Monday, 25 May 2020

Thrive by Dan Buettner - Book Report #307

Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way


Dan Buettner originally set out on a National Geographic research project to discover the commonalities of pockets of human population that has historically lived longer than the average.

He discovered many things; people generally are physically active, they eat primarily veggies & fruit, they have close personal connections with family and friends.

One of the byproducts of his investigations was general happiness.

It makes sense that if you are healthy, active and are surrounded by people you like, you'd feel pretty happy.

That is what this book explores.

I like the premise.  Sure, we are all looking for a diet to improve our health and to lose weight.  Wouldn't it also be terrific if you would somehow become happier too?

I'd buy that book.

Check out Dan Buettner's TED talk, if you find it interesting you will find all of his book are too. - https://www.ted.com/speakers/dan_buettner

Dan Buettner's Blue Zones website - https://www.bluezones.com/


Monday, 18 May 2020

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders - Book Report #306

How I stopped shopping, gave away
 my belongings, and discovered life is worth more
 than anything you can buy in a store.

It's a common problem in our cozy First World:  we have too much.

Too much stuff, too much clutter, too many calories and, too many demands on our time.

There are loads of self-help books out there help us to simplify our lives.

This one was a little different.  I was expecting the nuts and bolts of simplifying, hoping to find a few tips and inspiration.  What I got was the struggle the author went through to achieve her goals, not how she did them.  It showed the strategies she employed to keep herself on track and it explored how she motivated herself to continue even when events in her personal life could easily have derailed her.

This was very helpful.  To be shown how the conversations you have with others, how challenges in life, be it professional or personal, have the ability to make your well laid out plans more difficult, was refreshing and familiar.  I did like how she tracked her progress on a calendar, it's something I use everyday; seeing the successful days pile up as I cross them off in bold, black Sharpie is satisfying.

I like to think of the book as a personal growth memoir rather than a self-help book.  Cait Flanders offered plenty of inspiration but she also gave lots of room to make her experience something I could modify and make my own.

It was a warm and charming book.  I was rooting for her the whole time.

Cait Flanders' Website - https://caitflanders.com/

Cait Flanders


Monday, 11 May 2020

Peak Everything by Richard Heinberg - Book Review #305


Narrated by Edward Dalmas

To be honest I felt like there was no hope for humanity after hearing this book.

The world is a big giant mess, I already knew this.  It's why I picked it up.

I've said it before, with a lot of these books they are heavy on problems and light on solutions.  Heinberg simply made me feel like everything was hopeless and I just wanted to give up.

But as the eternal optimist, Peter Diamandis, often says - "The world's biggest problems are the world's biggest market opportunities."  Keep that in mind.

A book like Peak Everything will shine the light on the problems.  It will be up to you to decide which ones you'd like to tackle and to go out to find the solutions yourself.

To be fair, Heinberg does have some solutions, but they mostly revolve about returning to an agrarian life.  Who knows, maybe he's right.

Do I recommend it?  Sure.  Why not?  Just be warned that it's a very one-sided read.

Richard Heinberg's website - https://richardheinberg.com/

Richard Heinberg

Monday, 20 April 2020

Sea Sick by Alanna Mitchell - Book Review #304

I found this book most illuminating and upsetting.

Being landlocked in Alberta I seldom think about the oceans.  I had never considered how our local agriculture can damage the oceans.  But fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide runoff make it from the rivers to the oceans creating lasting damage to the ocean environment.  Just Google Gulf of Mexico dead zone to get an understanding of how everybody touches the oceans.

Overfishing is nothing new, we've heard about it for decades.  Just think of the shutting of the Atlantic cod fishery in eastern Canada.

The die-off of coral is much more serious than I knew about.

Most alarming is learning how the oceans play their part in the problem of CO2 rise.  I had no idea that the waters of the world absorb the gas, which sounds like a good thing, right?  But once carbon dioxide is dissolved in water it reacts with it, lowering the pH levels and making the water more acidic which has dire consequences on marine life, from the bottom of the food chain all the way to the top and to humans on the land.

I am so thankful I found the book.  It reinforced my desire to reduce my impact on the world.

Every little thing we do as individuals may seem inconsequential but others see what we do.  Somebody may see you picking up a bit of litter and it may inspire that person to do the same or to switch from a single-use item to a reusable one.

Like many of these kinds of books, I found it rather one-sided; there was so much gloom and doom that I kept wanting to just throw my hands up.

