A useful holiday gift at a time when New Year’s resolutions will be on the agenda.

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REST

WHY YOU GET MORE DONE WHEN YOU WORK LESS

Why being a workaholic is not the key to greater productivity.

“When we stop and rest properly, we’re not paying a tax on creativity. We’re investing in it,” writes Pang (The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul, 2013, etc.). While he is by no means the first to recognize this, the workaholic ethos is still dominant in our culture, to the detriment of our health and personal well-being. Here, the author integrates the latest findings from neuropsychology—e.g., a Dutch study that showed how allowing the mind to wander while performing a demanding task actually improved student performance. Pang suggests that Malcolm Gladwell’s influential thesis in his often cited book Outliers is incomplete. While not disagreeing with Gladwell’s contention that world-class performers will have clocked at least 10,000 practice hours, Pang contends that 12,500 hours of deliberate rest and 30,000 hours of sleep were also necessary. This is not only because rest and sleep are vital to our health, but they also give the mind the opportunity to work on problems offline. While we sleep, memory consolidation takes place. As brain scans have demonstrated, taking a break from a demanding task frees the mind to wander productively. Many creative people accomplish this by walking or napping. Surprisingly, for Winston Churchill, a midafternoon nap was an inflexible part of his routine, even at the height of World War II. Pang decries the modern tendency of people in high-powered jobs to work 24/7, taking work home with them and delaying or foregoing vacations. Not only is this detrimental to family relationships, it actually decreases productivity. Pang also warns that while child-rearing or volunteering are important activities, we also need personal time and space.

A useful holiday gift at a time when New Year’s resolutions will be on the agenda.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-465-07487-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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