Going on Hiatus


I have decided to put a hold on doing further book reviews for a while. In fact I'm not sure if I will resume doing reviews in the near future, change to something different, or simply take this blog off-line.

My decision comes from the facts that 1) I'm rather tired of writing reviews & 2) There aren't many people reading them to make it worthwhile. I dropped doing the fiction reviews a couple months ago, and have since concentrated on doing non-fiction ones, but the reading of non-fiction (at least the kind I read) takes a lot longer to read which means I am constantly playing catch-up.

I have thought about doing movie reviews, as I do watch a fair number of movies, but there are lots of sites that already do this, so maybe something different is in order. To the three or four of you who actually do read this blog let me know if you have any ideas for any suggested restructuring. 




"Rationality: what it is, why it seems scarce, why it matters" by Steven Pinker


Publisher: Viking
Copyright: 2021
ISBN: 9780525561996

This book is an extremely interesting read that takes the reader on a journey that ultimately explains what rationality is and like the title suggests why it matters and why it seems so scarce in today's world.

Dr. Pinker does this by examining how rational an animal humans are, then give us examples of both rational and irrational behaviour - of which there are a lot in today's world. He then goes on to a discussion of how logic and critical thinking work, Probability and randomness and then explores beliefs and evidence, risk and reward, hits and false alarms, game theory and finally correlation and causation.

He concludes by examining what is wrong with people in general and why they believe these things and then recaps by examining why rationality really matters.

This is an excellent book that should be required reading for pretty much every first year university student, as well as the majority of people in big business, government, and who knows what else.

Highly recommended.


"Living The Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions" by Dr. Phil Zuckerman

Publisher: Penguin Press
ISBN: 9781594205088
Copyright: 2014

This book is essentially a review of what it means to be secular, but it also juxtaposes this with what many people seem to think a secular person is. The book itself is oriented with a very American focus, which is understandable both because the author is American, but also due to America promoting itself as a christian nation, even though there is a large number of people with no religious affiliation down there.

Other countries are mentioned in contrast to America, such as Canada, Norway, Finland, and many more who are very secular and have crime rates that are essentially nonexistent, while the United States and numerous other religious nations have ridiculously high crime rates.

Dr. Zuckerman gained a lot of the material in this book from interviewing both secular and religious people and this gives the reader a very good overview of how people see those who are secular.

These interviews also give the reader into other areas that show how secular people deal with such topics as Morality, Society, The Rise of the Non-religious, Raising Secular Children, Creating Communities, Dealing with Hardship, and Death.

A very good book, that I think all should read.


"The Anatomy of Genres: How Story Forms Explain the Way the World Works" by John Truby


Publisher: Picador Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Copyright: 2022
ISBN: 9780374539221

I picked this book up to give me some assistance when I was writing a seminar on oddly enough writing - go figure. He breaks writing down into fourteen distinct genres: Horror, Action, Myth, Memoir, Coming-of–Age, Science Fiction, Crime, Comedy, Western, Gangster, Fantasy, Thriller, Detective, and Love. The book itself is quite well written, and easy to follow, but unfortunately while it gave me a fair amount of good information it wasn't wholly applicable to my project as Mr. Truby's examples are drawn primarily from movies, and not from books. 

This is understandable as he does coach and teach people writing, but does focus on the Hollywood end of things. He is the director of Truby's Writers Studio and "has an ongoing program where he works with students who are actively creating shows, movies, and novel series. He regularly applies his genre techniques in story consulting work with major studios including…"

Now while a good number of the techniques are the same, the lack of examples drawn from the written word I found to be a particular disadvantage. Reader's of this column (both of you) will see my point when you take into account my lack of enthusiasm for pretty much anything Hollywood puts out, as they seem to routinely ruin anything that is adapted from a book.

In any case if you are writer have a look at this book you may find fits your niche very well.


Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson


Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Copyright: 2012
ISBN: 9780393082104

This book is a collection of Dr. Tyson's various articles, columns, commentaries, op-eds, some very pertinent tweets all of which give an interesting and very eyes-wide-open look at the American space program. He does this with his signature style which I believe is what makes him one of the most popular science presenters and public science figures today. Dr. Tyson is an excellent writer that doesn't belabour a topic and is able to get his point across clearly.

