Review of “Skärmhjärnan” by Anders Hansen

Title: Skärmhjärnan (~Screen Brain)
Author: Anders Hansen
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: 4 hours 55 minutes
Published: 2019, Bonnier Audio
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION (translated to English by me)

Mental illness is taking over the great health threat in our world. The high tempo, chronic stress and this digital lifestyle with constant connection is starting to have consequences on our brains. It doesn’t matter h much you think you might enjoy scrolling your Instagram feed, watching the news on your phone or movies on your tablet, your brain is not adapted to whatever today’s society brings. It’s not synchronized with our time!

But that doesn’t mean that you’re powerless and that there are no solutions – with a little more knowledge on how the brain works, you’ll soon realize that it’s all about simple things. The human brain originate from a completely different time and we should show it some more consideration. Follow along on this exciting journey and get a whole new understanding on what’s happening inside your head!

 

MY REVIEW

Things might look different in the future when I have kids, but I feel like this is a book that I should reread when I have children of my own. It was, as Hansen’s other book Hjärnstark (The Real Happy Pill), really interesting and eye opening. They are strongly intertwined and I’m glad that I read Hjärnstark right before this one as I understood everything that he discussed.

As in his other book, he writes about so many different studies made on the subject and they all point to the same thing. Screens = bad. But that’s not entirely true either. It’s hard to tell if the depression among people increased when we got our smartphones or when depressed people use it more. Or if it is more accepted by society now to be open about mental illness. Regardless, it was interesting and in either case, screen time should be reduced. At least the unnecessary time we spend scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. I hate when I do it, but I can’t stop. I can’t really say that I feel bad doing it though. I don’t compare myself to unrealistic things posted there. I’m aware that people post the absolute best moments of their lives. I have moments like that too. And also, my feed is mostly filled with memes and cats.

It is very depressing to know that babies, not even one year old, are on the internet. Learning among kids are worsening because they use tablets and computers so much instead of learning the fine motor skills they get when writing by hand for example. They don’t play physically anymore, which is bad news for the development of their brains (which is more thoroughly described in Hjärnstark). I’ve also heard from my cousins that the digital social interactions are making kids unable to communicate in real life. That’s scary!

I am also aware that technology goes forward, and that’s great. There are benefits of having smartphones as well but the main point of both of Hansen’s books is that evolution goes much, much slower than the development of technology and our brains have not left the time when we were hunters and gatherers.

I know that I use my phone a lot. But I’m more concerned about younger generations that doesn’t know anything else. I grew up playing outside during recess at school, I built tree houses with my neighbors. What do kids do now? What will become of them in the future? This scares me.

I’m really glad I read the book. It was great! My recommendation is the same as with Hjärnstark. Please, read it! I give it five out of a possible five.

Review of “Hjärnstark” by Anders Hansen

Title: Hjärnstark (The Real Happy Pill)
Author: Anders Hansen
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: 7 hours 14 minutes
Published: 2016, Bonnier Audio
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Is there a foolproof way to reduce stress and anxiety while you boost your memory? Raise your IQ even as you slow down the aging process? Become more creative and train your ability to focus at the same time? The answer is simple: Move! Modern neuroscience and research has shown, more than ever, that physical exercise has extraordinary effects on our cognition.

Physical activity, more so than Sudoku or crossword puzzles, optimizes our mental abilities and health in a way unparalleled by any drug, medication, or food supplement. And exercise doesn’t just enhance your health, energy and mood levels, and cognitive abilities. You will also learn:

  • Why physical training is the best protection against dementia
  • What type of exercise can be used to treat depression as an antidepressant
  • How exercise increases the ability to focus in children, especially kids with ADHD
  • How children with good fitness can become better in math and reading comprehension
  • Why “runner’s high”, the natural chemicals released during jogging, improves your health and mood

With practical and concrete advice for the layman on how to reap these benefits, as well as neuroscientific research from the last five years broken down to accessible findings, The Real Happy Pill urges you to train your body and mind for a whole-body upgrade, and start to move!

MY REVIEW

I’ve heard many good things about this book for quite a while now but haven’t really felt that I wanted to prioritize reading it physically. Audiobooks has opened up a whole new world to me and I wish I would have started with it sooner.

I’ve grown up knowing that exercise is good for you. I may not have been the most active kid during recess at school, but I’ve always performed some kind of after school activity, since I was like 8 or something? But I didn’t know it had a bigger effect on the body than maintaining weight and keeping your heart healthy in the future.

