We like Big Books

Book Reports — 2017–03

Cover image from Unsplash, taken by Eugenio Mazzone

The Pixel Dreams Team was back into the books for another great month of reading. We continuously track our rate of reading, total pages and, now that we have been doing reviews regularly, our critical responses.

We like big books

Below are the PDT’s thoughts on the total of 17 books that we read in the month of March 2017.

Top three books of the month

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

309 pages, Written by Eckhart Tolle, published 2005, Amazon rating: 4.4

Kal’s Review: How long do you carry the past? A New Earth is an important read for many of us. Words are only pointers to truth. You will want to take your time and let certain sentences and stories sink in deeply. This book and audiobook (narrated by Tolle) are my go-to sources when dealing with the slightest bit of anxiety, doubt, or depression. That and magic mushrooms. More on that in the book Stealing Fire.

Sarah’s Review: It opened my eyes to my interactions with the world not because the world changed as I was reading but because I did. Tolle’s wisdom in how to tap into our Being in a society that insists on identifying with the ego makes this a must-read for young, old and everyone in between. Refreshing, reflective and required.

Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United

386 pages, By Alex Ferguson with Michael Moritz, published 2015, Amazon rating: 4.5

Trevor’s Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this straight-talking book, documenting Alex Ferguson’s record-breaking career in football (soccer). LEADING is built around the skills that he values most highly: discipline, control, teamwork and motivation. It also looks at delegation, data analysis and dealing with failure. LEADING is filled with wisdom, humour, and lessons that will help you become a better leader.

Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

232 pages, Written by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal, published 2017, Amazon rating: 5

Lannie’s Review: Among the top books this year so far. Great subject matter, writing style, and flow. If you seek to open your mind and challenge your existing frames of reference, I highly recommend this book. And perhaps, daily meditation, and quarterly psilocybin mushrooms.

Kal’s Review: Stealing Fire dives into altered mental states through psychedelics and sex, to extreme sports and Navy SEALs training. It was published recently (Feb 2017), and is highly rated everywhere. Definitely a must read.

Honourable mentions

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

240 pages, Written by Gino Wickman, published 2011, Amazon rating: 4.8

Lannie’s Review: Admittedly, sometimes I have thoughts of a book snob, typically at the beginning as I am getting into the author’s style. Sometimes this sense persists throughout, and others times it vanishes after a while. In the case of Traction, I quickly changed my mind from “oh, here’s another flavour-of-the-month business strategy book” to “holy sh*t, I’ve got some homework to do”. It is a well-structured clearly-written system of how to bridge an in-the-cloud vision with on-the-ground traction. There will be some changes around here.

Screw it, let’s do it: Lessons in Life and Business

249 pages, Written by Richard Branson, published 2007, Amazon rating: 4.1

Lannie’s Review: After learning that Richard Branson grew up with dyslexia (from David vs Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell) I picked up this book. My favourite stories were about his upbringing and tough mother. These stories explain so much about his approach to life. Every chapter starts with some advice. Like, it goes to show, that to know but not to do is not to know at all. I’m excited to be reading more from Branson.

SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

238 pages, Written by Jeff Sutherland and JJ Sutherland, published 2014, Amazon rating: 4.5

Daniel’s Review: Changing your project management system using a board with sticky notes and doing daily stand-up meetings can improve your team’s workflows, efficiency and accountability. This book explains how to scrum properly and why it works for so many different organizations. I was especially intrigued by the implementation in classrooms for education.

Aristocratic Toronto: 19th Century Grandeur

215 pages, Written by Lucy Booth Martyn, published 1980, Amazon rating: (not rated)

Daniel’s Review: This book is like ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ set in the 1800s. It’s the legacy of the wealthiest Toronto families as told through the architecture of their homes, almost all of which also included areas for servants to live. This is a good book if you’re curious about the names of different neighbourhoods, streets, and buildings, or how people lived back then.

Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight

320 pages, Written by M.E. Thomas, published 2013, Amazon rating: 3.5

Sarah’s Review: An efficient way to figure out whether you’re a sociopath or someone cut throat enough to become successful in a competitive field (trust me, it’s a very fine line). The writing seemed self-aggrandizing at times but it provided insight to a portion of our population we often overlook, that is, the sociopathic population.

SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

238 pages, Written by Jeff Sutherland and JJ Sutherland, published 2014, Amazon rating: 4.5

Sarah’s Review: I have two words for you: LIFE. SAVER. I would give you more words but the book has taught me to do twice the work in half the time so “life saver” is all you need to know. If you have any appreciation for the transience of time, you will read this book. They don’t know this yet, but everyone in my family will be getting their own copy of Scrum for their birthdays.

Shoe Dog

384 pages, Written by Phil Knight, published 2016, Amazon rating: 4.9

Mark’s Review: A memoir about Phil Knight, from his humble beginnings selling shoes for a company called Tiger, to developing his own business that became Nike. It’s an entertaining read in a very cinematic way, composed of highlights from each stage of his life. I’d recommend Shoe Dog for people who want to be inspired to start their own business or to those that love the Nike brand.

The Art of War

99 pages, Written by Sun Tzu, published 1910, 1944, 2002, Amazon rating: 4.4

Kal’s Review: The Art of War is as relevant and timeless today as it was thousands of years ago. The book is an ancient Chinese military manual dating from the 5th century BC. composed of 13 chapters, each devoted to one aspect of warfare.

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

194 pages, Written by Mike Michalowicz, published 2014, 2017 Amazon rating: 5

Kal’s Review: Profit First was recommended by a good friend, thanks Peter! The book provides both the philosophy and the strategy to earn profit. Michalowicz states that by setting aside profit first, the natural ingenuity of the entrepreneur will figure the rest out. This book is filled with a few too many examples in my humble opinion, but it’s a worthwhile read.

Getting a Squirrel to Focus Engage and Persuade Today’s Listeners

89 pages, Written by Patricia B Scott, published 2010, Amazon rating: (not rated)

Kal’s Review: “I like brownies, but I fish with worms.” Getting a Squirrel to Focus is short, concise, and based on straightforward psychology. At the end of the day, a squirrel will focus much more on an acorn than on your message. The moral: make sure you address your audience’s question, “What’s in it for me?” Also know Len as Radio WIIFM. It’s a good book to have around and skim through often.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

240 pages, Written by Gino Wickman, published 2011, Amazon rating: 4.8

Kal’s Review: Traction is an all-encompassing guide book filled with robust frameworks for business, from company vision and culture to regular meetings and what to discuss. Leveraging material from many recommended authors, this book would have been a gem in my life five years ago. Today, I found it a bit over simplistic. It is worth grabbing if you’re just starting out or if you are facing multiple challenges.

The Art of War

99 pages, Written by Sun Tzu, published 1910, 1944, 2002, Amazon rating: 4.4

Trevor’s Review: A short but enjoyable read, almost poetic at points. The Art of War tells stories of the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. The book consists of 13 chapters, each covering one aspect of warfare, and hammers home the importance of having a game plan and following it. I could see my Grandpa, who fought in Korea, enjoying the book as much as I did. The lessons are not merely meant for war — they can be translated and implemented into everyday life and business.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

213 pages, Written by Stephen Chbosky, published 1999, Amazon rating: 4.6

Trevor’s Review: This book is not related to business so I don’t believe a full review is warranted. There’s a feature-length motion picture based on this book currently streaming on Netflix, but I’d recommend the book instead because it’s a bit more grimy.

Our PDT Reviewers

Team Stats

In March 2017, we read a total of 3751 pages, with a power average of 625 pages-per-teammate.

As we transition from winter to spring, ’tis the season for fresh reading so pick up a book and get at it.

Originally published at pixeldreams.com.