DRMacIver's Notebook

Short Reviews

Short Reviews

I've read a whole bunch of good books recently that I've failed to review. Here are some very short reviews of them, pending possible longer ones later. This post is more by way of an IOU longer reviews and a note to self.

A Slip of the Keyboard, by Terry Pratchett

A collection of nonfiction by Terry Pratchett. It is good, but probably only for Pratchett completionists. Main outcomes of my reading it are impulse buying a copy of Brewer's Encyclopedia of Phrase and Fable despite knowing full well that the last time I owned one I barely ever even opened it, and reminding me that I should have another go at Nation.

At some point I will have read everything Terry Pratchett ever wrote, and I do not look forward to the kick in the feels that day will bring, so I'm rather putting it off.

Teaching What You Don't Know by Therese Huston

This was good, but if you're going in looking for insights on a broader topic, you probably won't get them. This book is very specialised for its problem domain, and quite USA centric in many of the details. Still, this was what I needed (USA centricity aside), so I found it useful. It also contains a bunch of recommendations for other books that I'll be following up on.

The Communication Book: 44 Ideas for Better Conversations Every Day by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler

I don't remember why I own this book, but decided to finally sit down and read it cover to cover. It's fine. There are some neat ideas in there, and it's good for flicking through. I'll probably get some benefit out of it at some point and am going to keep it around, but nothing life changing.

Invitation to Personal Construct Psychology by Trevor Butt and Vivien Burr

This book is very good but also very expensive. I bought it second hand at a much lower price but all the cheap(ish) ones are gone and I'm not sure I can in good conscious recommend spending £44 on it.

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Very good, strongly recommended. I agree with most of it, though I think he oversimplifies in places, and I'm suspicious of how well he really understands technology and/or evolutionary biology (some things where I feel like he's misrepresented the tech side to a degree larger than lies to children would permit, no specific misgivings about the biology side of things it's just a bit pat and that raises alarm bells).

That being said, the model of how idea generation works as an evolutionary process is spot on. It filled in some useful details for me and I think a lot of people would benefit from understanding this better.

The Current Affairs Mindset

A good book of left-wing political writing that isn't afraid of nuance or disagreeing with the consensus. I suspect a lot of people I know would read this and immediately decry some of the authors as horrible centrists, but I don't think that would be an accurate reading.