Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September 26: 5 Books

89. Two Billion Armpits: How the Experts Sell China What It Really Wants by John Keating

This is a fun and at times very funny little book that I had picked up at New York City's The Strand Bookstore a couple of years ago based on my interest in All Things Chinese. Now even more so, because after two separate 1-month language and culture immersion trips to Hong Kong and China, I am ready to find a way to incorporate "doing business" or "working" in China going forward, especially with my new consulting company that I formed this past summer, Brendan Davies Consulting, Inc.

This book is a little bit dated because it was published in 1996, and we have seen most recently from the current political unrest in Hong Kong that "the times they are a-changin," but after my two recent trips, and based on other recent readings as well as personal conversations I've had with Chinese school colleagues who have traveled and taught extensively in China over the past 4 or 5 years, I believe that a good amount of the material and many of the business practice suggestions contained in this book are still appropriate for and will still be helpful to anyone interested in working in China or doing business with Chinese companies and traveling to China in the coming years. I can certainly say that I am looking forward to moving my own career in that direction in the near future -- at least a portion of my money-making efforts.

90. Love Signals: A Practical Field Guide to the Body Language of Courtship by David Givens, PhD

Over the past however many years, I have read my share of relationship books, and the occasional title about female body language and how to tell if a chick likes me. I have to say, this is a pretty solid book. Written by a credentialed scientist who knows what he is talking about, this book uses many examples from primate and human research to discuss male and female (human) body language as it pertains to romance, dating, sexuality, and other related scenarios.

I had purchased this book at the end of 2013 during a period of time when I wasn't dating anyone, but desperately wanted to. Then, just as I was about to leave for February Hong Kong and China trip, I met a lady whom I dated until the beginning of June of this year, so there was no reason for me to read this book, since it seemed pretty obvious that I had, at least for a short time, become a master at interpreting female body language. Immediately following this relationship, I dated another lovely young lady for a month or so -- so again, no real reason to read this book, and it continued to sit on my shelf.

Skip forward to September 2014 when, utterly single and dejected (by my own choice), it seemed timely to finally read this book, so I can list it in my Amazon store and get it the hell out of my cluttered apartment.

This is a solid book on interpreting male and female body language as dating and romantic and sexual interest cues (or lack thereof). I will review the book before I list it this coming week on Amazon. I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.

91. The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life by Kimberly Palmer

This very inspiring book is a re-read for me, initially having been read earlier this year when my job of 7 years came to an end and I was starting to figure out what I wanted to do next -- a quest that has not really reached its fruition, in fact. I am still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do with my life right now...

As its title implies, this book aims to arm the reader with multiple strategies to set up additional sources of income, in addition to a primary job or career. During the final year of my previous employment, I was not necessarily what we would refer to as "happy" or "fulfilled" in my position, so I had given much serious thought to additional and alternate streams of income.

Highlights of this book for me included:
  • 9 key qualities of successful "side businessers"
  • 7 helpful websites to sell crafts, as well as other side business products and services
  • a suggestion that I might want to purchase liability insurance for my consulting company
  • branding advice for many side business industries and categories
  • crowd-funding options (this definitely appeals to me, and I know that many of my music friends have successfully crowd-funded album projects over the past few years)
  • advice on creating an action plan for a successful side business
  • profiles of the author's top 50 suggestions for side businesses

92. The Silent Language by Edward T. Hall

This is a classic book in the canon of mid to late 20th century socio-cultural anthropology. I read it in college as part of the required curriculum for one or another upper level anthro class in anticipation of my eventual major in that area, and my current rereading of this title did not disappoint.

I didn't remember this book as resonating so much with my life at the time of my initial reading 23 years ago, but I can honestly say that, given my current interest in travel and languages and linguistics, rereading this book was SO appropriate for my current Challenge.

I wish that I had written this review right after reading this book, because I dogeared many pages, and I would have liked to have expounded on various intercultural communication and MIScommunication concepts that fascinated me. Alas, this review will have to content itself with these few bland observations as I get ready to move onto the next review:

Edward T. Hall's book does a great job, even 55 years after its initial publication, of bringing to the reader's attention any of a number of common assumptions leading to major MIScommunications between speakers of different languages via translation as well as between speakers from different cultures where one or the other person does in fact know the second speaker's language well enough to communicate -- BUT, the material of what is communicated actually has two completely different sets of meanings and implications -- one for each speaker. Think of the ramifications for politics. Think of how this concept is EXACTLY the root of all misconceptions and hostilities in the world today, particularly what is going on in the Middle East. In an incredible stroke of foresight, Hall chose to site many examples of cultural disconnect between speakers of Arabic and English while supporting his points in this book, written in 1961.

93. How To Think Like A Collector by Harry L. Rinker

Rinker is a regular columnist for several major collector newsletters and magazines, none of which I was even remotely familiar with prior to reading this fun book. As a lifelong collector of all sorts of miscellaneous crap, I was interested to see what Rinker might have to say on the topic when I spotted this book at The Strand a few weeks ago.

There are some really good stories in here that discuss the obsessive nature of many collectors for their particular collectible(s) of choice. The author cites a broad selection of personal confrontations with his ever-patient and understanding wife as he brought home any number of odd and very large items over the years. Particularly humorous and yet somehow poignant was the story of someone Rinker invited to view his collection who in turn brought a large group of uninvited "other collector enthusiasts" (my term; not a quote from the book). His wife's reaction to that one was pretty spot on, based on my own experiences with patient and not-so-patient ex-girlfriends and past flea market and thrift store excursions.

I was happy to read the many personal stories and relate advice on collectibles purchasing experiences, but I was hoping for more advice on selling portions of or entire collections. Seeing as this book was published in 2005, I was surprised at the lack of foresight of Rinker when it came to his prediction regarding the future impact of eBay on the collectables field. He sort of missed the boat on that one, and for me, that was a bit disappointing. Still, this was an enjoyable read. Not one to seek out, but certainly one to take advantage of if you have access to this amusing collection of stories and insights.

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