Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book review: Flamenco Guitar Method Volume 1 by Gerhard Graf-Martinez

Flamenco Guitar Method Volume 1 – Gerhard Graf-Martinez

This book (with DVD and CDs) looks at the techniques used in Flamenco. There are two volumes and the first volume introduces the basic techniques such as the Rasgueado and the Golpe. The second volume expands on the techniques and introduces more advanced techniques. The first volume is split up into five lessons which detail a certain aspect of playing (such as a technique or style of Flamenco). Exercises, examples and pieces of music are included in each lesson starting from basic exercises to more demanding compositions. The DVD provides videos of all the pieces played at slow and faster tempos from multiple angles. Close-ups on the right hand are used to show how the techniques are to be played. The volume concludes with a glossary on all the Spanish words used in Flamenco and their meanings.

What I gained from reading this book:
I bought this book after I started getting interested in Flamenco. I had seen other ‘Flamenco’ books at local guitar shops but I from a simple flick through the pages I realised they lacked substance. This book is a fantastic introduction to the traditional techniques and styles. The explanations are very clear and the video explanations are extremely helpful.

Within weeks I was able to recognise the difference between proper Flamenco and Spanish sounding music imitating Flamenco. The pieces of music in this volume are so fun to play and I still play all of them. The explanations of the techniques were very detailed and were extremely helpful. The explanations and exercises were great help from bringing me all the way from the first ‘one finger Rasgueado’ to the ‘continuous Rasgueado’.

So much effort has gone into this package and it really helps the learning process. The explanations and examples help so much and being able to see the exact same pieces played with close-ups makes learning them a breeze.

There really isn’t anything negative to say about this package. Although this is not for beginner guitarists! This book assumes you have a solid foundation in guitar before you even start. A beginner will not be able to play any of these pieces. Even after 8 years of playing I struggled as I worked my way through this book. Flamenco is considered one of the most technically demanding styles to play on guitar so don’t expect it to come easy. If on the other hand you are already an advanced guitarist, you should be able to learn at a fast rate.

Recommended for: Advanced guitarists
I recommend this book for advanced guitarists looking to learn how to play real Flamenco. After learning the material here I looked again at the so called ‘Flamenco’ books at my local store and could easily recognise that they were way off the mark. This book teaches the real deal.

Genre: Music - Guitar

Overall rating: 10 of 10 stars
I don’t like giving a perfect rating to anything but I am truly impressed with this book and DVD. It is worthy of such a high score.

Australians can buy the book, DVD and CD package by clicking the picture below:

Flamenco Guitar Method, Volume 1 [With CD (Audio) and DVD]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Book review: The ten roads to riches by Ken Fisher

The ten roads to riches: The ways the wealthy got there (and how you can too!) – Ken Fisher

This book describes 10 different paths that people have taken to become rich. Obvious paths such as ‘becoming a CEO’ or ‘rich and famous’ are examined but other unusual paths that many people may not consider like ‘being a ride-along’ or ‘marrying well’ are also considered. Each chapter deals with a different way to become rich and explains how you can start off on that road. The likeliness of succeeding with each path is considered and what it takes to get there. The author explains the path using examples such as how Nike, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other high worth people made it. At the end of each chapter is a list of recommended books to read that goes into detail on the certain path.

What I gained from reading this book:
I found this book incredibly interesting. To read about all the different paths really opened my eyes to paths I never even considered. This book was very entertaining and I enjoyed reading of not only who succeeded, but those who didn’t. It was great to hear how hard it is to get to the big money in certain paths.
This book was great to help me decide which direction I want to take in life. By explaining each path and what it takes to get there, I could see a picture of that lifestyle. The explanations really helped me decide whether I would like to follow that path or not. I would read the chapters on ‘become a CEO’ or ‘rich and famous’ and could clearly see that those paths are not for me. Finding out which paths I don’t want to take helped me considerably in choosing the path I do want to take.

