Read: The Making of the Economic Society

What should we expect of a 13th edition of a textbook? I would hope for something like Heilbroner and Milberg’s The Making of the Economic Society.

The text is an excellent brief introduction to economic history (and systems). It is concise and a pleasure to read. The Making of the Economic Society can also serve as an introduction to economic thinking and as such is a great complement to any text for a principles course.

Beginning with chapter 5 the book becomes more (too) US-centric. I would love to see a european edition. Nevertheless, the text is pleasantly balanced. Capitalism in Europe has its own chapter, and the discussion of socialism and globalisation necessitate a more broader view.

Read: I am number four

With all the excitement this summer, culminating in leaving my job at Jacobs University Bremen and my moving back to Berlin after 15 years or so working in Thuringia and then Bremen, I fell a bit behind with my reading list and with my “bookkeeping”. To keep things short (as some time has already passed since I finished the book), I am number four, the book, is much better than I am number four, the movie. Still, I will remove all the other Lorien Legacies novels from my to-buy list…

Read: What the best College Teachers do

Based on a sample of effective college / university teachers in the late 1990 Ken Bain tried to identify the specific approach to teaching and characteristics of successful teachers (hence there is no systematic control group). This is not necessarily the professors with the best teaching evaluations but rather those teachers with students who learn, understand, and succeed.

The bad news is: There is no secret trick. It’s not the flipped / inverted class room, it’s not the use of fully animated power points, it’s not the extensive use of videos in class, it’s not overly generous grading practices, and it’s not paying students for their participation in class and doing their assignments.

Still, there was a common trait. It’s their approach to teaching that rather focusses on the who and not on the what. In brief, it’s student centered teaching and the teachers’ attitude towards their students.

I believe smaller classes (and a lower teaching load) facilitate developing this trait, though it is obviously true that also large classes benefit from such an attitude and the resulting approach. I am not quite there yet.

Read: The Tower

Now, with the third installment of Toyne’s Sancti trilogy, things take a strange, unexpected turn. What started as a religious thriller, an esoteric, cabalistic piece of pulp fiction, has turned almost into a science thriller. The religious characters are reduced to nut jobs.

The origin of the story is perfectly obscure and the new character’s plot line is quite dominant, and indeed even more interesting than what happens to and with the old protagonists. Yet, to the original story this new plot line adds nothing, or very little. Rather, it subtracts from it. The concept of the first (oppressed) tribe is diluted, reduced to a free mason lodge. Toyne drifts away from his original idea.

Hence, despite being an entertaining novel The Tower shows that Toyne is not capable of staying within the confines of his own fictional world and produce an internally consistent piece of fiction. Resorting to over-used tropes isn’t a good sign either.

Read: Maximize Your Potential

While each individual chapter of Maximize Your Potential reads rather nicely the whole compilation does not add much. The articles do not build on each other so there is no logical progression, when they are based on research it’s not the author’s and more often than not it’s just one single older study that has been refuted since.

Bottom line: it would have been more reasonable just reading u99’s blog than buying this little book. I consider it a donation.

Read: The Magician King

I have said it before and I say it again: I become increasingly tired of novels with several time lines that in the text are interwoven, even though there would be a perfectly reasonable disjoined sequence of the two plots. There is no need to let the narrative jump from one timeline to the other and back again.

So in the end, The Magician King is two novels in one. Each has its own protagonist. Unfortunately, you have to read both and are constantly forced to switch between the two. Exactly the thing I learned to avoid. I do not want to read several novels in parallel.

Here, I only liked one of the two threads. The becoming of the demi-goddess was much more interesting and suspenseful than the king’s quest. Or in other words, the dark side of magic in Grossman’s novel has a much stronger appeal than the fairy tale.

Tags: 

Pages