On the tenth anniversary of publication, Alanna Mitchell wrote a piece for Canadian Geographic updating readers as to how things have changed in that time.  Both the horror and the hope have expanded.  Read it here:

https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/theres-no-coming-back-why-global-ocean-crisis-threatens-us-all

There were two lines in the book that stood out for me:

Near the end, he leaves me with this, "The scale of the solution has to be to the scale of the problem."

And.

“The problem of the atmosphere and the ocean is a problem of human behaviour.” - Monica Sharma, a physician who works for the United Nations.

Alanna Mitchell's website - https://alannamitchell.com/

Alanna Mitchell

Monday, 13 April 2020

Dissapointment River By Brian Castner - Book Report #303

Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage

I love stories like these.  

This is a real-life, modern-day, canoe journey of the Mackenzie River.  The author decided to follow in the footsteps of Alexander Mackenzie who paddled the river in the hopes of finding an inland Northwest Passage.  "The Mackenzie river is the longest river system in Canada, and includes the second largest drainage basin of any North American river after the Mississippi." (Passage from Wikipedia)

From his starting point at Great Slave Lake all the way to the Arctic Ocean Brian Castner weaves his voyage to that of Mackenzie's.  At certain points in the trip Castner and Mackenzie stood on the same spots, on the same dates, 227 yeas apart.   

Blending history to the modern day by replicating an event, is an effective way to bring history alive and to compare the two worlds.  At times, the author is vividly imagining what Mackenzie and his party went through only to be knocked back into the present by the passing of a speedboat or a container ferry.

In many ways, life has not changed at all in the Canadian north in 1779 Mackenzie was trying to find his fortune, the industry of the day were furs.  Today, oil, gas and mining dominate.

I was thankful for the trip Brian Castner took and glad he chose to write about it.  I was thrilled to shoot the rapids with him from the safety of my couch.  I was happy to learn a bit more about Canadian history and to simply answer the question as to how the river got its modern name.  It is traditionally known as the Deh-Cho by the way.  I was also very happy to learn that no way in hell would I want to take a similar trip.

This was a terrific story.

Brian Castner's website - https://briancastner.com/


Monday, 16 March 2020

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson - Book Report #302

If you look back to my previous reviews of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy I raked him over the coals.

But, as time went on, I kept thinking about those books and what became obvious, is the unbelievable amount of research Robinson put into them.  This is a hallmark of his writing.  He researches his topics to death, to the point of probably being an expert himself.  And this becomes the gift of his novels.  When I reach for something by KSR I am usually interested in the subject, be it climate change or Mars or deep space travel and I know I will get a factual education along with a narrative to hang the details onto.

New York 2140 places a cast of characters in the city after the global oceans have risen by disastrous amounts.  It is a story of survival, adaptation and how the current financial systems and the machinations of globalism, consumerism and capitalism persist.


It was a stunning look at how things could drastically change and some not at all.  It's a well-researched warning as to what could happen if we don't change everything quickly.  Climate change does not necessarily mean the end of humanity, but it could.  Robinson only looked at the effects of sea level rise and not the consequences of pollution, temperature increase and acidification of the waters.

I see it as a call to action to get things right - today.  The decisions we have made to stem the wreckage of the global financial crisis have lasting effects into the future.  In the future of the novel decisions are viewed as short-sighted and lacking.

I loved this story as it helps to crystallize a view of the world as it could be.  Visions of the future are very difficult to imagine and we only try to correct things with images of the present.  This is a trap.

Robinson takes on gigantic topics and did a tremendous job of not spinning this into a trilogy too.  By keeping the subject to one book he has made a strong and potent case for solving our problems now and into a future we can barley grasp.

Well done sir.

Kim Stanley Robinson's Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Stanley_Robinson

The audio book was narrated by - Jay Snyder, Robin Miles, Suzanne Toren, Peter Ganim, Ryan Vincent Anderson, Christopher Ryan Grant, Caitlin Kelly, Michael Crouch, Robert Blumenfeld


Kim Stanley Robinson

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Tribute by Jack Skillingstead - A Short Story Review

A mission to Mars goes badly.  NASA is defunded.  Corporations are nearly the only players left in space.

But what of science?  What of exploration?

How can these higher pursuits be served when the profit motive is the only thing left in space?

It's an interesting story, especially for those voices who do not see the value of a government funded space agency. 

I found this last story of the collection very thought provoking.  The missions to Mars are terrific storytelling but the bigger questions of corporate priorities in space lingered in my mind.

