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DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Very honest account of a man who went from a life of success to jail for possession of child pornography

PROS:
The book is very honest. As you read it you really get to know the author, the way he thinks, and why he ended up in the place he ended up. Basically, the author describes how some decisions led him to become a well-known and appreciated individual in his community, whereas others led him in a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior that eventually landed him in prison. You can corroborate the validity of his stories as the events are fairly recent and there are plenty of articles on the Internet about it. The book is not gratuitously sexual and does a good job at describing how “normal people” are capable of living a double life and finding a negative outlet to their own stress and frustrations. Though the writing seems a bit clunky at first, very quickly it picks up the pace and you can truly immerse yourself in the setting and be a participant of the developing of the author and his team’s projects and challenges.

CONS:
Honestly, the book is so personal that it almost feels like it was written more as a way for the author to get stuff out of his chest than to actually connect to the readers. I would dare to say that it feels like the kind of therapeutical diary that would help one process all the reasons that led one to a very bad result. Because of so many personal details, the book does not have a clear focus on the issue of addiction to pornography. In fact, it was frustrating that the author only started speaking more frequently about his struggles when I was almost 70% into the book. Before that, the book felt much more like a chronicle of the foundation and development of his magazine and film festival. This is not necessarily bad, but I do feel the title does not accurately reflect the actual content of the book. Also, there are some evident writing tricks in there (possibly from the author’s experience as a journalist), the very opening of the book has a rather vivid narration of the author’s sexual exploits, which clearly did not belong there, but it was an obvious attempt to hook the reader into staying with the book. This kind of cliffhangers and hooks also show up in other places of the book but they feel cliche and not very refined. Lastly, it does take a while to get used to the “jumpy” writing style in which one can be reading about something and all of a sudden the whole narration has gone back in the distant or not so distant past. Gladly, the author indicated this abrupt and disruptive changes with a divider, and, more importantly, they do not happen nearly as often in the second part of the book.

CONCLUSION:
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it does a superb job of showing that the issue of pornography is serious and that it creeps and ruins the lives of people who are not necessarily evil. Here you have a man with an entrepreneurial spirit, achieving good things for himself and his community, but who ends up being marked for life because of not dealing with his issues early on. This should be enough to show you that we all are humans and we need help from one another. On the other hand, I feel the book does not deliver on the expectations it creates. The title itself reflects the problem, there are plenty of people talking about pornography as an addiction, it was the author himself who did not open up to others. I am very glad that he is at a better place now and I see how telling his side of the story is important for him and for his recovery (and, yes, for his vindication too). But I do hope that as he keeps on learning and sharing more about the issue of pornography, he can move on from the stage of reminiscing to a more serious evaluation of the problem, and, more importantly, exploration of possible solutions. I feel the focus still needs to be narrowed and I hope he will be able to keep on overcoming and encouraging others to do so.

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Pretty good introductory book on minimalism as a philosophy of life to improve one’s and other’s lives.

PROS:
The author has done a great job to present all the content in such an order that even if you have not heard anything about minimalism, you will end up learning a whole lot and very likely wanting to change some things in your life for the better. The author’s emphasis is on presenting the reader with the reasons why minimalism for him is really another expression of what he wants to accomplish with his life. Namely, wanting to be a better person every day, and wanting to help others improve as well. I think this is the direct result of the author clearly being a committed Christian, so Christians will find his approach especially encouraging.

CONS:
I would say this book is more of a “minimalism 101” kind of book. Meaning to say, you get an excellent overview of what this is about. But then, there are many unanswered questions that let you wondering how could you actually go ahead and do things. Of course, you can’t accomplish everything at once, so I do not think it is a great weakness.

