Here are some quickie reviews of books I’ve been reading lately. As usual, I am always (or at least usually) reading one fiction book and one non-fiction book. These are either paper books, Kindle books or audiobooks. Usually it’s a combination of the three.
The Slight Edge
By Jeff Olson
This is a popular success book that has a strong following. The “Slight Edge” essentially means that most success comes from very small, insignificant things you do every day that don’t help you at all in the short-term or even the medium-term. You’ll notice no difference by doing these things for a very long time, but then one day you’ll wake up and have your success. This means you have to get into the habit of doing certain things every day even if they don’t help you immediately, which they probably won’t.
The good thing about this book is that his examples and his logic are 100% sound and I agree completely with his overall concepts. You can also tell he really cares about this topic and has a lot of conviction regarding it.
The problem with this book is that it’s one of the most painfully long-winded books I’ve read in a very long time. He often takes many pages, sometimes even entire chapters, to say something that could very easily be stated in a paragraph or two. He even has some of his family members write some chapters. (Sigh.) This book could have been one-third the size, and it would have been better for it.
Either Olsen is a very verbose, long-winded writer or he purposely adds in fluff to extend the size of his book. I’m not sure which, but reading this book was tedious to say the least, which is unfortunate because I really like the core of his content.
Swords and Deviltry
By Fritz Leiber
The adventures of Fafhrd (a huge but friendly barbarian) and the Gray Mouser (a short, shifty thief) are two classic sword and sorcery characters featured in many books and short stories from the 1970s, around the same time the Elric novels were published. I have read tons of fantasy in my life, but I never got around to these stories until now.
Swords and Deviltry is a compilation of three short stories that are essentially the origins of these two characters. The first story is about Fafhrd, the second is about Gray Mouser, and the third is when they meet within the main setting of the subsequent stories in the dark city of Lankhmar.
Leiber is a fantastically skilled good writer. His writing style is very dense, similar to William Gibson. You really need to focus when reading one of his books because he throws so much at you, in a good way.
The problem is that the first two origin stories aren’t very interesting or exciting, but I’ve mentioned before, origin stories usually suck. I have a strong feeling now that the origin stories are over with, the next few Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories I read are going to be much better. So, the next installment in this series is definitely on my reading list despite the fact that I didn’t love two of the three stories in this book.
Once I finish that next installment, I can then definitively say if this series is good or bad. We’ll see.
The Passion Trap
By Dean Delis
This book was recommended by several of you in my audience. It’s written by a marriage therapist with a lot of experience. His controversial concept is that in every relationship, literally every relationship without exception, there is one person who is more invested in the relationship than the other. (Which is correct; I said the exact same thing myself nine years ago right here.) He says that instead of trying to ignore this reality or fight it (which is what most people and therapists do), you need to instead accept it and manage it.
He calls the more invested person the “one-down” and the less invested person the “one-up.” The book is full of techniques for both the one-up and the one-down.
It’s very interesting and I took lots of notes from this book. I highly recommend it to any man who has an OLTR or OLTR Marriage (where, if you are an Alpha Male 2.0, you will be the one-up and will have to learn to manage a one-down woman).
John Gardner on Writing
By John Gardner
This is one of the big books that most professional fiction authors recommend. It’s written for those interested in writing fiction.
It’s a very relaxed read with lots of examples and anecdotes and not really a technical book. If you’re looking to be a fiction writer and want a strict set of how-to techniques, there isn’t much in here. Rather it’s more of a mindset book, which is still valid.
Obviously I only recommend this book if you have a strong interest and passion for writing fiction like I do. It doesn’t carry over much to writing non-fiction.
Tax Free Wealth
By Tom Wheelwright
This is the main tax guy in Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad brand. The book starts out very boring and stupid (lots of dumb anecdotes that I really didn’t care about) but very quickly gets very, very good. Frankly, the book only applies to higher income or higher net worth people. If I wasn’t in that category myself I might have been upset that the book cover didn’t clearly state this. But I am in that category, so most everything the book talked about directly applied to me or could.
Once I was done reading the book I had tons of questions for my accountants and attorneys, and I was happy to find that the book really was telling the truth on lots of interesting ways to save a lot of money on taxes that I wasn’t aware of.
If you have a decent income and your own business or perhaps a decent net worth, this book is required reading. If you don’t have these things quite yet, you can safely skip it until you get your income up a little more. (Read books on marketing instead!)
By Dan Jones
A fun but difficult book about the Knights Templar from their inception in the 11th century to their eventual fall. Jones purposely tries to write historical events as if you’re reading them in a fictional novel, and mostly succeeds. The book is fun but very dense. Like J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion and William Gibson’s Neuromancer, you need to really focus on the book to understand it and may even need to take some notes in order to really get it. It’s the kind of book you almost need to read more than once to get everything. Still enjoyed it though, but I love reading about history.
By Gene Simmons
I’ve read most of Gene’s books, plus most popular success books already, so much of this book was a repeat of information and techniques I already know. The best parts where when Gene describes certain business decisions he made with his Kiss empire. Really interesting stuff. Gene Simmons is one of my favorite self-made men to follow, as well as the biggest celebrity Alpha Male 2.0… at least until 2011 when he got traditionally married. Oh well.
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