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.
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.
It's not that this was a major page turner (as you may have guessed from the title). It is mostly a collection of data tables of anthropometric measurements, with some descriptions of how to use them and the considerations that should go into certain spaces, activities, and products. I cannot say that I got through long days during the week I read it by looking forward to reading about the anthropometric design considerations for the typical home bathroom when I got home at the end of the day. It was everything you're probably thinking right now: dry, with little prose, a lot of diagrams, and a lot of information that seems pretty irrelevant to most of us in the course of our everyday lives. It is also a book that I see myself referencing on a regular basis long into the future.
This is as much a history book as it is a science book, so it strongly appealed to my polymath tendencies (I should really write a post about the polymath/Renaissance Man concept). In fact, if I were going to teach an introductory course on thermodynamics, or wanted to introduce someone to the topic, I would highly recommend this book, rather than using a more traditional textbook.
Like I've said, I try to read broadly, but this book was pretty broad even for me. It's a nonfiction memoir type recollection about someone who buys a wildlife reserve in Africa, and adopts a herd of semi-renegade elephants. There are some really interesting bits, especially for someone who hasn't been to Africa, and then there are some parts that made me raise an eyebrow. So let's get into the review, shall we?
Oh dear, a three star review. It's not that this book was bad, and please don't accuse me of some sort of non-fiction bias, but it was not quite as strong as other books I've read of similar nature. There were some interesting parts, but much of the book didn't seem especially helpful. Therein lay the problem.