The thirty-six essays cover a wide ranging from such things as killer asteroids, the next fifty years in space, comments on extraterrestrial life, the physics of propulsion, the politics of space travel, how to prove you have been abducted by aliens, the Hubble Space Telescope, and much more. 

A great read, highly recommended.


"Once Upon Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller" by Oliver Darkshire


Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Copyright: 2022
ISBN: 9781324092070

This was extremely interesting book to read that gives the reader a rare perspective into the workings of antiquarian bookstore, in this case Sotheran's in London which was established in 1761.

I've always been fascinated with books, and I can blame my parents for this as my mother especially was one of the people who encouraged my reading. Not sure how this exactly it morphed into my becoming a book collector myself, but it did and after reading this book one of the first things I want to do is go visit Sotheran's in London and spend a few days looking through their collection. I only really envision two possible problems with this first it's in London which is in a different country, and second I have to take a rather large suitcase (or more likely a large trunk) with me because I'm very sure that I would be bringing a vast number of books home. Not that I need any more books at home but I would bring them back. For those who have read this book I am definitely a Smaug (a general collector of books), propose to a Dracula who has very specific interests.

However, back to the book review. As I stated above I found this book extremely interesting to read, and some of the adventures that Mr. Darkshire has been through while employed at Sotheran's make his profession all the more interesting.

This is definitely a book worth reading, especially for any one interested in books, and especially antiquarian bibliophiles.

A great read, highly recommended.


"Healthy Brain, Happy Life: A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain and Do Everything Better" by Wendy Suzuki, PhD


Publisher: Dey St.
Copyright: 2015
ISBN: 9780062366788

Dr. Suzuki is a neurologist based in New York who has made great strides in understanding the way exercise, meditation, lifestyle changes, etc. can influence and essentially change the way your brain works. I first came across her while watching some videos on YouTube, and I have seen a number of her talks there.

As the title states this book is a personal program that she undertook to change her life, and as far as I can tell from the book it has succeeded tremendously. It's been 18 years since his book was released so I can only assume that everything is still working good for her as the information she gives in the book is something that should work for everyone.

She takes us on a journey that started when she was in University and has continued throughout her life. It started when she fell in love with the study of the brain, and as far as I can tell from this book it has never waned at all. All of the information she gives is related back to how it is affecting the brain, and she sites numerous articles to back up her conclusions and show that the research is very valid. Some of the topics covered are: how memories are formed, how exercise really affects the brain, a look at how extra size can make you smarter, stress responses, your brains reward system, insight and divergent thinking, and meditation.

There's an excellent book that gives a lot of very good information that should assist virtually everybody who reads it.

Highly recommended.


Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life by Jason Hanson


Publisher: Perigee Books
Copyright: 2015
ISBN: 9780399175145

This was a rather interesting books to read, and not one I would normally pick up however I was ding some research for a story and needed some material for one of my characters who is a reluctant spy. The book itself definitely has a lot of practical information, but it is geared towards an American audience, as a number of the tips and suggestions would be illegal up here in Canada.

The author Jason Hanson is an ex-CIA officer and has assuredly seen and been involved in some rather disturbing incidents, some of which he relates in this book. He goes into a lot of detail about topics of survival intelligence such as being adaptable, being self-reliant, not being a hero, how movement can save your life, your perception of a situation, establishing what is normal so you will know when something is wrong, and being aware of situations). This last topic he devotes entire chapter to as it is important.

He then talks about making an escape and evasion kit, how to escape from various situations, criminal proofing your home, and travelling safely. Other topics include counter surveillance, social engineering, detecting people who are lying to you, disappearing, driving, and defending yourself.

As mentioned some of the information he gives would only be applicable in the United States such as going around armed, carrying concealed weapons, etc. So depending on where you live some of this information may not of any use to you. On the other hand the information that is not weapons based would be valuable to virtually anybody.

He makes a number of references to his website, however it doesn't seem to be too up-to-date as there are a number of broken links.

All in all a very interesting book.

Going on Hiatus

 Greetings, I have decided to put a hold on doing further book reviews for a while. In fact I'm not sure if I will resume doing reviews ...