But apparently, the brain benefits a lot from working out and this book explains how and why, in a simple way. He takes study after study and presents the evidence that all point to the same thing. Exercise is helping the memory, creating new brain cells, and helping you in ways that prescribed antidepressants is nowhere near doing. The problem is that no one is gaining any monetary means from promoting exercise.

Hansen is also describing how we have developed very very fast in the last two centuries and our brains have not yet adapted to it. Our brains are still thinking that we live on the savanna and hunting for food. Which is something he writes in more depth about in his next book “Skärmhjärnan” (~Screen Brain).

I have played beach volleyball for fourteen years now. I consider that a cardio workout, but I’ve always preferred lifting weights and gaining muscle (mostly because I have a genetic disorder with my calves) and stayed away from running, which is the form of exercise that Hansen exclusively writes about. I can’t run. But he also said that as long as your heart rate goes up, it’s fine. Maybe I’ll add an extra cardio workout every week in different forms. I have already started walking more, for example to and from work every day (more time to listen to books). I will also be very careful with letting my potential future kids know that exercise is good for them and make sure that they stay active and not just use the screen as a plaything.

It was an inspiring book and I do believe that the world would be a better place if everyone stayed active more. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. Please read it!

Review of “Omgiven av Idioter” by Thomas Erikson

Title: Omgiven av Idioter (Surrounded by Idiots)
Author: Thomas Erikson
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: 8 hours 53 minutes
Published: 2016, Word Audio Publishing
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Author Thomas Erikson explains that there are four key behavior types that define how we interact with and perceive the people around us. Understanding someone’s pattern of behavior is the key to successful communication. Erikson breaks down the four kinds of behavior types—Reds who are dominant and commanding, Yellows who are social and optimistic, Greens who are laid back and friendly, and Blues who are analytical and precise—and explains how to identify and interact with each type of person. Instead of being bogged down with overly technical categorizations, the simple four color system allows you to speedily identify a friend or coworker and adjust how you speak and share with them.

Surrounded by Idiots is full of practical information for interacting with people based on their color, including the strengths and weaknesses of all the profiles, how to give positive and negative feedback to each, and the best way to word an email when writing to someone with a different profile.

 

MY REVIEW

I’ve been meaning to read this book for years now but the time-deprived nerd that I am, I always prioritize a fantasy book before nonfiction. I’ve heard people talking about the different colors and had the basic understanding of them before picking this up. But I’m really glad that I decided that audiobooks actually was something for me. It’s perfect for the books that I don’t want to spend time reading myself. Perfect for squeezing in when I’m out and about. It is however a little difficult when taking tests for example (as in the end of this book), very hard to keep track of the questions and answers. Well well. I’m not here to review the book type, haha!

A while ago, we had an afterwork activity at the office where one girl asked questions, and depending on your answer, you took a step towards each corner of the room. At my management department (and among those who participated), I was the only one down in the blue corner. I’m not surprised. I’m very well-organized, I love lists and being prepared and doing a thorough job. After reading this book, I also think that I have some green in me and in some cases even red. But definitely blue.

In the beginning of the book, the author describes the main defining features of the four colors (red, yellow, green, and blue), then moves on to how to handle the different colors depending on situation, how to deliver criticism for example. He also said that we readers most likely got faces in front of us when he wrote the descriptions, but I didn’t really get any. Does that say anything about me as a blue person? That I’m more thing and result oriented rather than relationship oriented?

The book was not as entertaining as Introvert by Linus Jonkman was, but it was very interesting and factful. Easy to follow, lots of examples. It is however a very exaggerated book. And I think that if people think of this book in absolutes, it will not find them right. The author says that being just a single color is very rare and I also think it is hard to make people understand the bigger picture and meaning behind the colors if they are not extremes.

Erikson manages really well to stay objective though. All the colors have their pros and cons and he presents them very evenly and puts an equal amount of emphasis on all colors.

I don’t really agree that you can put labels on people. But I believe that this book’s purpose is to generally give an understanding of different human behaviors and how to handle them. I’m not sure that I’m aware enough of my surroundings and people (who doesn’t really interest me (yes, I’m blue)) to be able to tell who is acting how, but hopefully this book is the start of something new.

I’ve also realized that even if I’m blue, I’m right where I’m supposed to be at work. I have honestly wondered many times if I really fit in as a project manager in the construction sector. The perfect group of people consists of all colors. I don’t know if I’m all alone being blue, but if I am, I have a big spot to fill. Maybe this is when I start to see my own value.

All in all, this book deserves a 4! I look forward to listening to Omgiven av Psykopater (Surrounded by Psychopaths).

