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BEST BOOKS!
Book Reviews, Tips, Tools & Resources for Your Success
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  Table of Contents:

1.  Create Your Own Future, by Brian Tracy
2.  Collapse, by Jared Diamond


Briefly Mentioned:
*** The Motive, by John Lescroart
*** Life Expectancy, by Dean Koontz
*** London Bridges, by James Patterson


4. Final Words & An Invitation for YOU!
 

 

 
 

1.  Create Your Own Future
     by Brian Tracy

 

This is a “must have” (and a “must read”) for anyone who is serious about taking control of their life and achieving great things. We live in a world that seems determined to fill our minds and our days with bad news. Remember the old newspaper motto, “If it bleeds, it leads?” We are bombarded with accounts of murder and mayhem, financial chicanery and a pervasive “victim mentality” that says big business and big government, our genetic heritage or our stars are responsible for our success (or failure) in life.

When was the last time you turned on the television or opened a newspaper and were inspired? When was the last time you were energized by talk radio or your spirit was enriched by a situation comedy? It doesn’t happen! If we are to live as positive, pro-active, creative people I am convinced we must take charge of the “food” we feed our brains and vigorously protect our spirits. Fortunately, it’s not difficult.

There are thousands of wonderful books out there, and this is one of the best. Tracy’s twelve steps or principles are unsurpassed. No, they aren’t original, and you can quibble with them. But the fact remains, “the best way to predict your future is to create it.” Personally, I love this book!

Tracy’s writing is quick, easy and fun. The paragraphs are short, the points clear and powerful. His principles and “Laws” are easy to remember and easy to implement. Ironically, these strengths also make the book easy to criticize, even mock. These are the basics, and most people have heard them before. You “reap what you sow.” The Law of “Cause and Effect” is familiar, so if you want to dismiss the book as simplistic, it’s easy to do. There’s no brilliance or effort in that.

On the other hand, if you want to achieve great things, reach your goals and perform at your best, buy and read this book. Keep it around and read it often. Because of its’ clear organization, it’s a great book to keep in the car so you can read a paragraph, a page or a chapter whenever you have a few minutes. That’s what I do, and I think it makes a difference. Highly recommended.  Buy it at Amazon by clicking HERE.

 

 

 
 

2.  Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or
     Succeed
     by Jared Diamond

Diamond studies the rise and fall of civilizations and won the Pulitzer Prize for his earlier book, Guns, Germs and Steel. I bought Collapse on impulse, based on the author’s reputation, but without any specific expectations. Turns out, this is a remarkable tour de force exploring the decisions societies make and the impact those decisions have on their survival over the years.

Diamond gives a detailed history of twelve societies, ranging from modern Montana’s experience with mining, ranching and tourism, to ancient Mayan culture, the rise and fall of Easter island, Viking exploration, and the development of Australia and modern China. His writing is excellent, but the sheer volume of detail was over-whelming at times. This is a massive book which rewards the reader with a wealth of information in exchange for a fair amount of time and effort.

The element I was not prepared for was Diamond’s continuous emphasis on environmental factors in societal development. He is a biologist and his point of view is shaped by his perceptions of deforestation, soil erosion, water and climate change on societal survival. Despite repeated attempts to balance his own argument, I found a strong element of environmental determinism running through the book. I don’t have the professional background to agree or disagree with his analysis, but at times I became frustrated. It’s as if the ratio of trees per person, or the tons of soil erosion per year are the primary (if not the only) factors that determine whether a society survives or dies.

If in the coming years, experts and the general public judge Diamond to be essentially correct, this book will have an even greater impact than Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) and Diamond will have a profound impact on our perceptions of climate change, environmental protection and economic development. If on the other hand, his analysis is viewed as simplistic and one-dimensional, he will be viewed as merely an alarmist. I am not educated enough to have a strong opinion either way and will leave the determination to others.

