Archive for the ‘What I am Reading This Week’ Category

Busting Bad Guys – 5 Stars!

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Busting Bad Guys

My True Crime Stories of Bookies, Drug Dealers and Ladies of the Night


Mark Langan

Five Stars!


My Dad introduced me to Mark Langan several years ago at his Rotary Club meeting at the Nebraska Humane Society because Dad knew Mark was a personal hero of mine.  I’ve since been fortunate to meet Mark’s very kind wife and their wonderful dog Laci, and I make sure to say “hi” to Mark whenever I see him at Nebraska Humane Society events.

In my mind, this tough but kind former cop had personally climbed the front porch stairs of every dog fighting scum bag in Omaha and surrounding areas, pulling the bad guys out of the houses and tossing them to waiting cops, then taking his team of equally tough humane society officers into the dark basements of those houses, tucking a Pit Bull under each arm and emerging into the sunlight, rescuing all of the fighting dogs and bait dogs there were until the crime of dog fighting – along with all of the “partner” crimes that go with it – drug dealing, illegal gambling and the like – were just an embarrassing, horrible memory in our community, and all of the rescued dogs were safe in living rooms across Omaha.


I do not know if that is exactly what happened – probably not since I made it up, but – I do know dog fighting is much less common around here – not because bad guys became good, but because Mark Langan led the Nebraska Humane Society – Omaha Police teamwork that ended the horrible practice of dog fighting – not only here in Omaha but also helping shut down a dog fighting ring that spanned much of the country.

So I made up HOW it happened, but I promise you, Mark is that cool.  The book Busting Bad Guys covers the time span BEFORE Mark was Vice President for Field Operations for the Nebraska Humane Society, the twenty-six years he was a cop and detective serving Omaha.

The stories are rough – heartbreaking – shocking and will have you cheering for the good guys every time.

I was impressed but not surprised by the respect Mark showed every person with whom he interacted – even the worst our city had to offer.

I loved the book.  I loved the inside look at the Omaha Police Department.  I loved learning more about the man I already respect so much.

Dr. Bashara bought a copy of the book for each of the three hospital locations.  Thank you Dr. Bashara!  I snagged one, Nicole snagged another, and there is a waiting list within my family for a book I have to return tomorrow…(Don’t tell Dad and Russ).  Looks like I will be buying a few books as well.

If I have not relayed the story of Mark’s time since joining Nebraska Humane Society in completely accurate detail, perhaps there should be a second book?

I would read that.

Thank you Mark for this great book.  Thank you most of all for your incredible career(s) of service to our great city.

Busting Bad Guys Website

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Traction – 5 Stars!

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


Get a Grip on Your Business 


Gino Wickman

Five Stars!


This is a wonderful book on taking your business – any business – and making it wildly successful.  The suggestions are sound, the methods are solid business recommendations and the results used as examples are those of excellent leaders manifesting that excellence and leadership in eventual business success that the author has taught and now explains in his book.  The recommendations seem reasonable and repeatable – as if any excellent leadership team could take them and run.  I loved it, and will return to the book and to its recommendations in Real Life.

The book was not, of course, about the author as some books are, but by the author as…well…all books are, and this type of book does not have a lot of personal information about the one writing, but I love a book with an underlying buzz of a great person writing it.  This book has the feel of being from the perspective of a well-grounded, kind, driven, principled person, and it makes it all the more enjoyable to read.

Thank you to Dr. Beth Davidow, DACVECC for the recommendation of this book!

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This is the last of my reviews of the books from the article  “24 Books to Change Your Life” by Tom McFerson in the June 2013 edition of Veterinary Economics.  A huge “THANK YOU” to the author for such a great reading list and to the contributors for the steady supply of books to read, many of which I would have otherwise accidentally missed!

Team of Rivals – 5 Stars!

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Team of Rivals – The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln


Doris Kearns Goodwin

Five Stars!


I loved this book.  It is the thickest of the books on the Veterinary Economics “24 Books to Change Your Life” list, which almost kept me from reading it.  So glad I did not miss it!

The author exhaustively researched President Lincoln, his childhood, his family life, his rise to presidency and his leadership, but tells his story in such a way that you will be looking forward to getting back in the middle of the 1800’s at every chance you get, and dreading the inevitable end – the end of the book and the end of the amazing life of President Lincoln in which you are bound to feel intwined.

The author goes deeper into President Lincoln’s life by richly describing the lives of those closest to him, personally and politically with all of the overlap and complexities of those relationships.

