Saturday, July 21, 2018

Homecoming (K-Fiction 008) by Cheon Myeong-kwan, Jeon Miseli (Translator)

Homecoming (K-Fiction 008)Homecoming by Cheon Myeong-kwan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not sure why, but the economics of this book annoyed me. I think I just let it get to me. Anyway, "overly capitalist society divided into 1% haves and 99% have-nots" aside (entirely ignoring the overly anti-capitalist society divided into <1 and="" haves="">99% have-nots just to the North), it was actually an engaging and very poignant novella.


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Friday, July 20, 2018

God Has No Grandchildren by Kim Gyeong-uk

God Has No GrandchildrenGod Has No Grandchildren by Kim Gyeong-uk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These stories were entertaining and interesting. The commentary at the end was enlightening as well. The stories deal mostly with being able to commit to something (or not), and general values, etc. They all have a certain ambience, somewhere between spooky and lonely. My favorites were probably "99 percent", "The runner" and "The ups and downs of Hurricane Joe".


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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard P. Rumelt

Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It MattersGood Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard P. Rumelt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe I just expected something different from this book. It seemed to be a collection of case studies. These were mostly based on the author's personal experience, and definitely seemed like good examples of bad and good strategy (or no strategy at all), but that's all they were. Every now and then general rules could be extracted, but it would have been nice to then have everything boiled down to the main principles that constitute a viable strategy, and how these can be applied.

All the examples are with big companies, or governments and the like, so it is sometimes hard to adapt them to more personal use, unless you run a very big organization (or government).



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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong - and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong - and What You Really Need to KnowExpecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong - and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Probably the best book my wife and I have read thus far during her pregnancy. This is by no means a scientific paper or study, but she takes us through her pregnancy and consults with all the studies she can find for every stage and issue she encounters during this time. Anyway, here you will find data behind most of the issues encountered during pregnancy (with all the sources in the endnotes, in case you're interested in the original studies).

I was amazed how, considering humans have been getting pregnant since before we were humans, so much advice and "common knowledge" isn't based on any reliable data, but just repeated as fact.



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Sunday, July 08, 2018

Son of Man by Yi Mun-Yol

Son of ManSon of Man by Yi Mun-Yol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tempted to give it 5 stars. Maybe I'll see how I feel about it after some time has passed. It starts off as a detective novel but becomes more of a voyage into various gnostic-like apocrypha theories. All quite interesting, although toward the end it really started losing me. I loved his discussions on why evil had to exist and how he looks at some of the stories of the Gospels from different points of view. And it made me read up on "The Wandering Jew".
The detective part of the novel falls pretty flat, however, and it pretty easy to figure out.





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Thursday, June 28, 2018

A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by Karen Armstrong

A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and IslamA History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by Karen Armstrong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is actually an extremely good book, and probably very necessary if you want to understand religious beliefs, especially Christianity, Islam and Judaism. I found it quite heavy at times, but I'm glad I stuck with it. Also interesting to see that what I thought were current trends in religion were actually quite different when put into historical context.

Some things I found especially interesting:
- how the emphasis on literal interpretation that came about during the reformation led to unavoidable discrepancies and contradictions, and this led to people to start to become bona fide atheists (p. 291)
- Christianity used to be a religion of revolution, now it is a religion of the status quo (p. 20)
- how Christianity is a religion of loss and failure, while Islam has always been more a religion of triumph, and the differences caused by this
- the thorough chronological history of the three Abrahamic religions and how they tie into each other

I saw other readers complain that it was boring, which it really was at certain points. I don't really blame the author, but a good editor should have been able to cut down certain parts, or make them more palatable. Having said that, it's worth trudging through these to get to the good points.





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Monday, June 25, 2018

The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Everything Else by Daniel Coyle (Goodreads Author)

The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Everything ElseThe Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Everything Else by Daniel Coyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actually an excellent book. From the renaissance to Korean female golfers of today to the Bronte sisters to the Z-boys in the 1970s, he examines clusters of talent and genius and how they came to be.

Oddly I feel like it should have been either shorter or longer. It would've made a great article, while as a book it could have expanded more into how we can apply what he says in different settings (have there been other studies on this? Are there differences between applying his steps to one main endeavor and trying to apply them to many different aspects in our life, such as getting better at our job, learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, and sports, all at the same time?).

Obviously I don't know enough to confirm or refute the science, and it sounded a tad snake-oil salesman-y at times, but it does seem like a very interesting premise. A step up from the whole "10 years' experience" or "10,000 hours rule" theories.


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