There is room enough in outer space for all the players, if you ask me.




Jack Skillingstead's web site - https://www.jackskillingstead.com/

Jack Skillingstead

Monday, 9 March 2020

The Canal Builders by Julie Greene - Book Review #301

Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal


I enjoyed the angle the author took on this legendary infrastructure project, that of the people who built it and manged the endeavour.

People from all over the world came to work on it but it was also a product of its time - systemic racism, brutal working conditions, undervalued human needs and American hegemony made the reality of the construction an ugly thing.

But this was the reality of the times, it was normal.  It would never stand today.  Which made me wonder, could it even be achieved today?


The book illustrates just how far we've come in our respective societies from that day and how far we still have to go.  Throughout our history there has always been an "us" and a "them."  Nothing has really changed in that respect just the definition of us and them.

Still, this is an important document to the history of the Panama Canal and it's construction.  It focused on people instead of the engineering and I appreciated that.

Julie Green's website - https://history.umd.edu/users/jmg

Audio book narrated by Karen White

Julie Greene

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Rare (Off) Earth Elements - A Sam Gunn Tale by Ben Bova - A Short Story Review

I've been a long-time fan of Bova's.  I consider him the Clive Cussler of space.  His writing, although much more nuanced are still firmly "pulpy."  Bova's villains are often psychologically damaged, greedy or
mustache-twirlingly evil.

But there is a special place for Sam Gunn, who is a comical rogue that flitters in and out Bova's novels but more often lives in stand-alone short stories.  He is an opportunist who is constantly seeking, and losing, his fortunes.

This story hinges on asteroid mining and the limitations placed upon the activity by the Outer Space Treaty.  In order for an individual or a country to have a legal claim to the minerals of a body in space the claim must be made from the object itself.  A "flag" must be planted.

That's a pretty onerous legal detail but it forces interested parties into space, where adventure awaits.  When you think about it, it's a rather human clause.  We have a long history of exploration and this method of flag planting has long been acknowledged as the correct way to go about things.

In this little gem, the plans of a nation are pitted against the motivations of an individual.

I liked this story very much.

Ben Bova's website - http://benbova.com/

Ben Bova

Monday, 2 March 2020

Star Trek: Titan: Fortune of War by David Mack - Book Report #300

I'm always a bit torn when I read, or listen, to Star Trek books.  On the one hand it's terrific to catch up with those characters but on the other, it can be a bit frustrating, because so much has gone on in the books that I feel like I've missed out on a lot.

And that should be okay.  Why shouldn't dedicated readers be rewarded for sticking with the franchise and supporting it?  The Titan series is not a bad one to drop into as the books are pretty much stand-alone adventures but with a narrative arc that spans over all the books.  The authors are usually pretty good about catching a new reader up with details from previous books.

And there's the rub; I'd love to read them all but there are so many that it's daunting.

In any case, this story picks up a thread from an episode of the TNG television series and that is always satisfying.

A superweapon is discovered and the race is on to make sure the bad guys don't get their hands on it.  There are a lot of bad guys, not-so-bad guys, opportunists and the Federation here.

This is a David Mack story so be ready for lots of action, good humour and a high body count.  My only frustration with the Titan series is that I wish they'd get Admiral Riker off the fucking ship.  He is constantly second-guessing Captain Vale's decisions that I am surprised Star Fleet continues to allow the situation.

Other than that quibble, this was a terrific yarn, jammed full of the stuff that makes Star Trek fun.

David Mack's website:  http://davidmack.pro/

David Mack

Monday, 10 February 2020

Frozen in Time by Owen Beattie and John Geiger - Book Report #299

I remember when the news of the U of A's expedition to Beechey Island and the discovery of how lead poisoning played its part in the demise of the Franklin Expedition of 1845-48.

The 19th century expedition is arguably the most famous and disastrous of the era's arctic explorations.  The Northwest Passage obsessed governments and explorers alike.  How many lives have been lost by throwing ill-equipped wood vessels against the ice?

This book chronicles the forensic research done by the University of Alberta in the mid 1980's when they exhumed the three bodies of men from the ill-fated expedition.

What was staggering was how well preserved they were.  It must have been a heart-breaking experience to look into the faces of men who'd been dead for over 130 years.

This was an excellent book and I kept going back to it at every opportunity.


Owen Beattie's Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_Beattie

John Geiger's Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G._Geiger

John Geiger and Owen Beattie 

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S A Corey - A Short Story Review

Fred Johnson was a very important character in the first Expanse book.

