Book Summaries


All around us, every single day, human beings devoid of empathy are wreaking havoc and destroying lives in the coldest, most heartless ways imaginable. In constant pursuit of money, sex, influence, or simple entertainment, psychopaths will do whatever it takes to gain power over others. They hide behind a veil of normalcy, arranging their friends and partners like pawns in a game of chess.

In The Sociopath Next Door, Dr. Martha Stout highlighted various ways of identifying a sociopath and Thirteen Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths in Everyday Life. In Outsmarting the Sociopath Next Door, She uncovers the psychology behind the sociopath’s methods and provides concrete guidelines to help navigate these dangerous interactions. 

Sociopaths are human beings who look like everyone else—so well camouflaged that their true nature may have gone unrecognized for years or even decades.

The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.

Blogger Joshua Becker shares strategies, tools, and insights for becoming minimalist. In the more of less, he offers a plan for living more by owning less. Joshua writes “Not only are my possessions not bringing happiness into my life; even worse, they are actually distracting me from the things that do!”

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them. It’s for everyone who wants more out of less.”

“True freedom is being without anxiety about imperfection.—Sixth-century Zen master Sengchan

Zen Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim argues that by only accepting yourself–and the flaws that make you who you are–can you have compassionate and fulfilling relationships with your partner, your family, and your friends. Love for Imperfect Things shows how the path to happiness and peace of mind includes not only strong relationships with others but also letting go of worries about ourselves.

We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people—one in twenty-five—has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in twenty-five everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.

“Put more succinctly, there are more sociopaths among us than people who suffer from the much-publicized disorder of anorexia, four times as many sociopaths as schizophrenics, and one hundred times as many sociopaths as people diagnosed with a known scourge such as colon cancer.”

 Kintsugi Wellness is based on the philosophies of Japanese life and is organized into four parts: Strengthen, Nourish, Lifestyle, and Heart. At the core of Kintsugi Wellness is Self-Care, we are all broken but we can embrace our imperfections through self-acceptance, self-love, and self-care.

“In Japan, rituals are an important part of everyday life. These practices are prompts that remind you of what’s important, and ground you in the present while honoring the past.”

We don’t ship the work because we’re creative. We’re creative because we ship the work.

The Practice is based on the Akimbo Creative Workshop pioneered by author Seth Godin. Seth insists that writer’s block is a myth, that consistency is far more important than authenticity, and that experiencing the imposter syndrome is a sign that you’re a well-adjusted human.

“The practice is there if we’re willing to sign up for it. And the practice will open the door to the change you seek to make.”

I am a super fan of Seth Godin’s work and book from reading his very insightful books: Purple Cow, Unleashing the Ideavirus, Linchpin, The Dip, listening to his podcast (Akimbo), reading his blog and his other great projects such as alt mba. The book is a compilation of 219 nuggets for creatives and writers.

“The practice doesn’t care when you decide to become an artist. What simply matters is that you decide. Whether or not your mom is involved in the decision.”

Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with powdered gold. Day after day, week after week, stage by stage, the object is cleaned, groomed, treated, healed, and finally enhanced. Nowadays it has also become a well-known therapy metaphor for resilience. Personal Development Coach and Blogger Céline Santini explore the art of kintsugi in all its facets.

Kintsugi is the art of exalting past injuries. The Way of Kintsugi can be understood as a kind of art therapy, inviting you to transcend your struggles and transform your personal hardships into gold. It reminds you that your scars, visible or invisible, are proof that you’ve overcome your difficulties. By marking your history, they demonstrate you’ve survived, and they enrich your soul.

This ancestral technique, developed in Japan during the fifteenth century, consists of repairing a broken object by accentuating its cracks with gold—instead of hiding them. But the philosophy behind it goes much deeper than a simple artistic practice. It has to do with the symbolism of healing and resilience. First taken care of and then honored, the broken object accepts its past and paradoxically becomes more robust, more beautiful, and more precious than before it was broken. This metaphor can provide insight into all stages of healing, whether the ailment is physical or emotional.

