Audio Books · Book & Product Reviews

The Fountainhead – book review

Overview:

The Fountainhead was written in 1943 by Ayn Rand who has to be one of my top 5 authors. I have read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged another Ayn Rand novel several times. More recently I have both books available on Audible. There are several key characters in this novel, but the most notable is Howard Roark who is an architect. Howard is the focal point of the book for his individualist character and the love he possesses for his work. As with Atlas Shrugged this novel pits the individualist (capitalist) against those that feel there is little meaning to life and everything should be shared (socialist). Like all of Ayn Rand’s novels there is this good vs. evil plot being played out, or you might look at it as conventional vs. innovative when referring to the central theme of architecture. I won’t give away the details of the plot or how it ends, but I can guarantee you will enjoy reading or listening to this book.

If you have Audible beware that this is a very long book and is over 32 hours. The narration is incredible as the narrator changes their voice for various characters, making it much easier to listen to. Ayn Rand does an incredible job of creating compelling characters with all their virtues and flaws. As I mentioned the key character Howard Roark is what the author would call the ideal man. A man of virtue, dedicated to his work, and idealistic.

Recommendation:

As you can probably tell I loved it. There is nothing in this book not to like and while it is a substantial investment in terms of the time to read it (752 pages), you will not be disappointed. Due to the quality of the narration and the fact that it is a novel, where much of it consists of dialog it really lends itself to the audio book format. If you choose to listen to it on Audible the version I listened to had Christopher Hurt as the narrator. While the underlying theme in this novel is philosophical, it is also entertaining and most of the characters are somewhat complex, making it fun to read.

A little bit about the Author

(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand)

Ayn Rand born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum; February 2, 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935 and 1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.

Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism and rejected altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she defined as the system based on recognizing individual rights, including property rights. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her, except for Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and classical liberals.

Literary critics received Rand’s fiction with mixed reviews and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy, though academic interest has increased in recent decades. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.

 

Audio Books · Book & Product Reviews

Book Review – Stop Doing That Sh*t

I believe this is the latest book by Gary John Bishop and it’s called “Stop Doing That Sh*t“. If you read my book review of UnFu*k Yourself you know how much I enjoy Gary’s writing. UnFu*k Yourself was focused on our internal self talk and the author provided 8 rules or tenants for living a better life; helping you to begin steering your ship in the right direction. This book Stop Doing That Sh*t takes us in a different direction. Mind you it doesn’t invalidate what Gary Bishop wrote about in UnFu*k Yourself, but after listening to it a couple times it really complements it.

As I mentioned I’ve listened to this book a couple times now and found it fascinating and of course very entertaining. Gary John Bishop has a great Scottish accent and a no holds barred style of writing that gives it to you in a raw language that is easy to interpret. Basically I think his style and because he narrates the book himself make it a great candidate for an audio book. So what is this book about? Gary makes a case that the past is driving all your current and future behavior. I know at first I balked at this as I pride myself as someone who cares little about the past and rarely thinks about it. You might think the past has no hold over you, but think about what your believe and the way you act and you begin to understand that the past is running your subconscious mind. It dictates what you value, your relationships, what you think about money, and causes you to repeat behavior patterns, mostly the shitty ones.

For myself I started to realize while I don’t consciously think about the past it has molded me for both good and bad. He goes on to elaborate on the three saboteurs:

  1. You
  2. Them
  3. Life

So what you think about yourself and your limitations, how you view other people, and your outlook on life. The remainder of the book provides some insights on how you can address these three saboteurs and make some constructive change in  your life. I won’t spool it for you, but the last couple chapters give you some insights into how you can start to turn things around.

I highly recommend this book, and I recommend reading or listening to it at least a couple times, because it takes a while to really understand and come to some acceptance of the premise. You might just begin to understand how much you are sabotaging your own life and more importantly why.

