Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss Book Review

Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss Book Review

A Tim Ferriss Experiment

Tools of Titans is Tim Ferriss’ opus of self improvement, with interviews with dozens of celebrities, billionaires, and icons you will immediately recognize. If you scan the table of contents, you might be pretty surprised. I know I was. I might have been a little slow on the draw, but I hadn’t heard of Tim Ferriss until I picked up Tools of Titans this year based on an Amazon recommendation. After I completed the tome, it seemed I couldn’t stop finding articles related to him, snippets of his podcasts blaring in coworkers’ offices, or youtube videos suggested for me based on my interests (thanks Google!).Tim Ferriss

Formatting

First of all, a little about the format. The book is broken up into three sections: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. These are based off of one of Benjamin Franklin‘s maxims: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This maxim was likely derived, however, from Aristotle, who said, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” One of the reasons I personally love Ben Franklin was his ability to take old ideas and make them memorable for the masses. If you read the book, you’ll find a lot more examples of maxims like this.

The Titans

Each section is broken up into small chapters, each with a different guru or public figure’s take on success, life, etc. However, the content was originally derived from Tim Ferriss’ very popular podcast. While some of the chapters were not helpful to me, I view the book as more of a reference source than a cohesive manuscript. The value I received from reading the sections that resonated with me far outweighed the banality of certain other sections. Of particular note to me were the chapters by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (and Arnold’s foreword to the book), Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, Scott Adams, and Jocko Willink. The beauty of a book like this is that anyone who reads it will come away with their favorite sections. It really does have something for everybody.

Reading Lists

In the book, Tim Ferriss typically asks the interviewee a few standard questions. He asks them what they think of when they hear the word ‘successful,’ and he asks them for their most gifted or recommended books. As an avid reader, I really appreciate book recommendations from people I respect and admire. Tim brilliantly laid out every recommendation from the dozens of interviews portrayed in the book in the appendix. My own reading list has now grown because of it! If you’re looking for a digital version of this list, look no further! I don’t usually highlight in books. To be honest I think it’s almost sacrilege. I did find myself highlighting the books and films on the appendix lists that I’ve read or seen. In the months since finishing the book I’ve found myself looking for excuses to do some additional reading.

Polymath

Like me, Tim Ferriss fancies himself a polymath. What’s a polymath? A Polymath is a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning. He performs experiments to find life hacks, become a relative expert in a subject, or to pursue fascination. Additionally, Tools of Titans provides plenty of suggestions for the average person who wants to pursue a similar path. As a result, learning has never been as fun as it is today! With access to nearly unlimited books, Youtube videos, and more, you can learn just about anything relatively quickly. Finally, this gives us an insane advantage over our predecessors. It seems like the possibilities for future generations is limitless!

Replay Value

Whenever I play video games, one of the questions I ask myself is whether the game has replay value. If I’m going to spend $50 on a game, I want to make sure that once I beat it I can play through again without going mad. I do the same thing with books, though it’s less about the money.

Tools of Titans is a book I could read again. In fact, after completing the 52 books on my reading list this year I would likely find some new gems. Consequently, it may even be one I can read once a year going forward. Believe me, that’s high praise. The only other books that have met that standard, even for a while, are the Harry Potter books which I have read countless times. A good book, you can read twice. A great book, you lose track of how many times you’ve read it. I may reach that point here.

Recommendation

I can’t recommend Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans highly enough. While the full-length podcasts from which the book is derived are surely powerful, you get a great overview of many points of view in a relatively short time span by reading it. I found myself picking out my favorite chapters and listening to the whole podcasts. These could be as long as two hours long! By that notion alone, if you’re interested in the podcasts, reading the book can save you time. You can weed through snippets of the podcasts to determine which would be the most relevant to you!

Do yourself a favor and grab a copy. I guarantee you’ll read something that really changes your perspective on something. You might even find a new hero.

 

Stardust – Film, Print, & Audio Review

Stardust – Film, Print, & Audio Review

Stardust

How many of you have read a book, seen the movie, and also had the OCD to listen to the audiobook? I can’t say that about many creative works, but I can for Stardust by Neil Gaiman.

Film

I first watched the Stardust movie when it came out in theaters and thought it was a cute story with some interesting actor portrayals. None more outlandish or hilarious than Robert DeNiro as the cross-dressing skyship captain. I walked out of the theater, thought to myself “that was an interesting movie,” and then went home, thinking little more of it.

