Book Reviews : Sticky ideas, Simplicity and a surprising trip to the orient

In this weeks book reviews I explore what makes ideas stick and take a trip to my local library which leads to a surprising literary journey to China.

So without further ado let’s crack on with the reviews…

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Made to Stick (13)

This review starts with a question…

“What makes some ideas to stick around for decades and others to get forgotten in seconds?”

This book “Made to Stick” aims to answer this question.

According to Dan and Chip Heath (authors of this book and brothers) after a decent amount of exploration they reckon they’ve got close to cracking it…

The book explores why ideas which are simple and elegant stick. Why ideas which are surprising stick. Why ideas which are concrete and credible stick.  Why ideas which are emotional stick. Why ideas which are told as stories stick…

…and why a combination of many of these things can make some ideas unbelievably memorable.

I really liked this book.

It’s jam packed full of practical examples and useful analogies. It’s well written and interestingly most of the writing is powerful due to the fact that it uses the principals it promotes.

It also made me consider how I write and how I could potentially change elements of my writing to share ideas more powerfully.

We live in a world where so many of our daily lives are made easier if we become more effective communicators of our ideas.

That’s what makes “Made to Stick” such a compelling read…it feels of practical use not only professionally but personally.

That’s why I’d recommend you pick up “Made to Stick” to see if it helps you as much as I think it’ll help me…

If you read it (and regardless of whether you’re a parent, a professional or just have a passing interest in great ideas you should) Let me know what you think.

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Kung Fu Trip (14)

by Benjamin Zephaniah

As a family one of our regular Saturday morning trips is to the library.

We take a 15 minute stroll down to the Library and usually pick a couple of books for me and the kids and after a swift coffee and a bit of cake in the local cafe head back home.

However this week there was a problem…

We’re all suffering from a bit of book backlog-itis

Now you may not have heard of ‘book backlog-itis before’….probably because I just made it up.

However it’s a real (admittedly first world) issue…

It’s when you’ve got too many books to read, all waiting for you to read and pilling up on your bookshelf, and just not enough time to read them!

So this weeks trip was just to return a few books. However whilst I was there I decided to read “Kung Fu Trip” a self professed ‘quick read’ by Benjamin Zephaniah in full.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Zephaniah. His website describes him as a ‘poet, writer, lyricist, musician and trouble maker’ and the subjects he writes include Turkeys and Radio Stations which are often so ‘Rong’ (worth watching here)

“Kung Fu Trip” is, on the face of it, a story about Benjamin’s trip to China to continue his Kung Fu studies.

It’s a simply written travelogue which shares his trip to China and is informed by Zephaniah’s perspective on life. The characters are funny, the stories are well told and Zephaniahs broadly positive perspective on life shines through.

Now I know the book is designed to be a ‘short read’ but I found myself wanting to know a little more about the characters Benjamin meets and the places he visits (including Beijing and a Shaolin temple)

This is a sure sign of the start of a well written book but the issue with the ‘quick read’ format is there isn’t enough scope to truly explore what I’m sure what came across like a fantastic adventure.

However I still enjoyed it.

What bought a particular broad smile to my face was how Benjamin engaged with some of the characters he met along the way…particularly Iron Breath, ‘Fat Thumb’ and the ‘Kissy Kissy Woman’ (you’ll have to read the book to discover more about these particular characters and how they receive their particular monickers.

So, if you’ve got an hour (or two depending on how quickly or slowly you read) spare and you want a ‘quick read’ which is both entertaining and provides a window on the world on both China and Mr Benjamin Zephaniah’s life then ‘Kung Fu Trip’ is worth picking up…

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So that’s it for this time! Until next time….happy reading!

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