Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Review

Don’t expect a text that exists primarily to inform or tell a coherent story, because that’s not what Franklin was setting out to do with his autobiography.  It was instead intended originally for his son, and eventually for a wider audience of the burgeoning America, as a moral guide, an example and explication of how it might be possible to live a moral, productive, and well-regarded life, such as Franklin himself led.

The Art of Thinking Clearly Review

This example, The Art of Thinking Clearly, is something that I’ve been meaning to post a review for on the site for quite some time now, mostly because of how often I reference logical fallacies.  Whatever else this book might be, and it certainly has its flaws, it is a short, approachable compendium of common logical fallacies.

Von Braun Review

Although I’d long desired to find a biography of Werner Von Braun, one of the more complex and mysterious figures of early rocketry, most of the treatments I found seemed unlikely to provide the kind of detail and depth of analysis that I was seeking, so when I came upon a biography of him that was consistently billed as the best study yet done of him and his history, I was optimistic enough to add it to my reading list, and excited enough by its possibilities to read it within a year of its addition.

Writing 21st Century Fiction Review

I wish that the human brain was a better tool for diagnosing itself, because I would be very interested to know how much of my distaste for this book arose from the writing style, rather than the contents.  To be honest, the writing sounded juvenile.  It is my hope that the author adopted this style in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience, rather than it being an actual reflection of their intellectual capacity, but I found it quite off-putting, and rather undermining to those parts of the book that are valid.  While I realize that an inaccurate understanding of electromagnetism does not preclude wisdom in the area of fiction writing, making a blatantly invalid analogy does make me question how well the rest of the book was thought through before being published.  And that was just the most obvious example; the whole tone of the book conveyed a similar impression.

Poetics Review

Despite the title, Poetics should not be thought of as applying exclusively to poetry.  Rather, it is equal parts literary criticism, and one of the world’s earliest “how to write fiction,” books.  Much like Art of Rhetoric, there were pieces that have become outdated, but much has remained surprisingly relevant to modern literature.  All that is required is a bit of translation.

Parenting is a Contact Sport Review

Like many nonfiction books, including several that we’ve reviewed here on the site, Parenting Is a Contact Sport suffered from a severe case of repetition.  It wasn’t a long book, but however many tens of thousands of words it contained, I could pretty much communicate the same message in a single sentence: have a relationship with your children.  All of the chapters, all of the awkwardly personal anecdotes that were supposed to be hacking my brain and convincing me of the author’s message, could really have been reduced to just that statement.  Granted, some elaboration is useful, but I really don’t think that quite so many words needed to be used.

Small Giants Review

You might remember a post called Keep Dreaming, in which I wrote about the difference between greatness and being a Name.  Small Giants, for all that it is a book about entrepreneurship, is really talking about the same idea: that success and greatness are as much matters of definition as they are of achievement, and that greatness and success do not lie only in what could be considered standard or popular definitions of the concepts.