Great book.  You will accidentally learn so much about our country’s history, but just as valuable, be lost in a completely intriguing, challenging, enjoyable story of one of the greatest men who ever lived.

Thank you to Dr. Scott Anderson, DACVS, DACVECC, DABVP for the great recommendation!

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Five Stars!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


Rebecca Skloot

Five Stars!


I spent all of my waking hours over an entire day reading this book.  I started the book expecting a science lesson charged with ethical debate (awesome) and ended up completely swept away (even more awesome) – and feeling as though I were swept up WITH the author (most awesome of all) – in the story of the Lacks family.

About a year ago, I read an article about Henrietta Lacks – her medical case, the cell line that originated from her surgical biopsies without her knowledge or consent, the struggles her family had undergone learning about the cell line decades later and the questions the situations raised about medicine and confidentiality and ownership of our own bodies and parts…I have not been able to get the story out of my head.

I picked up the book expecting answers and closure and instead was drawn into something much more amazing – the rich, raw story of heartbreak and healing that completely engulfed the author in Real Life for over a decade, molding her and changing her in ways that, as difficult as it must have been to walk through with the Lacks family, and especially Henrietta Lacks’s daughter Deborah with whom she formed a very deep bond, I doubt she would trade for the world.

The cervix of Henrietta Lacks was biopsied in the early 1950’s during the medical work up of the cancer that would take her life soon afterwards at the age of 31 (31!)  Without the knowledge of Mrs. Lacks or her family, cells from that biopsy sample were saved and successfully grown in culture.  The cell lines created from those cells – named HeLa – are still in use by scientists worldwide and have been involved in amazing and lifesaving discoveries.

For the story of Henrietta Lacks’s family, this book is worth reading.  It is the first book I have read EVER in which I have not confused multiple characters.  I feel as though I know the family members, their friends and neighbors, the doctors and scientists and their family and coworkers, and even the author herself.

To be able to come along as the author becomes entwined in the science and medicine of the situation and into the very fabric of the Lacks family, to the point you feel as though you too are a part of the story, this book is worth reading.

For the scientific and medical information and history of human cell culture and research and the challenge of what-would-you-do ethical issues, where the results save lives, break hearts, rattle families and affect generations, this book is worth reading.

Rated best book of 2010 over 60 times.  You will be completely into the middle of it before you realize you are all in.  You may have read about the family or the cell line.  You may think you know the story.  I thought  I did, and I had not even scratched the surface.

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Thank you to Bonnie Lutz, Esq. for the recommendation.  And thank you once again to Tom McFerson for the list, “24 Books to Change Your Life” in the June 2013 Veterinary Economics.

This is my very favorite book from the “24 Books to Change Your Life” list that I have read so far.


Making Ideas Happen

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Making Ideas Happen

Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality


Scott Belsky

Five Stars!


This is the book I was inspired to read after reading Managing Your Day to Day which was recommended by my brother Dave.  I love this crazy adventure of books and bunny trails!

Making Ideas Happen is written for creatives – specifically people whose job it is to be creative, which is Not Me, but sometimes it is good to see life from a completely different angle than what you  normally would.

Creative people often are by nature unorganized – part of the wonderful package of a typical artistic type – ideas flow freely, but the follow through that is required for ideas to become reality does not always come as easily.  Which is a shame, because creative people have some great ideas.

Creative people do not need help generating ideas.  They do that day and night and do it well.  What they need help with is the follow through.  This book answers that problem amazingly well.

The author contends that three things – the action method (a specific structure developed by the author and others for setting ideas up for success), relying on others for feedback and leading the creative team well – are the keys to seeing ideas through to actual results.  The author has made it happen in his own career and personal life and helped many other creatives make it happen time and time again in their own careers and personal lives.  He also has stories about other successful creatives which are very fun to read.

I won’t be restructuring my career around the ideas in this book because, you know, I treat and prevent, which is pretty straight forward, and inherently structured and non-creative, but I do have a dash of creativity involved in other areas of my life (We all do I bet) so I was able to glean quite a bit of exciting and useful information from the book.

Some of my favorite parts…

Create action steps for every project.  I loved this whole idea – As you know if you have ever had to work with me (or live with me) I write EVERYTHING down.  If I see a cute pet, I write his name down.   If I like a candle scent, I write the scent down.  If I have a book I might want to read, a topic I might want to write about, an interesting quote I heard…The kicker is everything I write down is in sequential order based on when I heard it or thought of it in my notebooks.  I would not even be that organized if Kelly hadn’t gently taken my post-its away about two years ago and handed me a notebook.  If I were to organize everything in those (now several) notebooks by the author’s action plan suggestion…woo!  Who KNOWS what awesome things might come of it?

