A funny, insightful, and thought provoking book. I expected a grand treatise on the topic of work, but instead we are offered a somewhat arbitrary col...moreA funny, insightful, and thought provoking book. I expected a grand treatise on the topic of work, but instead we are offered a somewhat arbitrary collection of essays, which although thoroughly engaging, only approach the theme in the most indirect of manners. In one chapter, De Botton recounts his experience of an electricity pylon inspection field trip, in another, his discovery of an aircraft graveyard, both of which, whilst entertaining, and even occasionally profound, were only tenuously related to the notion of employment.
Despite the discursive nature of the text, the prose is absurdly eloquent, the stories regularly humorous, and his philosophical conclusions deeply moving. In many respects, the book's primary focus is not work, but rather the perfunctory and rather saddening manner in which we blindly ignore so much of the underpinnings of our world. We seldom stop to ponder the path our food products follow on their journey to the supermarket shelves, to consider the deals and decisions that were necessary in the selection of aircraft upholstery, or how the electricity that lights our homes, and powers our appliances, enters and is distributed across our cities. The book encourages us to look beyond the surface, to question the complexity and beauty of the systems and factories we've constructed, and ultimately, to recognize, in part, that work itself is predominantly a distraction from our own fragility and inescapable mortality.(less)
A wonderful collection of essays on pop culture. An insightful, funny, and above all, highly readable book. Even when i was not directly familiar with...moreA wonderful collection of essays on pop culture. An insightful, funny, and above all, highly readable book. Even when i was not directly familiar with the topic under discussion, i remained engaged, for the material primarily served as a prop for a loftier commentary on society and the human condition. The book is occasionally hit and miss: ebbing between moments of profundity and periods of wayward digression, but overall, the is a highly thought provoking and humorous work.(less)
I was incredibly disappointed by this book. The author may know a thing or two about PR, they may even have leveraged the web in support of PR initiat...moreI was incredibly disappointed by this book. The author may know a thing or two about PR, they may even have leveraged the web in support of PR initiatives, but the author clearly is not a technologist, and their understanding of web based services, and technology generally, is superficial at best.
To get straight to the point, the book abounds in flowery language that reads like a marketing manifesto. There are words on a page, but more often than not, they say nothing. I came to this book expecting insight into how the web is fundamentally changing the nature of communication, and seeking tips on how PR needs to evolve to stay relevant amidst a global community where information dissemination has been turned on its head. What i got instead was heavy repetition of "2.0", as if the mere addition of the number to any phrase was all it took to demonstrate enlightenment.
A few words of advice: drop the annoying use of try-hard phrases like "cyber newsrooms" and e-blasts, and move beyond the specific technologies, like blogs, and video on demand, and instead lend greater attention to generic fundamentals, such as how concepts including sharing, reputation, speed, and control, apply to an environment founded on openness and community participation. And most of all, give us real content. Too many times i read paragraphs, and even pages, that were nothing but verbose fluff. I am confident that the meat of the entire book could be distilled to only a few pages... if only. It really ain't worth your time.(less)
A well written biography. Like any man, Walt was a complex person, with good and bad traits. The author respects the many facets of Walt's personality...moreA well written biography. Like any man, Walt was a complex person, with good and bad traits. The author respects the many facets of Walt's personality; he does not attempt to undermine or unnecessarily praise the man, nor does he seek to align the actions and achievements of Walt with some grand (and unsubstantiated) overarching theme (as other biographers might). There is no agenda here: just an easy to read book, rooted in the facts, about a passionate, driven, and fascinating character.(less)
Mark Oliver Everett, also known as E, the man behind the band Eels, has written the kind of autobiography that has the substance to change lives. To p...moreMark Oliver Everett, also known as E, the man behind the band Eels, has written the kind of autobiography that has the substance to change lives. To put it simply, it is a work of staggering genius. It is poignant, funny, and frequently optimistic, and surely a great source of inspiration for anyone burdened by the weight of living.
There is nothing pretentious or gratuitous about this book. Nothing flowery or extraneous - just a straight-shooting, honest, no bullshit story, of desperate sadness and infectious joy, and most of all, of an earnest need to keep going despite the odds.
Everett delivers us more than just a fascinating life story; he offers us a universally relevant analysis of his evolving state of mind as he struggles over the years to make the most of what's thrown at him.
Told in direct, simple, and beautifully honest terms, this is a book that deserves a place in every home. Even if you don't know of the Eels, and share little interest in music, you will be moved by the open and honest story of E, a truly fascinating individual.(less)
Rumor has it that Kerouac wrote this book in a three week burst of drug-fueled inspiration on single role of paper. It's reasonable not to expect much...moreRumor has it that Kerouac wrote this book in a three week burst of drug-fueled inspiration on single role of paper. It's reasonable not to expect much of importance to arise from such a setting, but wow, how wrong we'd be to hold such views, for On the Road is nothing short of a masterpiece of modern literature.
I won't deny it, the book is a difficult read. It's dense, and heady, and for the first 50 pages or so, i felt like there was nothing tangible that i could grasp. We learn little of the narrator, Sal Paradise, and without a strong plot or narrative purpose, i felt lost. But with the arrival of the impassioned and reckless Dean Moriarity, the story gained a backbone, a reason for being, and an urgency took hold that never broke for breath until the final page. Moriarity was the muse that not only inspired, but also enabled us to see Sal, to understand and emphasize with his condition, and through his lust for life, and his absurdity, to catch a glimpse of our inner quest for freedom.
There are scenes from the book that i will always remember, picture perfect in my mind. In bars, drunk, wild, and infused with the sound of the beat, the blowing horns, and the fevered jazz intensities. The feelings of freedom, of driving across the incredible country, driving and driving without end, wind roaring through the window, bare chested, an insatiable urge to never stop.
These moments were captured brilliantly in wonderfully poetic stream-of-consciousness writing. I stopped myself innumerable times, breathless at the beauty of what i had read, but strangely, in going back to read out loud a sentence or a phrase, i often found the beauty to be elusive. It was like the grandeur of the scenes could never be decomposed to individual words, or even sentences, but rather, it existed only as a whole, which, in the very style in that it was written, and inline with the sense of the beat movement, had to be consumed in its entirety, all at once, and without looking back.
This is a wonderful and unique book that deserves to be read by all.(less)
The basic tenet of the book is that technology (particularly the web) has lowered the costs associated with forming and coordinating groups to the poi...moreThe basic tenet of the book is that technology (particularly the web) has lowered the costs associated with forming and coordinating groups to the point where an entirely new world of social activity is achievable. This is a very well written book that is supported by group theory and human psychology and a diverse set of real world examples. Topics include discussion of the three broad categories of group undertaking: sharing, cooperation, and collective action, and an explanation of the three elements common to all successful social enterprises: the promise, the toolset, and the bargain. An excellent book, that delivers simple but important ideas with great clarity.(less)