The author has obviously put a lot of research in to compile all the statistics and information on all the rich people he refers to. The book is packed with wisdom and advice that could be very valuable if used properly.
The explanations and examples really do paint a picture of the type of lifestyle possible through each path. Many books that focus on getting rich don’t consider what it would actually be like for those people.

Only one chapter is used for each path so people looking for detailed instructions or information on what to do may be disappointed. This book can be thought of as the ‘first step’ in helping you decide what road you want to take. From there you will need to source out other books that go into greater detail on the path.
The only aspect I didn’t really like is the author’s own experiences. I would’ve preferred hearing more about famous people I have heard of before. But for everyone else, this may be a positive because it shows that the author is credible. It is good to know the author knows what he is writing about.

Recommended for: People interested in wealth
I recommend this book first for people who have a desire to one day become rich. This book is a great first step to understand what needs to be done to succeed.
I also recommend this book for people who may not be interested in becoming rich, but want to read about how other people become rich. The book is very interesting to hear about how other people have become rich and many people will find it entertaining.
Genre: Wealth

Overall rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

The Ten Roads to Riches: The Ways the Wealthy Got There (and How You Can Too!)

Where to from here:
If you have found a path in this book to your interest, you will probably want to read up more detailed books specifically on that path. The book contains a list of books on each path that you could read up on.
You may want to read another book on the rich such as:
The millionaire next door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book review: Why we want you to be rich by Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump

Why we want you to be rich (Two men, One message) – Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump

Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad Poor Dad) teams up with Donald Trump to explain the financial problems the US will face in the future and why you need to be part of the solution rather than the problem. Both men explain the problems associated with the ageing population and the lack of financial education most people have. They believe many people have an ‘entitlement mentality’ where they expect other people to take care of them whether it is the government or employers. They explain that everybody needs to learn to take care of themselves.
The book then continues in explaining the qualities successful people have and the many avenues you can pursue to become rich. They discuss influencing factors that helped them become successful and offer general advice for people in different situations.

What I gained from reading this book:
I am a fan of Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki. I have read other books by them (that I have reviewed) so I like their style of writing. For me, this book was a great motivational tool to help me get started on my ideas. The issues they discuss at the start of the book were the same issues my economics lecturers would discuss so I found it very interesting.
I think of this book as a transcript of an interview with both authors. The tone of the writing is very conversational and I enjoy it that way. I enjoyed reading about their life experiences and how other people influenced them. This book gave me plenty of things to think about.
I liked this book, but not as much as other books by the authors. The content in this book overlaps considerably with other books written by the same authors. For those who haven’t read any of Robert or Donald’s books before, this is fine. But for those who have read their other books, there is very little here that is new. For me it was still an interesting read.

If you like Donald Trump or Robert Kiyosaki and their writing styles, this book is enjoyable and interesting. Their concerns with the current and future economic problems are important for everybody to understand.
If you want to hear the two men’s opinions on finance, success and the current and future economic problems, you may enjoy this book.

If you don’t like Donald Trump or Robert Kiyosaki or their writing styles, you will probably hate this book. The book rated 3 out of 5 stars by Amazon reviewers so many people obviously didn’t like this book. If you are looking for specific advice on how to get rich, this book isn’t for you. They don’t explain a set formula to follow, instead they explain what type of person you need to be. If you are looking for specific advice, there are plenty of other books on the topic.

Recommended for: People interested in Donald Trump or Robert Kiyosaki
Many of the books I review are so good that I strongly believe everybody should read them. This book isn’t one of those. I know that many people will not like this book.
If you like reading what these two men have to say (like me) then I recommend this book for you. If the very mention of the name Trump frustrates you, don’t read it. I’m finding it hard to recommend this book to a certain group because of the mixed reviews on Amazon. If you are curious in reading this book, understand that I honestly enjoyed it and go over to Amazon to hear what other people had to say.

