3 out of 4 stars
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In this era of microblogging and “too long; didn’t read,” some authors are ditching longwinded chapters in favor of shorter and sweeter fare. Matthew DiGeronimo is among them, focusing on brevity in his book, Breadcrumbs: Bite Sized Musings on Leadership and Life. True to its title, this book contains over fifty brief yet compelling mini-essays on various topics related to self-improvement. Can a chain of command be too noisy? Can a plate of nachos provide some insight into reaching your goals? Should we all have conversations with our multiple personalities? DiGeronimo muses on these questions and many more.
I have some small quibbles with Breadcrumbs, but overall I found it to be a refreshing and addictively readable collection of food for thought. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
If you’ve read more than a couple self-improvement manuals, you’ll know that they all start sounding more or less the same after a while. Get up early, practice meditation, focus on gratitude – these principles have been written about by more self-help gurus than you can shake a stick at. Breadcrumbs, though, comes straight out of left field. One of the first mini-essays in the book takes a close look at the old cliché, “Think outside the box!” Is this the wrong way to look at creativity? What if the box itself is a big part of any breakthrough? After all, how can you break out of the box if the box isn’t there to begin with? Should we focus more on building better boxes for ourselves to think inside? I found this to be such an interesting perspective shift, and it really resonated with me.
The rest of the essays were similarly unpredictable, but very well-reasoned. Though the advice is often geared toward corporate leadership, I found myself learning a lot about taking charge, communicating, being creative, and chasing goals. I took away plenty of helpful knowledge for my day-to-day life.
This book definitely didn’t feel like just another rehash of the same old tricks, and its structure only added to the fresh feel. If we’re talking about food for thought, this book should be grazed on – carve a few minutes out of your busy morning to read a super-concise chapter, then ruminate on its unexpected ideas for the rest of the day. You don’t need to commit hours of your time to reading it cover-to-cover – in fact, you’ll probably get more out of it if you read it a little at a time.
As much as I liked this book, there are a few downsides I have to point out. First, Breadcrumbs really needs an editor. There were many punctuation errors and minor typos – “mote” instead of “moat,” for instance. There was also an essay that made a double appearance in two different chapters. Tightening up the fine details of the writing would really elevate this book.
Second, there were one or two chapters that felt like dead weight. In a book chock-full of insight and creative thinking, an essay on the silliness of common idioms taken literally (“kill two birds with one stone” – why are we killing birds?!) fell rather flat.
Those are my only two complaints, and the only reasons I can’t give this book a full four-star rating. That said, I’m happy to rate this book 3 out of 4 stars, and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking to better themselves, their workplace, and their environment.
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