Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average

First things first: Do not read this book if you are about to have surgery! Some of the statistics are frightening.

This book has a lot of overlap with Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outlier’s, and if you enjoyed that book, you will enjoy this one as well. Both books discuss “flattening the authority gradient;” where one person is not allowed to be seen as a god in a life or death situation and teamwork is encouraged. Examples include pilots and surgeons. Gladwell’s book goes into much more detail about this theory, where Hallinan sites more statistics.

The chapter on gender differences was fascinating. He makes the announcement that some stereotypical gender differences in the way men and women drive are in fact true. He is careful to note that this is not always the case and when it is, is usually because of the way that we are raised.

One of the main themes of the book is that we cannot multitask with our simple, ape-like brains. Hallinan lists talking on phones while driving as one way that we try to do this and fail.

I did have a problem with a couple of minor points in the book:

The author states that sporting teams that wear black get more fouls called against them than other teams. The author seems to imply that the calls are the fault of the officials, I would argue, however that the color the team is wearing is making them more aggressive.

In chapter six, the author mentions the Grocery Game, but fails to mention that this site is a service you must pay for to utilize. He implies that the site is free.

Other than that, this was a great, fun read and I am glad it was recommended to me. Thanks!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some Ether by Nick Flynn

Part of the reason I love reading is that you get to bring into the story all the life experiences you've had. Your baggage becomes a part of the work. How you feel about specific topics, like feminism, comes into play when you read a book. Things you may be horrified to read could comfort someone else. This book was like that for me.

I won't go into details, but my childhood was not the easiest or the best thing ever. This book touched my heart in a way that nothing has in a long time. There were poems of situations and feelings that were so familiar to me that I could have written them myself.

It took me a while to get through this book. Not only was it difficult for me to read because of my emotional baggage, it was also one of those books that needs to be savored and studied. It was haunting and wonderful. Nick Flynn does an excellent job putting his thoughts and feelings in the imagery and the overall feeling of the poems he writes. Like any fine piece of literature, you don't want it to be over.

This book reminded me that life is what you make of it. There are choices and actions and consequences. I don't know if that was the author's intention, but that's what I got out of it.

If you're interested in more information about him, I found an interview at the Poems Out Loud website. It's not about this book, but it is still pretty interesting.

I now need something new to read. Preferably light and fun, please! Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Great Expectation: Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average.

Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average.

When this book was suggested to me, I wondered if the suggestor was trying to tell me something. Do I make a lot of mistakes or something? Judging by its cover (I know, I know, I shouldn’t do that), the author does not seem to take the subject matter too seriously, which means this will be a fun summer read.

I am looking forward to this book, although I tend to be a bit more critical of non-fiction books that claim to be scientifically based. By the way, three errors were found in this post when I spell-checked it; the person who suggested this might be on to something.