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zellandyne has commented on (5) products.

Green by Jay Lake

zellandyne, May 3, 2010

Green follows the adventures of a uniquely beautiful (and uniquely stubborn) young girl sold into slavery because of her beauty and then trained to be a perfect wife or courtesan. She resists nearly every step of the way, always wanting to return home to her father and the family ox, Endurance. Throughout, she attempts to hold on to what few memories she has of her home and her culture, and to undermine the (usually) abusive women who are training her.

She finds a few unexpected allies among those who are training her, and ultimately causes tremendous destruction within the city of her imprisonment in her quest to return home. You'd think that would be the end, but the story continues and looks at the repercussions of her actions both personally and on the society that she fought so hard to escape. After several years, in which she attempts to find a place for herself, she ends up right back in the city she nearly destroyed, this time with the goal of saving it.

Lyrical language. A fascinating, and furious, heroine who comes from a distinctly non-European fantasy culture.
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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

zellandyne, May 3, 2010

I borrowed this book from my boyfriend and haven't given it back yet.

Ariely takes a close look at what actually motivates our decisions. Why do we like expensive versions of a thing better than inexpensive, why do placebo pills work, why do we make decisions that make very little (or no) logical sense? It turns out that we can actually consistently predict those irrational decisions. For example, when house buying, if you're looking at three houses, and two are colonial houses and the third is a different style (the particular style doesn't really matter) you're far more likely to buy one of those colonial houses simply because you have a comparison. It's not a rational decision, but it is a predictable one.

I've found this book incredibly useful in terms of understanding, and modifying, my own decisions making processes as well as understanding why people around me make decisions that seem, to me, clearly wrong. It's also useful for persuading people to make particular decisions, although, as with any potent tool, it can be used for good or ill.

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The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood
The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science That Could Save Your Life

zellandyne, May 3, 2010

I love this book.

I found it thanks to an excerpt in Newsweek, talking about the underlying factors that determine who survives in face of disaster. Sherwood analyzes the results of plane crashes, ship sinkings, bouts with illness and injury, and the standard human responses to danger. Some people freeze (bad idea) while others immediately take action. Some people are prepared and aware - on a plane they check the location of the nearest exits, they look at the safety instructions, they stay alert, and they move quickly. Others pop a sleeping pill or have a few drinks and ignore the standard safety demo at the start of each flight.

Sherwood has an engaging voice and uses well chosen personal examples (of people he's interviewed). He cites sound scientific research and provides an excellent bibliography (which led me to other excellent books, like The Luck Factor). He also discusses his experience going through one of the survival tests navy seals go through, which was fascinating. There are, of course, practical tips on improving your own odds of survival as well as quizzes to determine your survivor type and the web address for an online test.

I found the tests less useful than the rest of the book, but still worth taking.

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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

The Luck Factor: The Four Essential Principles by Richard Wiseman
The Luck Factor: The Four Essential Principles

zellandyne, May 3, 2010

The Luck factor is a fascinating examination of luck and our perception of it. The author, a British psychology prof (and researcher) actually did several studies looking at luck. He worked with people who self reported as lucky or unlucky and put them in different situations to see what happened.

Unsurprisngly, luck has a lot to do with the mindset of the individual: someone who is lucky, if asked to describe how they'd feel after falling down a flight of stairs and twisting their ankle, would answer that they'd feel lucky they didn't break anything or get severely injured. Someone who believed themselves unlucky would generally be surprised at the question - of course they'd feel unlucky, they'd fallen and twisted their ankle! For the most part, people who feel lucky take better advantage of their opportunities. Although it's far more complex than that simple example makes it seem.

Wiseman explains why people think those ways, and how such thought patterns can influence someone's entire life. He also has very practical examples of how to improve your luck.

Aside from simply finding the explanation of luck interesting, I have actually managed to improve my own luck in concrete ways (like the pearl bracelet I'm wearing today, which I "luckily" won in a jewelery store sweepstake that I would never have entered before reading the book).
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night's Sleep by William C. Dement
The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night's Sleep

zellandyne, April 21, 2010

This is the first book I ever read on sleeping disorders, and it’s been invaluable in helping me discover and treat mine; I received my copy as a gift from a friend who was worried about how tired I was in spite of regularly sleeping 10 or more hours.

Dement covers Sleep Apnea, DSPS, ASPS, Insomnia, etc. He goes over the symptoms, the diagnosis process, and the available treatments, in addition to providing a brief and entertaining history of the field of sleep science. It's fascinating to look through his eyes at how the field started and how much more we know (and can do) about sleep disorders today.

I’m sad to see that the book is out of print, but there do seem to be some used copies floating around.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)

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