Blind book reviews, December 2016

I meant to make a follow up to that post from November. The one about going to bookstores, keeping tab of the books that catch my eye. The one where I make mental notes on why they caught my eye. The one where I talk about why I think they might be worth the read, even though I’ve never read them myself.

Today I write that follow-up.

And because I want to give this a catchier name than say, “books I’ve been seeing on the shelf”, I’ve decided to call them blind book reviews.

These books were on-shelf in local major bookstores (mostly National Bookstore and FullyBooked) between November to December 2016.

A History of the World in 12 Maps, by Jerry Brotton

I can’t remember if it was National Bookstore or FullyBooked, but I’m confident its one of the two! FullyBooked.

I have this not-so-secret fascination with cartography. Back when Waze and Google Maps weren’t a thing, I always kept an atlas in my car’s front compartment.

My excuse was that I needed it, but really I just wanted it.

I’ve always found maps pretty. I guess its because it brings me back to the fantasy books of my youth, where the first few pages were dedicated to maps of the places the story will take place.

That said, this book discouragingly doesn’t have a lot of maps (just 12!). It does talk about those maps in detail and covers history as well, so perhaps that makes up for it? We’ll see.

Happy City, by Charles Montgomery

 Available at FullyBooked.

Urban design, at least locally, is something that goes underappreciated.

The way cities are designed here revolve around what makes moneynot necessarily what makes people happy.

The only exceptions are perhaps Makati and BGC, two cities actively incorporating art and efficiency into their designs.

If the Philippines ever got a fat paycheck just to redesign its cities, I’d like to think they’d consider the ideas from this book.

Invisibles, by David Zweig

Available at National Bookstore.

I remember seeing this book on the shelf and immediately feeling a connection.

I’m that girl. The one who’d rather just do the work. The one who hates talking about what I’ve done. The one who hates marketing.

I always get flak from my managers for this behavior, but I can’t help it. I’d rather let the results speak for itself.

Why, just last week one of our company leaders said, “Now, I can’t remember which one of you said this but…” then quoted me! *sigh*

Based on the reviews this book isn’t a call to action but rather a collection of people with a similar work ethic to mine. Sounds interesting, but I feel I won’t benefit from this book.

Its better suited for people managers to recognize there could be someone in their team that’s like this, and how to manage them.

Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager, by Kogon, Blakemore and Wood.

Available at National Bookstore

To be honest, I kind of just stumbled into my day job.

Most project managers will have a similar story. Most project managers never set out intending to be a project manager. Most of us just learned along the way.

I think this book is all about that: The lessons we learned, taught in a casual way.

The Decision Book, by Krogerus and Tschäppeler

Available at FullyBooked

I saw the words “models” and “thinking” on the cover and thought,

Is this Charlie Munger’s Latticework of Mental Models, but for decisions?

Well, I’m not sure. I haven’t read the book.

But if its anything like those models I am intrigued.

Plus, it comes with illustrations to help deliver its points–something very much appreciated by a visual person like myself.

The Organized Mind, by Daniel Levitin

(Was) Available at FullyBooked and National Bookstore

When I made my “new year’s resolution”, I said this year is going to be all about focus.

It has since become obvious how hard it is for me to do this.

So when I saw this book, I thought it might be able to cure me of my distraction disease.

There’s also Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, which I suspect is similar in purpose but different in methodology. Which one to read first?

Update: I’ve decided to get this book but its hard to find now. I had to call in at four different FullyBooked branches before finding a copy! Its out of stock in all National Bookstore branches too.

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, by Jordan Ellenberg

Available at National Bookstore

With the current obsession with data I thought it would only be appropriate to, not only increase our data literacy, but also adopt a numbers-based / logical way of thinking.

This book promises that.

I was especially intrigued by its claim to be “The Freakonomics of Math”.

Good ol’ Freakonomics was one of my favorite books, so perhaps I should read this one as well.

The Man Who Couldn’t Stop, by David Adam

Available at FullyBooked

I had no intention of checking this out.

But the book had been misplaced on the wrong shelf–it was among religious texts!–so I felt compulsed to move it back to its rightful section.

 And so I moved the book back, reading its back cover along the way.


It stirred in me the same emotions as Lauren Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. I felt it was one of those books that may not be as “useful”as the other books here, but will be good for my emotional well-being.

And that’s it! I’m considering making this a recurring kind of post, so let me know what you think.


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