Genre: Success

Overall rating: 6 out of 10 stars

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

Why We Want You to Be Rich: Two Men - One Message [With DVD]

Where to from here:
As this book gives you ‘food for thought’ rather than exact methods and strategies, you will probably want to read a ‘how-to’ book on investing. I have not reviewed any detailed investment books yet so go ahead and search Amazon for one if you wish. If you find a good one, please let me know so I can look at it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Book review: Getting to YES (Negotiating Agreement without giving in) by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Getting to YES (Negotiating Agreement without giving in) 2nd ed– Roger Fisher and William Ury

This book can be thought of as an introduction to negotiation. Many people have a misunderstanding of what negotiation really is. If you think of negotiating as two people in a corporate situation pounding fists on tables or haggling with a car salesperson, you need to learn what negotiating really is. This book explains why you should learn how to negotiate and then goes into the method of negotiation to achieve agreement. It looks at what you should focus on while negotiating and deals with dirty tricks others may use and how to avoid them.

What I gained from reading this book:
I have read a few negotiating books and most of them followed similar information and advice. This was the fourth book I had read on the topic so the information here was not new to me. However, it was good to read the methods and examples from a different perspective. The book goes into detail on why you should focus on interests rather than positions and uses examples that are very common in real life.
As this book is more of a foundation to negotiating, I would have gained more if it was the first book I read on the subject. If you haven’t read anything on negotiating before, this book is a great place to start.

Good use of examples to explain problems and solutions. Explains the foundations of negotiating very well and clear enough to start applying the principles straight away. This book is not only for business people, negotiations happen every day in all aspects of life. As the author says ‘like it or not, you’re a negotiator’. You may not think you negotiate before you read this book but you notice that you certainly do afterwards. If you apply the principles you may find you make much better decisions and reach better agreements more often. Negotiating is a skill everybody should learn. If you apply these principles, life can be made just that extra bit easier.

If you have already read books on negotiating before reading this one, you may feel disappointed because it will most likely cover the same ground. But of course if this is your first book on negotiating it won’t be a problem.

Recommended for: Everybody
I recommend this book for everybody because no matter what you do for a living, you need to know how to negotiate. This isn’t just for salespeople and corporate executives (although it can help those people immensely). This book can help you even with day to day negotiations like ‘what to have for dinner’ or ‘what TV channel to watch’.

Genre: Business skills

Overall rating: 7 of 10 stars

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in

Where to from here:
To improve your negotiating understanding, it would be a good idea to read a book on body language:
What every BODY is saying by Joe Navarro
Body language (How to read others’ thoughts by their gestures) by Allan Pearse

Alternatively, to understand another way of influencing people, I recommend:
How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Book review: Complete idiot's guide to music theory by Michael Miller

The complete idiot’s guide to Music Theory 2nd Ed – Michael Miller

This book looks at music theory starting from the absolute basics. Starting from the basics of reading and writing music, the books slowly builds up on the topics and builds towards more advanced concepts such as counterpoint or arrangements. A CD is included that contains exercises to help develop your ear’s ability to recognise pitches, intervals, rhythms, scales and chords. The appendixes at the end of the book include a glossary of musical terms, a complete chord reference, and answers to exercises from the chapters.

What I gained from reading this book:
Being a (mostly) self-taught guitarist, I neglected learning music theory because I figured I could do without it. Although you can still be a good musician without a thorough understanding of music theory, it is harder. I was still able to compose many songs without knowing anything on music theory. When I decided to actually learn music theory, I realised that it makes life so much easier. It was only after I learned about music theory that I realised that I could have written the same songs in half the time if I knew the basics on theory.

This was the book I read to learn music theory. Although I could read sheet music, I didn’t really know anything else. The book is set out in a very practical way. I started reading from the very basics (describing tones) and learned new things straight away. Everything is easy to understand and very useful. After I finished the book I could study music by other bands and understand how I could write something just as good. My music has improved dramatically since reading this book. I don’t need to guess what will work like I did before, now I have a good idea of what will work before I even play anything. I highly recommend this for any musician that hasn’t looked at learning music theory yet.

