Novel Reactions: The Lean Startup

In preparation for reentering the workforce, I also read The Lean Startup. I liked that the book provided real life examples and was not too prescriptive, in a workbook kind of way. It was easy to read and to follow, and it helped a lot that I was annotating as I read through. The numerous flags (I know, they were a lot) actually helped me out when I was writing summary notes after finishing the book.

There were a lot of repeated concepts throughout the book, but I think that was Eric Ries’ way of putting everything together and making sure that everything sticks. The two main ideas I learned from the book were (1) avoid wasting time and effort by testing a minimum viable product and obtaining consumer insight sooner and (2) use validated learning to know when to pivot or to persevere. The book made a lot of sense, at least for someone in the startup world, and I rank it highly (probably top 5) among my nonfiction reads.

Also, kudos to Eric Ries and his editors for keeping the book’s tone condescension-free. (I know, I also noticed that this is a recurring thing I point out for nonfiction…) Even when Ries was talking about his experience at IMVU, his tone remained normal, humble even, and I think that is one of the reasons I found this book so pleasant and enjoyable to read.

So yes, I think people should pick up this book and read it! It may not resonate to everyone (the strategy is a little industry-specific), but there are good points here even for well established companies. (Ries talks about Toyota a lot.) If this isn’t the book for you, you can always pivot, too.

Novel Reactions: Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager

Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager is a very good example of a book that communicates with its target audience really well. However, it’s also the kind of book that people outside of its target audience will might not appreciate.

So, who is the target audience of this book?

Clearly laid out in its title, this book is for informal project managers and newbies to the field. The book offers a big picture view of project management, so it tends to be very basic. And this is good. If the book became too technical, readers would be intimidated by it. The idea is it’s a great starting point for anyone curious about the topic. For more detail, readers can look into more technical material.

One thing I appreciated was that the authors of the book do not come off as condescending. (Since I read with feeling, I always pay attention to the tone of the writing.) Their overall writing style (and content) is very approachable, which makes for an easy and informative read.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who belongs to the target audience.

Novel Reactions: Rebel Cities

David Harvey’s Rebel Cities challenges the capitalist norm in which owners of capital are the only ones thriving in cities and poses that we can find a socially just solution to allow the majority to reclaim the cities.

This book made me think: yes, that’s true; our cities are flawed.

Rebel Cities doesn’t dictate the one solution to solve the issue—to be frank, there isn’t any one yet—but Harvey gives us a comprehensive background on the issue and provides us with some alternatives.

For a book of ~160 pages (paperback edition), it was quite a heavy read. There were times I’ve had to look up concepts mentioned in the text to make sure I was on the same page as Harvey. I think this was largely due to the target audience being people with economics or policy backgrounds. Nevertheless, the content wasn’t that hard to follow, so and it wasn’t at all intimidating to read my way through this book.

This is one of my favorite nonfiction reads. It has made me curious enough about social and political issues that I will likely read up on related topics to this. I would recommend this to anyone interested in social justice.

Novel Reactions: Flow

Mihaly Csikszentihalyi’s Flow is all about having optimal experience, leading to a state of “flow.” When you’re in a state of flow, you’re more productive, more creative, and more content. If this is the case, it sounds like flow would lead one to (or, might be the expression of) self-actualization (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs), given that we’re talking about optimal experience here.

So… the concept is interesting. However, the truth of the matter is that I did not enjoy reading the book. Yes, the book is rated highly on Goodreads, and I actually read Flow based on a colleague’s recommendation, but I only finished the book as a personal challenge. If I were more well-versed with this topic, I would probably recommend that people skip this and read another book instead.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, so thank you for introducing me to the concepts of flow and optimal experience, and if anyone else is interested in the topic, go ahead and read Flow. (May your reading experience be more optimal than mine.) I’ll let you know if I find a better alternative.

Continue reading “Novel Reactions: Flow”

Until Next Time, Books without Borders

My sister and I have this thing I like to call Books without Borders, in which I share books with her whenever I visit her. I’m taking a rather awkward stopover in Toronto for a few weeks before I fly back to Manila—let’s call 2019 a year of travel, a sabbatical—and I’ve rounded up another batch of books to share with her.

I usually limit the number of books I take with me because, well, they’re heavy. As I was packing and shipping all my other belongings away, I decided to hold on to five books that I’ll be reading and sharing this summer. (This is also going to be our last Books without Borders for a while, at least until I find my bearings.)

Books without Borders, Spring 2019

The first two books are nonfiction policy books that have been on my bookshelf for quite a while. Since I’ll have a lot of time (and brainpower, really) on my hands, I thought I’d get through them during this trip. I’m also bringing a Murakami book I’d been meaning to read for the past year. I love reading Haruki Murakami; my favorite book of his is Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, but I heard a lot of great things about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as well, so I am excited to finally have time to read this! (I normally do not read Murakami if I’m in a “busy season” at work.)

Dryer’s English is a book I picked up recently (using my used book trade from Green Apple Books). As the little perfectionist that I am, I’m excited to read this book to refresh my knowledge. I’ve always loved writing, and I take pride in my writing. I had an amazing English teacher during my freshman year of high school who made me fall in love with the technical aspects of writing (diagrams!!!), so my little nerdy self is quite happy about having found this book.

The last book, Suggestible You, was one I almost packed and shipped away in a box. As I posted about the books I was packing, one of my friends expressed interest in reading Suggestible You, so I lent it to her (I love sharing books and recommendations) as long as she returned it before I flew out. Unfortunately, she didn’t have time to read the book, so she returned it to me last week—after I sent out my box, so it’s coming with me on my trip!

I also placed holds on several library Kindle books, so I’ve lots to read!