Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Lean In 15

I loved Lean In. As well as advice for women at work, it is a thought-provoking book for anyone who values equality in the workplace. I was therefore very excited to start leafing through the sequel, Lean In 15.

I have to say I was instantly surprised. Out was Silicon Valley Veteran Sheryl Sandberg, in was a cheerful looking fellow with a lot of hair, one Joe Wicks. However I strengthened my resolve, certain that the holders of the Lean In franchise would not falter.

I was wrong. Where Sheryl had brought tales of business inequality, Joe brought low-carb treats. Where Sheryl’s stories had business royalty, Joe’s had Cheesy Chorizo Chicken. What was previously thought-provoking was now merely appetite-inducing. One section did show promise, entitled ‘Prepping like a Boss’, but it barely touched on even the most basic leadership principles.

That is not to say I didn’t learn anything. I love acronyms, and I did not know what HIIT stood for (High Intensity Interval Training). I had previously never thought about my Post-workout Carbohydrate-refuel, now I never exercise without one. And did I mention the Prawn Singapore Noodles?

However all that being said, it was too much of a departure from the original, so for inconsistency, I must award 2.5 stars.

Seriously though, the Prawn Singapore Noodles.

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Book review: Think Like a Freak

While readers might know me as a serious business person, I am actually quite fun.  Indeed I will occasionally do something purely for my own amusement, outrageous as that might sound!

This weekend past was one such time.  With a bit of time on my hands between business trips, I chanced upon a new release, “Think Like a Freak”, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

After a week of hard work, I thought I’d loosen up a bit, perhaps get a little “freaky”, and opened said tome, looking forward to some wild and tall tales.

I am afraid that I was disappointed.  Far from being a parade of weirdery to take one’s mind off the daily drudgery, “Think Like a Freak” turned out to be full of sensible advice about how to live one’s life.  Instead of anecdotes about some of this green globe’s more wacky denizens, I was treated to a range of everyday anecdotes and well-researched explanations.

The cheek of it! I have of course written to the authors expressing my disappointment with their misrepresentation. You can hardly excite a man with such a title, only to sneakily improve his mind. Two stars.

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Book Review: Money

People are suddenly into economics, apparently. A Piketty pandemic has swept across the printed press, the blogosphere, and most importantly the bestseller lists, following the recent publication of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital” in March. As is so often the case, what started with admiration swiftly turned to admonishment, when some data issues came to light, courtesy of the FT.

Notwithstanding the recently raised question around data integrity, Piketty’s “Capital” is still very much on every business-minded person’s reading list, and it is most certainly on mine.  However according to Mr Amazon, the book weighs a hefty 640 pages, which seemed rather a lot for a bank holiday weekend.  As a result, I chose to square up instead to Capital’s predecessor, “Money”, by Martin Amis, a mere welterweight at 400 pages. I felt that Mr Amis’ effort on the subject of all things pecuniary would stand me in good stead when I came to address Piketty’s even seriouser tome on the same.

I am afraid that I was gravely disappointed.  Far from being a pithy primer on money matters, “Money” was largely about some chap called John Self, whose expertise with the green stuff seems to have been primarily in disposing of it, as opposed to leveraging the high levels of return on capital in order to gain further share of overall wealth (which Wikipedia reassures me is Piketty’s centrale treatise).  What rot!  This became pretty evident in the first few pages, but I assumed that this Self character was some sort of vignette on what not to do, and that the serious economics would soon kick in.

I was let down once again.  We followed John from strip-club to dive bar to brothel and back again, with not a peep about supply, let alone demand, excepting of course demand for a whole range of vices, from booze, to drugs, to pornography.  Meanwhile the invisible hand was nowhere to be seen, though Mr Self’s extensive experience of hand-jobs was very well documented.

Quite why Mr Amis chose to write an economics textbook in such a fashion I do not know, and I am afraid that as a result I must award him two stars.  If he ever feels the urge to dip his toes in financial waters again, I can only direct him to the ever reliable “Business Writing For Dummies”, and wish him the very best of luck.

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