Namaste

 

 

Book & Product Reviews

Can’t Hurt Me

David Goggins Cant hurt me

I just finished listening to Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. This audible book was over 13 hours and 30 minutes in length and I enjoyed every minute of it. Most of it is narrated by Adam Skolnick with David Goggins mostly commenting during and after Skolnick read the chapters. I won’t give away the whole plot because quite frankly in-depth book reviews that give you a blow by blow description of the of the book just ruin it for you.

So why should you read or listen to this book? Well #1 it is an extremely inspiring story of someone who had to overcome unbelievable odds to achieve what he did. This guy literally tortured himself to get through both Navy Seals and Army Rangers training. There are some brutal descriptions of the pain he endured and his incredible will to succeed. There are many episodes where he did some crazy things like running 100 mile ultra marathons and even set a Guinness book of record for the most pull-ups completed in a 24 hour time period.

This is truly a mind over matter story, where David does some pretty insane things to make him what he calls hard or a bad mother fucker. Yes there is lots of swearing in the book, but you would have already guessed that if you have seen any of his YouTube videos. While the things he did to his body seem a bit crazy his motivation was geared towards making himself mentally tough.

I highly recommend you check out this book. It was so interesting that I listed to it in less than two days. In fact I found it so damn inspiring that I started running again, even getting my lazy ass out in the rain this morning for another run. If you are operating on anything less than 100% effort in your life you need to check this out. I’m going to plug the audio version because there is a lot of commentary by David Goggins during and after the chapters that would not be in the written version. Often the primary narrator would ask David questions and so you get some additional insights only available on the audio book.

While much of this book is about David Goggins overcoming physical challenges, there is certainly lots of lessons that can apply to any challenge your are facing in your life. As David says often in the book “Roger That”.

One last thing I want to mention. Sometimes we get way to comfortable in the work we do, or we become victims due to our own whining and complaining. We kind of give up and feel sorry for ourselves making our problems at work or at home more significant than they really are. Yes, I do this shit too. This book will give you a different perspective on life. After listening to this book I wrote on my whiteboard the following:

Whiteboard can't hurt me

Sorry about the swearing.

Namaste

Book & Product Reviews

Find Your WHY

find your why2

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born.”
– Mark Twain

FIND YOUR WHY was written by Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Docker. This is an interesting book and if you have ever watched any of Simon Sinek’s YouTube videos you will know that he often discusses the importance of understanding your why. This book starts with explaining the power of knowing your why and how it is a motivating force for both the individual and organizations.

The rest of this book is devoted to ways that you as a person can define your why, or if you prefer how your team can determine their why. This is really a workbook in many ways, with exercises to help you articulate what your why is. The idea is that you create one sentence that includes a contribution and an impact. The format would look something like this:

To        Contribution     so that    Impact     .

Seems simple, yet it is a fairly difficult thing to do. You are not creating a goal, although goals might come from understanding your why. Instead you are defining a purpose or a reason for your life. It might be a bit lofty or grandiose, but that’s fine. It is your life and you need to determine why you are here in this world and what you are here to contribute. Knowing your why will help you chart a course for moving forward and it lets the rest of the world know why you do what you do.

Here is an example of what I came up with for myself:

To share with people ways to improve their lives, so that they can create a life filled with meaning and contribution.

It’s still a work in progress, so don’t judge to harshly. Unless you can already articulate your own why then I would recommend you give this book a read. I read the first three chapters in a couple of hours and started crafting my own why that same day. There are also some additional chapters and one in particular that is on finding your Hows. I won’t spoil it for you, but this book is highly recommended especially if  you’re struggling to find some meaning in our life.

While I have focused on how finding your why is important for the individual, this book also provides how you can help your team find their why and how to implement why in organizations. Simon Sinek talks a lot about when an organization knows their why they can build trust with employees and customers. See the TED talk below to get a taste of what of what Simon Sinek has to say about why.

