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Business / Personal Finance

  • Finalist

    Rough Diamonds

    by Wilfried Vanhonacker

    Rating: 9.25

    Idea: The author presents an instructive book on learning and teaching in a new environment, especially now that the pandemic has seriously impacted traditional education. It's a book that takes traditional learning modules and provides a modern twist; it’s timely, well-written, and creative.

    Prose: The author delivers a well-structured and thoughtful book on education. He presents a business model that he calls ‘out-of-the-box,’ but the business model is more in the box in 2021 than traditionally structured educational how-to books.

    Originality: Vanhonacker takes a novel, hands-on approach to the topic of education by urging teachers to help their students reconnect with a passion for learning and to embrace adaptability, variability, and innovation.

    Character/Execution: Rough Diamonds has a strong hook. As the author writes, "a new reality will shake education to its core." Educators and parents will embrace Vanhonacker’s thoughtful articulation concerning a new future (and present) for how we teach.

  • Semi Finalist

    Idea: The author doesn't write a paint-by-number investment book. Instead, he shares fascinating trends. He's also a strong writer who easily conveys ideas with facts, anecdotes, and humor.

    Prose/Style: The prose throughout is clear and instructive. The author's use of humor, such as the longevity revolution section, is engaging and still manages to inform. Clever writing abounds as do creative chapter titles and subheads, such as "Minding your Ks and Qs."

    Originality: Of the many investing books out there, this one stands out. The author has broken the topic down by trends and inserted personal stories, such as the coffee anecdote, that make readers feel that he's addressing them directly. The graphics are professionally done, explained well, and easy to understand.

    Character Development/Execution:  If a nonfiction book can be a page-turner, this one is it – both entertaining and informative. The author even includes post-pandemic scenarios.

    Blurb: No one can predict the future, but this book can help you come close. Well-written, prescriptive, and encouraging. "Trends" sections are especially helpful and timely. An informative, exciting book.

  • Semi Finalist

    The Surprising Power of Not Knowing What to Do

    by Jay Gordon Cone

    Rating: 9.00

    Idea: Information unfolds at a crisp pace and benefits from clear, considered structuring that serves well as both an enlightening guide and an entertaining story.

    Prose: Complex ideas are rendered accessible by smooth, succinct prose that makes cohorts of knowledge, humor, and objectivity.

    Originality: With anecdotal forays and a confidently novelist approach to storytelling bolstering his subject, Jay Gordon Cone crafts an exciting and voracious read that stands out.

    Character/Execution: An unflinching commitment to the analysis of thought on all avenues delivers a sharp and honest execution of the subject, replete with personal anecdotes that lend honest character to the subject.

    Blurb: Mixing the entertaining chops of a natural storyteller with the enlightening insights of a philosopher, The Surprising Power of Not Knowing What to Do is the perfect companion to help readers navigate strange and overwhelming times.

  • Semi Finalist

    The Career Toolkit

    by Mark A. Herschberg

    Rating: 8.50

    Idea: Herschberg's The Career Toolkit offers readers experienced insight into considering, preparing for, and navigating their professional endeavors, with a focus on financial impact.

    ProseThe Career Toolkit strikes a smart balance between accessibility and academia. Readers will have no trouble perusing its pages and absorbing the text's most-salient points.

    Originality: Herschberg's guide to career pathing acts on an almost philosophical level, demanding introspection of the reader while providing more concrete guides and data to create a holistic experience.

    Character/Execution: A well thought-out approach and clearly defined structure, paired to an omni-applicable strategy and Herschberg's absorbable writing, makes The Career Toolkit an insightful digest for readers of all careers.

  • Semi Finalist

    Idea: In today's pandemic society which is overflowing with companies and individuals working remotely, Reimagining Collaboration fulfills an important need. The author provides companies with a well-crafted guide to using current technology to successfully and effectively collaborate with employees and clients.

