020-2019 How to Win Friends and Influence People

Title: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Author: Dale Carnegie

One recommendation I heard from the grand mister Warren Buffet was that he took a public speaking course somewhere called the Carnegie Institute (correct me if the name is not right). On another video I watched it recommended nine books that every individual should read at least once. And that was where I heard of this book, written by Dale Carnegie.

I would say that I am 90% made up of introvertism, maybe even more, and only 10% extroverted, and this only shows up when I am with friends. When we talk about complete strangers, then my introvertism shoots up even higher to 98%, with the 2% extrovertism relating to only asking a stranger for directions 🙂 . Now, taking this book, I feel that I could improve that ratio to become more extroverted, and possibly get a little more out of life.

What is great about the lessons it teaches in the book, is that many of us can relate to many similar/equal real-life experiences we have faced, and now see that we could have actually addressed those situations in a different manner. I definitely got that feeling with many of the chapters.

As the book notes to the reader, it’s very true that we are more interested in ourselves than in anyone else. But that’s where the book wants to tell you that you should also step back and become more interested in the people around you. I had this lecture being given to me by my parent, but never really took much notice from it. Now, having had a chance to gain life experience, I can reflect with more value on the book as it readily pointed out what many of us are doing wrong, and how we can improve on our habits to enjoy life a little better.

The true value isn’t derived by those who merely read the book, but by those who study it and apply it to their lives, and constantly going back to revise. By constantly learning, you are getting more out of these lessons than you might have without applying them at all.

The lessons that are taught are not restricted to any age, but are applicable from an early age. The lessons are also not limited to our personal lives, but are also valid in our professional lives.

Rating:

The rating was definitely not difficult to determine, because the value that I derived is tremendously valuable, and will be valuable to everyone else that wants to get their own copy of the book. The book definitely goes onto my few 5.9/5 books.

019-2019 Circe

Title: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller

This is currently the third book review I am making on Greek Mythology. If you’re thinking that a pattern is developing, let me assure you, I have developed a deep interest in Greek stories. They are truly fascinating, and the next one is on Alexander the Great and maybe even the Persians 🙂

Coming back to the book, have you ever heard of the word ‘Circe’? Nope? Neither did I before either. I’ll put you out of your misery. It’s a Greek goddess, daughter of Helios, the god who drives his chariot across the sky and brings the sun into the sky. He took this responsibility over from Apollo, after one of Apollo’s sons (or bastard children) had an accident whilst driving the chariot…………(For more on this, read the book ‘Mythos’)

Circe is one of the children of Helios and a sea nymph, who does something very naughty to another sea nymph (Scylla), and as a punishment is exiled to live the rest of her life on an island alone. Now, being a goddess, ‘the rest of your life’ is unimaginably long. However, she is later permitted to get some visitors (humans and gods), and so her life story is told.

She teaches herself the craft of herb mixing, potions, she has a child with Odyssey, brings him up and then later her son is taken on a voyage, with Athena’s blessing, to go and fight a pending war. Later she gives up one of her most precious gifts for love.

It’s a really beautiful story, showing the hardship’s that the lower gods went through below the nobility class of the Greek gods. But also what the child goddess had to go through being a less desirable daughter than the other siblings. A story that shows build of character and maturity.

Rating:

The story has beautiful content, also shows an important life lesson that we can all take something from away. It shows that love can make even the mythological Greek gods do crazy things, and not just humans. The rating is definitely a 5/5

018-2019 Song of Achilles

Title: Song of Achilles

Author: Madeline Miller

The first book I recommended that you should read was ‘Mythos’, and I stick to that, as long as you wish to get a bigger picture on a large part of Greek Mythology. However, if you only wish to read a true classic of one piece of Greek Mythology, specifically about Troy and Achilles, then drop that book and pick up this one instead.

The first time I was introduced to the story ‘Troy’ I saw it as a film. The fighting stunts, the actors, the setting of the story, and just all of it was truly mesmerizing. However, what sets the book apart from the movie is that the story covers more on Patroclus, a companion of Achilles, and the years they grew up and lead to the 10 year war that they fought for King Menelaos against the Tojans.

The author has a true talent to have the reader not just read the words, but become alive in the story as it unfolds chapter after chapter. And as you live in the story you just don’t want to stop. Amazing!

Living with Patroclus and Achilles as they both grow up was truly spell-binding, and for a time I believed I truly lived among the Greeks in another life-time. Patroclus had his titles removed, and Achilles was pushed by his sea-nymph god mother to strive for glory for the battle that would be the battle of millennia. Both had somewhat hard lives, but life was never easy in any generation, so we can relate.

Rating:

The author has definitely become one of my favourites for any upcoming books, so this might be slightly biased :). The story is well written, and mesmerizing, and one understands so much more of Achilles’ and Patroclus’ lives when they finally reach the war against the Trojans for all the additional background that comes with this book. The book definitely goes on my 5.3/5 rating.