Review of “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Title: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Genre: Science, Nonfiction
Length: 3 hours 41 minutes
Published: 2017, Blackstone Audio, Inc
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

 

MY REVIEW

Listening to an audiobook was definitely a new experience for me as I’ve always thought that reading a real book would do more for me. But honestly, I gave up real paper books a long time ago when I discovered the wonders of an ereader. But on an ereader, you are still reading, even if it is on an e-ink screen. Listening to a book is something completely different.

After listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson talk for almost 4 hours about astrophysics 101, I’ve decided to listen more.

First of all, I’m a science nerd. Or rather, I want to know more, but don’t feel that I have the time. This was the perfect book to get that dry sponge inside me to activate and is now eager to learn more. It was a fairly short book, but with lots of information. The right amount of information to get my attention and want to learn more.

It was a very entertaining book, he used several terms that at least I, associated with science fiction worlds. He described everything with images that easily came up in my  head, making it easier to relate to.

I highly recommend anyone who have the slightest interest in space to pick this one up. Either as a physical book or the audiobook read by Neil himself. He did a fantastic job of reading it!

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry was a book directed at me and I loved it! Five out of five is my grade.

Review of “Introvert – Den tysta revolutionen” by Linus Jonkman

Title: Introvert – Den tysta revolutionen (~Introvert – The Silent Revolution)
Author: Linus Jonkman
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: 243
Published: 2013, Forum
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION (translated to English by me)

An underrated personality type.

Do you speak before you think or think before you speak? Are you uncomfortable when a salesperson comes up to you in the store or do you think it is just pleasant? Are you as most creative when you work alone or when you work in a group?

In our time “outgoing and flexible” seems to be the most sought after attributes on the job market, social competency is valued higher than specific work competence and the loudest person usually gets his or her way. It is a time where attributes such as inward looking, thoughtfulness and stillness have been classed as mental diseases. It is a time where introversion is confused with shyness, arrogance, and asocial behavior. Nothing could be more wrong.

Introversion and extroversion is a biologically hard-boiled part of our personality. This has been known and researched on by scientist for more than a hundred years. Despite this, there’s always new additions to the subject. Linus Jonkman takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the introverted world. He tells of his and other’s experiences as introverts and explains the differences and similarities between extroverted and introverted people. Much of the friction that we experience in our lives, both privately and professional, have roots between these different personalities. The understanding of what it means to be an introvert has increased significantly lately. But we have yet to seen is a job ad searching for an introverted person.

In a world where everything is going faster and faster and where the noise gets stronger and stronger each day, it can be an advantage to be an introvert, and the people who have that gift can call themselves lucky.

 

MY REVIEW

I’ve always known that I was an introvert but I’m still really glad that I read this book. First of all, it was funny. I laughed! I recognized so many things and the author described them in funny ways. But it also made me realize that I’ve been trying to be someone that I’m not, just to try to fit in a society that favors extroverted attributes. But I have to admit that I do recognize myself in many of the extroverted traits that he writes about as well. But the testresult at the end of the book confirmed what I had always known anyway. 50/57 introvert, 7/57 extrovert. Pretty clear.

This is not a book solely based on science even if lots of studies are mentioned. No references though. This is a popular science book where the author makes an introvert laugh while at the same time making everyone understand and accept introverts a little bit more than before. It made me accept myself more than before.

But, take this book with a little grain of salt. It can sound kind of condescending towards extroverts and it is of course generalizing and mostly focusing on the author’s personal feelings, experiences and what makes him an introvert. It does not apply to everyone. Me for example am an introvert in most of the ways possible. But I would for example not say no to a last minute work trip to another country. At the end of every chapter there is a summary for extroverts. I thought that was funny.

One thing that really stood out for me was when Jonkman described the differences in English words and their Swedish translations. There are two words in English that both translates into the same Swedish word. Loneliness (unwanted alone time) and solitude (wanted alone time) both translates into “ensamhet” in Swedish, which means loneliness. Many people suggest to add a new Swedish word that translates into solitude, “självsam”. I totally agree with that!

Then there was the more serious section of the book about introverts in work environments. I would say that it was eye opening for me. I knew about most of the things he wrote, but I never really thought about it, because that’s just how it is. But why is it like that? I honestly got a bit upset. Commitment in a recruiter’s eyes is a person who is seen, who is loud, helps themselves, can fill a room. That’s loud commitment. Isn’t working very late at the office also a type of commitment? But since that is silent commitment, it’s not visible. Why does it have to be like that?

 

I don’t know if a book like this can be spoiled, but I have some things I would like to write here. The quotes are obviously translated by me since the book is originally written in Swedish (and probably not translated to English).

