Books Jan 2017 Seveneves and Switch

by Dave Michels

Two recent books to share. 

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. This one was another recommended book by Bill Gates. I find that Bill’s recommendations can be pretty complex, and Seveneves is no exception. It’s a long one. I got into it without knowing too much about it other than the moon blows up. I figured it was going to be about the panic on earth as the various impacts are discovered (look ma no tides). But I was wrong. I was surprised that the vast majority of the book takes place on the ISS (International Space Station). I’d say its equal parts science and fiction — though the story is really about the human condition. We really are silly creatures. The title makes sense eventually. I do recommend this book, so won’t say much about it other than it’s complex, very long, and I already miss it. It does stick with you – I see aspects everywhere.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath. This is part motivational/self-help and part psychology book. The book presents two sides to human nature: the emotional/irrational side (the elephant) and the analytical/rational side (the elephant rider). A powerful force is created when the rider and elephant work together.

“Most of us are all too familiar with situations in which our Elephant overpowers our Rider.  You’ve experienced this if you’ve ever slept in, overeaten, dialed up your ex at midnight, procrastinated, tried to quit smoking and failed, skipped the gym, gotten angry and said something you regretted, abandoned your Spanish or piano lessons, refused to speak up in a meeting because you were scared, and so on.”

The book provides a number of tips to harness the power of the elephant for positive rational goals. It’s a fun metaphor, or at least was at first.

I recommend the book if you are looking for some motivational tips. It is not a business book about driving change.

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