“Measure meetings with actions.”  “In most cases, leaving a meeting without anything actionable signifies that the meeting was just an information exchange and should have taken place over e-mail.”  (page 78)  Actually all I have done with this point is develop a snarky attitude about our latest team meeting.  I do enjoy team meetings for two reasons –

  1. As an introvert and a people lover, if I have a structured environment in which to spend time with coworkers, that is more comfortable to me than a party or dinner, so meetings are a time for me to check in with everyone and make sure everyone is doing ok.
  2. I work with less than half of the Gentle Doctor team, so if I did not see the rest at team meetings, I would not ever see them.

So even without concrete actions to carry out after every meeting, I do feel as though they have value.  The point is well taken though – a meeting should have a distinct purpose with actionable steps for team members to take afterwards.

“Reconsider your amount of ‘insecurity work.'”  Checking Twitter…checking email…checking stats.  When I write, I do this constantly!  I have made it a goal to singletask as much as I can this year.  Along those same lines, I am going to double my efforts and try to reduce my amount of insecurity work.  I say I don’t have time to write, but I could get tons written if when I did sit down to write, I singlemindedly wrote with purpose instead of wandering aimlessly through the internet!

And perhaps my favorite part of all, what I have said all along for puppy training, and have said for the last several years in interacting with people – Celebrate and encourage others’ strengths, and do not dwell on weaknesses.

In explaining this method of feedback, the author quotes Jay O’Callahan, who said, “If our eyes are always looking for weakness, we begin to lose the intuition to notice the beauty.”  I love it.

You will love this book.  Everyone has a creative streak, even the most scientific among us.  Everyone has ideas.  It is the rare person who can see their ideas through to actual products.  Scott Belsky gives us the tools to get there.

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Crush It! 5 Stars!

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Crush It


Gary Vaynerchuk

5 Stars!


This book was written in 2009 before The Thank You Economy, but I read this one second.  Still great even out of order.

Crush It is about making a living out of doing what you love, which is kind of my thing.

I am SUCH a laid back person compared to the author that I sort of felt like a slacker slouching in bed reading this great book.  In many other ways, we are very similar, and I found myself relating to much of what he said.

My favorite chapter was Chapter 9.

The advice about caring deeply about your subject and people and how to build a business around what you care most about is timeless, but I also enjoyed Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on communicating online in 2009.  The internet is so much different now four years later, but you will be surprised about how almost all of what he said pertaining to the internet is still completely on target.

If you loved The Thank You Economy, you will love Crush It.  If you have not read either, start with one and I guarantee you will want to read the other next.

Read my review of The Thank You Economy here on Riley and James or on Dr. Rebecca Tudor’s blog Catalyst Vets on which it was posted as a guest blog last week.  Same post!  But be sure to check out Dr. Tudor’s excellent blog either way!

Read what Gary Vaynerchuk said after I posted the review of The Thank You Economy here:


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Next Up!
Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook, How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World by Gary Vaynerchuck
That one comes out at the end of November so I should be able to fit in reading and reviewing a few books from the Veterinary Economics 24 Books to Change Your Life” list before then!

Happier at Home – 5 Stars!

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Happier at Home

Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life


Gretchen Rubin

5 Stars!


I love the cover – bluebirds!  And bird houses!  Beautiful, bright pastels.

I love the blog, Twitter and Facebook links on the back of the book.

I love the prequel.

And…I love this book, Happier at Home.  Very fun to read.  Very practical advice on happiness – which I bet you did not think was possible until Gretchen Rubin started writing it.  Me neither.  But it is.  And she does it again.

Good stories.  Good nuclear and extended family related advice on appreciating the people most important to you and making the most of every opportunity with them.  Fascinating insight into the deep love for New York of a woman raised in the Midwest.

The author’s analytical, thorough and introspective explanations of what happiness is and what it is not – with underlying currents of contentment, selflessness and family – resonate with me.  The stories are heartwarming and sincere.

I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed The Happiness Project, I love reading Gretchen Rubin’s daily thoughts and articles and I look forward to her next book on happiness.

And…I hope her family adopts a dog and that she writes about that too.


Joy the Puppy demonstrating from day 1 by her very name and dog-self that pets can indeed add to happiness.