 Psychology Professor Dr. Jean Twenge and social psychologist W. Keith Campbell, known for his research on narcissism, chronicles American culture’s journey from self-admiration to the present-day corrosive narcissism that threatens to infect us all. They highlight strategies for identifying narcissism, minimize the forces that sustain and transmit it, and treat it or manage it where we find it.

A narcissist has an overinflated view of his own abilities, similar to the kitten that sees himself as a lion on the popular poster. Narcissists are not just confident, they’re overconfident. In short, narcissists admire themselves too much.

“It may have short ears and it may have long ears; it may have a lot of hair and it may have no hair at all; it may be brown or it may be gray; but if it’s big and has tusks and a trunk, it’s always an elephant.”

We all deal with manipulative, narcissistic, and people with personality disorders on a daily basis at work, marriage, family, and life in general. According to Dr. George K. Simon: “Manipulative people have two goals: to win and to look good doing it.  Often those they abuse are only vaguely aware of what is happening to them.”

When you’re being manipulated, chances are someone is fighting with you for position, advantage, or gain, but in a way that’s difficult to readily see.

Although the extreme wolves in sheep’s clothing that make headlines grab our attention and pique our curiosity about what makes such people “tick,” most of the covertly aggressive people we are likely to encounter are not these larger-than-life characters. Rather, they are the subtly underhanded, backstabbing, deceptive, and conniving individuals we may work with, associate with, or possibly even live with. And they can make life miserable. They cause us grief because we find it so hard to truly understand them and even harder to deal with them effectively.

Title: Deduct Everything!: Save Money with Hundreds of Legal Tax Breaks, Credits, Write-Offs, and Loopholes
Author: Eva Rosenberg.

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, known as the Internet’s TaxMama®, publishes the popular website, cited by Consumer Reports magazine as a top tax advice site, and a LIFE Magazine Editor’s Pick. In Deduct Everything, Eva shares tips, tools, and strategies for saving money through legal tax breaks, credits, write-offs, and loopholes.

After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before – households surviving on virtually no cash income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $ 2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to one and a half million households, including about three million children.

The authors argue that in-kind benefits like SNAP (food stamps) are important—even vital. Yet in 21st Century America, they are not enough—cash is critical. The book is about what happens when a government safety net that is built on the assumption of full-time, stable employment at a living wage combines with a low-wage labor market that fails to deliver on any of the above. It is this toxic alchemy, the authors argue, that is spurring the increasing numbers of $2-a-day poor in America.

A hidden but growing landscape of survival strategies among those who experience this level of destitution has been the result. At the community level, these strategies can pull families into a web of exploitation and illegality that turns conventional morality upside down.

“Stopping the war of perfection that’s happening in your head is just the first step. Once you’ve quit trying to be who you’re not, you can make an assessment of the things you’re doing with your life.”

Journalist and novelist Will Storr takes the reader on a journey from the shores of Ancient Greece, through the Christian Middle Ages, to the self-esteem evangelists of 1980s California, the rise of narcissism and the “selfie” generation, and right up to the era of hyper-individualism in which we live now. Selfie tells the epic tale of the person we all know so intimately―because it’s us.

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else is a book by Journalist and Canadian Politician Chrystia Freeland. The book’s theme is economic inequality, lives of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, and the rise of the global super-rich.

“This book is about both economics and politics. Political decisions helped create the super-elite in the first place, and as the economic might of the super-elite class grows, so does its political muscle. The feedback loop between money, politics, and ideas is both cause and consequence of the rise of the super-elite. But economic forces matter, too. Globalization and the technology revolution—and the worldwide economic growth they are creating—are fundamental drivers of the rise of the plutocrats. Even rent-seeking plutocrats—those who owe their fortunes chiefly to favorable government decisions—have also been enriched partly by this growing global economic pie.”

Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and as worthy of happiness.”

In the six pillars of self-esteem, Canadian–American psychotherapist and writer Nathaniel Branden introduces the six pillars-six action-based practices for daily living that provide the foundation for self-esteem-and explores the central importance of self-esteem in five areas: the workplace, parenting, education, psychotherapy, and the culture at large. 

“The greater the number of choices and decisions we need to make at a conscious level, the more urgent our need for self-esteem.”