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One Year, One Hundred Books – how they are changing me and my perspective on life (Update 20220320)

2022 03 20

This was a good week. I imposed a curfew for internet and computer use and instead of gravitating towards the usual ‘junk food’, I picked up a book instead. Four actually.

On Tuesday there was a sale on at one of my favourite second hand book stores and I couldn’t resist picking up some books, each of which I read below. Except I again found my feet gravitating towards said book shop on Thursday and then yet again today. Thank goodness today was the last day of the sale but unfortunately I succumbed to a membership card so more reductions on the horizon. Seriously this reading frenzy I am starting to feel like a book alcoholic, but I’m loving it. At least it is filling my brain instead of numbing it lol!

Today’s new additions (purchases) include:

1. Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

2. The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe (no I never read it as a child)

3. Targeted

4. Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman

5. Thirteen Reasons Why

6. Guns Germs and Steel

7. Beloved

8. Hole In My Life

9. Jony Ive The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products

10. Frankly In Love

11. The Journal Of Best Practices – A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One man’s Quest to be a Better Husband

New books I read:

19. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

20. A Second wind: The True Story that Inspired the Motion Picture the Intouchables

21. The Church That Never Sleeps

22. Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different

Books I am still reading:

1. An Object of Beauty

2. The Other Side of Silence

3. Ghost Wars

4. Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

5. A Year Without Made in China

6. The Culture Map

7. High Performance Habits – How Extraordinary People Became That Way

8. Lottery

And these are the ones I am in the middle/beginning(lol) of reading and not sure if I will finish:

1. Serious Men

2. For One More Day

3. The Cat’s Table

4. When Dimple Met Rishi

Enough of all the lists, let’s continue :)

How to American

This one is directly connected to my TV series binge two weeks ago! I had stumbled across Jimmy O. Yang (as we do) on YouTube and subsequently couldn’t get enough of his humour. Which led to watching Silicon Valley and discovering he had in fact written a book: this one ⇧ ⇧⇧ and so I read it. What were my impressions? Yes, I enjoyed every page, but if like me you had also binge watched all his skits, it was for the most part a repeat of all of them, just in written form. But I still loved it and the fact he’s purely Jimmy O. Yang.

Seriously, just go read it, and enjoy every word.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This book, seriously has been one of my number one highlights. I loved it because it shouted controversy and conflict and scandal and all those big bad things, but actually it manages to avoid every single one of those stereotypes and present a really well researched out and highly important piece of history. Yet while telling a key piece of scientific discovery development and growth, it also told the story of real people and parts of society and life and history we don’t always have the opportunity to cross paths with. The way this book was crafted, engaged and captivated the reader with every page. This is definitely a book every single one of us should be reading! May write more about this later...

A Second wind: The True Story that Inspired the Motion Picture the Intouchables

I was scanning books in my usual low price shelf of the bookshop, the majority of which were of the cheap romance style when in among them I saw a name which I didn’t recognise but somehow it just didn’t fit with the rest. Pulling it out it was like unearthing a hidden gem and there staring me in the face were the two actors of one of my favourite films of all time Les Intouchables!

Omar Sy’s smile of sunshine was unmistakeable and I was practically reading the book before I even walked out of the store! In fact before I went to sleep a few hours later I had already finished it!

Did I enjoy it?

I always love books by people who have overcome what seems to be unsurmountable. It was good and definitely worth reading, but it was a rare time where I actually enjoy the movie significantly more. I felt the story was too centered on the author and not really on the dynamic between the two men. A few new chapters had been tacked on the end to share sone of the carer’s anecdotes but I felt these were somewhat breezed over whereas written well could have been hugely entertaining in their own right.

