by Hans-Jürgen John
Why reviews on Johntext?
Well, Johntext is about authors and their books. Every day so many new books are published that it seems impossible to read them all. A pre-selection is important. Reviews help with that.
We learn from others. Each time we read a book. For example nonfiction. Reading books is substitute gratification. Because the person we choose to be our mentor has little time. But that doesn’t make it any less fulfilling. There is no other way. If the author transmitted his knowledge to us eye to eye, it would hardly be so well formulated and concentrated.
Learning via an interface to the brain is still a vision of the future. Elon Musk is experimenting with it in his company Neuralink. The chances are good. He could become the Thomas Edison of the 21st century. Until the time comes that facts are fed directly into our brains via a link, we’ll have to keep reading ourselves for the time being.
What are the options? Either we learn by trial and error – a lengthy and sometimes painful method. Failure as a precondition for success. It is recommended for scientific experiments – for example to eliminate gravity. Thomas Edinson proceeded in this way. He is said to have made 10,000 attempts before he found the right wire for the light bulb.
There are shortcuts like everywhere. We accept that others have made our mistakes long ago and learn from these people. Commonly, they are called mentors. This can happen in personal contact – or by reading their books. We are lucky. Oftentimes mentors become authors.
Reviews are shortcuts. They are a time machine. They help us to go to an aim with less trial and errors. They convey a first impression of the book and its value for us – before we read it.
According to UNESCO, 4900 new books are published every day worldwide. How does UNESCO know that? It needs such statistics. To have indicators about the standard of living and education of a nation. Impossible to read all these books. Especially since many of them summarize others.
One of the tasks of a critic is to find the pearls in this sea of knowledge. The book on which many others are based – the sun in the middle of a solar system.
Books are like cherries on a tree. Held by branches. Branches held by a trunk. Which grows up from roots. When we find the book in the center from which all other books have grown and emerged – we do not need to read the other thousands of books that have come out of it.
In non-fiction books we can distinguish two directions. Books written from the experience of a human being – take GREAT ADVICE – For solving everyday challenges at work and in life – by David Wee and Handi Kurniawan.
Of a person who was there during an economic and/or technical revolution – take the autobiography Steve Jobs by Isaac Walterson.
Then there are the books that combine many other books and result in a new book. Usually a person’s personal experience is also mixed in with what she/he read and then writes down. For example, Skip the line by James Altucher.