The way the book starts from the absolute basics means anybody can read it.
Everything is simple to understand thanks to the very thought out explanations. Having the chapters split up into the different areas of music theory means people can focus on the areas they want to learn about.
The exercises at the ends of the chapters and the CD are great to build your understanding.

This book teaches a foundation on music theory, so those who want to have a really deep understanding will need to find another book after reading this one.

Recommended for: All musicians who haven’t already studied music theory
I recommend this book for all musicians whether you are a guitarist, drummer, singer, pianist. Many musicians (especially guitarists) feel that music theory is only for classical players (I know because I once thought this). The truth is that an understanding of music theory will help any type of musician playing any style of music. The more you know, the easier things get.

Genre: Music

Overall rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory, 2nd Edition

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book review: Job interviews for dummies by Joyce Kennedy

Job interviews for dummies – 3rd ed – Joyce Lain Kennedy

The third edition of Job interviews for dummies focuses on every aspect a job seeker may encounter when applying for a job. The book focuses on all the different types of job interviews and methods used within the interviews. Modern methods such as video interviews and other methods using the internet are discussed as well as the traditional interview styles. Examples are given on how to answer certain questions and what to expect. The unique difference with this book and other job interview books is the author’s use of theatre to describe a job interview. Headings such as ‘Backstage rehearsal’ or ‘Casting your character’ are used to liken the interview to a stage performance.

What I gained from reading this book:
Being a recent graduate I have been through so many interviews. At the beginning I was terrified of every stage. The main reason for my terror – I didn’t know what to expect. Reading this book solved my terror problem. This book explains in good detail everything you could possibly expect to encounter during the interview stage. By understanding what types of questions they may ask, or how to handle a phone interview, I was not only prepared for their questions but I was also relaxed and confident. Needless to say, I have this book to thank for finally landing a decent job.
Because I was a recent graduate with almost no experience, I was struggling to convince the interviewers that I am suitable for the job. The tips in this book became very valuable in helping me explain why my lack of experience is a minor detail. Many of my answers to their questions were word for word from the examples used in the book. Not having to come up with answers gave the impression that I could easily ‘think on my feet’. I actually remember the interviewer saying she was impressed with my answers.

Having an understanding (even if it is only basic) of what could happen in an interview will greatly increase your likeliness of succeeding and landing a job.
The book discusses every possible aspect in interviews from panel interviews to handling qualification issues. By learning this information, you can become more confident and more likely to be at an advantage to the other candidates.

While I found this book incredibly useful, I disliked the way the author used theatre and acting references to explain interviews. While other people may like this method, for me it was distracting and at times silly. I managed to look past it though, and found great value in what was discussed. Just remember: if you get tired of the metaphors and similes, just ignore them and focus on the ‘message’ the author is trying to explain.

Recommended for: Job seekers
This book is recommended for anybody currently applying for a new job or may do so in the future some time. Being successful in a job interview is a skill that can be learned. By having an understanding of what happens in interviews and how to handle the situations, you are putting yourself at an advantage. Many people know that normally it isn’t the most qualified person who gets the job in the end; it is the person who can convince the interviewers.
One last tip for those job seekers out there: don’t only read up on the interviewing process. Make sure you learn how to write a good resume or else you won’t even make it to the interview. The author of this book has also written the Resumes for Dummies book (which I have not read). You can check it out at Amazon.

Genre: Career

Overall rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below (although it seems Fishpond only has the first edition):

Job Interviews for Dummies (For Dummies S.)

Where to from here:
If this book has done its job, you shouldn’t need any other book (because you will now be employed). On the other hand, if you can’t seem to get to the interview point, have a search on Amazon for books that teach you to write a good resume. Just type Resume in the search box on the right side panel.

On the other hand, if you want to gain a basic understanding of business (useful in most jobs) I recommend:
MBA in a day by Steven Stralser

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Book review: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki

The basis of this book is comparing the advice poor and middle class parents give their children to the advice rich parents give their children. The advice from the poor and middle class parents is along the lines of ‘go to school, get good grades and get a secure job’. The author suggests another path and shows why the conventional advice of getting a ‘secure job’ may not be good advice anymore.
The author uses his childhood experiences and compares advice he received from his real dad (his ‘poor dad’) and his friend’s dad (his ‘rich dad’).

