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Rodge (Ontario, Canada)
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Freakonomics
Freakonomics
by Steven D. Levitt
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
27 used & new from CDN$ 1.10

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but take heed: contains fiction, Dec 19 2014
Ce commentaire est de: Freakonomics (Paperback)
This book is very interesting and engaging, however it masquerades as authoritative and non-fictitious which is misleading. This is in fact narrative journalism with economic credibility stapled on. The reader is led to believe through non-detailed citations of studies that he is getting deep insights into the hidden side of everything. In some cases, this may indeed be the case. However we are not given enough information to really know if the authors understand or know as much as they pretend. Indeed, we would do well to take the authors' warnings about experts and apply it to the authors. Much of what they cite here has been challenged or refuted by later studies. So, knowledge is perhaps not as tantalizingly close at hand as we thought.

Book Of Psalms
Book Of Psalms
by Robert Alter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.27
35 used & new from CDN$ 20.77

3.0 out of 5 stars A translation with fairly listless results, Dec 15 2014
Ce commentaire est de: Book Of Psalms (Hardcover)
This translation was not entirely successful. The balance between readability and intelligibility was not achieved. Alter's translation of the Five Books of Moses or the Wisdom Books is superior to this one. Reading this it becomes difficult to understand how such a compilation could have survived for millennia. It's just not that compelling.

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
by Timothy Keller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.44
24 used & new from CDN$ 16.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and balanced volume on Christian prayer, Dec 11 2014
A Tim Keller book comes with high expectations, and astonishingly they are often met. This is certainly the case with his latest, titled Prayer. This is basically one of the best and most balanced books on prayer that you could hope to acquire. If there's others out there, chances are Tim Keller's cited it in this one. He looks at a variety of sources on prayer, sensibly grounding his advice in the solid advice of experienced "prayer warriors" such as the Reformers, Augustine and John Owen. He covers what kinds of prayer there are and how to use them. Perhaps most usefully, he defines meditation as a channel between bible study and prayer that helps us pray well while making our bible knowledge come alive and become real in our lives.

Certainly, unless you already have some trustworthy volumes about prayer on the shelf, you would do well to find out what Tim Keller has to say on the matter.

Slaughterhouse-Five
Slaughterhouse-Five
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.99
68 used & new from CDN$ 0.84

3.0 out of 5 stars Innovative and easily-read, but no masterpiece, Dec 10 2014
This is an innovative novel that reads more easily than it ought. At the end though, it is something less than the sum of its cleverness. Combining a WWII tale with a scifi tale of being kidnapped by aliens and travelling through time, this seriously odd book never really takes us beyond it's structural cleverness. War is nasty and we have trouble making sense of it. That is for sure, but that hardly stands as profound. I can't help but feel that this book is already dated. I may be wrong, but I find myself forgetting this one already.

The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"
The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.44
54 used & new from CDN$ 8.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and mostly convincing, Dec 10 2014
Taleb provides us with a very interesting book that is perhaps more interesting than useful. His main argument is pretty well known - infrequent, high impact events determine much of what happens in financial markets, the environment and other parts of life. Those events are fundamentally unpredictable by their very nature. Therefore, fools will use models to predict the future while the wise will minimize their exposure to bad "black swans" and maximise their exposure to good ones. Practical implementation of this principle is a little faulty here - where advice is given it is nearly unintelligible. Sometimes Taleb resorts to ad hominem attacks and is otherwise unnecessarily insulting. If he's such an advocate of humility, perhaps he should practice some.

For better insights, look at Jim Collins' Great by Choice where he profiles businesses in volatile industries that have protected themselves and benefited from Black Swans. 3M, I think, would be a prime example of a company that is primed to benefit from highly unpredictable innovations. Taleb, on the other hand, tends to get lost in the weeds. In the end, he is more hedgehog than fox, knowing one big thing rather than many little things.

Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War
Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War
by James O. Lehman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 43.22
25 used & new from CDN$ 36.96

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and well-written study of Amish, Mennonite response to civil war, Dec 1 2014
This thorough study of the Mennonites and Amish and their response to Civil War throughout their settlements in the United States is excellent. Written in an engaging style, this book clearly shows the variety and complexity of response, giving us insight into the people of the time and how they thought about upholding their nonresistant convictions - or not. This book obviously focuses on the major areas of settlement for Mennonites and Amish - Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The experience varied considerably. This book also shows how the Civil War impacted the Anabaptist engagement with culture and government after the war.

In short, this book is thoroughly researched and provides a balanced picture of what real Mennonites and Amish did in response to the Civil War and provides a context for their response in the broader picture of American history

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't
by Nate Silver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.50
49 used & new from CDN$ 11.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good about predictions and their pitfalls, Nov. 29 2014
I delayed reading this book, since it seemed far too popular and I was suspicious that it was overrated. In this case though, the hype is justified. This really is a very good book that gets into the nitty gritty of predictions vs forecasts and what makes some better than others. It is really quite easy to read as well, considering the subject matter. This book is more about ideas than putting them into practice, but the analysis here is quite sound, and entertaining to boot.

Fahrenheit 451: A Novel
Fahrenheit 451: A Novel
by Ray Bradbury
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
45 used & new from CDN$ 5.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Classic dystopian novel holds up, though not in every way, Nov. 29 2014
Ce commentaire est de: Fahrenheit 451: A Novel (Paperback)
This compact little story still packs a punch, although parts of it seem less prescient than others. In this futuristic tale, Bradbury imagines a world where books are illegal and firemen are hired to burn book stashes wherever they are found. Bradbury's protagonist, the fireman Montag, is jolted by a series of encounters and events into rebelling against his vocation and secretly hiding books himself. This leads to a clash with the authorities and the need for Montag to go on the run.

The contempt for the written word certainly seems to fit our times as well as the times of Bradbury, however the distinct roles played by the different sexes comes across as quaint in our world. As well, our time seems more indifferent to the words of the past than hostile, more Brave New World than Fahrenheit 451. Nevertheless this tale engagingly provokes thought about the value of the written word, and how easily it can be lost

The Burning Room
The Burning Room
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.67
31 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Another classic Harry Bosch thriller, Nov. 26 2014
Ce commentaire est de: The Burning Room (Hardcover)
This Harry Bosch novel fits superbly with the rest of Connelly's work. This time we really do wonder though, will Harry Bosch be back? This novel intertwines 2 old mysteries: one is a 10 year-old shooting where the victim has only recently died and the other is a 20 year old fire at an unregistered daycare that killed many children. Connelly keeps things moving and provides the twists and turns that you might expect without going too far in that regard.

If there's anyone out there who is still not aware, Connelly is one of the most dependable thriller writers imaginable. I've read some thrillers of his that are merely average, but most of them are in this class - fast, unputdownable, and they leave you wanting more.

Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace
Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace
by Kenman L. Wong
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.17
27 used & new from CDN$ 16.19

4.0 out of 5 stars A practical and pragmatic guide to business ethics, with some Christian perspective, Nov. 25 2014
This is a good overview of business ethics from a Christian perspective, although the element of Christianity is somewhat subdued. Like the Hindu blurb inside the book states, this book would be quite usable by a non-Christian as a resource for ethics, which may or may not be ok, depending on your perspective. This book also maintains an admirable balance. I would have a hard time, from reading this book, pegging the others as "socialist" or "free-market" types. They certainly have an appreciation for the benefits of a capitalist economy, as well as its pitfalls. Overall, if you want a good business ethics book that has some Christian perspective, this book is very good and should be usable regardless of your background.

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