Book Review – The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

I just completed a few weeks of travel and spent a lot of time on planes and in airports.  Especially the day Hurricane Patricia came ashore and disrupted most flights in the western US.  I didn’t mind all that much because I got to visit with CapnRehab family members in southern and western US. Another benefit was that I got to read, read, read!  I leave out the books not worth reading, and I actually started a few and stopped after a few chapters.  Being able to check out electronic copies for free makes it real easy to stop reading a crappy book.  I tell you about only the best.  (Just for you)

Boys in the boat book cover

Boys in the boat book cover

If you decided to read “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (perhaps because of my excellent recommendation)  and liked it, then you’ll probably like this one.

The story blends personal history and perspective with significant historical events.  The style is very readable and quite interesting.  This book was recommended to me but I didn’t think I’d be interested.  I didn’t know much about rowing and considered it a rich person’s sport.  That’s all changed for me now.  I would definitely read any other book by this Author.  That goes for Laura Hillenbrand too.

As you read you delve deep into the heart of what rowing is about, the skill, strength, stamina and guts it takes to do it.  You marvel at the hardships the main character went through growing up in the grip of the depression.  You come to admire him and the team, and what they accomplished.  This is a true Olympic journey from obscurity to world champions.

If you’re in or from the Pacific Northwest in general or Seattle in particular you’ll probably identify with the weather and the localities mentioned, but this isn’t a local story.  I’d say it’s not even an American story.  (Although this is about a US Olympic team)   This is a human story, well told and well worth reading.

A couple of side notes.  The book has two  (probably unintended) ties to “Unbroken” and Laura Hillenbrand. When talking about the nutrition program the coach has the rowers on, the author tosses out a comment about the owner of the race horse Seabiscuit hearing about it and wondering how he might change the diet to affect the race horse’s performance.  You may not know but Laura also wrote a national bestseller about SeaBiscuit.   Also, when discussing events at the 1936 Olympics in Germany, the story mentions the main character in Unbroken, the athlete Louis Zamperini.  It was interesting having already read “Unbroken” and realizing what else was in store for the future Japanese prisoner of war.

All in all, I liked the book very much.  You probably will too.

Book Review: Wild – From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild-LostToFoundOnThePacificCrestTrail

Wild-LostToFoundOnThePacificCrestTrail

I’ve been super busy this spring and summer working a second job.  (hence not much boat progress) One of the ways I’ve stayed sane is to read books.

I like to read ebooks as I’m relaxing in bed before going to sleep.  When I read a book that I really like, I post a review here.  Granted, my “reviews” are not all that specific, and I never give a summary of the book.  I just tell you how I felt about it.  Follow the image hyperlink if you want a summary.

I find books pretty much at random on my public library site.  I browse through the books like I browse through Netflix listings.   Sometimes I never even read an actual book or watch a movie.  All I do is browse and read the synopsis.  Back in the video tape rental days, I used to check out the preview tapes and just watch them. I think the previews are the best parts of going to the movies.  No point in seeing the full movie anymore.  If I’ve seen the preview, it’s almost certain I’ll never go see the movie.  Yes, I’m strange.

Anyway, one of my interests is backpacking.  It’s been a long time since I did it, but I’m feeling the urge to go again. That’s probably why I picked up the book.  And yes, this book is about backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail.  But it’s more than that.  It’s about self reliance, growth, self understanding, life review.  All those things and more.  The author is a good writer.  She tells a compelling story.  There are all the things that make up a life.  Humor, sadness, love, loss, adventure.  The book didn’t make me want to dust off my backpack, but I did spend some time thinking thinking and reflecting about the story.  Maybe that’s what I really liked about the book.  It stayed with me.

It also made me consider what it is to be a writer, and what do I need to do to write a compelling story.

Anyway, I’ve read enough books to know when I see a good one.  This is a good one.  If you’re the least bit interested in the topic.  You’ll probably like the book.  I’m not surprised they made a movie of it.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ll probably watch the preview…

Book Review – Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Book Review

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson is another one of those books that shakes you up like a paint can at Home Depot.  This book also gets 5 stars out of 5 on the CapnRehab interest scale.

Bookcover - where good ideas come from

Bookcover – where good ideas come from

Today’s post should be about keel repair, but instead of that I’m going to share another book that is pretty amazing.  Steven Johnson is a very good writer.  He has the rare ability to pull things together than may not seem related and turn them into a compelling story.  In this case he tells us how ideas actually are related, where they come from, and how we can prime the pump a bit.

