The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

Have you had trouble achieving a long term goal? I have definitely dealt with setbacks in at least three of my longer term goals. I think it might come down to consistency. As in consistent actions adding up to long term results.

This book was first recommended to me in a group I attend related to mindset. The presenter discussed the idea of compound interest and related it to progress on our goals. She mentioned this book. I got myself a copy from the library.

I read my library copy fairly quickly — which is not typical when I am reading a non-fiction, self-help book. This may be an older book as far as some of the examples in it, but the concepts are timeless. I particularly appreciated the conversational style and the focus on small changes that add up to long term success and good health.

In fact, I liked the book so much I bought a few copies to read with my children.

Our weekly family book group is almost done with this book, and the lessons have been helpful. Even the 11 year old has learned a few things about consistent effort and how external things influence us.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I gave it a five star rating for the plain writing, ease of use, and practical tips and to-dos.

Recommended if you need a dose of motivation with some very practical steps for how to apply the advice.

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Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke, MD

From GoodReads about Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence:

This book is about pleasure. It’s also about pain. Most important, it’s about how to find the delicate balance between the two, and why now more than ever finding balance is essential. We’re living in a time of unprecedented access to high-reward, high-dopamine stimuli: drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting… The increased numbers, variety, and potency is staggering. The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation. As such we’ve all become vulnerable to compulsive overconsumption.

How could anyone not want to read further?

What I liked most about this book was that it is accessible to the layperson and highly readable. If you like the super-sciency type book that goes on for days with hard-to-decipher examples, you may not like this book. It may be “too simple” for you.

I felt like it was a long conversation with someone who has expertise in the field, but who is a regular human being. (Dr. Lembke shows us her own weaknesses rather frequently in the book.) I found lots of interest in this book, and just enough science to back it up. I kept reading.

It even kept me away from obsessive social media scrolling…or maybe not? Note: this was a joke. But actually, it did make me rethink my online activities.

It was a good read. Recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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The Body Papers by Grace Talusan

An excerpt from the Goodreads description: Born in the Philippines, young Grace Talusan moves with her family to a New England suburb in the 1970s. At school, she confronts racism as one of the few kids with a brown face. At home, the confusion is worse: her grandfather’s nightly visits to her room leave her hurt and terrified, and she learns to build a protective wall of silence that maps onto the larger silence practiced by her Catholic Filipino family.

It’s rare that I read a memoir so quickly, and rare that I’m emotionally affected by the narrator’s life. The Body Papers by Grace Talusan hit both.

The pacing was brisk, the images vivid. Grace Talusan connects us with her story and what it was like to grow up in one of two Filipino families in a small town in Massachusetts. We travel back to the Philippines with Grace when she’s an adult and see the country through her eyes. This book was better and more vivid than any movie.

She also shares her childhood trauma with us in a way that is relatable and poignant.

Recommended. 5/5 stars.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Bury the Past by James L’Etoile

From Goodreads: Sacramento Police Detectives John Penley and Paula Newberry are enlisted to investigate a case involving the trafficking of stolen street drugs. But they quickly find it’s more difficult than they first imagined when the crime is being committed by a group of corrupt cops undermining the system.

This is actually book #2 of the Detective Penley series by James L’Etoile. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Bury the Past is set in Sacramento, all the key locations are familiar to me. It’s also obvious that the author has great insider information on California prisons, CSP-SAC (California State Prison – Sacramento) in particular. The protagonist is complex and interesting. The bad guy is creepy and smart. The cops are three dimensional. I liked the author’s approach. It made everything more credible.

Only one problem with the book that bugged me–I know the Sacramento locations too well. When the author describes Southside park, he mentions 15th Street. Southside is a little further up, on 5th. Must have been an editing error, because nearly everything else is on right on point, including the author’s dry wit about the condos around the park.

This was a page-turner. Recommended. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Scary Close by Donald Miller

From Goodreads: After decades of failed relationships and painful drama, Donald Miller decided he’d had enough. Impressing people wasn’t helping him connect with anyone. He’d built a life of public isolation, yet he dreamed of meaningful relationships. So at forty years old he made a scary decision: to be himself no matter what it cost.

I picked up Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True Intimacy, not for the title, but for the structure, as it was recommended for its structure by a memoir / non-fiction writing teacher.

The structure was good and made for an extremely easy read.

I note others have criticized this book for its name-dropping. In some respects I’d have to agree. The author tells us about a whole lot of other people’s advice. And he does attribute the advice accordingly. So, there is a bit of namedropping. It didn’t bother me too much, as the names weren’t familiar to me. I enjoyed the snippets.

“Remarkably, the most common regret of the dying was this: they wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not the life others expected of them.”

Donald Miller, Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True Intimacy

Overall, there are many tidbits and takeaways that I gathered from this book. It was nice, as I was not expecting anything but an idea of how to structure an eminently readable teaching memoir. And I did find that, plus some relationship wisdom along the way.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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They Called Us Enemy – Graphic Memoir Review

I am, or was, a big Star Trek fan. George Takei, aka Sulu, always seemed steady at the helm, even at warp speed. As a kid, I loved the crew operating the USS Enterprise. Boldly going where no one had gone before.

From Goodreads: Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

Graphic Memoir Cover

My Review: It took me awhile to read this graphic novel. And actually, I can usually read this type of novel in one sitting. This one was hard to get through. Perhaps because the artwork is black and white and the subject matter is upsetting. I was already familiar with the US Supreme Court’s Korematsu decision. A definite negative mark on United States history.

I found the last third of the book compelling, with the critical moments where Japanese Americans were forced into renouncing citizenship, the impacts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the good fight of some Americans to help the interred Japanese Americans retain their rights (or reacquire them, if more accurate).

It is a good introduction to that era of our history.

Generally, recommended. Four stars out of five.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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