This is one of those cases where we question whether we should speak negatively of a book where the author already leapt over (in this case not literally!) so many hurdles just to get to this point, but then again when you talk to people in similar situations who have achieved great things they often want to be judged on the achievement alone and not through the lens of their disability. In which light I would say it was a great story but perhaps not by the greatest storyteller. The love affair between him and his wife was pretty sweet, of the type we wonder if that still exists, and it was fun to get a front row seat of what it’s like to be part of the ‘bourgeoisie’ and live in one of those beautiful townhouses in Paris, such that have been owned by the same families for generations if not centuries. Yes, another life, another world, another perspective, all good things. And the book is short so you can get through it in just a few hours.

P.S. If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it. Then go watch all of Omar Sy’s other movies and series. Step aside Hollywood, seriously one of the greatest actors going.

The Church That Never Sleeps

This one was a complete and total disappointment. I rarely (aka never) read this genre but I was expecting something more on the entrepreneurial perspective and it was in fact quite the opposite. If you’re into church testimonials and the like, go knock yourself out lol. On another note, though, I do question a lot of these things. Obviously, there is good service being provided to the community and I don’t have issues with that, but I think about how such things can be replicated without the ‘holy’ touch…

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different

Now this is one which is going to create a big point of contention. For the record I have never been an Apple fan or an Apple consumer. And beyond a cracking apple pie or tarte tatin, I don’t even rarely eat apples! But that aside, we can definitely say Steve Jobs is someone who is adored/venerated/whatever you want to call it, all around the world. So I figured I should at least read something of his life. Which is where I would like to make a short interlude. You see, I see reading quite similar to inviting someone over to your house or cabin in the woods for a coffee and a chat. Not a five-minute hi how are you superficial lala but a real in depth nitty gritty conversation type of thing. Reading their stories is like them inviting you into their world to hang out with them and really get to know them. And what I am finding as I add to my list of books I have read is that some of these people I just do not enjoy their company. Steve Jobs is definitely one of them. On one hand his bohemian side is kind of funky, but if reading through the lines, everything really tended to centre around him.

And there is another thing which fascinates me. And it’s a growing concept I have been reflecting on that personality can be fixed at a young age. When I read the account of his early age, adolescence, young adulthood, etc etc, he was someone who never took no for an answer. And even if his parents, for example, did try to say no he did it anyway. He had no visible fear of the word ‘no’ and few could really stand up to him. I wonder to what extent it was to this skill alone that we could also credit a lot of his success. Which I write with slight jealousy because I am of the opposite camp where the mere thought of rejection or the N word can send me running. I know why I have this complex, which yes, does date to my childhood, but to completely overcome it continues to elude me.

This brazenness and ability to totally not care about what other people think is also something I find hard to wrap my head around. It is projected as an essential part of growing a business to the very top, yet I recurrently question does it have to be?

Last week I was watching Silicon Valley and this exact type of sub-culture was what predominated. Add to this too a recurrent theme in the book how Steve Jobs had dropped out of college and repeatedly didn’t have a specific role in the company, or even specific skills. He wasn’t an engineer, wasn’t a financial expert, and didn’t really have direct business acumen. I guess it’s one of those unmentionable questions, after all how dare I write in such a ‘negative’ tone about one of the world’s ‘greats’, but I do ask it. Because where is the real credit and achievement? In the designers? In the engineers? In the CFO’s and CEO’s? Or in the guy who has vision and an undefeatable drive and won’t take no for an answer? What is achievement and what really is greatness?

And one more thing. There was a sentence – I may need to go look it up later and edit it in – but it was to the extent that Steve Jobs looked for perfection more in the aesthetic and simplicity of use, even where it meant one or two key ‘bits’ had to be left out. Which is exactly where me and Apple get unstuck. Because as much as I do love the aesthetics, in fact I will say the mouse pad on the Macbook is so silky in its movement (it’s absolutely to die for!), cutting out functionality over aesthetics, that’s what I cannot live it and exactly why me and Apple never have and probably never will be buddies. I know things are a lot more involved than this and I’m more than happy to debate either side of the argument, but until that time I’ll just say I was kind of happy when the door closed on this visit.

Ok going to take a break from writing and get tucked in with another book. TTYL.

(1815 words)

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