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Here are the reviews and summaries of the latest books I've read, including the textbooks from my Fall 2020 semester.

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The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought
by Ayn Rand

 
I absolutely loved this book. In terms of studying Ayn Rand's philosophy, it is second to none. I still love her Virtue of Selfishness book, but this book goes deeper on a lot of different subjects. As I read this book, I found myself struck with a deep admiration for her prolific abilities to think and to write. Profound concepts came to her with apparent ease. She was able to summarize complex ideas into simple, easy to read and understand, words. This book includes an introductory essay about the basic tenets of her philosophy, Objectivism. It's a must-read. I'll attempt to summarize it in one sentence, but I highly recommend you read it for yourself in its entirety.

Objectivism is based on the tenets of reason, rational self-interest, and true free-market capitalism.

She applies this philosophy to many different arenas throughout these essays, from business, to politics, to everyday life.

The only criticism I have for this work is the essay on a woman being president. She thought it improper for a woman to desire to be President, as she defines the essence of femininity as "hero worship." I think men and women both have people they admire and adore, but worship is an excessively strong word that signifies anti-rational subjectivism. She stresses that she believes a woman is capable and competent of being President, and there are women who would do far better than the men that have previously held the title, but she thinks it improper for a woman to WANT to be President. I was very confused by this and wish she was still alive so I could pose the question to her myself and have a solid discussion on the subject.

Otherwise, this book earned every last one of the 5 stars I am giving it. If ever there was a book worthy of owning, this is the one.

Check out my live Youtube review and summary at https://youtu.be/0T98ov4dbI4
Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief
by Henry Martyn Robert


This book is a must-read for anyone starting a non-profit organization, like myself, but is also useful for anyone participating on the board of any organization that uses Robert's Rules of Order in their procedures. Whether you're acting as the president, treasurer, secretary, committee head, chairperson, or just a member, it's important to understand how the parliamentary procedures are intended to work. Especially if you're serving as a high level officer, you should be familiar with the content of this book. It's an easy read and a great reference book to use as needed as your organization evolves. It describes in detail the roles of all of the members, as well as detailed descriptions and scripts related to the holding of meetings. From making a motion to debate to disciplinary actions, this book has all you really need to know for a basic organization. For larger groups, you may need the full, 633 page text that this summarizes "in brief" (about 175 pages).

Check out my live book review and summary on Youtube here: https://youtu.be/Hj9qlNQfcz0
The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain
by John E. Sarno, MD


This book was interesting because it groups a lot of different conditions into one overarching syndrome called TMS - tension myositis syndrome. The basic premise of this syndrome is that your brain manifests physical pain in your body to avoid expressing the psychological pain it has repressed. 

The different between suppressed rage and repressed rage is that you suppress something consciously - through effort. Repression is something that happens unconsciously - you aren't even aware that you've done it. 

The remedy this author suggests for these various conditions is primarily awareness - exploring your life all the way through childhood and looking for arenas in which you may have repressed anger. You may consciously say something to yourself when your pain flares up like, "I'm not going to let my brain distract me from my repressed emotional rage with physical pain." 

He claims to have helped countless people to go from debilitating pain that interferes with their daily lives to a virtually pain free life! For more severe and chronic conditions, he suggests therapy with someone who specializes in TMS.

I think it's important to balance mindbody practices with medical practices, though. Once, I had pain all throughout my body and flulike symptoms. I didn't know what it was, and a doctor diagnosed me with Lyme's Disease (from a tick bite that I never realized I got). The treatment was antibiotics. If I hadn't received the antibiotics, I could have developed a serious neuromuscular disorder that would potentially have impaired me for life. So, if you have pain, don't assume it's all in your head - but realize, it might be!

Check out my live review and summary on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/DsRyCr4OlEI
The Self-made Billionaire Effect Deluxe: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value
by John Sviokla


To be fair, I've read a lot of books about business and development. I'm kind of picky with books in this category because I'm hungry to learn something new. This book didn't deliver on that for me, but if the genre is new to you, you'll likely have a different experience with it.