017-2019 The Richest Man in Babylon

Title: The Richest Man in Babylon

Author: George S. Clason

Do you remember when you received some money from parent, or grand-parent, and then didn’t know what to do with it? Do you maybe even remember your parent telling you that when you start receiving a salary you should put away 10% as savings?

I admit, I vaguely remember being told this wisdom, and it made sense to me, but not where the 10% came from exactly.

Well, if you’re up to enhance you financial wisdom, not knowledge but wisdom, then this financial basics introductory is exactly for you. You don’t need a degree in finances to follow, because the idea of transferring this wisdom to the reader was to be simple.

The book aims to give every reader the wisdom that was used in the ancient times of Babylon to enhance one’s wealth, and potentially accumulate more. (Exactly what we all want 🙂 )

The book is written in a conversational tone that could be interpreted as the elder teaching the younger a lesson, a lesson to ‘cure the lean purse’.

The book gives the reader seven cures to anyone who wishes to improve their financial position, and also to accumulate wealth on top of that. I on purpose didn’t post the seven cures that are listed in the book, because i strongly feel that in order for one to truly get value from this book one needs to read the wisdom in the context of the book, rather than in a book review here from me.

Rating:

The book is cleverly written in a tone of a conversation between a ‘teacher’ and a ‘student’ and presents the wisdom in a very simple manner. Meaning, the book wishes to ensure the reader understands the lessons are very simple, and can be applied by anyone who wishes to make it part of their life. The wisdom is truly valuable, and deserves the high rating of 5.5/5

016-2019 A little history of the World

Title: A Little History of the World

Author: E. H. Gombrich

I know I haven’t issued any new reviews in since late September, and for that I humbly apologize. But that doesn’t mean I stopped my active reading list. On the contrary, it’s been going on as before, and I have some exciting new reviews, starting with this one.

Just as one can read from the title, it denotes that it presents the reader with a holistic view of our world history as we currently know it.

It starts off with something we call our prehistory, and then goes on and then jumps into the time of when the Egyptians ruled over their empire. Then it goes into the chapter of people that we don’t all necessarily know very much about, namely the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians in the Mesopotamia region. And here we also get introduced to the Jews, and also the early inventors of writing with letters (the Phoenicians).

Then we jump to a people with whom we are slightly more familiar with, the Greeks and the Persians. How the Greeks conquered the Persian Empire, under the leadership of their ruler Alexander the Great. The young king who is revered for not only having been a tremendous ruler at his young reign, but also for what came of his conquests, transfer of knowledge and culture and inventions to other regions of the world.

The next great people we go to are the Romans. Growing their empire from one small village to an enormous stretch of the world, and ruling over that for many centuries to come. With this time period we also get introduced to one of religions’ iconic people, Jesus Christ.

After the Roman Empire started to collapse piece by piece, a period known as the Migrations, the Germans (not the people from Germany today, but Germanic tribes) gradually expanded more and we slowly move towards the Middle Ages. During this time small regions were becoming increasingly ruled by princes, who in turn were the subjects of one king.

Whilst all this was going on, another religious icon arose, the Prophet Muhammed, and the chapter unfolds into how he grew the religion, and with it the Arabic Empire. One significant invention known as the Arabic Numbers (ie. 1, 2, 3, 4, …) was also established through this empire from one of its vassal states.

From here, the wars that were declared and fought were significantly in the name of their own religion, mostly between Christianity and Muslim. One well-known group of people during this period were the Knights Templar, who made Crusades and fought to maintain control over Jerusalem, which was linked with their religion.

During these ages cities were swelling with more people, and guilds for trades took shape and then we gradually moved into a time known commonly as the Renaissance (re-brith), when people were looking back more and more to the historic time called the antiques (Greek culture, etc.). Though, this mainly took place in Florence, Italy.

We even come so far where Columbus made his first trip in search of a new trade route to India in order to find a cheaper alternative to the current expensive trade routes.

Jumping far into the future, we end with Napoleon from France who made France a European giant, and then end with the World War, which by now have ended 100 and +-70 years ago respectively.

Quite a mouthful, but truly, a spectacular account of world history as we know it.

What’s really remarkable is that the book notes that the Austrian author wrote the book in only six weeks.

As a side note, I believe that if schools should decide on a curricular for teaching history, it should start with this book, a holistic view, and then delve deeper into specific topics that you believe should be emphasized for you country’s history. That way, they can have something of everything.

Rating:

The book is well-written, keeps good track of where in history we are currently reading. It explains the most remarkable events that happened in each era, and how it contributed to shape the world to a new place. The book provides the reader with large bits of history, but keeps it at the bare minimum to remain holistic. The book can be picked-up by any lay-person with only some history knowledge, and enrich them with much more. The book gets a well-deserved 6/5.

