Book Roundup – Part 12

Before Happiness

Before Happiness: How Creating a Positive Reality First Amplifies Your Levels of Happiness and Success – Shawn Achor

In his amazing book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor challenged the prevailing notion that achieving success precedes happiness and convincingly shows that happiness is instead the principle driver to success.

This work serves as a prequel of sorts, assisting the reader in establishing the necessary preconditions for bringing yourself into alignment with a more positive outlook on life. Critics of positive thinking need not balk as Achor’s research is grounded both in science and practicality. As Achor relates, it’s not about perceiving the glass as being half full or half empty that matters; but instead recognising that there is a pitcher of water nearby giving us the capacity to refill the glass, or in effect, change our outlook.

There’s plenty of a “a-ha!” moments in this book to make it a valuable addition to one’s self improvement library. Achor once again does a tremendous job of connecting the dots for those looking to make immediate and significant changes to their happiness levels.

5/5

untold history

The Untold History Of The United States – Oliver Stone

A revisionist history by Oliver Stone was always destined to raise a skeptical eyebrow. No stranger to controversy, Stone’s record as a historical dramatist, provocateur and conspiracy theorist has drawn the fire of debate throughout the years. This work fares no different, but it serves as both a wake up call and post-mortem of a superpower limping towards its inevitable demise. Kuznick and Stone excoriate the foreign and domestic policies of presidents from both sides of the political fence; policies based on a longstanding mindset of American exceptionalism driven by hubris, hegemony and greed. Definitely not your daddy’s history, it’s an enthralling read of the cause and effect actions of a nation in its death throes.

5/5

Man Made

Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity – Joel Stein

Anyone who’s read Peter McCallister’s Manthropology would be well acquainted with the science behind the physical degeneration of the modern male. For those with lingering doubts, they need only look at the depiction of males in contemporary pop culture to truly see how far the bar has been lowered as to what it means to be male. That or read this book.

Joel Stein is the personification and a walking, self deprecating punch line for the joke that western men have devolved to. Stein, learning that he’s going to become a father embarks on a quest to discover the lost art of being a man in a society hell bent on the suppression of traditional masculinity.

Like surviving pockets of manhood in a post-apocalyptic world of feminists and gender studies graduates, Stein seeks out various subcultures of men in the hope that some of their masculine energy will transfer to him via imitation and osmosis. He embeds himself in week long stints with firefighters, corporate day traders; he goes turkey hunting, drills with the US army, drives a Lamborghini and spars with UFC legend, Randy Couture.

It’s a book that’s supposed to be funny, but it’s written in that bumbling, self deprecating shtick popular with noone else in the world except Americans. Instead it made me physically sick to realise that people in the world like this aren’t just stock caricatures created for the purpose of humour, but they actually exist and even worse, reproduce. I weep for the future.

2/5

moneylessman

The Moneyless Man – Mark Boyle

Divesting himself of all material possessions for a year, environmentalist Boyle “puts his money where his mouth is” so to speak and resorts to a life dependent on his ability to improvise and barter his way through daily living. What he discovers by disconnecting himself from the consumerist obsession is the liberating joy of the “slow life”. Interesting enough read which contains a few tips for the average person wanting to adopt a more sustainable and minimalist approach to living.

3/5

The Life Jordan

Michael Jordan – The Life – Roland Lazenby

Lazenby’s biography chronicles the life of the man who not only became the sport’s shining paragon, but transcended it to become an icon and global ambassador of the game. Sports journalist of 30 years, Lazenby had unprecedented access to many of basketballs leading figures and legends allowing him to peel away the layers of this multifaceted enigma and explore the elements and influences that drove Jordan to becoming the dominant figure of 90’s basketball.

Of particular interest were the sections detailing Jordan’s ultra competitiveness in every aspect of life – his ability to psyche out opponents on and off the court, together with his own mental approach to developing and refining an ultra competitive approach to anything he set his mind to. The dual nature of Jordan as vicious competitor, scathing critic and kind, approachable yet solitary off-court persona gave depth to the Jordan I never knew before reading this account.

An epic work at 700 pages, both in its depth and scope; this book is a treat for anyone with even a passing familiarity of the legend.

4/5

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