"Novice to Expert", by SJ Scott

Brian Gongol

One-paragraph review: While "Novice to Expert" comes with great promise, it would rate far better as a workbook than as a book. The concept (and the promotional material) over-promise a narrative arc about learning that never arrives. Instead, it delivers punchy to-do lists of things a person can do to learn a new subject. The lists aren't bad, but they're not particularly original, either. The author suggests that the reader should "Google 'best books on [skill]'" or "Google this phrase: '[skill] equipment for beginners'". It's not bad advice -- but it's not a novel observation, nor one worth paying for. "Novice to Expert" contains little or no theory about learning, just the author's enumeration of "some stuff I've tried" -- a particular disappointment when compared with the excellent "Death of Expertise", released around the same time. It's perfectly fine in the same way a YouTube tutorial can be helpful -- but not very illuminating. The essence of the book would fit in a pamphlet form, but it has been heavily padded with filler content, including long tracts of word-for-word repetition of the same content.

Verdict: A disappointing attempt at a book-length treatment of material that would have been serviceable as a short article or workbook