nonfiction

An Excellent Analysis of Managing Behaviors That Got Me Hooked

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Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

By Nir Eyal with Ryan Hoover

5 star

5 Stars

Author Nir Eyal synthesized and dispensed some of the best work from his website into this great book on consumer behavior and building products that encourage their usage. Organized into chapters that break down basic human habits and responses in a theoretical way, it offers concrete examples of organizations that are now among the most successful at building habit-forming products. Its Hook Model is an easy-to-understand method for applying complex concepts related to human behavior and responses to business applications. Although focused largely on the technology sector, the ideas the author presents are applicable to any company or individual looking to build something better.

Mr. Eyal’s book itself is a habit-forming product. He leaves the reader with a memorable model that they can use in their own businesses and encourages them to return to his website for more insights. Not many theory books take applicability to the level Mr. Eyal’s does. I appreciated his sincere caution that the Hook Model be used for positive ends and acknowledgement that it can be used to foster addictions.

This relatively short book is a great road map that points the reader in the right direction to build great products but may not go far enough for some. It will also be dated in a year or two when today’s “hot” companies become passé. Nevertheless, his theories on human behavior may well prove timeless.

I give the book five stars and highly recommend it to anyone looking to design better content, goods, or services.

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The Copia

Basic Beginner’s Guide but Others May Be Better

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Publish Children’s Books by Caterina Christakos

3 star

3 Stars

The title of Caterina Christakos’ short guide sold me on it, but a short read later left me wondering if I should have picked a different book. It’s very short – perhaps ten pages. While packed with information, it does not offer many new tips or suggestions for authors who have already published one or more books. The guide offers some money-saving advice that could prove valuable but is generally available elsewhere. It does not go far enough in giving the reader value for their money by offering more options. In the audio books section, for example, it did not make reference to Audible.com, Amazon’s audio bookseller, or producing an audiobook using Amazon’s ACX. Perhaps this was an oversight or the guide needs to be updated.

Although advertised as a resource for publishing children’s books, the guide is applicable to writers of many genres. This is a plus in that you don’t have to be a children’s writer to get something out of it. On the other hand, a children’s writer may not find Ms. Christakos’ guide useful enough to make it worth buying.

There are other, better reference materials on publishing children’s books, including free options such as newsletters and publishing guides for writers that provide more in-depth information. If you are a beginning author who needs some general information to get started, this might be the book for you if it’s reasonably priced. If not, take a pass and check out other resources.

Publishing Children’s Books is now available at:

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Strayed Stays on Course with “Wild” Memoir

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed

  4 star

4 Stars

As a writer and fan of personal memoirs, I couldn’t wait to read Cheryl Strayed’s personal account of her hike on the Pacific Coast Trail from Southern California to Oregon. After the death of her mother and personal setbacks that made her rethink her life’s direction, the author set out on the 1,100-mile hike with limited trekking experience or knowledge of wilderness survival.

Strayed’s account is harrowing and humoring, sad and satirical as she recounts encounters with scenery, weather, wildlife and humans captivating and brutal. She is a victim of her own naivety in thinking she could prepare herself for a long and difficult journey with only a rudimentary understanding of trekking imparted by a guidebook and veteran hikers who crossed her path. In spite of natural and sometimes self-inflicted adversity, Strayed persevered.

I enjoyed the author’s inspiring story and the life lessons she picked up along the way. I now have a much better idea of what to expect on a grueling trek like the Pacific Coast Trail. Her offbeat, quirky personality and humorous stories and anecdotes make the memoir an entertaining read. With vivid imagery, Strayed takes the reader along with her and shows what it’s like to be at the point of despair in the middle of nowhere. In the end, she redeems herself and serves as a personal example to those who need to find a different way in life.

Unfortunately, the book begins with a series of vignettes so depressing that they risk turning off the reader. In her attempt to underscore personal redemption, the author paints such a debased portrait of her old self that she risks turning off the reader. The Cheryl Strayed who needs to get her life together by hitting the Pacific Coast Trail is not a likeable character. Perhaps by design, the author discourages the reader to continue reading her story by offering such a terrible image of herself that one wonders if she was really so awful or merely embellished. Her strong views gradually worn down by the trail might be a turn-off to those who don’t agree with her politics. Getting through the beginning of the book is like climbing out of a steep valley. It’s better skies ahead once you reach the top.

I give “Wild” 4 stars and recommend it to mountaineering and trekking fans, those who are thinking of embarking on a months-long trek, and those who need inspiration to jump start their lives.

Wild is now available at:

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