This book is unlike every other photography book I’ve read, and that’s why I like it.  It doesn’t attempt to teach you how to be a great photographer, and it certainly doesn’t waste any space showcasing the authors’ work.  It addresses a very different -and very real- need for photographers: a place to turn when you are feeling less than creative.  The authors don’t want you to sit down and read a book, they want you to get out, take and make photos.  Their job is to give you ideas that can easily be put into action.  …action that will inevitably spark some inspiration.

The book is divided into two parts.  1.) Crafty things to do with your photos, and 2.) ideas of what and how to shoot next.  Personally I enjoyed the second part much more than the first, but in light of the economy and the fast approaching Christmas season I will certainly be implementing some of their crafty ideas for my gifts this year.

No matter where you are in your photographic pursuits there are plenty of things in this book you can benefit from.  If you’re feeling stifled creatively then it would be well worth your time/money to pick up this book. …but only if you’ll actually DO some of the things they suggest.  =)

Automatic Millionaire

autoMillionI was a bit leery of this book at first.  The cover makes it sound like a “get rich quick” scheme, and it’s very clear that the author has an agenda to sell books –nothing against him, it just kinda turned me off at first.  Once I got past the marketing schpiel I tore through the first 85 pages or so.  David Bach spells out, in very simple terms, how to live within your means and save money without much work at all.  It’s quite brilliant really.  Over and over (even to the point of feeling redundant) he makes the point: force yourself to save money automatically.

Personally, as a freelancer without a biweekly paycheck it is much harder to practice what he’s preaching although it’s no less valid.  It’s worth your time to read it, even if the marketing verbiage makes you want to hurl.


Financial Peace [Revisited]

financialPeaceI asked my friend Jenny if she could suggest any good books to help me take control of my finances, and this was the first book she suggested.  Having read it, I can see why!  It is a solid, foundational book for anyone who is tired of being a slave to their money.  Ramsey is a straightforward author who tells it like it is.  Some of the things he says will make you uncomfortable at first, but he is speaking from his own experience; and you can’t argue with that.  He strips away so many misconceptions about money and then shows the reader that the path to financial peace is really a simple thing if only you will try.  If you are serious about mastering your finances (and btw, you will never master them until you get serious about it), do yourself a favor and read this book!


Rise of the Creative Class

by Richard FloridaAuthor and economist Richard Florida looks at history through the lens of creativity to see how it has shaped, and is shaping, our culture, our livelihood, and our lifestyles.  The first few chapters of this book blew me away.  I really felt as though the author genuinely understands creative people better than most authors and perhaps art directors.  He put into words things that I have often felt, but couldn’t describe well.  He has a way of presenting ideas that seem contradictory at first, but as he explains them you can’t help but draw the same conclusions.  It will definitely alter your worldview if you let it.

All in all, the book is excellent, but I do have two complaints: 1.) It’s too long.  I’m a fan of big books, but this one starts to feel redundant after a while.  2.) The classification of “creative class” is a bit too broad.  According to the book, pretty much anybody not serving food or working in a factory falls into the “creative class” at one point or another.  It does describe the “super creative core” and I think those are the people who will benefit the most from this book.

Naked Conversations

by Robert Scoble and Shel IsraelSince the title of this book leaves a bit too much room for the imagination, let me first say that this is a book about blogging, specifically, how it can help or hurt your business. The back cover sounded dead on. To paraphrase, “Customers are tired of being put on hold, interrupted at dinner, and being talked ‘at.’ Blogging allows companies to talk with their customers and let the customers talk back.” Great idea! I love the concept, but the book is rather dull. The authors are overly biased –they do admit that it’s not objective, but this confession doesn’t come until the end of the book which can make for a frustrating read at times. Honestly, I think they spent a little too much time in the jaded blogosphere to realize that outside of it –you know, in the “real world”– people’s perceptions of things are quite different. The chief weakness of this book is its length. There is no question that there are some good points in here, but if you’re like me you’ll become bored with the redundancy.

Take Better Family Photos

by Steve BavisterFirst of all, the title of this book is little more than a marketing gimmick. I fell for it, so at least it works. This book reads like any other general photography book, but the author (or maybe it was the publisher) makes an attempt to relate everything back to taking pictures of people, specifically your family. The reason I got this book in the first place is because I was supposed to teach a session on shooting portraits, and I figured I could benefit from learning a bit more. The good news is that this book is loaded with little tidbits of “do’s and don’ts.” It provides a decent foundation for how to pose and capture people in almost any environment. The bad news is that the book is largely uninspiring.

Were You There?

by Ron DiCianni and Neil WilsonNot only is this book a collection of outstanding paintings, but each painting is accompanied by a short story designed to immerse the reader into the artwork and the events that inspired it. The stories are written from a first person point of view, so you can’t help but let your imagination run a little bit. The artwork is simply stunning, and the stories are rich and vibrant. It’s kinda hard to rate a book like this because I find myself thinking, “Well, I didn’t really learn anything,” but that’s not the point. The paintings and stories are a way for us to escape from our world and worries for a bit and hopefully come back feeling refreshed and yet curious. The book does just that, so if you’re looking for a break, it’s a great and easy read.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye

by Joshua HarrisI had heard several mixed reviews of this book for quite some time, so I decided to pick it up and see for myself what the author had to say. He accurately sizes up the dating scene (particularly among Christians) and suggests that perhaps there is a better way –a way with less heartache. His proposal is that we shouldn’t date until we’re ready for marriage. I do believe there is some truth in that, but I would suggest that to a certain degree we are never “ready.” I think Joshua Harris is an idealist. Idealists really do have a solution for our world problems; however, they require that everybody be on the same page, with the same outlook and perspective. That will never happen this side of eternity. I believe he has good intentions, but I don’t think his idea(l)s will work in our fallen world.

Jump Start Your Business Brain

by Doug HallIf ever there is a guy who understands marketing it’s Doug Hall. This book discusses three main marketing principles, how they work together, and how to leverage them. Early on in the book he says (paraphrased) “I don’t know anything about your business, but I know marketing. Take what you know, add to it what I’m about to teach you, and in the end you stand a far greater chance of running a successful business.” The entire book is backed up by numerous studies and he sticks closely to the results, not veering off to give his personal opinions if they aren’t validated by the stats. In the often deceitful world of marketing Doug Hall stands out as a refreshingly clear, honest voice who is genuinely interested in your success.

Every Man’s Battle

by Stephen Arterburn and Fred StoekerMy main frustration is that this book claims to be for “every” man. However, I cannot recommend it to any single Christian male. It is written by married men, for married men, and the authors fail to emphasize that. Honestly I believe this book can do more harm than good for single guys. I came away with more doubts and questions than answers. To be fair, there is now Every Single Man’s Battle written by one of the same authors after he went through a divorce; I believe that further emphasizes my point that the authors initially failed to recognize that there is a different sexual struggle between married men and us single fellas. Here’s my point: they iterate the fact that just because you get married you are not free from sexual temptation. I believe that. However, they fail to mention that once you get married, the rules change. The battle takes on a different form. If you’re married, it’s probably a good read. If you’re single, check out the other book.