Book reviews

Yes, it is summer, which means it’s time to sit back, relax and catch up on some reading. Well, you are in luck, because this has been a banner year for some new releases, plus some 2018 books I am just getting to. Let’s go!

Best Book (so far) of 2019

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

This book is a fascinating look at how people get better at getting better, from sports to school to music and work. Building upon the analogy of “should you raise a Tiger Woods (specialist) or a Roger Federer (generalist), Epstein dives into research from education, skill acquisition and more to tease out some great suggestions. He originally was going to call the book Tiger vs Roger, but once he realized that the hyper-specialized Tiger model was extremely rare, and the generalized Federer approach was a far more common path to high-level performance, he scrapped the title. In the book, we learn that current performance is a very poor indicator of whether learning has taken place and why blocked practice (repeating the same action over and over) is a far worse way to learn than randomized, interleaved training. We also learn that there are two types of learning environments, kind ones (think golf and chess) and wicked ones (think soccer and ice hockey). The more wicked your world, the harder it is to have transfer from practice to games. Much like his first NYT bestseller, The Sports Gene, Epstein has once again knocked it out of the park with his storytelling and detailed research. This book belongs on the shelf of every coach and parent.

Runner Up:

Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best by Alan Stein Jr.

Alan Stein has worked as a strength and conditioning coach for many years, working closely with a who’s who of NBA players including Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry and more. “Success is not an accident; success is a choice. And the question you have to ask yourself is this: Are the habits I have today on par with the dreams I have for tomorrow?” That quote sums up Alan’s work in a nutshell. Raise Your Game is a great step by step journey to getting the best out of your performance in sports and life.



Two Amazing Books I missed in 2018:

Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time by Ian O’Connor

If you have ever wanted to get inside the mind, the office and the locker room of a coaching genius, this is your book. O’Connor’s meticulous research and painstaking interviews of some never-before interviewed Bill Belichick associates take you from his formative playing years to his Super Bowl-winning assistant coaching jobs, to an ill-fated stint with the Browns, and ultimately six super bowl rings with the New England Patriots. You will learn about his evolution as a person and a coach, how he connects deeply with players, and how he creates a culture of unsurpassed excellence. I found this book fascinating, easy to read, and full of great ideas, and I am working hard to get the author on the podcast!

Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Arman Keteyian

Another fascinating and well researched deep dive into the mind of a flawed genius. I always wanted to understand Tiger Woods’ childhood and upbringing that led him to be such a ruthless champion on the golf course, and a ruthless human off it. This book has the details. It also tells the story of his transformation after his divorce, substance abuse, and numerous surgeries, and all in all made me kind of happy for him when he won the Masters in 2019. But if you read this book, I cannot imagine you coming out with the idea that the way Earl raised Tiger is the way you want to raise your own kids. If you love golf and great insider stories, you will have trouble putting this one down.

Well, get to it, enjoy your summer reading work! And please, if you have any to add to this list, fire away! (PS: these are Amazon affiliate links, so we do make a few cents per book if you click through here and buy one. We thank you in advance!)


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