This is the story of how he became known as the The Butcher of Anderson Station.

It was a nice way to enjoy a little bit more of this world without having to dive into another 500+ pages.

It's entirely possible this was edited out of the original manuscript.  If so, it's a nice way to get the story out there.

James S A Corey's website - https://www.jamessacorey.com/

The writing team known as James S A Corey

Monday, 3 February 2020

Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey - Book Report #298

Book One of The Expanse series

My first taste of the series was of the television show.  I only watched one episode and it did not grab me.  I had the copy of the first book in my basement for years.  After hearing that the TV series has been renewed for a fifth season, and friends telling me how much I would like it, I decided to dust off book one and give it a read.

I was hooked very quickly.  This is the kind of lived-in, day-to-day, blue-collar kind of science fiction that I love.  For those of you as old as me (born in the 60's) think of what you felt when you first saw the Millennium Falcon.

This was an excellent blend of gritty neo-noir detective story and grand political drama set in a solar system that has been dominated by humans.  Mars, the asteroid belt, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn all have human presence.  And much like humanity of today we are not there for scientific reasons; we are there to make a living.  Water and oxygen are more valuable than gold to the people living and working off Earth.

An ice mining ship answers a distress call, which is a trap that starts a war between Earth, Mars and The Belt.

What I liked most about the story is how it focused only on two characters and the people that surround them.  This kept the larger story from spinning the the whole thing out of control.  It is a gigantic story and it took discipline to contain it in this first book.

This is a big series, with novels, novellas and short stories that bounce around the timeline of the novels.  I've decided to read thing in publication order to experience it the way fans from the beginning would have.

Generally I like my SF to be about humans, FTL and aliens tend to make storytelling a bit more lazy.  I like that we are stuck in our own solar system and that people have to be very careful about acceleration, maneuvering and things like the Coriolis effect.  (I had to look up that last one.)

It was well written, fun, fast-paced, believable and had lots of characters that I liked.

Highly recommended.

Website of James S A Corey - https://www.jamessacorey.com/


James S A Corey is the pen name for authors
Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck

Monday, 27 January 2020

Nudge by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein - Book Report #297

Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness


This was an excellent book about the power of suggestion, default choices and inertia.

The basis for the whole theory of nudging is called Libertarian Paternalism, an oxymoron to me but well enough developed and explained that I bought into it.

Now I see examples of nudges everywhere and it makes me smile.

There is nothing more rewarding to me than reading a book (audiobook in this case) and having it fundamentally change the way I see the world.

Excellent stuff.

Richard H Thaler's Wiki Page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Thaler#External_links

Cass R Sunstein's Wiki Page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_Sunstein#External_links

Cass R Sunstein

Richard H Thaler

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

The Rabbit Hole by James Gunn - A Short Story Review

What are conditions like inside a wormhole?

James Gunn takes a stab at some serious alternate reality in this story.

A message form an alien culture  is decoded and instructions to build a ship capable of entering a wormhole to travel to a distant solar system is discovered.

The ship is built and flown where directed.

Hold on to your brains as life inside is difficult to understand and manipulate.

I thought Gunn did a great job of making such a challenging environment light and fun to read.

It stands apart from the other stories in that it is less blue-collar Hard SF than scientific Hard SF.


I enjoyed it very much and found it quite cinematic in my mind.  I kept seeing Event Horizon blended with Memento.

James Gunn's Wikipedia page -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_E._Gunn_(writer)

James Gunn



Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Ten Days Up by Curtis C. Chen - A Short Story Review

I will say, in this first sentence, the story did not work for me.

It was very well written, I loved the story about two workers on a routine run up and down a space elevator.

Things go wrong on the way up and one of the crew is trapped outside with an oncoming solar storm making things worse.

Man vs environment is a terrific plot construct but sadly there was just too much channeling of MacGyver for me to believe in the plausibility of it.

I think the author tried very hard to amp up the danger when he did not have to.  Being stuck outside, in a hard vacuum, with a solar flare en route was plenty of peril for one person to deal with.  Adding orbital mechanics to it was just a bit too much for me.

Everything else about the story was excellent, I loved the interaction with ground control and the worn-in routine of working on a space elevator. 


Curtis Chen is an author to look for.

Curtis C Chen's website - https://curtiscchen.com/

Curtis C Chen

Monday, 6 January 2020

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi - Book Report #296

Book 2 of the The Interdependency series


Once again, Scalzi managed to entertain by cutting to the chase expecting his audience to keep up with him and using humor to terrific effect.