    Prose/Style: The structure of the book is tight, providing readers with an introduction to effective collaboration and the breakdown of the tools necessary to accomplish this. The author's extensive experience in this area is clear and he presents technical information in a manner that is understandable, efficient, and inviting.

    Originality: While some books on technology can come across as dry, this book does not. Although the intended readers are business owners and corporations, even a sole entrepreneur tasked with collaborating with freelancers or clients can benefit from the compelling premise and timely content.

    Character Development/Execution: This book is a perfect handbook for anyone who has to work with teammates on a job or project.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Plot: W. Lee Radcliffe's second edition of his TSP Investing Strategies is a book that will appeal only to a highly specific audience, that of government employees and military personnel who qualify for enrollment in the U.S. government's Thrift Savings Plan, but he has mastered his niche. With his own research into market habits and much explanatory number-crunching, Radcliff demystifies this investment opportunity that he calls "one of the greatest mechanisms through which to build wealth in the world". With a thoroughness uncommon to many investment guides, Radcliffe walks readers through the basics of TSP -- as well as some of the arcana -- before presenting six flexible, detailed strategies for investment, all targeted toward the idea of building the kind of wealth that results in financial independence.

    Prose/Style: Radcliffe's prose is mostly clear, though sentences can run long and tend toward density, especially when he's chasing one of his many hypothetical investment scenarios. The book is repetitive by design, a virtue when it comes to communicating complex information but likely a cause of frustration for some readers. His decision to sidebar some examples, and to break chapters up into clearly labeled sections, makes the dry material more approachable. Unlike many investment guides, Radcliffe writes as a serious number-cruncher rather than as a cheerleader or rainmaker; while his scrupulousness results in sound advice, but the prose has little of the salesman's kick common to this genre.

    Originality: Page after page, example after example, Radcliffe runs his own numbers, crafts his own examples, and coins his own clarifying terminology, such as the "The Thrift Van
    Winkle™ approach to long-term investing."

    Character Development: Two crucial factors separate Radcliffe's work from most investment guides. First is his exhaustive thoroughness, which is certain to engender trust in readers even as it might overwhelm them. Fortunately, Radcliffe divides his chapters into clearly labeled sections that readers can approach in a modular fashion, focusing on what matters to them. Second, Radcliffe's investment strategies are often flexible, and he accommodates and addresses a wide variety of readers' needs (the need to invest for college, six different approaches for investing in real estate). He tailors his strategies to account for readers' personal level of comfort with risk and repeats crucial information in multiple places, ensuring that readers who skim over material not targeted to their particular interests will still likely encounter it. All of this makes TSP Investing Strategies a somewhat difficult read but a highly effective guide.

    Blurb: With this updated second edition, W. Lee Radcliffe cements his position as the Bill James or Nate Silver of investing through the Thrift Savings Plan available to government workers and military personnel. He's mastered the numbers, tested data and outcomes, goes further into the weeds than you might want to follow, but emerges with clear-eyed and persuasive analysis of how complex systems truly function. His six TSP investment strategies are flexible, thoroughly detailed, and easy to understand.

  • Quarter Finalist

    Mind Management, Not Time Management

    by David Kadavy

    Rating: 8.50

    Idea: Kadavy's Mind Management, Not Time Management asserts that a culture of "busyness" stymies creative thinking.  Drawing on his own experience as a writer who has had to discover his own "Creative Sweet Spot," Kadavy persuasively assails common standards for productivity, instead advocating "a cohesive and flexible system for managing creative energy." He offers clear, practical advice for the creation of unique individual systems, while examining creative cycles, the mental states of creative work, and his own "Four Stages of Creativity." All the while, he packs his chapters with insights from his own life and from the cream of the crop of thinkers on creativity.