What I gained from reading this book:
I am a Bachelor of Commerce graduate with majors in Finance, Economics and Commercial Law. Before I read this book I had already graduated and studied finance for quite some time. Throughout my finance studies my instincts always bothered me. Almost every finance lecture, I understood what the person was saying, but I knew that something was amiss with their advice. As soon as I started reading this book everything clicked. The author was discussing many of the same issues that bothered me. The number one point that bothered me like nothing else was that almost 100% of the financial planning students I talked to had never invested anything during their studies. The author of the book makes a similar point that ‘Wall street is the only place where people drive up in Rolls-Royces to get advice from people who take the subway’. It concerns me that many financial planning graduates who will eventually become financial planners and advise other people have never invested on their own.

This book was an eye-opener for me and it will be for many people. Even with my financial studies behind me, I have gained some valuable investing advice that my lecturers never discussed. I have kept in mind the concepts this book discusses and I believe it has positively impacted my investment returns more so than the advice from my third year ‘advanced investment’ units. Because of this book I was able to understand why much of the advice given by my finance lecturers is obsolete.

Can open your mind to a different way of making a living other than the conventional 9-5 job. If you apply the way of thinking to your life you may find improvements in your finances.
It gives good explanations of simple situations and how they relate to income statements and balance sheets. This is great for people who know nothing about accounting. Teaches the basic principles of cash flow and why you should understand it.

I have read some negative reviews for this book* saying the advice it offers is dangerous. If you have no financial education and follow exactly what this book says, then yes it is dangerous (just like any financial advice). The author mentions many times that you must improve your financial education and I recommend the same. You shouldn’t buy a stock on a ‘hot tip’ without proper education or research, so don’t follow this advice without doing some extra research into personal finance.
Some people may not like this book because it doesn’t show ‘step-by-step’ instructions how to get rich. If you read this book looking for a formula to follow to get rich, you will be disappointed. Instead, read it with an open mind and consider the principles when you make financial decisions in the future.
There are some things written in this book that many people will not like to hear. For example: the author explains why a person’s house is not an asset. Try not to take offense with anything like this and understand why he says it.
These points aren’t really negatives because I don’t really have any negative things to say about this book. These points are warnings for people who could potentially be disappointed by certain aspects of the book. If you understand that this book is not a ‘formula to get rich’ and you keep an open mind to the concepts explained, you should find great value.

Recommended for: Everybody
I recommend this book for everybody because the concepts are so valuable once you properly understand them. Have a read of this book and continue improving your financial education by reading other books. Too many people neglect their personal finances and wonder why they struggle. By reading this book it can open your eyes to why people get stuck in financial problems and how to avoid them.
I found so much value in this book that I made sure every member of my family read it.

Genre: Personal finance

Overall rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below
Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money--That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

* There is a very popular negative review by John T. Reed that criticises every point the author makes and tries to explain why the book is terrible advice. It made me wonder why somebody would put so much effort into demolishing the book and its advice. Eventually I realised that the person did this to sell his own books (he has over 30) which he has links to on the same page. I wouldn’t take anything that person says seriously when you consider his main motive: ‘criticise the competition to sell my own books’.
Where to from here:
If you are interested in reading other books by Robert Kiyosaki, I have reviewed other ones here:
Cashflow Quadrant
Retire Young Retire Rich
Why we want you to be rich by Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump

On the other hand, you may want to consider reading books looking at ways millionaires become rich:
The millionaire next door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
Ten roads to riches by Ken Fisher

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book review: MBA in a day by Steven Stralser

MBA in a day: What you would learn at top-tier business schools (if you only had the time!) –Steven Stralser

This book can be thought of as a summary of the concepts and principles that are taught to students studying an MBA. The book is split into four sections that represent four areas of business. Each chapter deals with a specific topic such as accounting or marketing or ethics. Each chapter contains a summary and list of references used (which can be useful if more information is needed on the topic). The use of dot-points and real world examples makes the book very concise while dealing with a great range of topics.