Print


A few years later I was working at a bookstore and saw the illustrated book version on the shelf. I don’t usually do this, but I grabbed it and read the whole book that night. Which was better? The movie was superior in many ways, but the book had a lot of redeeming factors, such as the illustrations and the flow of the narrative. It read like an adult fairy tale, which was what the author intended.

Audio

Seven years later, I heard in a podcast that the ultimate, best version of the story is the audiobook read by the author, Neil Gaiman. I gave it a shot, listening to it on my iPod on my long walks to class. Gaiman’s voice might as well be velvet. He does a great job with the various voices and his British-ness definitely added a whimsical feeling to the words. Although the movie’s climax makes more sense, the audiobook is definitely where I would start if I hadn’t read or seen anything Stardust.

Will Audio Be King?

Audiobooks are quickly becoming a more popular media type for creative works. Audiobook sales at Audible have increased as much as 40% between 2015 and 2016. Neil Gaiman’s Stardust is only one of many examples of audiobooks done right. There are some full cast versions of books that I’m told are stellar. Likewise, authors can often bring their own characters to life better than anyone else could.

Another thing to consider is the increased availability of audiobooks at public libraries. Did you know you can get digital versions of audiobooks for free from the library without leaving your house? Using Overdrive you can put it directly on your phone or iPod. Welcome to the 21st Century, people!

Is Audio going to continue to grow? Have you listened to an audiobook recently that you loved? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to check it out!

Guns, Germs, and Steel: Necessary History

Guns, Germs, and Steel: Necessary History

History in a Nutshell

Jared Diamond’s ambitious work attempts to cover tens of thousands of years of history in about 450 pages. All told, what he created was nothing short of astonishing.

Writing Style


Guns, Germs, and Steel might read like a textbook in places, but in retrospect I still took away quite a bit from my reading. Diamond’s expertise is primarily with the New Guinean people, but the breadth of knowledge displayed in the book covered every part of the globe in some way. My main criticism is that parts of the book dragged and felt labored. The information itself was usually interesting, but because he was making a scientific case, he ended up beating a dead horse in some chapters, circling around to the same topics again and again. In that way, instead of 450 pages, I would be just as happy with 300. However, I may be in the minority here.

Key Takeaways

Diamond’s main purpose in writing Guns, Germs, and Steel was to show through strong research why some societies flourish and conquer wide swaths of land while others remain hunter-gatherers in nomadic tribes. However, the science presented was sound and the arguments convincing. But, at times Diamond seemed deeply irritated with our society’s colloquial views of, for instance, why the United States has become a superpower while other countries or peoples have not. This anger pours out into his writing.

In my opinion, it was unnecessary and detracts from the point he was trying to make. However, the raw information presented is convincing, which leads me to still recommend this book to lovers of history, geography, and anthropology.

History and You

Why does this matter? Why should you even bother reading history? Well, I would argue there’s no better genre to read if you want to write better stories. Consider George R. R. Martin and his series, A Song of Ice and Fire (made into HBO’s Game of Thrones). Much of what transpires in the series is based on historical events, although with fantasy elements added in. A large part is based on the War of the Roses which took place in England between 1455 and 1487 A.D.

***SPOILER ALERT***

However, in season six of the HBO series, a very major event was based on The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which a number of plotters attempted and failed to assassinate King James I of England. Guy Fawkes was one of those involved.

***END SPOILER ALERT***

My point here is that George R. R. Martin is widely credited with having amazing storytelling skills. He uses history, not as a crutch, but to inform his writing in a way that adds flavor and realism the reader can’t help but enjoy.

Nerd Alert

In my case, I’ve used a number of historical events to inform my writing. From Jim Crow laws to the Battle of Asculum, historical references can be found in the subtext of my books. Really, this is as much for my readers as it is for me. I enjoy reading about history and feel it adds something to my writing. Likewise, my readers often tell me they like the added subtle references, almost as if they are Easter eggs. Ahem, Nerd Alert!

Point Taken

‘Okay, okay, so I should read history, but where do I start?’

Anywhere. Guns, Germs, and Steel is a bit dry for your first outing, but it does provide a reference point for just about anything else you could think of reading in the future. Don’t want to start there? Check out my reading list to see if anything strikes your fancy.

Are you a history buff? I want to hear from you! I’m looking for recommendations for books to read, so jump onto that comment box and let me know what you’re reading!