“An introvert does not need the outer world as a source for impressions. We already have lots of stories in our heads.” Maybe this is why I’ve always loved to write? I have always had countless of worlds and stories in my head that I had to get out. The “flow” that he describes is an amazing feeling. I don’t experience it as he describes it, but new things can come to me in the weirdest situations and it just fills my head and it is a blissful feeling of images and words all mixed together but somehow makes total sense.

“Some psychologists are saying that introversion is a mild form of autism and that ADHD is an extension to extroversion due to the ability to multitask.” Makes sense. I’m currently watching Atypical on Netflix about a boy with autism and even if I was never diagnosed with autism, I can relate to so many things.

“I’m not angry, depressed or antisocial. I just don’t want to talk to people for a while and that’s okay.” This is something that I honestly think about daily. Especially at work. I’m working as a project manager where most people are extroverted like nothing I’ve ever seen. Which is great, but the truth is that I’m doing a really good job as the flexible and introvert that I am as well. But I can sometimes feel “forced” into talking at lunch or breaks. And I think this is because extroverts are not comfortable with silence as I am. I am perfectly content with eating my lunch in silence next to my coworkers.

 

It was an entertaining book and for me it was a great read! I now find it easier to say no to invitations that would not be beneficial to me at all. Although I’ve learned that sometimes, compromises is an act of love. I am also more comfortable staying quiet when I before felt almost an obligation to say something because silence is generally seen as something awkward. I will give it a 3.5. I don’t recommend everyone reading it. But it was a very good read for me and probably for many others as well!

 

“The best way to find out if you’re an introvert or extrovert is to think about what you do when you don’t have to do anything.” A good conclusion to this book.

Review of “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King


Title
: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: 351
Published: 2001, Hodder & Stoughton
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

MY REVIEW

Many many years when I discovered Stephen King, all thanks to my grandpa who gave me Dreamcatcher for Christmas (and my mom who scolded him for giving a young child a horror book by Stephen King, haha). I can’t have been very old and I probably waited a few years, until 2007, before reading it and that changed so much. I think I fell in love. Or maybe I became obsessed. I wanted to read all of his books, he was such a good writer with such an incredible imagination. And he wrote horror, which I loved at that age. Back then I compared him to the adult version of R. L. Stine. Or rather, the author who wrote adult versions of Goosebumps (which was one of my favorites series when I was a kid). I got obsessed and my early organize traits popped up. I wrote a list of every book he had ever written and which I had and hadn’t yet. I updated that list like a slave even if I perhaps didn’t buy them directly. I got mom’s collection of all his books up until Needful Things, when I think she got me and didn’t read as much anymore, and I have been filling up my King bookshelf ever since. Slowly getting to the full collection. Anyway, long intro. On Writing was unfortunately one of his books that I didn’t want to read, because it was nonfiction. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it even if I did read it, but wow did I enjoy it now!

I’ve never read a biography before, but it was interesting to see how much he really wanted to become an author and eventually ended up being one of the most successful ones ever. The second hafl was full of concrete tips on how to write and it ended with him describing his near fatal accident in 1999. So well-written throughout and even if I knew he would survive, I still got sad and upset while reading it.

Much of what he is saying is making a lot of sense and I felt proud and smart and really good about myself when I realized that I was doing and thinking a lot like he says you should as an aspiring author. I got the feeling that this book was aimed at asipiring full time authors. I have a full time job and want to fullfil my spare time with writing so I’m listening to his advice, but only part time. For example, he writes 2 000 words per day, every single day of the year and that way he finishes the first draft in a season (3 months, 180 000 words). For me, I could put up a goal of maybe 500 and be satisfied. But it’s the routine that’s important. Write every day!

He gives a lot of help and I’m not going to write all of it here as that would be spoilers, I guess? But one other thing that he writes, that made me really happy, is that an aspiring author cannot not read. How can you write something if you don’t read? I love to read and that’s why I’m myself writing now, because I wanted another challenge but still with fictional worlds. 4 hours per day for reading and writing. I think I could do 2. If I can cut down on playing with my phone at bedtime I could probably get 1 hour of reading there. 1 hour of writing any other hour of the day shouldn’t be too hard to squeeze in. It’s all about priorities and I’m getting pretty far in my book now and really want to finish it. Or at least finish the first draft soon. And when I start on the second I want to have this routine in my bones.

This turned into a long review, but if you are an aspiring author, or a published one: read it! Much of it I knew because it was logic, but it felt good to hear it from someone else with his amazing words. If you are not an aspiring author yet, it might make you want to become one. Or perhaps just read everything but chapter 4 which is the tips on writing. Easily 5 out of 5!