    Prose: Kadavy's clear, engaging, shapely prose stands as this work’s strongest asset. The author proves adept at fresh coinages and illuminating metaphor. His style is inviting without sacrificing depth or thoroughness. Even the chapters that concern his own work crafting podcasts and newsletters pass breezily, with enough insights and memorable descriptions to discourage skimming. The text contains few typos or ambiguities.

    Originality: Kadavy draws deeply from previous books about creativity, and passages about Michelangelo or Paul McCartney are overly familiar. Still, Kadavy never relies on truisms or received wisdom, and he continually contributes new ideas to his subject, such as the distinction between "grippy" and "slippy" tools or his contention that a "Passive Genius" lurks in the subconscious. Also, the author applies all of this thinking about creativity to his own life, ensuring an original perspective.

    Character/Execution: Sharply written and dedicated to practical advice, Mind Management, Not Time Management makes a clean, clear case that individuals in creative fields benefit from fresh approaches to productivity.

    Blurb: Kadavy's Mind Management, Not Time Management bursts with practical strategies for establishing work habits attuned to the workings of the creative mind, all laid out with clarity and persuasive power. 

  • Quarter Finalist

    Build Wealth With Common Stocks

    by David J. Waldron

    Rating: 8.50

    Idea: Waldron conveys his thoughts and ideas in an orderly, commonsense progression. The reader is able to move from one idea to the next in a logical pattern with a clear understanding of concepts and ideas.

    Prose/Style: The author demonstrates an impressive command of investment terminology but sometimes doesn't explain what terms mean, terms vital to understanding and navigating the complex world of stocks and implementing the advice he offers.

    Originality: Investing advice is fairly commonplace, but here the author shares his own unique investment wisdom that readers will not find elsewhere.

    Character Development/Execution: The author states upfront that "it is expected that investors will disagree with or outright dismiss some of the principles, strategies, and practices shared in this book, [but] the intent is to take what is needed and leave the rest." He writes with the knowledge that readers will cherry-pick his advice which frees him up to put forth singular advice/commentary.

  • Productive Intuition: Connecting to the Subtle

    by AdaPia d'Errico

    Rating: 8.00

    Idea: Productive Intuition is a wise and grounded guide for readers seeking to center themselves, redefine notions of fulfillment, and pursue a greater sense of internal harmony.

    Prose: Prose is direct, inviting, and instructive without resorting to platitudes or dogmatic language.

    Originality: The author takes a unique approach to self-improvement via the book's direct focus on mindful awareness as pursued through creativity, observation, and faith in the power of intuition.

    Character/Execution: The author provides an engaging mix of metaphysical insights and psychology to assist readers in better understanding their needs and deficits. Exercises are thoughtfully envisioned and readily accessible.

  • Kicking Financial Ass

    by Paul Christopher Dumont

    Rating: 8.00

    Idea: This illuminating guide to money management asserts that individuals can achieve financial freedom through better awareness, small lifestyle changes, and a reframing of perspective.

    Prose: Dumont writes with a clear understanding of his target audience. His voice is calm, compassionate, and never condescending.

    Originality: Money management guides are common, but Dumont’s work stands out through its combined focus on the practical with the more philosophical. Notably, he urges readers to contemplate the true value of material possessions and to practice mindful gratitude regardless of one’s financial fitness.

    Character/Execution: Dumont’s handbook provides clear-eyed, fact-based advice for millennials learning to manage their funds, while also underscoring that there’s much more to life than a fat bank account.

  • Lobster on a Cheese Plate

    by Mark Harari

    Rating: 8.00

    Idea: Lobster on a Cheese Plate is a well-written book filled with many marketing and public relations ideas for businesses and individuals. In a market oversaturated with such books, the author provides new ideas and provides readers with time-tested and proven ideas as well. It's a reference book that businesses can refer to for years.

    Prose/Style: The author has structured the book in a well-defined way, walking the readers step-by-step through the subjects of business analysis, growth, and achieving success. The text is easy to follow and easy to understand.

    Originality: Lobster on a Cheese Plate avoids cliches and platitudes, while containing many illuminating examples and interactive exercises.

