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Here are the reviews and summaries of the latest books I've read.

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Brain Sex
by Anne Moir & David Jessel
A friend of mine repeatedly urged me to read this book, and I'm glad he did.

The authors explore the biological and hormonal differences between male and female brains, and attempts to explain stereotypical "male/masculine" and "female/feminine" behaviors and traits. They also explore the functional differences between the brains in how they process information. There were a lot of interesting takeaways, here are just three:
- Women are literally more sensitive than men - meaning their five senses. In some studies, the least sensitive female (in regard to sense of smell in this case) was more sensitive than the most sensitive male! This means that women smell, taste, and physically feel more than men. This means that fundamentally, men and women have a different experience and perception of life and the world around them. A male and a female who experience the same event are actually experiencing it differently, as their five senses take in different levels of input and then their brains process the information differently, too!
- Men have more specifically organized, and arguably more efficient, brain systems. This means that when they are focused on a specific task, they are less aware of other information. They're in one compartment or another, so to speak. Female brains are different in that they use both sides of the brain when processing all information. They're less able to filter out the extraneous, distracting information than the male. This means men have a better ability to focus than women, and that women take into consideration more factors than men - which is why they make good teams!
- Women tend to have superior verbal and social skills and abilities. Since they are constantly engaging all parts of their brains, they're more aware of subtle nuance, which is especially important in social situations. This explains the stereotype of women talking more than men and men expressing themselves less often.

Of course, these are sweeping generalities that don't account 100% for all men or women. There is much variety of gender, identity, and sexual orientation that account for differences in how these stereotypes actually hold true in an individual view. I'm currently reading a new book about averagarianism and the power of individuality - stay tuned for that review coming soon! It's called The End of Average by Todd Rose.

Please note that this book is from the early 90s, and therefore does not have the most up to date research and information about this subject. I wouldn't really advise you to read this book, but rather a more contemporary book on the same subject. I wish I had.

Check out my live Youtube review and summary of this book at https://youtu.be/fGzObiOFYJM.
The Intelligent Investor
by Benjamin Graham


This book is kind of like the Bible of value investors. The author, Benjamin Graham, was Warren Buffett's primary influence and teacher. The information inside is dense, but I enjoyed learning more about investing.

He identifies the difference between investing and speculating. All use some element of future predictions, but sound investing is based on a solid history of data and results, rather than a hunch on some hot, new, growth stock.

He identified two main categories of investors - defensive investors (most of us, the ones who don't want to spend 40 hours a week studying companies and markets) and enterprising investors - those who are willing to put in the time, effort, and energy to try to outperform the market.

He identifies the concept of investing with a margin of safety on your price versus a company's valuation. I'm very familiar with this from previous books I've read, but it's nice to get it from the horse's mouth!

He spends a chunk of the book warning about sketchy accounting practices that companies use to fudge their numbers. They might include a major expense as a "one-time, unusual" expenditure, when in reality it's a regular cost of their business. There are certain categories they can lump credits and debits into to make their results look better than reality. This is a major problem to be considered and well understood by all investors.

I read the version with the updates by Jason Zweig, which basically said the best strategy for a defensive investor is a total market index fund. Graham is a big proponent of diversity, which Buffett is notably not. That surprised me most.

I'm glad to have this one under my belt, because I found myself glazing over a few times trying to absorb all the information.

Check out my Youtube review and summary here - https://youtu.be/-9WTmKFj7m0
 
The Power of Habit
by Charles Duhigg

 
I enjoyed studying habits in this book. There were a lot of interesting concepts.

1) The Habit Loop. The cycle is cue -> habit -> reward. Another word for habit is "routine." I really like the exercise he mentions of keeping an index card and pen with you for a week and marking a tally every time you're tempted to do the habit you're trying to stop. You write a tally regardless of whether you did the behavior or not, just that you wanted to. This helps us to become aware of our cues and triggers. What makes us want to eat too many snacks? What time of day do we crave a drink? What happens right before we start chewing on our nails? Once we identify our cues/triggers, we can start to understand what the reward is for us. Perhaps it's comfort, or it's an escape. Once we know what our cues and rewards are, we can more easily change the routines and habits that we want to kick.

2) The Golden Rule of habit change: Keep the cue and the reward the same, replace only the habit.

3) Keystone habits are the ones that cause other behaviors to fall in line. For example, maybe you start exercising. Then, you don't want to eat as much junk food because you know how hard you've been working and don't want to waste it. So, you start out with an exercise habit that snowballs into a nutritional habit. Then, it might roll into better sleeping habits. So on and so forth.

A couple other things I like that the author touched on:
- He says sometimes a true crisis occurs right before someone decides to change a habit, and that's ok. Sometimes that's what it takes. 
- He also talks about the similarities between the brains of sleepwalkers and gambling addicts. Much of what is happening is not happening at a conscious level. The brains of addicts respond differently to the same stimuli. So, if we don't blame someone for what they do when they're asleep; can we also say addicts are not responsible for their choices around their addictions? It's hard to say, but interesting to say the least!
- He touches on the power of weak ties. People we know, but not well, have a major impact on our lives. The more connections we have with others, even if very weak connections, the more influence and impact we have the potential to have on society.
- Another interesting observation Duhigg makes is that groups help us to believe that change is possible. In AA, people see others that have gotten clean. They see that others were able to do it - maybe even despite even worse circumstances than their own - and gain the faith that they can do it, too.

Check out my live Youtube review and summary at https://youtu.be/LAfCpj-SuEw
Balanced and Barefoot
by Angela J. Hanscom


I really enjoyed this book. It's about the positive impact playing outside has on children (with tips on how to maximize the benefits - and the fun!) Issues are on the rise for behavioral and emotional management, sensory integration and development, decreasing physical strength, and more instances of ADD and ADHD. So much learning and development happens by moving. This author says lectures should be about 10 minutes, then movement and hands-on activities can be used to solidify the lesson.

She dives into the vestibular and proprioception systems, and touches on cognitive, social, and emotional function.

Nature offers a great balance of sensory input without overwhelming our senses. Freedom, safety, and support spur creativity.

As I read it, I realized that ADULTS can benefit from playing outside more, too!

When's the last time you played a sport outside? Climbed a tree? Built sand castles? All of these experiences with nature provide an amazing sensory experience that helps to keep our bodies strong and flexible. It helps us regulate our emotions, promotes creativity and adventure, and it helps us to focus. It's beneficial to do with other people, too, as we develop our social skills and emotional intelligence.

I found it fascinating how outdoor play is used as a form of therapy for kids. Maybe I can incorporate it into my therapy practice in the future! With adults!

Check out my live Youtube review and summary at https://youtu.be/0kbDzHldpPc.
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