What I gained from reading this book:
I have studied Bachelor of Commerce in Australia and I like to think of this book as a summary of the entire course I took. Although it obviously doesn’t go into the detail the course did, it did cover all aspects. I read this book after graduating and was constantly reminded of all the theories and principles I had forgotten. I compared my textbooks to the topics explained and this book does a fantastic job of glancing over all the essential principles and theories. Although I didn’t necessarily learn anything new from this book (three years of study taught me the topics in detail), my knowledge was given a much needed ‘refresh’.

Actually does a great job at explaining all the fundamental theories and principles that are taught in business schools.
The book is very concise and accurate which is definitely needed for such broad topics. The layout makes it easy to understand what area of business is being discussed.

Those expecting this book to go into detail on each topic will be disappointed. Obviously a book under 500 pages won’t teach you everything a business school would. If you don’t start with unrealistic expectations, you should be very happy by the end. I was surprised of the range of topics that were sufficiently discussed. Considering I have books over 1,000 pages on each topic, this book does a fantastic job of outlining the important points. Think of this book as a summary of what you would learn instead of trying to teach you everything an MBA course would.

Recommended for: Anybody wanting to gain a business understanding
Anybody with this interest can read this book. I recommend it for those looking to learn about business but unsure of how to start. By reading this book you will be given an overview of all the topics. From there you can go and find books specifically on the topics you want to learn in more detail.

Genre: Business

Overall rating: 8 of 10 stars

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below

MBA in a Day: What You Would Learn at Top-Tier Business Schools (If You Only Had the Time!)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Book review: What every body is saying (an Ex-FBI agent's guide to speed reading people) by Joe Navarro

What every body is saying (an Ex-FBI agent’s guide to speed reading people) – Joe Navarro

The author is an ex-FBI agent that has studied people’s non-verbal signals and gestures in an effort to determine their thoughts and feelings. The author explains what body language is and why people make signals and gestures without even thinking about it. A very detailed explanation of the human brain is given and why the signals made are accurate indicators of people’s thoughts. The author uses experiences interviewing suspects to explain situations where a signal helped in finding out the person’s true feelings.

What I gained from reading this book:
I have already read a book on body language by Allan Pearce but the difference with this book is it was written three decades later. Much scientific research has been conducted in this area and this book is a result of that research. I enjoyed reading about the human brain and how our body acts without our control. The examples were fantastic and very entertaining. It was great to hear examples of how the author interrogated suspects and lead them to confessing by noticing the clues in their body language.

After finishing this book I noticed so many signals and gestures people around me made that helped me determine what they were thinking and feeling. I have been using the information from this book whenever my friends would have a game of poker together. Although I am far from an expert, my ability to tell if somebody is bluffing or not has increased as I can now recognise tells.

This book (as well as the other book I have reviewed on body language) has helped me out in many situations from the poker table to dealing with customers.

The credibility of the author and the obvious research that has been made gives me a good feeling that I am reading good quality material. The explanations are simple enough to understand but go into enough detail to give you a thorough understanding.
There are plenty of photographs to demonstrate examples and the examples of real life situations are very interesting.

Body language is a very wide topic and there are countless gestures and behaviours. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to include all of these into a single book. People who expect to know absolutely everything about body language after reading this book may feel disappointed. But for everybody else, there are more than enough signals and gestures to study.

Recommended for: Everybody
I recommend this book for everybody because a basic understanding of body language can help you out in almost any situation where you are involved with somebody else. Not only can it help you out in communicating with other people, it is a very interesting topic.