Made to Stick

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Made to Stick:  Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die


Chip Heath and Dan Heath

5 Stars!


FINALLY I am to the list that caused me to step up my reading again – the Veterinary Economics 2013 list of leadership books gathered by Tom McFerson.  This book was on the list, and I have finished reading it, and it was great.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  Well, all the parts are true, but the REASON I read this book is because Mike Falconer read that I liked the Heath brothers’ other book, Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard, and he recommended THIS book during my last self-imposed (and very fun) reading whirlwind inspired by Tom McFerson’s FIRST Veterinary Economics list of leadership books in 2010.  Thanks Mike!  You were right, I love this one too!

Read Mike’s review of Switch on his awesome blog here.

ANYWAYS, the book.  It’s really good.  Chip and Dan Heath discuss what makes ideas “sticky” – what makes them memorable.  I would not otherwise be a huge fan of the word sticky.  (Ask me to list all the things in my career field that are sticky.)  But I LOVE their reasoning for calling ideas sticky.  It is a tip of the hat to Malcolm Gladwell who explores what makes ideas take off in his book “The Tipping Point.”  Malcolm Gladwell says (and explains why) ideas need a “stickiness factor” to become popular.  “Made to Stick” takes that idea further, and looks into why ideas stick and how to make ideas stick.

If you ever say “because Malcolm Gladwell” I will believe anything  you say and do anything you say to do.  So I continued on and read the rest of the book.  I am glad I did.

Following their own advice to tell things in such a way to make them memorable, the authors fill the book with very fun, engaging stories.  They explain how to make ideas memorable in an easy to duplicate sort of way.  For someone who tells stories about pets…this was a very fun read and will be of great practical use in my own writing.

Omaha link:  Near the end of the book is a story told by Warren Buffet about Mrs. B.  I love stories Warren Buffet tells, and I love stories about Mrs. B.  Awesome.

Even if your passion is something other than writing about pets (weird!), you DO have great stories the world needs to hear.  This book will help you tell them.

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Stephen King: On Writing

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

On Writing


Stephen King

Five Stars!


“I was built with a love of the night and the unquiet coffin, that’s all.  If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders.  It’s what I have.”  Stephen King:  On Writing, page 158.

This is the first Stephen King book I have finished, the first one I have loved.  I don’t say that to be a jerk, though I know that is a jerk thing to say.  I have always wanted to be a Stephen King fan.  I have always admired his writing career.  I sighed with relief when he survived the accident and again when it turned out to be merely a rumor that he had decided to stop writing afterwards.

I have long suspected I would like the man himself.

This book, one of the few non-fiction works of Stephen King, supported my suspicion that he is a pretty great guy.  Down to earth.  Matter of fact.  A believer of sorts.  A family man.  And best of all, a helper.  Some of his success even he does not understand.  What he does understand, he explains in this book.

The book starts as background of King’s life – including mostly parts that he believes shaped him as a writer.  Who would not want to read this book for those great stories alone??  The rest is very practical advice intertwined with the same storytelling.  I put the book down twice while I was reading – once to go to work and once to sleep.

I write about pets (well, and books, and gardening and sometimes random things that are on my mind…I can do that – it’s a blog!)  But I found everything King wrote, even though it was specifically geared to fiction writers, worth considering in my own writing.

I loved this book.  For the stories alone, I think you will too.  If you dream of being a writer, especially a fiction writer, I would start here, and continue with What’s Next as suggested in this book.

Born Rich: A Historical Book of Omaha

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Born Rich:  A Historical Book of Omaha


Margaret Patricia Killian

Five Stars!


This is a very fun historical book about my hometown and the city in which we now live, Omaha, Nebraska.  I love Omaha, and I loved learning more about her history from the perspective of a good storyteller who grew up and ended up here also.  Margaret Patricia Killian was the head of the home economics department of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (then University of Omaha) from 1945-1973, publishing Born Rich:  A Historical Book of Omaha in 1978.

I found the book where I find many of my favorite books, on Mom and Dad’s book shelves.  (Thank you Mom and Dad!  I am getting it back to you this weekend!)

I suspect this would be a fun book to read even if you were not from Omaha.  If you are from Omaha or have lived here…I really think you would enjoy this book.  I am not much of a history lover, but I do love this city, and I do love learning history if it is well told.

The story of Omaha from her official beginnings in the 1850’s until the mid-1900’s is well told here, much of it from the memory of the author and her father, which makes it read more like a good story than a history book.  I enjoyed the book and I think you would enjoy it too.

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