Thursday, October 13, 2011

5 minute Mysteries and Influence over all.

Okay, so I am still setting up this blog.  If you have been following it, you may have noticed the About Me section is gone. Oops! Didn't mean to do that. Oh, dear so is the What I Review section. Dog gone son of a gun. Well, never fear, our blog now has two of us as you can see from the contributors section.  We will need to put up new pages with all the information that disappeared and even more. (Yeah, I finally learned how to do pages. What can I say?) So look for our new pages by the end of next week. Meanwhile we keep blogging along.

Throwaway Thursday's Choice:
   I love puzzles. Each day at breakfast we work at least two code word puzzles and sometimes a crypto family puzzle.  I prefer either extremely hard puzzles, some I have been known to work on for years, yes - that's right, years -  or I like easy puzzles that can be solved in less than 30 minutes. I also like the 20 questions puzzles but I truly like the 20 question puzzle that doesn't really need any questions asked if one only thinks at a bit of a slant.
     Here's one of those for you:
     A man walks into a snack bar and asks the girl at the counter for a glass of water, she pulls a gun, he says thank you and leaves. Explain this.

   Today my choice is a puzzle book.  Actually it is another series of books but for now I will give you just one.

    Cleverly Crafty 5 Minute Mysteries
    By Ken Weber
    Published by: Running Press
    Pages: 192 including solutions

    From Amazon:
    As Ken Weber says, there are two kinds of people: the ones who love mysteries and the handful who don’t. The throngs who wait eagerly for every new book in the Five Minute Mysteries series will be richly rewarded with this one that takes us from city to country, from a bank to a beach, and all over the world. They’ll encounter detectives, thieves, and murderers, a sub-lieutenant searching for deserters during the Napoleonic Wars, an undercover KGB agent and a centurion in the Roman Empire. In all, there are 40 mysteries-40 chances to fly away from the drudgery of normal life for five minutes of high drama in another time and place. Sign us up!

  About the book:
    Here I haven't much to say since the product description says it all. There are 40 short scenarios with a mystery involved in each.  The reader must solve the mystery. Remember, these aren't too tough and are mysteries suitable for young adults and some even younger. I must say one thing, though. If you get this on a Kindle be sure to mark both the page you are reading and the page where the answers are so you can use the go to feature.  I have this in paperback but one of the complaints on Amazon is the difficulty in going between the mystery and the answer. Given that you also have to find the answer once you get to the place they start, you may be accidentally seeing other answers which is really not fun at all.

My take:
     As I said, I have several of these books. The first one I recieved was outstanding but others had mysteries that were too predictable.  Some of this is because as you do them, you start to know what to look for in the scenario. Some of this is because the books are for young people and as we age we learn more giving us a bigger pool of knowledge to draw from. How many times on TV crime shows have we seen the killer forget to move the car seat either up or back, thus giving himself away? Someone new to mysteries may not have seen that 10 dozen times already.  So, I can't say this book is 'easier' than the first book I had but I can say it is better than some of the middle books.
    The writing style is simple and as direct as it can be without giving away the clues. I enjoyed the different settings and the different characters in the snippets which made solving the mystery more fun. 

  I liked this book and would suggest it for anyone into fast reason puzzles or as a gift for someone who like simple reason puzzles. Oh, yes and the answer is the man had the hiccups. 

Wednesday October 12

Wild card Wednesday is here! Boy how time does fly when you're trying to pack for the winter, clean the house for a showing (our house is for sale), create a new blog, and read all at once.  Haven't figured out how to combine all those things into one simple task yet but as Harrison Ford said in the Raiders of the Lost Ark - "I'm working on it." Yes, I am one of those people who collect movie lines. If you have some favorites, please share.

Today, since I am not quite through with my new books, I am bringing you another oldie but goodie. It is another non-fiction but trust me, it is an outstanding book.

    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
    By Robert B. Cialdini, PHD
   Publisher: My book is out of print. Revised book: Harper Paperbacks
    Pages: mine w/o index 306 Revised edition: 336

  From Dr. Cialdini
  "It is through the influence process that we generate and manage change. 
As such, it is important for those wishing to create and sustain practical change to understand fully the workings of the influence process. Fortunately, a vast body of scientific evidence now exists on how, when, and why people say yes to influence attempts. From this formidable body of work, I have extracted six universal principles of influence--those that are so powerful that they generate desirable change in the widest range of circumstances." 

 About this book:
      Dr. Cialdini outlines six principles of influence in his book, giving detailed information about each, including stories from his own life where he has been influenced. I can't forget the pretty girl at his doorstep, taking a survey. Oops, Doctor! He gives examples of where the principles have worked, what the reason is behind each principle, how it can be used, and how to tell when it is being used on you. These principles are reciprocation, commitment/consistency, authority, social validation, scarcity, and liking/friendship.

My take:
    It is unfortunate that I haven't read the revised edition. I fear some of what I remember may not be in the revised edition and I hate to disappoint you. Still, I believe the revised book must be outstanding because the edition I have was simply GREAT. 
    When I first went into fundraising for a small political party, I looked for help wherever I could find it. I picked up several books on raising money and picked the brain of many people. Michael CLoud, a fantastic speaker and a raiser of many a dollar suggested this book to me. My first thought was, "How is this going to help with fundraising?" After starting the book, my thought was, "Boy, I recognize these studies!"  I had studied psychology for years in college but we never, ever looked at those studies the way Cialdini does. And Cialdini answers such questions as: why do political candidates put out so many yard signs? - social proof or validation; why do Krishnas give away flowers? - reciprocation.
   The writing style is simple and elegant. It drew me in with the short stories Cialdind uses for illustration. It kept me there with straightforward explanations for how and why people react to a given circumstance.
    Over the years I have recommended Influence to an untold number of friends and business associates.  I believe if there is only one book a salesman, a manager, a fundraiser, a boss, or just about anyone reads to help them understand and get ahead in this world, Influence should be THE book. The value of the book goes way beyond the cost of buying the book which is more than I can say for most books of this nature. Influence would be cheap at four times the price and then some. It can save you money, it can help you make money, it can even help you understand some of those pesky emotions we have.
    Here's a real life example from my former work.  Decades ago there was this little toothpaste company that was at the bottom of the heap. It changed one line in its commercial advertising. That change shot them into third position of all the nation's toothpaste companies. Remembering this, I used this and what Cialdini wrote to add two simple lines in my fundraising letters. I more than doubled my usual donations and responses. So what did Gleem toothpaste say in their ads? "We know it is not always possible to brush three times a day." And what did I use? We know not everyone can be on the front lines fighting but can you help those that are?  It is up to you, dear reader, to discover what principle these two things represent by reading Influence.

   I most highly recommend Influence to everyone, whether they be the seller or buyer, the asker or donor, the boss or employee. This book is simply written but deep. The reading level is YA and above, though an avid reader much younger could read it and quite possibly benefit from it.  

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