Category Archives: Books

The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

StorytellingAnimalWhy do we tell stories? Is it genetics? Is it evolution? Is it simply our preffered way to waste time born in an era when technology was non-existent? The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human tries to answer these questions with very compelling arguments.

In The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human Jonathan Gottschall shows you how the world of stories is fundamental to the human condition. Through the chapters Gottschall takes you through many current theories of why we as humans have developed, and kept, the art of storytelling. The book also explores the science behind storytelling, and some of the reasons why stories have a magical pull on our attention and decision-making process.

The book is written in a very active and readable tone.  Gottschall himself, taking his own example, makes use of varied stories frequently throughout the book.  Through his use of powerful storytelling the reader gets a first-hand look at how a good narrative can immerse us and capture us.

All in all The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human is a delightful reading experience, filled with insight into the many different types of storytelling, and why storytelling is, hands-down, the way to go when attempting to ingrain memorable experiences in the minds of other human beings.

For anyone looking to explore the importance of storytelling, or anyone looking to understand why the world of make-believe has such a great allure, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human is certainly the book to read. I give this book an 8/10.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Influence

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials)
presents an in-depth look into the many persuasive tools available to us in our everyday human interactions. In this book Dr. Cialdini puts his decades of experience in the fields of psychology and marketing to teach you how to be an effective and persuasive communicator.

I picked up Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials) as part of a package of some twenty or so books regarding influence and storytelling for my trial library. When I ordered it I was not sure what to expect or if it would be worth my time, but once I sat down to read it I quickly realized that this book was a gold mine. Throughout the book Dr. Cialdini guides you through the intricacies of human behaviour, and in the process discusses what causes us to make the decisions that we make. Every chapter of the book is divided into key elements of our decision-making process, and in each one of those chapters Dr. Cialdini explains, through research studies, why those elements play a significant part in our lives.

In Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials) Dr. Cialdini explores six tools that can be used to persuade others:

  1. Reciprocity: The feeling of indebtedness we have when others have extended a favour to us.
  2. Commitment and Consistency: The unwillingness of people to change their minds once they have committed to an idea publicly,
  3. Social Proof: People will do things that they see other people doing.
  4. Authority: People will do things when commanded by authority figures.
  5. Liking: People’s willingness to be persuaded by people that they like.
  6. Scarcity: People tend to value information more when they perceive it to be scarce.

By learning how to apply these principles we can gain an advantage when trying to persuade, whether it be those we deal with on a daily basis, or a jury panel ready to decide someone’s fate, and Dr. Cialdini does an excellent job of explaining how these principles work in this book. Overall this is a great book, it is simple, to the point, and not incredibly boring like some of the more “scientific” publications out there.  If you’re looking to learn the basics of persuasion I give this book a 8/10.

Ehrhardt’s Florida Evidence

Ehrhardt

Ehrhardt’s Florida Evidence is the evidence book that teaches you everything you ever wanted to know about the Florida evidence code, and then some.

With clear and concise language, this book carefully guides you through the Florida evidence code, breaking down important and complicated sections into subsections for easy understanding of the material. Particularly useful are the book’s numerous parenthetical citations on the bottom half of every page. Not only does the author do a fantastic job of explaining each section of the Florida evidence code, but by making references to the applicable caselaw, the reader is able to follow up on any doubts that remain.

Ehrhardt’s Florida Evidence dedicates over 260 pages to hearsay, making it one of the most complete sources on the subject. As expected, the book focuses on the technical aspects of the rule as applied in Florida caselaw, and is replete with applicable caselaw throughout this entire chapter. If you’re like me and find the many challenges embedded in the hearsay rule and its many exceptions exciting, Ehrhardt’s Florida Evidence is the right book for you.

Something I found particularly useful is the book’s chapter on authentication of documents. In it the author covers the many different permissible ways of having a document authenticated, when a document is self-authenticating, and when no authentication is required. Ehrhardt’s Florida Evidence is certainly a valuable source to keep handy when figuring out whether a document needs to be authenticated, and if so whether the witness or method you have in mind can get it done.

With 1082 pages of solid, on point knowledge, and an appended full copy of the Florida Evidence Code, Ehrhardt’s Florida Evidence deserves a 10/10. I only wish I had gotten my hands on this wonderful resource months ago.

Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering


Reverse engineering is a skill, a craft, a creative process that cannot be learned from just reading a book.  With that said, Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering offers great guidance into the process, and unlike other self proclaimed “hacker essentials,” this book delivers what it promises and then some. This book starts the reader off from the basics of compiled languages, explaining the intricacies of compiler optimized assembly output.  And proceeds to show various reversing sessions of native Windows API implementations.  Guiding the reader step by step in the process of turning the assembly code into higher level code.

The later chapters deal with inspecting malaware, with the author analysing a popular backdoor program, and tracing its functionality in order to discover the server it connects to, its password, and its command list.  The book also extensively covers anti-reversing, and anti-debugging techniques, dedicating a full chapter to these.

In its final chapters, the book introduces techniques for reversing vm-based implementations like Java and the .Net platform.  With the increasing popularity of this type of implementations, this is surely a skill that will become more useful as time goes by.  The appendix in this book is incredibly useful.  Appendix A is a quick reference guide for translating common high level constructs into assembly language.  Appendix B is a quick reference to common arithmetic as optimized by the compiler.  Appendix C gives an in-depth analysis of how data is laid out in the system, and how the many standard calling conventions are represented.

Overall Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering is one of the most well-written, detailed, and useful books on the subject and it deserves a 9/10.  If you are looking for a fantastic book on the subject, look no further.