CONCLUSION:
I assume some people may feel disturbed by the fact that the author is a Christian and he shares stories from the Bible. If you are allergic to any mention of religion, then yeah, you may want to skip this one. However, if you really have to do so, I would encourage you to chillax a bit and open your ears and heart to anything that is good. Full disclaimer, I am a Christian, and yet, I can assure you this book does not attempt at all to proselytize. But the author speaks of what he knows and beliefs. If you are a humanist who seeks the betterment of the world through the human race, you will still get solid information and inspiration here. Same if you are a Buddhist trying to show compassion and escape suffering. Point being, we need more people like this guy who with honest intentions try to share the good things he has with others.

Homo Deus – Short Book Review

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Sequel to Sapiens. It applies the same cold-blooded approach to everything as it tries to examine where we are headed as the human race.

PROS:
This guy is smart! I mean there is a reason why I am digesting this behemoth just weeks after finishing Sapiens. His writing is enticing, deeply scholarly, and fundamentally logical. Though it is not always easy to keep up, the author is so clear in his arguments that there is not a lot of room for ambiguity. Even if you radically disagree with many of the contents, this book will engage you in intellectual ways that are not so frequent in today’s curated public speech. I mean, he is basically making the case why we as humans are pretty much headed towards obsoleteness, that is food for thought right there.

CONS:
Sapiens was kind of mind-blowing, in part because it talks about history and how we got to be here. As I said in my review of that book, I do not agree with the extreme materialism that the author uses to present his case, but even so, it was great. In Homo Deus, the main weakness is inherent to the nature of the work. It deals with things that have not happened. Therefore, even though the author tries to display the same kind of dispassionate confidence he exuded before, the reader can’t help but feel that there are a lot of assumptions and speculations. Especially, in the final part, it does feel kind of forced more than the logical result of an argument. Lastly, I had hints since I read Sapiens of biases in the author’s perspective, namely that he has “beef” against the Catholic Church and that he favors Buddhism. After finishing this book those thoughts just increased. So I googled and found out that indeed the author is deep (like two hours every day deep) into one form of Buddhist meditation. This just makes me wonder if he is just trying really hard to separate his intellectual writing from his actual experiences as a human being, maybe too hard to the point of being hypocritical.

CONCLUSION:
Definitely a nice reading for the open and inquisitive mind. It is likely you won’t like many things he says (he basically says everything from religion to human rights and capitalism are ludicrous inventions and the future does not really have a place for today’s humans), but even so in a time and age in which people are too focused on the shallow, this kind of depth benefits us. I do look forward to a book in which the author would be more human, instead of assuming this position of an unbendable brain talking, which comes across as condescending and hypocritical considering our own realities.

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A very good book about timing.

PROS:
The book is concise and clear about what it offers. After reading it you will surely feel you have learned more about timing and you will have specific changes that you would like to implement. Indeed, Pink demonstrates once again that he is a very practical person and that he is not writing just to keep the wads piling up, but rather because he truly wants to help himself and the readers. Because of that, you can expect very practical strategies recommended at the end of each chapter and a nice commented bibliography at the end.

CONS:
Obviously, this book is the result of research. However, it does feel like it is saturated with citations that do not necessarily “flow”. It actually reminded me of the way I was writing my thesis, and one of the reasons why I did not finish it… Basically, there are several parts in which it feels like, “oh! we have to use this study we researched about, so let’s just put a slightly related sentence at the end of the paragraph and add one more footnote!” Since I was reading on a Kindle and I was genuinely interested in his actual comments in the footnotes, I checked them all, but I wish he would have used a different symbol to distinguish actual comments from study references.

CONCLUSION:
This is a nice book. Although I knew for a long time about circadian rhythms and the difference between morning and night people, this book presented everything in such a clear way that just for that is worth the reading. Also, I just love when you see that people are passionate about what they do, and it is obvious that this is one of those authors that “walks the talk”. In fact, once you read the book, you will see that he is even willing to take concrete actions to show you so. Overall, I liked his book “Drive” better, but this is still a nice piece of work.

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This is a really good book about motivation.
Its main point is that there are three kinds of motivation:
– 1.0: Sexual drive, appetite, etc.
– 2.0: Response to rewards and punishment
– 3.0: Intrinsic motivation

Obviously, of these the most valuable is motivation 3.0. And he explains in the book not only its advantages but also how to foster it.

