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Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds Paperback – October 26, 2011
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I'll be upfront and state that I am a part-time fan of some of Scott's other works. I took a few gems from his disjoint and highly unorganized first edition of his project management book and I generally liked his second offering, his probably best recognized book on the Myths of Innovation. That said, not everything he writes is good, and some of it genuinely has the feel that it was written for the sake of writing something about a subject, rather to express truly new ideas or inspiring thought. You can find many of examples of this in Mind Fire, even though it is purportedly plucked from some of his best blog postings of recent years.
If you read his blog and check his site, you will see that he offers himself up with a paragraph stating, essentially, "You pick the topic and I give a high energy talk about it..." or some such. This is exactly the kind of thing I'm calling him out for in his writing, because I believe that's exactly what's going on, writing for the sake of it, not because of a passionate interest in the topic or having a genuinely new contribution to existing knowledge or understanding of it. This kind of writing looks and feels like what you expect when you assign an essay topic to students, rather than letting them write about what they wish, namely that you get people running up the page and word count, but not really saying anything new or meaningful.Read more ›
In all fairness, Scott Berkun has talent. He writes very well and has a very good explanatory style. With a different subject, I imagine that he would be absolutely brilliant.
However, the only thing he explains in this volume is how he is smarter than everyone else. The first few essays are cute; the style is a little refreshing. The second few essays start to be irritating; this guy really thinks he is brilliant. By the 10th essay, I was bored - with only 20 more to read.
My biggest disappointment with this book was that it wasn't at all useful. The idea behind reading BIG IDEAS is that they will be useful. These ideas were not exactly big and were not at all useful. Well, not unless you wanted to worship at the altar of Berkun's intellect.
I'd recommend watching this author (he's a good writer), but I don't recommend this book.
To give examples of essays they include topics like "How to give and receive criticism", which describes how criticism isn't just about your own views and a perspective and a single correct answer, but also about thinking how different people will interpret the thing that's being criticized. Many of the essays tend to be motivational such as "The surprise inspiration of death" or "How to be passionate".
As the author discloses, the essays in this book can also be found on his blog, but either because of the editorial work that's gone into the book or because of simply reading it on my Kindle rather than a webpage I found it a much more engaging experience than hunting around on the web.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. If you're into the writing style of Malcom Gladwell or Michael Lewis then it's a reasonable bet that you'll enjoy this, and it's sufficiently short and focused that it's a very easy book to get through.
If you have followed Scott's blog, you won't find a lot of new ground covered here, but it has been nicely re-packaged - it is tighter, it has been "pruned and polished." Scott is smart, self-effacing, honest and authentic in his writing style which invites deeper thinking and discussion of topical issues. His essays are persuasive and fun to read. This book is hard to put down. It does take you on a quest for personal discovery, inspiring you to think and at times act differently.
I was torn between rating the book a 3 (wanting deeper exploration of fewer topics; no new ground covered for a follower of his blog) to a 5 (a number of "aha" moments; 5* thinking, writing and energy) so I landed on a 4.
Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite essays: Can You Be Great With Grace? (Essay #20).."I've read many biographies about people who qualify, and it turns out being driven often makes people hard to like...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like this book for its simplicity and ease of reading. I knocked it out on a 2.5 hour flight. There are many concepts and challenges to be gleaned from what Scott has to share. Read morePublished 1 month ago by V. Vanderberg
A collection of short essays from Scott Berkun. This was an okay read.Published 8 months ago by MLeland
I recently re-read this and really enjoy it. Instruction manual for modern life. I recommended it for my wife and my 12-year old daughter, just packed with timeless, good advice in... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Art mommy
There are moments of useful information - but overall, it fell below expectations and steers the reader toward viewing the world with the same lens as the author.Published 14 months ago by shopgirl
Really fires your mind :) Interesting perspectives as well as approaches that one can use in dealing with real life situations !Published 16 months ago by Prasad
don't waste your time on this book, go read david hume, john stuart mill, john locke and other real philosophers. Read morePublished 17 months ago by j
An excellent, fun read exploring (and confronting) a number of concepts across the ages.
A must read for anyone looking to "de-clutter" their lives of much of the junk... Read more
Great book!!! With his short and to-the-point essays, Scott tells his thought-provoking ideas as if he's sharing some of his worries with his best friend, which makes this book... Read morePublished on June 27, 2014 by Aibek
I read this book because I got an email recommending it and allowing me to get it for FREE. I had never heard of Scott Berkun, so I figured - if I don't like it, I will quit... Read morePublished on April 19, 2014 by Michael A. Graves