The blog of Chicago-based freelance writer David Johnsen.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Finishing May Strong
I finished a few more books this past week. More significantly, I made it through a Half Price Books storewide 20% off sale without buying anything!

Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire -- Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa - I found this book to be a thought-provoking investigation of what we can attribute about "human nature" to evolutionary -- as opposed to environmental -- factors. When I told my wife about some of the findings within, she had a different take: she says it's just a lame justification for men being pigs. The reviewers at Amazon are similarly split as to the book's worth. My biggest complaint: the authors attribute so many behaviors, emotions, and preferences to the desire to reproduce that those of us who don't want children are made to feel outcast at best, genetically flawed at worst.

Dinosaur Training: Lost Secrets of Strength and Development by Brooks Kubik - If you have an unruly brontosaurus, this book won't be much help, but if you want to build honest muscle, Kubik will tell you how. He looks back to the strongmen of the early 20th century for training methods and inspiration. These men were phenomenally strong long before today's celebrity workouts and supplement-pushing muscle magazines. To be like them, one must work hard with progressively heavier poundages in productive exercises like deadlifts, squats, and presses (no "isolation" exercises or "toning" for those guys). Kubik also recommends pressing, pushing, or pulling sandbags, barrels, cars, and other "odd objects" to build real strength rather than "pumped" but ineffective muscles. He makes a lot of wisecracks about the "chrome and fern" health club denizens who use the same weights year after year, looking pretty but never getting stronger. I had already gravitated toward Kubik's approach before I started reading Dinosaur Training, and I thoroughly enjoyed this informative and inspirational book. Those who have been spinning their wheels using the "modern" training methods advocated by Mr. Steroid Olympia will find Dinosaur Training to be nothing less than a revelation. Order from Brooks Kubik's Web site.

Do Polar Bears Get Lonely and Answers to 100 Other Weird and Wacky Questions About How the World Works by New Scientist - This book examines a number of life's little mysteries. For example, as a longtime AquaFresh user, I finally learned how the manufacturer makes it come out in stripes. I was a bit disappointed with the format because it contains few definitive answers -- most of the questions have several responses contributed by New Scientist readers, and even then, some are not satisfactorily resolved. Nonetheless, the book is fun and quick reading.

Current tally: 43 books finished, 40 books acquired

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