I am saddened to know that I have to wait until the spring of 2020 before the third book in the series is published.

In this book we come to learn more about the history of The Flow and of the Interdependency.  On a side mission we get to explore a long-cut-off part of space and human history.  There we meet a new character that I very much enjoyed.

The bigger, political and power-grabbing parts of the story that normally bore me to tears were made much more entertaining by putting Kiva Lagos into the middle of all of it.  Believe me, she is so much fun.

All in all, this was a fun read and I am looking forward to the next one.

~ ~ ~

On a personal note, this book got me through a difficult time in my life.  Our long-lived 16 year old Labrador was terribly sick and we had to put her down while I was reading the final few chapters of the story.  Thank you Mr. Scalzi for providing me with a much needed distraction and for giving me much joy in the story.

John Scalzi


Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Malf by David D Levine - A Short Story Review


Asteroid mining, automated and on a contract basis.  This is the ultimate gig-economy job.

What if asteroids were mined remotely and brought back to Earth, splashed into the ocean, recovered, and the minerals extracted?

Great idea. But, since it’s for-profit companies that are doing the mining, getting the asteroids ready and guided to Earth is a job best contracted out.

This, of course, opens the process to non-standard methods of operation.

This story reminded me of the recent demonstration of hacking into driver-less cars.  The author poses the question; what would happen if someone hacked into the propulsion systems of an inbound asteroid and changed its course?

This was an excellent story.



David D Levine's website - https://daviddlevine.com/

David D Levine

Monday, 30 December 2019

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi - Book Review #295

Book 1 of the The Interdependency series


I've been looking for a space opera series I could get into but I am often turned away from the work involved in slogging through mountains of exposition many authors fall into to set up their worlds.  So I get bored, put the book down and never return to it.

 

Not so with John Scalzi.  This first book starts off with a bang - a mutiny with some fantastic sardonic wit and self-deprecation.  From the first page we are dealing with people betraying trusts and trying to get ahead, like all people since the beginning of people.  This ground the story to a manageable scale and introduced The Flow, which is a naturally occurring river in space that humans have learned to use to travel between the stars.

 

From this an economy, dynasties and a religion were formed to give order to society.  But there is a problem - The Flow changes from time to time and this can have devastating consequences to the systems newly cut off from interstellar travel.  This time the change is going to be much, much bigger. 

 

What Scalzi does best is weave exposition into the narrative, never expanding the world for pages on end but as the plot develops.  And there is a lot going on here, there are ship captains and scientists, merchant guilds that compete amongst each other and try to exert political influence with the Emperox who's own life is an interesting one. 


I don't know if it was intended but the changes in The Flow are very much like Climate Change today.  Especially in the inertia encountered with the establishment; nobody wants to believe it and nobody wants to do anything about it until it happens.  Sound familiar?

I very much enjoyed  the book and immediately went out and picked up book 2.

John Scalzi's website - https://whatever.scalzi.com/



John Scalzi


Monday, 16 December 2019

How To Be Good by Nick Hornby - Book Reveiw #294


Being married for as long as I have, there were certain observations that struck home in uncomfortable ways.  There is so much written about new love, and finding the "right" person, but it is harder to find stories about the long-married and still struggling with life.

Being in my mid-50's colours the statement above, but it's true that life just keeps going on.  The goal is to find the right person, but after you've done that and you are years down the road, what does that look like?

Katie and David are going through a rough patch and it gets a bit out of hand as only Nick Hornby can manage to tell the story.  There was humor but there was also a depth of insight that immediately captured me.

Katie has had an affair and asks for a divorce.  David's reaction is understandable but then he begins a transformation that is eyebrow-raising, suspicious and unpredictable.  I was turning pages wondering what new, outrageous thing David was going to do next.  It was fun to read.

I've been a fan of Hornby's for years but only through the movies that have been adapted from his books.  This is the first novel that I've read and I can say that I am looking forward to reading the source material of all those movies I love so much.

Being a genre reader, I now think of Hornby as my gateway author to literary fiction.

Nick Hornby's website - https://www.nickhornbyofficial.com/

Nick Hornby

Monday, 25 November 2019

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth Wein - Book Review #293

This book was written for a middle school audience.  Reading it as an adult, it sometimes became tedious.  I kept having to remind myself of this fact.

Other than that I enjoyed the book very much.