I will make three essential points, however. First, this is an important book because it will be a source of discussion among elite decision-makers in the coming years. Informed people should read it. Second, it’s a delightful introduction to the twelve cultures he studies. It’s fun and enriching. I kept thinking of the quote that “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” Third, his comments about current events in Rwanda, Australia and China are insightful and haunting. His analysis is troubling, and (particularly regarding the genocide in Rwanda) his suggestions may be disastrously prophetic about the future of sub-Saharan Africa and the American Southwest.

This is not an “easy” book. It’s massive and requires real commitment, but it’s worth the effort. Whether you agree or disagree, opinion leaders (and those who wish to be opinion leaders) will be discussing it. Highly recommended. Buy and read this book – your friends will be influenced by it down the road. You can probably find it in most good bookstores, at the public library, or buy it from Amazon HERE.


 
 
 

Briefly Mentioned:

*** The Motive
by John Lescroart


Lescroart is to mystery-thrillers as espresso is to coffee. (I hope that comparison actually works!) This is not literature in the sense of a Joyce Carol Oates or Norman Mailer, but it is very good writing. I’ve probably read a dozen of Lescroart’s books, and they are excellent. There’s a grittiness that intrigues me. His characters are real, meaning they have flaws. They are distracted with the details of life, like being tired, hungry or lonely. And yet they are determined. Similarly, his villains are not unusually evil people. True, they’ve killed or robbed, but like his heroes, they are people doing what they have to do. I won’t give away the plot, but in a surprising (and surprisingly satisfying) twist at the end, I found myself sympathizing with the villain, recognizing her dilemma, and empathizing with her. I try to read one or two novels a month and I often refer to them as “guilty pleasures” because they are just casual fun. Lescroart, however, rises above his contemporaries, and I recommend this to anyone who wants a good read and enjoys a tightly-written whodunit. Pick it up next chance you get.


 
 
 

*** Life Expectancy
By Dean Koontz


I’ve said many times that no one tells a better ghost story than Koontz. He’s a prolific and very thoughtful writer who’s insight to the weird and impossible and spooky is very, very good. Frankly, I loved this book. It’s frightening, and incredibly funny. His characters have wit and sophistication, their love is believable and the villains are truly evil—unless they are merely insane. Or, is there a difference? And, does it matter? We’ve all heard that “we get what we expect in life” but just how far would you want to push it? At one level, Life Expectancy is about prophecy and belief. At another, it’s a thriller about good and evil. And at another, it’s a twisted plot with surprises that push the bounds of belief—and we’re back to the edges of “expectancy.” Koontz makes a very good living writing spooky novels, but somewhere in his family history I suspect there was at least one philosopher-theologian. This is at least two good steps above “dime store novel” and it’s worth a read. Pick it up and spend a few hours with a great story-teller.

 

 

 

*** London Bridges
by James Patterson


As the old joke goes, when you look for “guilty pleasure” in the dictionary, what you find is a picture of James Patterson and a list of his thrillers. Patterson’s chapters are very short, often only a page or two, that become snapshots to keep the action moving. It’s as if he writing in story-board format, preparing for the screenplay. This is apparently the last in his series starring the “Wolf” and the “Weasel” as impossibly evil men who hold the world hostage to their diabolical schemes. (I say “apparently the last” since both men die in this book, but reincarnation is always a possibility with these guys.) Patterson does not write literature, but he does write excellent, scary stories. The biggest weakness with Patterson is that both his heroes and his villains are simply impossible to believe. They are bigger and badder than life, and that gets in the way. His strength, on the other hand, is that while you’re reading, especially at night, the impossible becomes eerily possible. Lock the doors, curl up by the fire, and enjoy.
 

 
 
  4. Final Words & An Invitation for YOU!

I believe that readers are pro-active people who take ACTION to create the lives they truly want. They INVEST in themselves and expect great results, so I want to invite you to making this your best year ever. Commit to surrounding yourself with the people and resources you need to achieve a life of ultimate success, in every sense of the word.

Here's to great reading and thanks for participating!

Phil

____________________________
Philip E. Humbert, PhD
Author, Speaker, Success Strategist
"Your Success is our ONLY Focus!"
Email: Coach@philiphumbert.com
Web: www.philiphumbert.com