Monthly Archives: July 2017

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini – review

Influence: The Psychology of PersuasionInfluence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“Compare and contrast…” Dreaded words of professors and teachers… Well, serendipitous, I suppose, that this showed up on a list as I had just started an advance read of Tali Sharot’s The Influential Mind. I might just compare and contrast at some point in the future, but for this one…

The list was “…[t]he top 5 books you must read to be successful.” I’d already read Daniel Pink’s Drive and Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit so thought I’d check out the other three. This was the first on the list.

How to summarize? I’ll try in two steps. First, this is a lot older than I expected. Revised and republished a number of times (first copyrighted in 1984), the basic text is quite dated (30+ years old), which means the cultural references might be obscure to modern readers. And Cialdini is all over the place. Repetitious. Lots of repetition. Also, it smacks as if he has been burnt more than once by salespeople. As with so many books of this type, it could have conveyed the same message with far fewer pages. I won’t speculate as to whether that would have driven a lower price. The problems are numerous and the time spent recounting them worth less than the time spent reading them. Every example, minor or not, is a paramount crisis seemingly requiring extensive pontification. Extensive. This is a tedious read.

Second, it’s a rare book that have less than no value. Of course, this one has value…but it takes a discerning filter to glean it. Giving back (reciprocity) gets returns, being consistent…as well, peer approval/concurrence seems to mean something to many people, as does being liked. Appeals to authority chart great influence, and FOMO (fear of missing out) has great influence.

Critical, skeptical, minds can resist, but even then, can obviously be influenced. We must be on our guard. Human nature, by evolution, is to herd. And the susceptibility to influence enhances that genetic imprint.

I don’t recommend this book, though it does, as noted, have some value. Pick the points carefully and store them in your toolbox.

View all my reviews

The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man by Brett McKay – review

The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern ManThe Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man by Brett McKay

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quaint idea…at once mawkish, pretentious, humorous, pseudo-proper…the discerning reader needs to filter the foppish silliness for the sagacity that is secreted within the product of two very full of themselves writers.

Rephrasing: there actually are good concepts hidden among the authors’ perceptions/notions of “manliness”…and there is a lot of affectation, whether innocently conveyed or deliberately crafted I neither know or care to find out. Pick from the parts that make sense. And try to keep the condescending smile to yourself…

(This is a quick read if you have any cosmopolitan sense at all…)

View all my reviews

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – review

A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1)A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m adding this to my Nostalgic Re-reads shelf but there is nothing nostalgic about this for me. I might as well throw this out there now: there are some ostensibly children’s books that no child should read without the oversight of a rational, preferably humanist, adult to provide context and explain away some of the wrong.

I first read this sometime probably 1970-71. I know I reread it as I read a LOT as a child (okay…still do) rereading when I didn’t have anything new. I read the sequel, but quickly outgrew Ms. L’Engle and didn’t know she had extended this by three beyond that until much later.

Some of the themes are very juvenile, but “IT” bothered me almost 50 years ago, and annoys me now. The concept of a universal Evil is not a child theme, and though some religions have no qualms inducing such fear in children, I didn’t connect Ms. L’Engle’s particular beliefs until much later in life. And why was IT a giant brain? There’s a message of science and reason being primary, but a counter message of quite the opposite (thus the need for the rational adult).

So, “IT” bothers me now, now that Disney has seen profits in (re)making a new movie. (The trailer made me think Peter Jackson was directing, because it already departs radically from the book, but he isn’t…)

Well, it bothers me only if this book is foisted on a preteen without benefit of context, and of course, only if someone actually bothers with the book. Parents, heed the lesson of memory failings: “Raiders of the Lost Ark is only PG…should be okay for the nine year old, right?” Nope.

View all my reviews

Hounds of the Underworld by Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray – review

Hounds of the UnderworldHounds of the Underworld by Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Something of the description of this from the Library Thing‘s Early Reviewer list got my attention, but I don’t remember what, which is odd for me – I thought something about Lovecraftian meets Holmes. The genre is not one I frequent so I have a short measuring stick with which to compare it. I got this advance read from Raw Dog Screaming Press via Library Thing.

For me, it was slow to get into…the scene shifts with teaser hints may have been designed to engage and drawn in, but I found the abrupt transitions to be off-putting – and the development slow and disconcerting. Again, no comparator, so that may be the norm. (This review is my impression, and I always allow that others may like something more than I…) The pace did pick up in the last third, racing to the end, but leaving me wondering “what did I just read?” The connections to the un/supernatural seemed tenuous for a novel written in that vein, and the detective elements underdeveloped, but I do understand that this is the first in the series and that the authors are trying to set a stage for the follow-ons. But I found the unnatural elements too odd to grab me. (Remember, these are my impressions…your mileage may vary…everyone sees things from their own cultural, experiential perspective!) I had no issue with the Kiwi perspective…that was stimulating.

Now, I did find the main two characters engaging – reasonably defined and at times funny, though the unnatural connector through the brother not quite defined – but the secondary characters (police, parents, perps, …) interchangeably superfluous, though the brother thread seemed deliberately obscured, teasing references that for some might invoke “tell me more”, and for others, “any time now…” And there were oddly melodramatic interjections like “It’s heavy, weighted with the sorrows of untold ages past.”

Pop culture observation #1: Ms. J. K. Rowling might be flattered at a reference – [something was] “stabbed like a Horcrux”

Great line note #1: “Don’t disbelieve everything you can’t find on the internet.” [Love it!!]

Overall, I’d like to see more depth with the two mains, and this piqued my curiosity.

View all my reviews