I hope you find your “Why” and once you do; that it provides the reason to pursue your dreams and comforts you during challenging times.

Namaste

 

 

 

Book & Product Reviews

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet book image

I few months ago I read a book The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain who at the time this book was written taught at Colorado State University. Let me first state that this is an interesting book that makes the case for following a diet that our ancestors did prior to the agricultural revolution some 10,000 years ago.

The premise of the book is that prior to the agricultural revolution homo sapiens were hunter gatherers and as such ate what was available in nature. Dr. Cordain makes a good case of why the hunter gatherer diet is superior to diets that contain lots of processed food or byproducts of agriculture. A paleo diet consists of foods that include:

  • Meat based protein – chicken breasts, fish and shell fish, lean beef, game meat
    • Note there is nothing processed such as lunch meat or any other bizarre concoction that we have come up with that passes as meat today.
  • Fruits – all fruits
  • Vegetables – except starchy ones like potatoes and legumes
  • Fat – mostly from nuts and seeds, and some oils like olive and fish

Things to avoid:

  • Dairy Foods – butter, cheese, cream, yogurt, ice cream, milk
  • Cereal Grains – things like barley, corn, rice, and wheat
  • Starchy Vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams
  • Manufactured Meats – salami, bacon, sausages, hot dogs, ham to name a few
  • Sugar – all soft drinks, candy, deserts, and bottled fruit juice

There is a lot more detail in the book, but you get the idea, which is to stick to natural foods and stay away from anything that has been processed. I tried this diet for a few weeks and even to this day I still practice eating about 80% of my diet as Paleo.

Pros:

There is a lot of evidence that this diet is very healthy and you will actually feel better once you embrace it. One other major side effect is that you can easily lose weight especially if you combine it with intermittent fasting. One other great thing about this diet is you can eat as much as you like. With so much of it coming from fruits and vegetables you are getting lots of fiber and vitamins that are missing from many other diets, and the quality protein you are consuming leaves you satiated.

Cons:

The Paleo diet is so focused on natural food sources that you may find it too restrictive especially when you are eating out. It is easy to follow at home, but let’s say you want to go to your favorite Mexican or Chinese restaurant; you will find that the tortillas and rice are a big no no. Remember no bread or grains, arg!

Summary:

You can become a fat burning machine on this diet and feel great while doing it. The Paleo diet simplifies grocery shopping, which is kind of nice. While you might find this diet somewhat difficult to adhere to when eating out, it is still more liberal than the choices a vegan has in the same situation. Ultimately the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience. I really enjoyed the first half of this book and the second half seemed a bit repetitive, but overall is was well worth reading.

Namaste

Book & Product Reviews

Book Review – tuesdays with Morrie

I read a lot, probably about 2 or 3 books a month, which for some of you might be pretty typical or maybe even less than others. I decided to pick up the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. The book is about 200 pages, and could be read in a weekend if one was so inclined. Now one of the things I want to get straight right from the start is that in writing a book review, I’m not going to spoil the read for you. My intent is only to describe what I thought of the book.

Tuesdays With Morrie

So this is a relatively small book but may be one of the best books I have ever read. Morrie was Mitch Albom’s professor when he was an undergraduate student. The book details the Tuesday meetings that Mitch had with Morrie during the last year of his life. During those meetings they talked about a number of life lessons and that is where the magic of this book unfolds. You will find yourself drawn into the meaning behind these conversations and for me it was a very emotional experience. I would intend to read a chapter and move on to do something else, but I often found myself reading three or four at a sitting.

Mitch-and-Morrie

If you are looking for a book that addresses the big questions in life then this is a must read. You will come away with a new perspective on what is really important in life. What really struck me is how emotional I became when I was reading this book. I was often brought to tears, not by the tragedy of Morrie’s illness, but by the powerful lessons that Morrie discussed with Mitch.

That’s it, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but for me this is one of the top 5 books I have ever read.

Namaste