Genre: Human behaviour

Overall rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-reading People

Where to from here:
If you want to read another book on body language, have a read of my review on:
Body language (how to read other’s thoughts by their gestures) by Allan Pearse

Other related topics include negotiation:
Getting to YES by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Or you may want to read up on general people skills:
How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book review: How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

This is a classic self-help book that was first published in 1936. It is basically a people-skills book and explains how polite manners can positively influence the people you interact with. The author uses anecdotes from famous people such as Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt as well as situations involving people the author personally knows. The book focuses on principles that are listed after each section that deal with popularity, influencing people, arguments, conversations, handling complaints, etc. Basically it deals with everyday situations where you interact with people and how to improve those situations.

What I gained from reading this book:
This book has taught me more about communication and people skills than the University unit I took titled ‘Communication skills’. When I started reading it I thought it was just out-of-date etiquette that must have been common in the 1930s. It wasn’t until I applied the principles that I realised they are very applicable today.

Before I read this book I had trouble when dealing with rude or arrogant customers at work. One day during a lunch break I read a chapter that had an example of a customer that never stopped complaining and decided to apply the advice it gave to the next rude customer that came in the shop. Sure enough within half an hour an incredibly rude customer came in demanding a certain item and continuously pointed out the flaws in the other items in stock. Rather than take a defensive approach I followed the advice and (with great surprise to me) the customer immediately changed from a rude know-it-all to a very considerate person. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! The person came in the store rude and picky and walked out of the store with a smile on her face and saying “very nice to meet you”. It was at that point I realised how useful this book really is.

Since then I have been applying the principles and seen considerable changes in the attitudes of people around me. I used to dread going to work because of rude customers, but now I actually seek them out because I enjoy the challenge of putting a smile on their face.

The ideas in this book have stood the test of time. If you apply the principles, they can actually make your life much more enjoyable. Especially if you deal with a lot of people (eg: working in customer service).
Many of the anecdotes are very enjoyable to read. The situations are easily relatable and help you get a good idea of how to apply the principles.

As the book was first written in the 1930s, the people referred to and a few expressions may not be familiar to some people. Also the editing job was fairly poor in the version I bought with y sometimes being printed as v and other minor mistakes. If you can look past those minor flaws, you can find great gems of advice.
If you don’t apply the principles, you won’t see that they can actually help you out when dealing with people. Like with all self-help books, they are only useful if you actually apply the advice.

Recommended for: Everybody
I recommend this book for everybody because everybody interacts with people. Improving your people skills can improve all areas of your life. Whether you want to improve your work experience or improve relationships and friendships, this book provides simple principles that are easy to apply and can give great results.

Genre: Self-help

Overall rating: 9 of 10 stars
At Amazon you can see that out of 658 reviews (as at 30 March 2009), 528 (80% of readers) gave it 5 out of 5 stars. The only reason I haven’t given it a perfect score like most readers have is because the version I have had minor editing mistakes.

Australians can get the book by clicking the picture below:
How to Win Friends and Influence People

Where to from here:
If you are interested in developing your ability to influence people, you will probably benefit from reading up on negotiation. Read the following book reviews to find which book will help you:
Getting to YES by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Another alternate path you could take is reading up on body language which will help you communicate better and understand people’s feelings and thoughts. The following books I have reviewed:
What every BODY is saying by Joe Navarro
Body language (how to read other’s thoughts by their gestures) by Allan Pearse

Educational book reviews

Hi everybody. My name is Aaron and I have created this book to give you my opinion on the value of books I have read. Most of the books will be educational and relevant to building career skills and business skills.

The reviews will all follow the same format where I will give a very short summary of the topic, point out the positives and negatives and have a section where I explain the value I gained from the book. I am not a professional writer so I don’t try to make the reviews sound fancy like they do in newspapers. Rather, I try to give you straight up information on the usefulness of each book.

I am a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance, Economics, Commercial Law) graduate in Australia so I will focus on books within my expertise. I am a guitar instructor and will most likely also review books relevant to guitar or music in general. I also have a blog that provides free guitar lessons and articles starting from the complete basics over at so if you are interested in learning guitar, head over there for some free advice.

If you read one of my book reviews and you find it helpful, please let me know so I know that I am doing it the right way. On the other hand, if you have any ideas how I can improve my reviews, please don’t hesitate to let me know.