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Book Review of: Sync
We highly recommend
Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, by Steven Strogatz
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, IEEE Senior Member and author of over 3500 articles.
Two thumbs up! This entertaining and informative book is one of the few I would read twice. You know those lists of books you’d want to have if you were stranded on a desert island? Sync made my list.
While Sync is fact-filled, it's far from dry. Throughout the text, Strogatz made me laugh out loud - reminding me very much of the engaging, can't put it down writing style used by Bill Bryson (author of Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail and The Lost Continent).
Strogatz takes a complex topic, and explains it in a way that even folks with no innate interest in the topic will find enjoyable. I learned quite a bit about how and why everything from atoms to planets will suddenly act in unison - or not do so. My newly-gained understanding of the relationship between sleep cycles and body temperature cycles has already helped me make some positive changes. Then there's the explanation of traffic….
Not once did Strogatz use an intimidating equation
- or any equation at all. Instead, he treats the reader to rich metaphors,
analogies, and examples. And instead of dry history on how sync got
where it is today, Strogatz shares the frustrations, peculiarities,
and human drama of the people behind the developments. Strogatz keeps
a pace that is more in line with a Tom Clancy novel than a book focused
on a science topic.
About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.