Saturday, May 10, 2008

Book Reviews for the last two weeks

Somehow the last two weeks became 'Non-Fiction' zone... I read three great books, all non-fiction. A departure from the last month of so of SciFi and Fantasy (due to some new books from some of my favorite authors) Here's what I've been reading.

Back of the Napkin

I have no trouble understanding where Dan Roam is coming from in his book The Back of the Napkin when he speaks to his readers about visual thinking. Frankly, it doesn't matter whether or not people can draw when they present their ideas. All the errant lines and mistakes that they make when drawing under pressure contribute to a sense of immediacy and urgency in the final product. At least, that’s what I hope happens when I draw in class for students.

Roam is a consultant by trade, and I trust that he won't take offense when I say that while his "back of the napkin" sketches lack the technical prowess of a Rembrant or DaVinci, His simple line drawings are clear, concise and evocative of the emotional verve one in comics. This, of course, is precisely the point of his book: simple sketches are often more compelling than technically adept Power Point slides.

Well Done! Highly recommended for anyone who needs to communicate ideas! In fact I read the first copy on my electronic book ‘Kindle’ – but I really wanted the pictures so I could copy them and practice some of what he teaches – so I ordered a second paper copy from Amazon the same day I finished the e-book.


I was enthralled by the premise in Jared Diamond’s previous work “Guns, Germs and Steel” – the research is great… I learned quite a lot… but I didn’t agree with his final assessment. This book follows the same path. His account is crammed with absorbing facts drawn from ecology, history and anthropology in characteristic Diamond fashion - which is to say, highly readable, highly persuasive, and richly informative.

But when he ‘waxes philosophical’ in the end – and just turns into another ‘Anti-Bush’ – ‘Pro Global Warming’ – that in spite of his obvious intelligence, follows blindly down the liberal path.

A great read, just ignore or skip the last 40 pages of $^*%^%.

Made To Stick

The Brother’s tone throughout is very low key and positive, but the content is pretty powerful. I've heard and read much of this stuff before, but by placing it all into this pleasant and persuasive context, a lot of the familiar ideas seem to have a bit more authority and persuasiveness. What do you know? They stick!

I read this at a great time for me, I was just working through the development of a new course… a very complex new technology, and this coupled with the Drawing book were a great asset in helping form my course materials.

1 comment:

Jill Parsons said...

Different books than you usually read. It was good to hear about them. Love you, see you tomorrow.