I am dismayed at the lack of adult novels set in the timeline of the new trilogy of Star Wars movies.  I guess the publishers are targeting the next generation of fans and believe that an old guy like me just wants to read stories about Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie.  

Too bad, because I am very much taken by Rey, Poe, and Finn.

This book is set in a time before The Last Jedi and centers around the character of Rose, an engineer on one of the New Republic ships.  Before her assignment to that ship, she was part of a bomber squadron with her sister Paige.

The New Order is blockading an independent system and the New Republic is asked to help by smuggling supplies to the resistance movement on one of the planets.

Part of what makes these books, and this one in particular, so satisfying is how they can inform the movies.  In The Last Jedi, we met Rose and only got a glimpse of her sister, Paige.  By reading this book, those quick scenes have much more emotional weight.

Borrow the book from the library or a friend.

Elizabeth Wein's website - https://www.elizabethwein.com/

Elizabeth Wein

Monday, 18 November 2019

Black Wind By Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler - Book Report #292

A Dirk Pitt Adventure

World War II was a pivotal event that formed our present reality.  I find the period fascinating.

In this novel, during the war, the Japanese created a biological weapon and were en route to launch an attack before the submarine was lost sending the toxin to the bottom of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The present-day bad guy now wants the weapon for his own nasty plans.

Sometimes the plot of a Cussler novel doesn't grab me as much as the part of history he dug up to start the story.  In this one, the Japanese submarine also had a launcher for an aircraft.  This was the first time I've heard of this combination.

All kinds of questions came to me; how do you travel underwater with a plane attached?  Once in flight, how does the plane return? Or does it?


Cussler did me a favour by opening a part of WWII history I had never know.

I'm sorry to say, but it was the history lesson that captured my imagination.  I felt a bit like Julien Perlmutter in that I put the novel down many times to search out books about the Japanese Imperial Navy.

So, yes I enjoyed the book very much but not for the usual reasons.

Clive Cussler's Website - https://clive-cussler-books.com/

Japanese submarine history Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarines_of_the_Imperial_Japanese_Navy

Clive Cussler


Monday, 11 November 2019

The Sixth Man by Andre Iguodala and Carvell Wallace - Book Report #291

I am a casual fan of NBA basketball and I’ll admit that I was getting tired of the Golden State Warriors dominating the league for the past five years.

That team was stacked!

Through all the excitement around Kevin Durant and Steph Curry it was always Andre Iguodala that captured my attention.  There was something about his face...

I don’t read a lot of sports-related books but I found this one fascinating.  I enjoyed learning about Iguodala’s childhood and I was relieved that he had a strong family around him.

Learning about the undercurrent of racism that runs through American culture (and probably all cultures) I found depressing because it confirmed that we humans have not grown nearly enough.

The enormous pressure to perform and what that does to the human body was frightening.

What really upset me most was the treatment players experience from fans and the media.  How ugly people could be is sickening.

Does that sound like I did not enjoy the book?  Far from it.  Through it all, Iguodala’s strength and optimism carried him through his career and this book.

It was a fascinating look inside a game that most of us only encounter through a television screen.  Iguodala simply parted the curtain and showed the reader what the life of an athlete is like.

I was happy to learn that my impression of the man was correct.  He has integrity and cares deeply for the sport he loves.

Highly recommended.  This book is worth buying and lending to friends.

Andre Iguodala’s Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andre_Iguodala

Andre Iguodala

Monday, 4 November 2019

Manhood by Terry Crews - Book Review #290

How to be a better man - 
or just live with one

The first time I became aware of Terry Crews was from his role in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

But it was his recent tour through Edmonton for the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters on Feb 20, 2018, that he really caught my attention as a person I want to learn more about.

I stumbled upon his book on-line and immediately took it out of the library.

The poor guy had a rough start as a kid and he really was a dummy, as most boys and young men are.  I was just as clueless at those ages so the book resonated with me.

What impressed me most was how his ability to learn from disappointments was hard-wired into his DNA.  A lot of people, maybe even most people, would have turned away from their dreams in the same circumstances.  But he pushed through always trying to improve himself.

If you're familiar with his movies and TV work then you know his voice.  It comes through in his writing and made for enjoyable reading.

It was inspiring to see his life-long struggle to become a better man, to improve himself and then to improve his relationships.

To me, the spirit of the book can be found in two lines;

"I realized that everything is not about good or bad.  It's about what you can learn from it."

Terry Crews is a very brave man for sharing his story complete with its warts, mistakes and embarrassments with the world.

Terry Crews' Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Crews

Terry Crews