Book Review: Minecraft- The Island by Max Brooks.

Survival. Zombies. Action. This book has all the usual elements of a Max Brooks bestseller… except this one has blocks… lots of blocks. If you’re aware of the world of Minecraft, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, where have you been?

I was surprised at first when I saw Max Brooks’ name on the cover of this book, but as I delved in, I could see that it suited his style of writing well. The Island is a highly creative piece of writing, with Brooks turning the mechanics of the game into fiction, in a way that can only be admired. It’s paced perfectly, with the classic survival trope of being marooned on an island used as the book’s main plot. This, of course, just works for a book based on the game.

Minecraft: The Island is written in a perspective that reads as a personal account from a journal. The protagonist, the author of the journal, tells of his adventure from the moment he wakes up on the island. With no memories of his life before, he must learn the rules of the mysterious world he finds himself in.

What surprised me most was the amount of philosophy and the number life lessons that Max Brooks has managed to weave into this tale. Clearly aimed at a wide audience, I think this was a great choice, and clearly shows the skill of Brooks as a writer. It may not be the most technically written book out there, but it’s made to be read by the many fans of the franchise. There’s something in here for everyone.    

I never thought that I’d be sharing philosophy from a work of fiction based on Minecraft, but my favourite life lessons that this book teaches:

  • Be grateful for what you have.
  • Take life in steps.
  • Courage is a full-time job.
  • It’s not failure that matters, it’s how you recover.
  • Keep going, never give up.   

Final thoughts: I loved this book. I can’t give it the same score as some of the other books I’ve rated on here, so for that reason, it gets 4/5. It’s fun. It’s well written. It’s highly creative. It’s an easy read for when you need to unwind. I would recommend Minecraft: The Island to any fan of the franchise, no matter the age. Read it if you’re a Minecraft pro or novice, it might inspire your next creation. Read it to your kids, they may pick up some valuable lessons for the future. Read it when you just need an escape, from a world not made of blocks.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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My Top 5 Books of 2020.

2020 was certainly a year in which books were a huge part of my life, with that want for escape and learning being needed more than ever. With that said, here are the top 5 five books that helped me survive the odd year that was 2020.

Diversion to Urasha by Laura Hopgood.

Diversion to Urasha was the perfect escape into a captivating world of Sci-Fi adventure. I become lost in the beautifully crafted story last summer, and look forward to reading more this year.

“I recommend Laura’s work to anyone that wishes for an easy read and a quick escape from reality. She is a talented individual, that writes with emotion and heart.”

Hope Quest (Book 1): Blackbird by Melanie Ever Moore.

Another amazing escape, but this time into something much darker. This is another series that I look forward to returning to this year. 

“Hope Quest: Blackbird is stylish, darkly-elegant and beautifully delivered.”

Happy by Derren Brown.

I found this book at a difficult time last year. It helped me change my mind set completely, and put me on the path that I am now. Through it, I found my interest in philosophy. Books are powerful things…

“This book will have you questioning much about your life, but then if you picked it up for the reason I did, you have probably already begun questioning. It is through questioning ourselves about our situation and choice that we can make change, and this book is a perfect stepping stone to that longer journey of discovery.”

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.

…and this book fortified that interest in philosophy. Stoicism is not just an interesting philosophy, but a powerful state of mind that is applicable to everyday life. I am returning to The Daily Stoic this year, as well as picking up some more Ryan Holiday to read.

“If you heed its teachings, I believe that it has the potential to change the way you think about life and its challenges. It could make you stern and resolute in the face of any situation. It will help you find serenity and peace of mind in the chaos of this modern world. I will be re-reading this for years to come and will continue to use it for references and my morning meditations.”

Quiet by Susan Cain.

Wow. Just wow. This book empowered me to a whole other level. I’d always struggled with my difference, but Quiet brilliantly highlighted the strengths in those differences.

“Quiet is an incredible book. It was called the most important book published in a decade, and I completely agree. I say this book left me speechless, and it did at first, but after absorbing so much information, I find myself with a lot to say on the subject. Quiet is a book that spoke to me on many levels, and is a book that should be read by most.”

All of these books were worthy of a 5/5 rating from me. You should go check them out!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Book Review: Quiet by Susan Cain.

“It was called the most important book published in a decade, and I completely agree.”

I have always questioned why I felt different to the majority, until recently. I was always quiet. Thoughtful. I preferred the company of books to that of people, so my school life was rather difficult. For this reason, Quiet by Susan Cain resonated with me in a way that left me speechless. I don’t think I ever quite fathomed the amount of research that had gone into the world of introversion and extroversion. I always thought I was odd, and was often made to feel that way, but it turns out that I was just one among many.

Quiet explores the strengths of the introverted among us. Susan Cain delves into the subject, and without fear, questions how change can be made to schools and workplaces to cultivate those strengths. You see, we live in a world that has adapted to the extrovert. In school, we’re taught to work in groups and speak among crowds. At work, we’re expected to be able to make presentations and enjoy team building activities. In our personal lives, we’re expected to attend every social event we’re invited to or be in a perfectly adapted relationship. These are all extroverted ideals that have been popularised by those that speak the loudest, without thought for those that need the quiet.   

Cain’s research in this book is deep. From interviews with academics and professors, to personal views and experience, Cain has incorporated a vast amount of knowledge into Quiet. One of my favourite chapters was about the research done with how we grow to be introverted (or extroverted), and how it can be predicted from a very young age. It brings into question the nature versus nurture discussion. Is it biology or experience? Turns out, studies have shown, it’s a combination of both, but we can predict the probability of either. High-reactive children are more likely to be introverted, and low-reactive are more likely to be extroverted.

About the writing style; Cain’s ability is flawless as she switches between fact driven article and personal perspective. Despite it bearing a considerably heavy subject, Quiet is both easy to read and understand, and is thoroughly entertaining. I like how open Cain is about herself and her own experience. This adds much to the overall charm of the book. Cain is clear about her mission and what she wants to achieve through her research. She is a voice of reason among those that may not be willing to speak up.

And I know that many of you reading this can probably relate to Cain, and myself, so here are some strengths that you should consider, if you too are Quiet:

  • We may not speak as much, but we listen intently. This makes us great empaths and absorbers of spoken knowledge.
  • We read a lot. From this, we learn at an increased rate and have a greater ability for imagination.
  • From art, reading and writing, we have a learned focus, that we can apply to other elements of our lives.
  • We think a lot and have a greater ability to analyse and apply logic.
  • We are generally more creative.
  • We find joy from simpler things.
  • We’re not afraid to be alone.
  • When we do speak up, it’s for a reason, and we are listened to more intently.

These are just a few to consider and are inspired by the works of Cain and her research. Learn to lean into your strengths, and not fight against them. Realise your weaknesses, but don’t let them hold you back. This is something that I learned a few years ago and will never look back to who I was. In all my quietness, I have learned that I am a strong leader. I push myself because I am passionate about people and life. If you’re introverted, just be yourself. Find your passion and everything else will fall into place. If you’re extroverted, then remember that some of us just enjoy the quiet.

Quiet is an incredible book. It was called the most important book published in a decade, and I completely agree. I say this book left me speechless, and it did at first, but after absorbing so much information, I find myself with a lot to say on the subject. Quiet is a book that spoke to me on many levels, and is a book that should be read by most. Of course, without hesitation, I give Quiet 5/5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buy here!

(Also published on http://www.redefined-media.com.)