Tag: book review (page 1 of 10)

Book Review of A Whole New Mind by Daniel H Pink

One of my goals this year is to read through some of the (too) many non-fiction self-help books that sit unread on my bookshelves.  Previous reviews have been:

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain, by  John J. Ratey, MD with Eric Hagerman.

Salt Sugar Fat:  How The Food Giants Hooked Us, by  Michael Moss.

Since I posted those reviews, I have read two more books and am most of the way through a third, so I figured I better get some more reviews written up!

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future*, by  Daniel H. Pink.  Copyright 2005.  ISBN-13: 978-1594481710

(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

As you can see from the copyright date (2005), A Whole New Mind has been on my shelf for quite a while.  I believe I was first intrigued by the title due to my homeschooling research on right-brain learners and I did actually begin reading it several years ago, but never finished.  Better late than never, right?

The first quarter segment of A Whole New Mind covers three main themes:

  • The last two centuries or so have been considered the age of “left-brain” dominance
  • The 3 A’s – Abundance, Asia, and Automation – are draining away the traditional careers of “left-brain” thinkers, i.e. lawyers, accountants, engineers.
  • The future belongs to those who can think outside the box, create opportunities, and provide a personal touch, i.e. designers, inventors, storytellers.

In the rest of A Whole New Mind , Daniel Pink outlines what he considers to be the six senses necessary for professional success and personal fulfillment:

Design – Story – Symphony – Empathy – Play – Meaning.

What makes this book unique is that Pink, knowing that some of these senses might not come natural to many of us, includes several ways to master each sense.  For example, at the end of the Play chapter, he suggests you:

  • Find a Laughter Club (yes, there is such a thing!)
  • Play the Cartoon Captions Game
  • Step on the Humor Scale
  • Play at Inventing
  • Get Your Game On
  • Go Back to School
  • Dissect a Joke
  • Play Right-Brain Games.

Each suggestion is complete with explanations, book and/or website resources, and what you might gain from trying each activity.

I am hanging on to this book because I would really like to actually do at least one activity from each of the six senses.  I’m sure my right-brain could benefit from some hands-on exploration.

 

Book Review of Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss

Salt Sugar Fat:  How The Food Giants Hooked Us*, by Michael Moss.
Copyright 2013.  ISBN-13: 978-1400069804

(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

Salt Sugar Fat was an eye-opener, revealing the history, science, and marketing behind our present-day convenience / processed foods.   I was a child of the 60s & 70s and thus remember a time when a trip to a fast food restaurant was a rare treat and buying a packaged pizza (crust, sauce, and cheese topping in a box!) was very cool.  Grocery shopping was simple because there were so few choices in the store.  Today a trip to the grocery store feels like running a gauntlet – so many options assaulting you, wearing down your defenses until you just grab something, not caring whether it has any nutritional value or not – and chances are pretty high that the answer to that is “not.”

This book is jam-packed with information, but here are a few highlights:

Sugar

  • Our bodies are hard-wired for sweets.
  • Children like a much higher level of sweetness than adults
  • There is a particular “bliss point” at which things taste their best and ultimate sweetness
  • The bliss point is at a different level for different age groups and even ethnicities.

Fat

  • There is no taste receptor in the mouth for fat (taste receptors are how the sweet taste and other tastes get delivered to the brain)
  • Fat is about a mouth feel or texture, rather than taste
  • There is no bliss point with fat
  • Fat is so pleasing to the brain that the brain never sends the signal to stop eating
  • Fat tastes better with the addition of a little (or a lot) of sugar
  • When sugar is added, people mistakenly believe that the item contains less fat because they notice the sugar, not the fat (the fat goes “into hiding”)

Salt

  • Even more than sugar or fat, salting processed foods is the way to increase sales and consumption
  • “Among the basic tastes—sweet, sour, bitter and salty—salt is one of the hardest ones to live without.”
  • Salt is not a taste that we are born to love – babies don’t like salty foods, but love sweet foods. Rather it is a taste that we learn to love.  The more salty foods we eat, the more our palate adjusts to salt, the more we crave salt.
  • Manufacturers of processed food thus create our cravings for salt by adding more and more salt into their products.
  • Salt fixes many problems that occur in processed foods, which is why manufacturers rely upon it so.
  • The most important issue salt fixes is WOF – warmed over flavor. “ WOF is caused by the oxidation of the fats in meat, which gives meat the taste of cardboard or, as some in the industry describe it, damp dog hair, when the meat is reheated after being precooked and added to soups or boxed meals.”
  • With the addition of salt, “the cardboard or dog-hair taste is still there, but it is overpowered by the salt.”
  • Addiction to salt can be reversed. People who consciously reduce salt levels in their diet will notice within a few weeks that normal processed foods taste way too salty.  Their taste buds become more sensitive to salt and thus need less salt to experience the same salt enjoyment.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about nutrition and eating a healthier diet.

Book Review of And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I read this book as part of the 2017 European Reading Challenge and 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.

Hosseini is the author of bestsellers The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, both set in Hosseini’s homeland, Afghanistan. In And The Mountains Echoed, he returns yet again to Afghanistan and chronicles the lives of interconnected families and friends over the span of several generations and across multiple continents.  And The Mountains Echoed is about sacrifice, honor, betrayal, love, and, above all, about how the choices an individual makes can impact others for generations to come.

This review contains spoilers.

And The Mountains Echoed*, by Khaled Hosseini

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Sacrifice

Khalid Hosseini is a storyteller who weaves fables and myths into his novels.  In the first chapter of And The Mountains Echoed, a father tells his ten-year-old son Abdullah and three-year-old daughter Pari the story of a div (a supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics) that forces families to give up one of their children in order to save the lives of all the children in the family.  It’s a story of making unthinkable choices and sacrifices all for the sake of love of family, and presages the sacrifice this father makes in the very next chapter when he sells his daughter Pari to a wealthy Afghan family.  In doing so, he potentially garners the means to enable the rest of his children to survive the upcoming harsh winter.

This sacrifice of the daughter, and splitting up of the previously inseparable siblings Abdullah and Pari, provides the backdrop for the rest of the novel.  Almost every subsequent chapter relates how this event impacted the life of another person from their viewpoint, telling their story.  There are a couple of chapters about individuals who are only peripherally connected to Abdullah and Pari (“fairy” in Farsi), and those chapters don’t seem to be quite as compelling as the rest of the book.  Their stories are important, though, and lend to the overall themes of sacrifice and choices.

And The Mountains Echoed is a heartwarming story about the strength of familial love.  It is filled with interesting, flawed, sometimes tragic characters that will remain with you long after you finish the last page.  It’s a story you won’t regret reading.

Note:  This is an abbreviated review.  The full review can be found at It’s A Mystery Blog.

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