Self-Help

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet

Summary:

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, “Quiet” shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

While I found many aspects of this book interesting, even with some practical recommendations, after a certain point I couldn’t take any more and had to abandon it.  I would have been more interested in additional research and fewer examples.  At a certain point, the number of examples kept the book dragging for me until I was just skimming the first portion of each chapter to get the gist. 

I think this is the kind of book that would be fascinating for an introvert who does not know how to interact in the world, but as someone closer to the ambivert spectrum I found the book to feel had a flavor of “introverts are better than extroverts and here’s why” at times.  It is clear the author does not have that intension when describing things, but rather is hoping to explain ways that the world should change to accommodate all personality spectrums.  I agree with the sentiment, but I struggled with the execution at times.

This book provoked a lot of conversation within our book club from both sides of the spectrum so I will certainly say it had that going for it!

Note: I did not finish this book, but abandoned it 2/3 of the way through

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Introverts that are looking for support for their interactions / strategies in the world.

The Big Thing

The Big Thing

Summary:

Whether it’s the Great American Novel or a groundbreaking new app, many people want to create a Big Thing, but finding the motivation to get started, let alone complete the work, can be daunting. In The Big Thing, New York Times business writer and editor Phyllis Korkki combines real life stories, science, and insights from her own experience to illuminate the factors that drive people to complete big creative projects—and the obstacles that threaten to derail success.  

In the course of creating her own Big Thing, this book, Korkki explores the individual and collaborative projects of others: from memoirs, art installations, and musical works to theater productions, small businesses and charities. She identifies the main aspects of a Big Thing, including meaningful goals; focus and effort; the difficulties posed by the demands of everyday life; and the high risk of failure and disappointment. Korkki also breaks down components of the creative process and the characteristics that define it, and offers her thoughts on avoiding procrastination, on staying motivated, scheduling a routine, and overcoming self-doubt and the restrictions of a day job. Filled with inspiring stories, practical advice, and a refreshing dose of honesty, “The Big Thing”doesn’t minimize the negative side of such pursuits—including the fact that big projects are hard to complete and raise difficult questions about one’s self-worth. 

Inspiring, wise, humorous and good-natured, “The Big Thing” is a meditation on the importance of self-expression and purpose.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review courtesy of TLC Book Tours.

Review:

This book was very Meta (self-acknowledged), which had me hesitating at a few moments, but the book really came through for me!  Since the book wasn’t simply a description of the trials and challenges the author was working through in her own journey, it really kept me interested.  I loved that Korkki was willing to give anything a shot and worked with a variety of experts to get their perspectives as well.

Though I think this book would be fantastic for many people, part of me kept wanting to say “JUST START!”  Starting is definitely the hardest thing when it comes to a dream, but once started it’s also the easiest thing to improve as you find out what mistakes you’re making!  Personal opinion aside, the book was definitely inspiring to give yourself a real shot at your dream and to stop putting it off until tomorrow.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Folks with a lingering dream that is unfulfilled!

He Said, She Said: Writing Effective Dialogue

He Said, She Said

Summary:

Dialogue that drones on, clutters the page, or stalls the scene can ruin even the best of novels. Learn to avoid common dialogue pitfalls and dazzle your readers, editors, and agents with snappy scenes and smooth-as-silk transitions between dialogue and narrative. “He Said, She Said” is packed with innovative instruction, detailed information, and essential exercises to help your dialogue skills mesmerize and impress. 

The information offered in “He Said, She Said” is easy to understand and simple to implement. In this guide book you will learn: 

  • How to balance realistic dialogue with your narrative style, including addressing accents and learning the 4 things to leave out of your dialogue 
  • 5 ways to seamlessly insert dialogue into your scene, such as expressing gestures and employing summary dialogue 
  • 7 tricks to getting the most out of dialogue tags: everything from finding the right intensity level to avoiding POV issues 
  • 4 ways to improve your dialogue crafting skills, with prompts and exercises included.

Don’t waste an opportunity for success by settling for mediocre dialogue in your novel. Let “He Said, She Said” help you craft your characters’ exchanges with ease and skill. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Sage’s Blog Tours.

Review:

This was a quick read that I covered in two sittings, but I know that I will continue to reference for quite some time.  The tips and tricks are well explained and provide a good launching point for anyone in their writing.  The author uses similar sections of dialogues in order to show before and after improvements.  Having just finished my first NaNoWriMo, this was particularly of interest to me since I will begin the editing process in January.  I have already identified a few common pitfalls that I believe I completed during my writing so I’m looking forward tackling the editing and updating using the principles used in this book!

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Folks who would like to improve their writing skills.


With New Eyes

With New Eyes

Summary:

Heidi Siefkas lost her health, her career, and her marriage after she was struck by a one-thousand-pound tree branch. While she made great strides in her physical and emotional recovery in the months that followed—an arduous process that she chronicled in “When All Balls Drop” —Heidi wasn't content to merely survive her setbacks. The time was right to build a new life. One she could live on her own terms.

But what would a redesigned life look like? In her quest for answers, Heidi returned to her childhood home in Wisconsin, dove into the South Florida dating scene, revisited old flames in New England, sold her first home, jumped out of a plane, and traveled alone to South America. Every leg of her journey provided a healthy dose of perspective.

With New Eyes is full of mishaps and bold decisions, all seasoned with sassy humor. Through her signature down-to-earth vignettes, Heidi inspires you to conquer your fears, head for adventure, and become the captain of your own ship.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review courtesy of Sage’s Blog Tours.

Review:

This was a book that I certainly enjoyed more than I anticipated.  Heidi is a solid writer and a lot of her stories made me chuckle.  The reason the book didn’t get a higher review is that I felt more like it was an extended coffee date with a friend rather than a book.  At the end of each chapter and story I was looking for the “so what?”  Not to say that the story wasn’t good, I just didn’t see the cohesive theme or structure I would expect in a full length memoir. 

That being said, it was an enjoyable coffee date and I don’t begrudge the time I took to read the memoir.  It was interesting to see how things progressed and definitely to hear about her travels.  I’m a sucker for travel memoirs so I was intrigued by her trip at the end!

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Folks going through a rough patch looking for an example of how things can turn around.