Books I finished reading in October 2014

Decent books:

The Goal is the worst novel I’ve ever read, and the first long piece of fiction I’ve finished in the past 6 years. How is that possible?

The novel is actually an introduction to Goldratt’s theory of constraints, from operations research. The writing isn’t supposed to be good, it’s just supposed to drive home the principles of Goldratt’s theory clearly and efficiently. I think I was able to finish this one because the book wasn’t trying to do all the normal literary things that good novels try to do, and instead was clearly trying to teach me things, like a nonfiction book would. And because it was explained with a story, I’ll probably remember the core principles of The Goal better than I remember the key points of most nonfiction books I read.

The audiobook is especially amusing. Every character is played by a different voice actor, there are ambient background noises that fit the scene, and the musical queues are often hilarious, such as the vaguely romantic hold music that plays while the main character and his wife make up after a fight and speak corny romance dialogue.

Dweck’s Mindset — see this summary — was alternately decent and annoying. I do suspect there’s something to the growth/fixed mindset distinction, but Dweck downplays individual differences too much, glosses over conflicting studies, and waves suggestively in the direction of debunked blank slate hypotheses.

Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma is well-written but the arguments aren’t consistently compelling.

Harris’ 10% Happier was moderately enjoyable but doesn’t have much content.