And now, a word from our sponsor

Sign up here to see the latest updates from Book Talk

The Daily News--Book talk on

Monday, July 10, 2017


Play: With Blocks, Chess and Monopoly at Work (Success by Design Book 4)Play: With Blocks, Chess and Monopoly at Work by Erik N. Boe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author.

A lot of games are played in corporate America. The author focuses on three. First is blocks, played at the beginning level. The focus is on creativity. The second is chess, which is played at a higher level. This focuses on skill, anticipating your opponent's move, and hopefully countering it in advance. The third is Monopoly, played at the highest levels of the company. This focuses on domination, eliminating competition, and coming out on top.

Sometimes the three games collide. The author gives strategies on how to deal with this, before it becomes all-out war.

I've been in corporate America, and I can tell you that these games are played there all the time. The author gives some useful strategies on how to deal with each type of game player.

There is one game, however, the author left out. It's important, because it is played all the time. I'm referring to poker. The main strategy in poker is bluffing, making your opponent think you have a stronger hand than you actually do, in the hopes that they will fold and concede the win to you. Within the company, people will bluff to get what they want. Sometimes they bluff their way to higher management. No one questions them, either because they are good at bluffing, or they are high enough up in the company that no one dares question them. Bluffing is also used with outsiders to get more favorable terms in a deal. I wish the author had explained how to recognize when people are bluffing, and how to call their bluff, and find out the truth.

All in all, a good book, except for the omission of poker.

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Grownup

The GrownupThe Grownup by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Book of the Month Club.

This was a strange book. It was essentially a short story in book form. It follows a woman as she tries various things to make money. One of those things is to fake being a psychic. She goes to houses and pretends to cleanse them. Things get strange when she feels real psychic energy in one of the houses, and meets the son of the owner.

I was disappointed in the ending. Without giving too much away, the kid was a spoiled brat. As much as the woman was getting by as a fraud, the kid is an even bigger fraud. He just wants to get something for himself, and he'll do what he has to, including changing his story, to get it. I'm glad I didn't pay for this book. It wouldn't have been worth it.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

1984 and Star Trek.

I saw the picture of the "There are 4 lights" sign at the march for science. It reminded me that there are a lot of similarities between that episode and George Orwell's 1984. We think of 1984 as Big Brother and surveillance everywhere, but there's more to it than that. In the novel, Winston, the main character writes in his journal, "Freedom is the ability to say that two and two make four. Given that, all else follows." Later on, Winston is arrested. O'Brien, the Party member, says "If we say two and two is five, it's five." He then uses this to torture Winston. O'Brien holds up 2 fingers in his left hand and 2 fingers in his right hand, and asks, "How many fingers are there?" When Winston says, "4," he is beaten. After several rounds of this, Winston finally says, "It's whatever you say it is." At the end of the novel, Winston is sitting in the pub. He traces in the dust on the table, "2+2=5." At the end of the episode, Picard says, "You know, there really were 5 lights."

The point of both the novel and the episode is that there are objective truths that no one can change just on a whim. Freedom is the ability to accept these truths, and act in accordance with them. In an appendix to 1984, Orwell talked about Newspeak, the language in the novel. He quoted the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." In Newspeak, that entire passage could be reduced to one word: crimethink. It was a crime in Orwell's world to even think that way.

In torture, one of the elements is the torturer is right, and you're wrong, regardless of the evidence. That's what the episode and the novel were trying to portray. Even such simple questions as the number of lights or what is 2+2 can be twisted to give the torturer leverage.

I realize this is a long post. I also realize it's not like a lot of other posts on here. To me, though, this represents what Gene Roddenberry did with Star Trek. He used science fiction to explore current social issues. Other authors like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and Rod Serling did the same thing. Freedom is the ability to say that 2+2=4, and that there are 4 lights. Given that, all else follows.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Cash Flow for Life

Cash Flow For Life: How To Generate An Income OnlineCash Flow For Life: How To Generate An Income Online by Jon Mac
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got this book for free plus shipping from the author.

This is a promotional book to get you to buy other services from the author. He talks about opening Facebook store to sell products made by others. He goes through all the details of how to do it, and provides examples of websites used by others. He even discusses selling the business later.

I liked this book because it didn't have a lot of fluff. I've read a lot of these books, and many of them have excess material that has nothing to do with the main point of the book, which is building a business. I do not always like being distracted. I like that at the end of each chapter, he asks a series of questions, designed to get you to think about what was just said. Sometimes that alone can help move you along. All in all, a good book.

View all my reviews