PROS:
The author has done extensive research work and it reflects on the results. The book is well backed-up and the writing is easy to follow, vivid, and very engaging. Definitely a good piece of writing.

CONS:
The book itself is on the short side (not that this is too bad). A huge chunk at the end deals with resources recommended by the author for people interested in knowing more about motivation. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, though I could imagine someone being frustrated after finding out the book is way shorter than they thought.

CONCLUSION:
This book presents in clear terms what many may know intuitively. The kind of motivation that truly keeps us going is that which comes from the inside, the desire to outgrow ourselves and to make a difference in other people’s lives. Whether you are in a business setting or just seeking self-growth, I think this book is absolutely valuable and you should read it if you have the chance.

An interesting book that reflects very well the stereotypical Japanese worldview applied to tidying.

PROS:
Extremely simple method for decluttering and getting a bit more control of your living environment. There are people who just need someone to tell them what to do because they really can’t decide where to start, this book does an excellent job at doing that.

CONS:
This is a short book but honestly, it could be even shorter. The so-called “KonMari method” is so ridiculously simple that its essentials could be explained in probably 10 pages. However, that would not make for a New York Times Best Seller. So what’s up with the rest of content? Well, of course, there’s a plethora of personal stories, anecdotes, and suggestions that make the points clearer. This is alright as really every book needs to do that. However, there are also some things that serve more to communicate the personal worldview of the author than to help your tidying. For example, she would spend significant time telling you how she prays giving thanks to the piles of things that will be discarded and how that makes the process more efficient. For someone who wants to get to the point, this is distracting and does not really contribute much.

CONCLUSION:
In spite of everything, I think it is a cool method. As I read the pages I could not help but see a lot of aspects that are part of the Japanese culture (I have lived in Japan several years). For example, the fact that this lady was able to become a celebrity for something like tidying and that she makes more money than 99% of whoever reads this, is a very Japanese scenario. You will also see the “cute-ification” of things that turn everything into an almost childish game (if you have seen Japanese TV, you would know what I am talking about). In Japan, there are plenty of Otaku or people who really get into something to the point that they are obsessed. As the author describes her childhood and how she got into tidying. I could not help but think that probably she has some sort of compulsive syndrome, but since in Japan mental issues are barely recognized as real issues, she became instead a highly renowned sensei. Animism shows its face all around. Those are not smelly old socks, they have an essence that needs to be freed by you giving thanks to them… Anyway, all in all, the method is worth knowing. If you are looking to declutter and do not know how to do it, I would totally recommend this book. I did apply it to my clothes and will also do so with the rest of my things once time allows. However, you could really get the gist just by reading a summary online, or the manga version which is shorter and has all the basic content.

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5 of 5

This was a very interesting book if annoying and hard to bear at times.

PROS:
For those of you wanting to get a glimpse of what a materialistic worldview is, no need to look elsewhere! This book does a superb job of describing human history as seen from a strictly materialistic lens (meaning to say, no room for the metaphysical, be it spiritual, emotional, etc.). The author has done his research and conveys his knowledge in an engaging way. You will find yourself in the wild with the first bands of foraging homo sapiens, expecting good yields during the agricultural revolution, or ruminating about the (scary) possibilities of genetic manipulation and its influence on “happiness.”

CONS:
Precisely because the author does a good job of presenting the materialistic worldview, it comes across as snobbish, and frequently cynical. He seems to “have a beef” with Christianity, particularly with the Catholic Church and though he uses sarcastic comments “against” everything and everyone, one cannot help but notice that the ones regarding Catholic practices are just more frequent. This reveals, what in my opinion is, the main weakness of this work. The author has tried (and to a great extent succeeded) to seem impervious and unpassionate, just a narrator of the obvious facts. However, he is still a human, he too is a homo sapiens and therefore as feeble as the creatures he describes. Hence, one wonders how his humanity (that non-conforming rebel constantly defying the materialistic worldview) is shown in this book. Could it be that he is telling selected stories to support his agenda? Is he using his intellect to patronize and convince others presenting those who differ as less rational? Honestly, I do get that impression. After reading I get the feeling that for being a book about humans, the whole thing is rather mechanical and lacking human spark. It just seems like a well-curated 400+ page argument where the author constantly tries to evade his own humanity, lest it interferes with the expensive machine-chiseled piece.

