Book Reviews: May 2017

I read a considerable number of books each year. I read a variety of genres, sometimes a title captures my attention and may be of interest to you. I’ve previously reviewed several of these titles elsewhere. In the case of The Nature Fix, I spent today (one of the first nice days in the NYC area this spring) working at a table on my deck surrounded by trees and birdsong. I almost feel as I’ve enjoyed a vacation today.

Creating an Online Presence (Careerbuilding for Writers)
by Cat Rambo

Note: This review refers to the 2nd edition, released in 2016.

Cat Rambo is an author I’ve followed for her science fiction and fantasy writing for years. She’s written a no-nonsense guide to both getting started and fine tuning your online presence. There is no fluff. There is no BS. Some of the advice may become dated sooner than others as she talks about specific technologies and software, however overall I think this title will age well.

What is the best part about this book? The notes I scribbled while reading tell it all: backup, backup, backup!!!

Seriously. What I also like, especially in our new reality is that she asks you to stop and think how much time you want to put into your web presence, how separated you want to keep it from you (and your privacy). Additionally, the reminder that while this is an investment of your time into your “brand”, which could improve/influence your sales, don’t get carried away. There’s a fine line between productivity and procrastination. Do not allow this to get into the way of what you really need to do, in her case write, in the case of myself and most of my clients: design/make/craft.

I highly recommend this title for those looking to craft a meaningful online presence without the mess of pointless glitter.

This review first appeared at little acorn creations. I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative
by Florence Williams

When I need to recharge, I head into the woods. For a long time I thought it was because I grew up in the middle of the Pine Barrens, but it turns out this feeling of renewal and reduction of stress is a quantifiable result for many.

Williams carefully takes the reader through the current research as she attempts to answer two questions: why she struggled with stress after moving from Colorado to DC, and why she found relief when she was most within nature. Her direct approach — by traveling to and taking part in many of the research projects — is informative, enjoyable, and helpful. She provides relevant reference notes, I have a much longer reading list now.

I hope that this sort of popular science book on this important topic will reach policy makers and school recess will return, greenways improved, and access to more green (and tree-filled) spaces will result.

This review also appeared at penguingirl.com. I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.

The Social Life of Information: Updated, with a New Preface
by John Seely Brown; Paul Duguid

I first encountered this title in graduate school, my copy of the second edition is full of notes and flags; it is a book I’ve recommended to others over the years. Why? It’s a good introduction (albeit with a scholarly bent) to how we arrived at our current information universe.

Have the authors succeeded in revising this classic to our contemporary context and still providing the value found in the original edition? Yes. I think it will help those who are curious about information and how we got to today. Specifically I think it will help those who want to learn how trust is gained and lost in a variety of context.

I think this is still a useful book to read. There is optimism of the “ability of information and its related technologies to change the social world for the better” but to do so, we need to understand that information and its social connectedness and consequences.

I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World
by Steven Johnson

I am an advocate of play and love how I can use what I term the different brain requirements of my two businesses to allow ideas to incubate and resolve with unique solutions for my clients. That is the premise behind Wonderland, play and experimentation lead to social, political, and technological impact, growth, and change. Overall this is an enjoyable read, however I felt the topic based organization often forced the concept and jumping in time made it feel disjointed at times.