015-2019 The discomfort zone

Book: The [dis] comfort zone (how to get what you want by living fearlessly)

Author: Farrah Storr

What kind of approach would you like a book to follow when it teaches you about personal development? Maybe the one where they just tell you what you should change, and then which corresponding changes should come about? Or, perhaps the one where the author tells the reader about how they experienced the changes themselves, along with all the struggles, hurdles and bumps along the way?

If you’re looking for the latter, I believe this book is one for you.

It’s written in a conversational tone, just like when you were to sit right opposite each other. The message the author wishes to transfer is very clear and understandable from the way the book is written, and pulls from real-life experiences. It doesn’t go as deep as philosophy, where we might lose the thread along the way. I felt like I was with the author and writing down their story.

The author introduces their own method, called the BMD method, which stands for ‘Brief Moments of Discomfort’. We all have them, and sometimes multiple times a day. Yet, we try and get comfortable again, and thus try to avoid to confront those moments by any means possible.

This is where the author brings in her personal experience (as well as those from other people) who have been faced with these BMD, yet didn’t shy away, but rather approached them as challenges. Also, the reaction to them (ie. seeing them as a challenge, panicking, over-reacting, etc.) is what ultimately determines how we approach new challenges in our lives. The author decided to confront them as a challenge, and thus went through new experiences that made her life better.

So the grand message the author wishes to transmit is that we shouldn’t shy back from these BMDs, because some of them have something great on the other side for us.

Rating:

Loved the writing style, the easy examples she used to explain her message, and the simple steps one in general needs to follow to also apply this to one’s own life. I think it deserves a top 4.8/5

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014-2019 The Seven daughters of Eve

Book: The Seven daughters of Eve (the astonishing story that reveals how each of us can trace our genetic ancestors)

Author: Bryan Sykes

Now, if there is one book that I would highly recommend for anyone to read that wants to learn just a little about genealogy, then this one would be the first I would point them to.

I don’t know very much of the science behind DNA, or the anatomy of the human being, but the story that is told in this book about how the author discovered that we all (or at least many of us, if not all of us) are somewhere linked to each other, is mind-blowingly well-written. He starts the book off to explain a little of the structure of the mitochondrial DNA specifically, how he made some DNA links in the Polynesian areas, and then how that lead him to Europe to try and test his theory there as well.

Remember the phrase ‘it’s not about the destination, but more about the journey’, that strongly holds true for how everything he encountered brought him to conclude that through the mitochondrial DNA we can trace our ancestry far back in time.

I did say he starts off to explain a little about the structure of the DNA, but he also brings in the history of people before him that thought we can determine if we’re related, when we have the same blood group. However, later this was replaced with categorizing us all into a population tree. But then, this was broken and replaced with the evolutionary tree, because the population tree made the generalization that all within the same population had somewhat similar genes (if I interpreted that correctly). But with the evolutionary tree, that assumption was challenged to state that everyone in the population is not the same but also unique.

After giving some great detail about what genealogy is, and the steps to prove it to be legit, he goes on to challenge one of the all-time accepted theories at the time, that our hunter-gatherer ancestry was wiped-out by the agricultural revolutionists. Now, to explain where and when who lived, let’s picture it as follows:

A) Old Stone Age (palaeolithic). This was the earliest times when they started using stones as tools. But this is also split further into the Lower, Middle and Upper phase, where the upper phase is closest to the mesolithic age.

B) Middle Stone Age (mesolithic). This is around the beginnings of the agriculture, where stone tools were a little more sophisticated than in the Upper Palaeolithic phase.

C) New Stone Age (neolithic). This can also be called the ‘age of farming’ because the tools were much more advanced for farming purposes. This is where the Agricultural Revolution took a strong hold of our ancestors’ lives to change the modern world of living.

From the above depiction, our hunter-gatherers lived in-between, but the old theory suggested that when they were wiped-out the modern life started more around Middle Stone Age and New Stone Age, and only the agriculturalists survived. However, with his DNA to support, he proved that our ancestors from the Old Stone Age weren’t overthrown, but adapted into this lifestyle as well.

Of course, in the science community, no new theory is accepted with its first introduction. The theory was strongly and viciously challenged, because the new theory didn’t just go against a small part of our history, it went against a theory that had been held as true for many generations. However, Bryan Sykes and his team prevailed, and confirmed their theory to be true.

So you see, the book doesn’t just add some small value, but remarkable insight to the history of humanity, which is of great significance to our lives.

Rating:

Without a doubt, this book proved to be an immense entertainer, and gives the perfect story line of how we came to understand and accept DNA to be a measure of our ancestry. It definitely tops the rating of 6/5.

I hope this will become one book for your reading list. You won’t be disappointed!