CONCLUSION
I was really pondering whether this book deserves five stars. After all, you can see I have plenty to say about its cons. Nevertheless, it really is a great book. I do not subscribe to its tenets, and I think it is partial propaganda in favor of the position of the author. But then again, all books are so to some degree. The tipping point for me, is the fact that this book takes you on a journey to see things from a different perspective, one that maybe you have not considered before. And it does an amazing job at that. It truly invites you to reflection by questioning your very existence as a member of the human race. That, for me, is worth the five stars.

Highly recommended.

Interesting book and specially useful for Christians who want to understand more about the issue of pornography.

PROS
The author is actually an academic in the area of addiction from a neurological perspective, so you can ready yourself for a significant load of information about the inner functions of the brain and how pornography affects them. Simply said, he stands for what he says.

CONS
If you read other reviews you will see that several people give it a very low rating because of its obvious emphasis in the Christian worldview. They are not wrong, indeed the author is unashamedly Christian and though he presents solid science, he also includes extensive content about theology and ties freedom of addiction to the theological concept of sanctification. This is not bad per se, but for those who are merely guided by the title and expect an unbiased book, it may feel a bit coercive.

CONCLUSION
I am a Christian so I found the content very appropriate and useful. Though, I won’t deny that I expected more science than what was delivered. Even so, I read in these pages the perspective of a man who is deeply committed to his scientific and religious values, and I find that worth of admiration. If you are oversensitive or have no interest in knowing how we Christians think about things, then you may not enjoy this book.

Good to Great: Short Review

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What a great book!

PROS
– I am the kind of person who likes solid arguments more than emotional appeal. This book is based in FIVE years of research and it really shows. The author is really the spokesman of the team, but it is clear this is the product of solid teamwork.
– Though I am not a businessman, the principles presented in this book are really useful for anyone wanting to do something “great”. Whether it is at your church, job, or even your family, you will benefit from practical advice and lessons that will bring you to better results.

CONS
– Originally I was put off by the introduction which made it seem like a boring book of business statistics. This may happen to you as well, but honestly that part is just setting the stage for you to understand what comes next, and it is absolutely worthy.

CONCLUSION
Seriously one of the best books I have encountered in recent years. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by the author and you can see how he is passionate about the content, and it actually goes beyond “reading” the print version, to truly communicating its message to you. It is one of the few books in which I would recommend the audio version as much as the printed one. If you have the chance, by all means, grab a copy!

Amazing book!

The basic premise is simple: As humans, we think in two ways, one automatic, and “fast” (System 1); and one conscious, and “slow” (System 2). Chapter after chapter the author shows us how human beings who pride themselves on being objective experts in decision-making, fall into rational fallacies because of their unshakable trust in System 1.

PROS:
The author is indeed an expert in his field and he knows what he is talking about. He also knows the limits of his knowledge and does not shy away from acknowledging topics of his study that are still unanswered, or the merits of the positions of people who think different than him. Furthermore, he makes good use of humor and treats the different topics with a clear dose of realism without making them strictly academic (e.g. his use of the comparison between real-world “humans”, and perfectly rational “econs” is hilarious).

CONS:
It is a long book and it can be occasionally dense, particularly when making references to thought-experiments or statistics. You may require being very focused in order to be able to follow some of the examples the author offers. I would recommend read the actual book instead of the audiobook.

CONCLUSION
Honestly, it is a refreshing reading and it reaffirms my belief that we are “humans after all”. We are capable of greatness, but we are also laughable at times. I finished this book humbled and even more convinced of the need to doubt myself in those times in which I think I know best.

Highly recommended!

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