Solomon. Future Humans: Inside the Science of our Continuing Evolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 225 pages. ISBN 9780300208719.