It also was another book that I could only read a chapter at a time.  Not so much because it was hard to read, but because I wanted to think about what I’d just read.  In broad terms he talks about how there is a myth of the “Eureka” moments where an idea leaps into consciousness.  What more often happens is that we have a “Slow burn” idea that can sit in the background of our mind for a long time, even decades, until it meets another idea and becomes fully formed.  The book is full of the stories of ideas and how they were developed.

One thing we can do to get more ideas is to expose ourselves to other disciplines and other types of people.  One interesting thing he mentioned was that Bill Gates will take a week of at a time to read a stack of books that he’s been saving all year.  It seems that it’s important not just to expose your self to new ideas, but to do it in a rush.  Somehow this cross connects the pathways in your brain in new ways that they didn’t have before.

I really enjoyed this book.  If you read it, let me know.

P.S.  He has many other books.  One I’ve read that I liked even more than this is “Ghost Map”.  I read it a while back at a time when I was only posting boat book reviews here.  It’s about how the mystery of the source of the Cholera epidemic in London was solved.  Believe me, you don’t have to be a doctor or like medicine stories to really enjoy the book.

P.P.S.  My mom read his other book “How we got to now” and said it is terrific too.  Apparently you can’t go wrong reading a book by Mr. Johnson.

Book Review – Click Millionaires: Work Less, Live More with an Internet Business You Love

 

I read a lot.  A heck-uv-a-lot.  I’ve been known to start reading a book on the commute home and stay up all night reading till I’ve completed it.   About a year ago I bought a laptop for work, and Dell tossed in a small tablet  (a “Venue” 7 inch) with the package.  I wasn’t expecting much but I sure have enjoyed it.  It has a full android operating system, so it has the clock, browser, games, etc. and the “Kindle” ebook reader app.  Definitely love that Kindle app.

Dell Venu 7 tablet

Dell Venu 7 tablet

I did a lot of searches for “Free science fiction download” and read a ton of Sci-Fi. (Tor is a great source for free and pay fiction)  I found out that the typical business model is to get Book 1 of a series for free, and the author hopes you like it enough to buy books 2,3,4,5, 6 & 7!  (I’ve done this, but only once!)

Recently, I discovered that my local library website has the capability to let me borrow e-books using the tablet.  Since then I have about 100 books in my queue.  I can have 10 checked out at any one time, I get them for 2 weeks, and they automatically “Return”.  No more late fees!  It even has the ability to automatically check out a book for me when something on my hold list becomes available.  Plus, the variety is pretty wide.  I have 2 main categories I like.  Non-Fiction & Science Fiction.  In Non-Fiction I tend to stick with business, history, and biographies (and sailboat repair of course!)

A book I recently finished is “Click Millionaires” by Scott Fox.

Click Millionaires

Click Millionaires

He had some great advice about setting up a website that fills a niche and provides income.  The main point of the book is that all you need is enough interest in a particular niche topic to provide other people interested in it with quality information and services.   I develop large enterprise web applications for a living, so the thought of having one of my own making me money without me commuting to the job is definitely appealing.

The book is full of practical advice and places to get more information and support.  To me, this did not come across as a hard sell.  I’ve read other books in this genre, and wound up feeling that all I did was read a very long commercial.  In the case of Click Millionaires, it really just feels like an extensive list of directions.

Unfortunately, the book has already returned itself.  I am actually considering buying it (gasp) to have it around to refer to.  A good bit of the book is devoted to deciding what niche to occupy, and then how to come up with meaningful content that has people coming back to visit the site.

Also, from what I remember, these niche websites can generate income by

  1. advertising and “clicks”
  2. subscriptions
  3. products  (ebooks, consumer products, consulting fees etc.)

First build your audience with valuable content, then convert them to customers with products that they want and need.  There were lots of examples of successful niche websites, so it seems withing a normal persons ability to do.

For a brief (very brief) moment I did consider that maybe the CapnRehab site might evolve into something like a niche website, but I think that the niche of my family, friends, and a few sailing bloggers that I’ve enticed over here might be a wee bit small of a customer base to support the lavish lifestyle I’d like to become accustomed to.  Instead, I’ve got business website that’s coming along and has actually made it’s first dollar before the site is even operational.  Very excited about that!

In summary, if you’re at all interested in having a website that makes you money then I think you owe it to yourself to read this book.  If you do, let me know that you did and how it’s going!

 

Book Review – The Maker Movement by Mark Hatch

This book got me so excited about the opportunities available for making stuff, inventing new things, and starting your own business.

