Friday, March 14, 2014

Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier

by Ari Meisel
Tarcher Penguin     2014
124 pages Nonfiction

  It appears that I have come across Superman in the guise of Ari Meisel, a productivity guru, LEED contractor, Ironman, TED talker, and now author. He says his hobby is productivity. I received his book Less Doing More Living from the publisher who must have known my need. The book will be out in April, and I would suggest that nearly everyone can find some useful hints, particularly among the apps and services that he suggests. Less Doing, More Living is Meisel's approach to dealing with daily stresses of life "by optimizing, automating, and outsourcing all of my tasks in life and business." 

 The book is just as efficient as the man. In a spare 124 pages. it tells you the productivity tools that you need that will optimize your work week and your personal life. He uses nine fundamental principles to  efficiency, including the perennial problems with finance and organization. He suggests that once you perfect an optimization process--whether it be learning an app or hiring a virtual assistant--you can get the process out of your sight and out of your mind. He then tells you how to find the apps that you need to succeed at the task of doing less and living more.

I really liked the instructions for how to use Evernote and because I can use them immediately to keep track of the work I am doing for clients. Additionally, I have been using two different calendar systems; one for my personal life, and one for my business life. I am going to combine them--why didn't I think of that before. That certainly shows my efficiency needs!

Some things I found fascinating--the virtual assistant, for one. I can see how my husband could take advantage of that. At the same time, I was reminded of the virtual assistant in Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple who stole all of Bernadette's money. I was also intrigued by the idea of scheduling purchases of items like toothpaste and toilet paper from Amazon, so you don't have to think about running errands. Frankly, I found a lot more efficiency tools for my husband than for me; he is starting a new business and feeling a bit overwhelmed. As always, wives are good at finding things for their husbands more than themselves--with the possible exception of Ari Meisel's wife, who is probably going "enough with the apps already!"

Well, at any rate, if doing things more efficiently is your goal; this is your book. It is a quick read and rather fun. See what you can change in your life. Publishers Weekly says, "Meisel provides a concise and ingenious roadmap to doing less, getting more, and enjoying life."

The brief review in Publisher's Weekly:
Meisel's website:


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Death Bed

by Leigh Russell
Witness Impulse  2014
386 pages     Fiction
 Yeah, ok, so what! That is my feeling after spending time reading Death Bed by Leigh Russell. While the premise of the book is adequate (intriguing, actually), the sub plots are less than stellar. 

When you are reading police procedural mysteries, you don't expect to be blown away by good literature, but that is precisely why I picked up Death Bed following The Goldfinch. (I was amused to see that K on Goodreads had done the same thing and had similar feelings about Death Bed.) I wanted to read something quick with no surprises. That is certainly what I got!

In the fourth book in the series, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel has moved from a position with the Kent police force to the London Metropolitan police force. She has come highly recommended as a consummate officer, so when a gruesome murder occurs shortly after her arrival, expectations are high that she will be able to solve it quickly. She has a wonderful Sergeant, Sam, who tells it like it is, and they make a good team. The one murder extends to two and the office is worried that there is a serial killer on the loose. Geraldine is intent on solving the crime, in part to make her mark at the new police department, and also because she has received some disturbing personal news. And that's where the "So What" comes in. The character of Geraldine is poorly developed, so the attempt to develop a subplot involving her personal problems is wasted on an uncaring audience. 

Don't get me wrong. The mystery in Death Bed is really quite strong. So much so that you wish the author had developed the mystery even further and left the character development undeveloped because you just don't care one bit about Geraldine and her problems. Publishers Weekly calls it sub-par and I guess I feel the same.

This is my first foray into mysteries by Leigh Russell. She is the author of two series--the DI Geraldine Steel series and the DS Ian Peterson series. Not sure I will read any more.