Book Review: Keep Sharp

Build a Better Brain At Any Age by Sanjay Gupta, MD.

Let me make this short and sweet.

This is a decent book if you’re new to reading or trying to understand about Alzheimer’s disease.

The 12-week programme steps are useful if you are a new to beginning an Alzheimer’s prevention programme, or if you’ve ignored every other bit of advice in the media this would be a useful series of exercises. You can read the reviews here on Amazon.

This is a so-so book with little new in it if you’ve been following the research or reading other books such as Bredeson’s The End of Alzheimer’s.

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Brain: Meet Your Inner Black Box

Introduction to Alzheimer’s and defining cognitive decline. The author lists 12 myths and offers advice on how to move past these common beliefs. (my note: pretty much available everywhere online)

Part 2: The Brain Trust: How Not to Lose Your Mind

If you’ve been reading about Alzheimer’s, there’s not much new here – eat right, exercise right, sleep right pretty much sums it up.

Part 3: The Diagnosis: What To Do and How To Thrive

I haven’t seen this kind of 12-step programme before so if you’re new to the field or seriously concerned, this would be a good starting point. (This would be the only reason I’d recommend this book – it’s a solid “thing” you can do if you’re concerned.)

Bottom line:

There’s not much new in the way of information but the 12-step programme would be useful if you’re just beginning your prevention programme. Check it out here.

Want to receive updates when I post something new? Click here.

Book Reviews: ‘Steal Like An Artist’ and ‘Show Your Work’

“Steal Like An Artist” and “Show Your Work” are changing creator’s lives

Here are two book reviews you’re going to want to read if you’re in the creative adventure. I’ve known about Austin Kleon for what seems like a very long time. But, like a lot of things on the Net, his work slipped off my feeds on a technology change and I lost touch with what he was doing.

In cleaning up some other projects, I ran across his name again so I hunted down his website and RSS feed for my news reading system.  

I had read one of his earlier books “Steal Like An Artist” and even had the journal for this.  My search and rummaging through all my bookshelves for the book was in vain until something tickled my memory and I remembered I’d read it through the library.

I purchased the ebook version and reread it.  I found myself understanding it better and I liked it again and (a few years later) it spoke even clearer to me about how we grow from those we follow and those who have gone ahead of us.

The next book ‘Show Your Work’ was written in the same short, pithy, combination of text and graphics. (Note: neither of these books is heavy, long-term reading and you’ll only spend an hour and a bit on your first read-through.)

But if you spend some time thinking about what he’s saying, you may find – as I did – that you need to reread them and then rethink some of your own work.

The Message From ‘Steal Like An Artist’

The message from Steal Like An Artist is that it’s OK to take the basic ideas from another writer because there are no really new ideas left. It’s OK to take those ideas but create them in your own style and delivery system.

To illustrate the above, if the basic idea is “it’s good to have friends and to have friends you need to be a friend,” then how you create that message has to be uniquely yours. 

The underlying message is something we all understand and it’s been written/televised/cartooned/filmed before.

Now, in your turn, you’re creating that idea in your own media and your own words/images/story/medium etc.

And The Message From ‘Show Your Work’

And once done that, you’re ready to read “Show Your Work” because if the message of Steal Like An Artist is to borrow the basic idea, “Show Your Work” states you must then show “the how, the process, behind your creation.”

An example of this might be as I was writing my next book, I’d also write about the methods and processes that I used in researching, writing and promoting my book. It’s a call for transparency to readers/viewers that shows the work and humanity/struggle of the creator.

In Kleon’s framework, the audience truly wants to know the background thinking and work that goes into a creative act. 

Take people behind the scenes of your thinking, planning and work is the basic message. “Think process, not product.”

My Challenge With Book Reviews Of This Kind Of Book

I confess I’m intrigued with the thought of sharing some of the process of creating. The challenge for me is to decide how much and what to share on my various projects.

I’ll have to get back to you about this. Note you can read other posts about books right here

If you have a few moments, please share whether you think this kind of sharing is interesting in the comments below

Want updates every time I publish a new post? Click here

7 Books That Made Me A Full Time Writer

My passion for collecting and reading books knows no bounds

My passion for collecting and reading books almost knows no bounds and my wife and I haunt used bookstores and antique stores looking to fill in gaps in my collections. I have entire bookcases of history and science fiction books, and I’m only missing one or two titles in both the Hardy boys and Tom Swift Junior series to complete both.