    Character Development/Execution: Overall, the text is a finely executed marketing book that helps business professionals to become more successful through tried-and-true methods. For readers new to these concepts, they will benefit greatly from Harari's instruction.

  • Idea: The author delivers a very thorough book on finance, written in a tone that is targeted to his audience -- personal finance and economic students. With that in mind, the author does a fine job of presenting detailed technical information in an easy-to-read and understandable format. Out of the author's three submissions, this book provides the closest opportunity to become a book with consumer appeal. While the idea is strong, there are some suggestions for improvement on structure.

    Prose: The author definitely comes across as an expert in his field, but moments of repetition and rehashing of material previously covered, might be pared down or eliminated.

    Originality: The work effectively delivers on its promises for a uniquely comprehensive guide to finance.

    Character/Execution: The author has a strong foundational premise and brings a wealth of valuable information to the reader. With minor tweaks to structure, this will be an excellent reference guide for those learning the ropes of the financial industry.


  • Idea: Simon provides a cogent, thoughtful guide for readers seeking to improve their relationship with and handle management of their financial resources.

    Prose/Style: This work is written in an even, engaging prose style, while the text effectively integrates charts, lists, and well-organized sub-sections within each chapter.

    Originality: Books on money management are common, but Simon brings a sense of compassion and practicality to his guidance, understanding that each individual's circumstance is different--but that all can benefit from reframing their thinking and understanding their money mindsets.

    Character Development/Execution: Simon ultimately provides a handbook for readers who are not only looking for a concrete set of tools for managing money, but who are open to self-reflection.

  • Idea: Kagerer’s The B Words is a soundly structured, well-researched book of business, financial, and life advice directed at women navigating the opportunities, challenges, and barriers of today’s workplace. 

    Prose: Kagerer’s prose is direct without feeling clinical. The book’s layout is clear and simple, never calling attention to itself – perfect for imparting advice to the reader.

    Originality: The emphasis on personal anecdotes separates this book from others in the genre, though the work does not always sufficiently elevate well-worn material.

    Character/Execution: By pulling testimony from a number of women, Kagerer adds a much-needed personal element to the financial sphere. The testimonials help accentuate the different paths women have taken in the workplace and address a wide variety of possible issues.

  • Idea: The Necessity of Finance is a well-thought-out book on the history of finance that has a clear audience (it even states so in the preface) -- finance students. The author knows his audience and knows how to convey material in a textbook-like tone. The book is in-depth, breaking down terminologies and effectively analyzing the history of finance.

    Prose: Overall the book is written well and written for a financial class. If the author has intent to make the book a consumer financial book, the language would benefit from a lighter touch.

    Originality: The book’s thorough and methodical approach to finance allows it to stand apart from more basic works.

    Character/Execution: The book’s structure is sound and it effectively delivers a wealth of material. Occasionally, the work jumps between topics in a distracting manner, while the use of extremely short chapters can interrupt flow.


  • Idea: Sanders presents a nicely developed book that discusses the creative process, while providing inspiration, guidance, and ample ideas and prompts.

    Prose: The author effectively walks the reader through the earliest stages of creative thought, to development, and seeing an idea through to fruition.

    Originality: The Next Big Idea is a successful guidebook to problem solving through innovative ideas. It stands apart via its thoughtful, process-oriented approach.

    Character/Execution: This book has a great deal of potential. The author does a strong job of developing a creative workbook that really delves into the process. This said, the book could benefit from a few suggested changes. The first is not putting the first exercise in the introduction. Granted, while many people read the introduction, those who don't are missing the first step in the process. Also, the author presents a detailed Exercise 7, but the ideas and answers listed feel a little disconnected from the topic of the book. The author also could have benefited from adding more real-life examples to each exercise instead of fictional ones. With more examples that illustrate the points in a more relatable way, the book can be even stronger.