The Maker Movement Book Cover

The Maker Movement Book Cover

It is mostly a book of anecdotes about projects people have done at Techshop and business that have been created.  Some were by design, some were by accident.

The main point of the book is that never before has so much power been in the hands of normal people (Not just big business with big bucks).  There is software that does incredible stuff that used to be done manually or not at all.  Machines are cheaper than ever before.  Combine the two and add creative people and watch what their imagination can create.

Another main point is that more is created when people get together to form communities, and that by sharing what we do and what we know so much more can be accomplished than if everybody tries to hoard their knowledge and abilities.

The author is the CEO of Techshop.  There are 8 of them in the country.

San Carlos, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
Allen Park, MI (Detroit)
Austin-Round Rock
Pittsburgh
Chandler, AZ
Arlington, VA (Washington, DC)

Two more are in the works:
St. Louis , MO
Los Angeles, CA

Techshop is a pretty amazing place with so many tools all in one place.  The great thing is that once you join you have access to all of them.  Of course you have to take a basic use and safety class per machine but then you can make whatever you want on it. Unfortunately each class is around $60, so actually getting to use all the machines could end up costing quite a few bucks. Even so, the machines!  Laser cutters, 3D printers, injection molders, vacuum forming system, computer controlled cutting machines for wood & metal, water jet cutter, welding, industrial sewing machines, full electronics workbench, bicycle shop.  Anything a budding inventor (or expert ones too) could want.

I’m fortunate that one is not that far away from me (DC-Arlington).  I took a tour last Friday and enjoyed it so much I joined this weekend.  Now my only problem will be finding time to go and do stuff!

 

 

Book Review – Into the Storm – by Dennis Perkins

Book Cover - Into the Storm by Dennis  Perkins

Book Cover – Into the Storm by Dennis Perkins

This excellent book is really two stories.

The first is a fascinating look at the 1998 Sidney-Hobart sailboat race.  Due to a storm that built bigger than expected, of the 115 boats participating only 44 reached the finish line.  A boat was sunk and others abandoned. Twenty-five sailors were washed over board and seven died. Fifty-five sailors were rescued. It was the largest sea rescue in Australian history.  The story is told well, and lets us experience the storm from the perspectives of many sailboat crews, rescue personnel and family at home, not just the winning boat.

The second is a leadership guide that takes lessons from the experiences of the sailing teams, with an emphasis on the winning boat.  Lessons like the importance of team unity, skill, competence, preparation and relentless learning.

The author even sailed a later Sidney-Hobart race to experience first hand what a long open ocean race was like.  I’m sure that helped him tell the story so well.

The entire book is well done and held my attention from start to finish.  I’ve taken up the bad habit of starting a book on my tablet on Friday evening, and staying up all night reading it till I finish.   This was no exception, and I got to see the sun come up as I was finishing.

I’m reading a lot of books since I discovered our local library lets me check out e-books on my tablet.  If you haven’t tried it, do it!  If you like to read at all (which I very much do) you will find out that a tablet combined with your local library can bring an amazing amount of free knowledge and enjoyment to you for absolutely no cost. (Of course the tablet costs, but you can get a good one of those for about $100 and you’ll make that back by borrowing 5 or so books instead of buying them)

Happy reading!

Book Review: Adrift by Steven Callahan

Adrift

by

Steven Callahan

This book was loaned to me by some friends that know I like to read sea survival stories.  I think I read it a long time ago, but I enjoyed reading it again.  It seems pretty clear that people that survive ordeals like this have an inner strength that helps them get through it.  I hope that I have that kind of strength, but that could just be fantasy on my part.  I hope I never find out the hard way.

This story is a mix of the mechanics of survival at sea, descriptions of various aspects of beauty that he observed in the midst of his ordeal, and introspection on what life is and what it takes to stay alive.  This excerpt from page 109 really spoke volumes to me. (emphasis mine)

“For the first time, I clearly see a vast difference between human needs and human wants.  Before this voyage, I always had what I needed – food, shelter, clothing and companionship – yet I was often dissatisfied when I didn’t get everything I wanted, when  people didn’t meet my expectations, when a goal was thwarted, or when I couldn’t acquire some material goody.  My plight has given me a strange kind of wealth, the most important kind.  I value each moment not spent in pain, desperation, hunger, thirst, or loneliness.  Even here, there is richness all around me.”

Maybe that’s why I read these survival stories.  To bring into focus what it really takes to stay alive when we’re not cushioned by society’s safety net, and to explore what is important and what is means to be alive.

If you like these kinds of stories, I think it’s worth your time reading.