As a full-time garden writer, my collection of old and valuable gardening books allowed me to write an award winning book about older garden books and their advice. I note I started collecting when prices were more reasonable than they are today.

But as a full-time writer for the last 25 years, I only have 15 books on writing.

The 7 books below are the most read, reread and marked up.

“On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft”

Stephen King

This appears to be everybody’s favorite book for writers and prospective writers. I own a copy I’ve read it and yes, it’s motivating. It may not be one of my favorites and I can’t say my writing is better because I read it. But I’m drawn to it again and again and that may be its greatest benefit — an ongoing reminder of what it is like to be a writer.

Favourite Quote

“This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. Fiction writers, present company included, little understand very much about what they do — not why it works when it’s good, nor why it doesn’t when it’s bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less the bullshit.”

I admire anybody who’d start a book off like that.

“Zen in the Art of Writing”

Ray Bradbury

This is an excellent book aimed at motivating writers and “how-to-be a better writer”. Bradbury’s use of the exercise of collecting words and making lists of them alone and in combination have driven some of his best writing. He describes taking several of these word lists as he combined words and produced classic stories. I note if you don’t want to collect the words yourself and do the exercise of associating them, you can download the app “Brainstormer” (to Apple App Store)

Bradbury is the writer I’d like to be ‘when I grow up’. He’s written everything from pulp magazines and books to movies and theatre and is likely best known for Fahrenheit 451.

Favorite Quote

“Thomas Wolfe ate the world and vomited lava. Dickens dined at a different table every hour of his life. Molière, tasting society, turned to pick up his scalpel, as did Pope and shop. Everywhere you look in the literary cosmos, the great ones are busy loving and hating. Have you given up this primary business as obsolete in your own writing? What fun you are missing them.”

“Creating Short Fiction”

Damon Knight

If you’re at all interested in writing short stories, this would be my most highly recommended book. Knight leads you through story building, situations, characters, and if you’ll come away from this 197 page book with a far better understanding of how to craft a short story.

Favorite Quote

“The most valuable thing you can learn is how to use your own experiences that help you project yourself in imagination into the lives of other people. Write what you know, by all means, when you can, but fill in the spaces by finding out what you need to know.”

“The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller”

John Truby

This is perhaps my most marked up book with a significant number of Post-it notes and do-not-lose-this page notes. The one thing that he does is give you a 22 step story structure and while this is essentially a movie structure it is easily adaptable for novels. I note other how-to-write authors are adapting what he’s written to their own how-to books.

Favorite Quote

“Remember the simple rule of thumb: to have a moral need, the character must be hurting at least one other person at the beginning of the story.”

Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

Roy Peter Clark

Again I’ve heavily marked up and made notes in my copy of this book. I consider it one book you should seriously add to your library.

Favorite Quote

“Active verbs move the action and reveal the actors.
Passive verbs emphasize the receiver, the victim.
The verb “to be” links words and ideas.”

That pretty much sums up that issue.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print.

Rennie Brown and David King

This was one of the first how-to books on writing that a friend recommended I read. The highlights in this book are the numerous checklists and exercises. 
Before you get to your third and final draft, it’s an excellent idea to review this book and apply its lessons.

Favorite Quote

“So when you come across an explanation of a characters emotion, simply cut the explanation. If the emotion is still shown, then the explanation wasn’t needed. If the emotion isn’t shown, rewrite the passage so that it is.”

Techniques Of The Selling Writer

Dwight V. Swain.

From the back cover: “This book provides solid instruction for persons who want to write and sell fiction, not just to talk and study about it.”

This is an excellent book for structuring your stories and for understanding what makes a story and how you go about creating it.

Favorite Quote

“Actually, the happy ending is infinitely less important than the satisfying ending. Given reader fulfillment, you don’t necessarily have to close with a clinch, the Marines landing, or the villain snarling, “foiled again!”
Forget the phony, therefore. Distortion of reality will get you nowhere. What your reader seeks is less nirvana than the feeling, “this is as it should be.”

Again, while I have other books about writing on my shelves including Robert Mckee’s “Story”, “The Chicago Manual of Style”, and an old copy of Strunk and White, the seven books above have formed the foundation for my writing career.

I hope they help you as well.

You can get updates whenever I post something new. Click here.

error: Content is protected !!