The authors claim to be the first to study self-made billionaires. They posit 5 key ingredients toward this extreme outcome:
1) Empathetic imagination - Many, perhaps even most, self-made billionaires developed their idea around something that they needed or saw something someone else needed. Their ability to empathize with their customers gives them key insight into exactly what their customer wants and needs.
2) Patient urgency - These people have an uncanny ability to time things properly. They enter the market at the ideal time - in what many would call a blue-sky market. They create and launch their product at the perfect time - when the market needs and wants it the most. They don't jump the gun and enter the market too early, and they don't wait until it's too late and they're playing "catch up."
3) Inventive execution - These self-made billionaires are creative. They think differently and see ways to solve problems that are innovative and new. They approach an existing problem or product in an entirely fresh way, and then execute their vision effectively.
4) Reversing the risk equation - They found that these people tend to avoid risks that many take, and take risks that many avoid. They are willing to take a big risk when the rewards are big enough. They don't take risks for little rewards, because it runs entirely contrary to their big thinking. So, in some ways they look scared to take risks because they avoid risks many people take. In other ways, they look crazy because they'll take a huge risk on something that has a massive reward - like moving to a new country where they don't speak the language because they see the market there is ripe for their product.
5) Producer-Performer duality - of everything in this book, this was the most novel concept for me. They talk about how most of the world rewards performers - individuals that excel mostly in one specific domain. Producers are wired differently - they have a different mindset. They can see the big picture, envision a great idea, and then bring together the people and the resources necessary to create it - plus, they can sell it - a skill of obvious importance to becoming a billionaire. They talk about how it's important for companies to identify people with producer mindsets and to elevate them ASAP - before they leave your company and start their own. As business owners, we have to reward producer mindsets even more than performer mindsets, even though they are likely more difficult to manage.

One of my favorite stories in this book was about Sara Blakely (creator of Spanx) and her father. Every night at dinner, he asked the kids if they had failed today. If they hadn't, he was disappointed! If they hadn't failed, he presumed they hadn't taken enough risks and tried enough new things. He fostered a mindset that wasn't afraid of failure - instead it applauded it! He knew that the road to success was paved with failure, and he instilled this in her at a young age. So, she was able to handle the obstacles on her journey toward becoming a billionaire by knowing that failure was all a part of the process.

As you can see, this book wasn't bad - I certainly don't mean to make it appear that way with my 2 star rating. On Goodreads, 2 stars means you thought the book was "ok" - which is my personal view of it just because I was already familiar with many of these concepts - even the story about Blakely's nightly failure reviews. Hopefully you find the book, and my review, useful!

Stay tuned for my Youtube review on this one, coming soon!
Anthem
by Ayn Rand


This is the 5th Ayn Rand book I've read, and it's the first I wasn't a huge fan of! It reminds me of George Orwell's 1984, but very short. I believe it's 42 total pages. It is a fiction story of a society that has gone so extreme into collectivism that they don't even know the pronouns "I" or "mine." The moral of the story was the importance and superiority of individualism over collectivism.

Check out my live book review and summary on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/AFC-LFitbks
The Sociology Project: Social Problems
by Jeff Manza


There's no picture of this book, I rented it directly from my school because it wasn't available elsewhere, strangely enough.

This book was required for my Fall 2020 class, Social Problems. We studied things like racism, poverty, gender, and other things that affect large portions of society. I found it to be one of the more interesting courses I took, yet the content was very biased toward an excessively liberal agenda, which was deeply disturbing, as you can imagine if you know me at all. At least they mentioned solutions like a free market system, but then quickly would make statements along the lines of, "No one is seriously considering this as a solution, and this option is not being presented or discussed at the highest levels of government," etc. I was vocal about my opinions, and my professor did not penalize me for that, which I appreciated.
American Government and Politics Today, The Essentials
by Barbara A. Bardes
I had to read this book as part of my American Federal Government class for the Fall 2020 semester. I actually learned some interesting information about the different powers of the different branches of the government. I had a good basic understanding, but didn't feel like this class was a complete waste. I've had an increasing interest in government as I've gotten older.
Adult Development and Aging
by John C. Cavanaugh & Fredda Blanchard-Fields


I read this book as part of my Psychology of Aging course for my Fall 2020 semester. It wasn't particularly interesting to me, as most of the conclusions are that we can't make sweeping generalizations about people based on their age, because their individual circumstances cause for much diversity. One important thing to remember (which I already knew before dishing out hundreds of dollars for this course) is that what you believe about your age will be basically true. For instance, if you believe that you're losing your memory because you are getting older, you will perform worse on memory-related tasks than those who believe that they still have a strong memory, regardless of their age. In this way, believing is seeing.

The class was a breeze and I'm looking forward to the days when I can go back to learning about the things that really interest me, as opposed to learning basic concepts over a series of 3+ months. It's so unnecessarily dragged out.
The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography
by James M. Rubenstein


I didn't find this textbook, nor its associated course I took with it (Cultural Geography) to be very interesting or informative. It's about how different cultures are impacted by their locations. I don't recommend it and I won't spend any more time, yours or mine, diving further into this subject.
 
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