Think Catcher in the Rye meets rural Ukraine. The story has a very similar vibe to something J.D. Salinger would write in that it moves in real time a...moreThink Catcher in the Rye meets rural Ukraine. The story has a very similar vibe to something J.D. Salinger would write in that it moves in real time and the main character is snarky and occasionally funny. The main character is SO CLOSE to speaking good english and he often uses some funny words that I've absorbed into my day to day vernacular. For example, he describes awesome things as being "premium" so I've started using this as well, "Dude, this is a premium burrito". It's a little awkward at first but it seems to work just fine. They also call lazy religious people "Slouchers" so I've started using this at work as well, "Yo, that dude is such a sloucher". People immediately get what you're trying to say. If they only knew I stole my new phrases from a mostly-literate fictional Ukrainian boy. I thought the book was well worth the read but it didn't light my world on fire. Would have given it four stars except the last 10 pages of the book were, ummm... interesting, I'll let you read it for yourself.(less)
I think a lot of people should read this book because it addresses an issue that is new to today's world: privacy. Whether or not you agree with Faceb...moreI think a lot of people should read this book because it addresses an issue that is new to today's world: privacy. Whether or not you agree with Facebook's privacy policies, the fact is that every single company is gathering data from you and using it for business. Therefore, you should understand this concept and make decisions on how and what you share. I gave this book three stars because I don't prefer the author and his tone of writing but he addresses a great concept so it's worth a read.(less)
As a young 20-something who is constantly questioning Christianity in the modern world, I got a lot of value from reading this book. I wish the clergy...moreAs a young 20-something who is constantly questioning Christianity in the modern world, I got a lot of value from reading this book. I wish the clergy were as articulate and open minded as C.S. Lewis, alas most priests I've met (with one exception) are not. The book covers what it means to be Christian at a high level without getting into the differences between the dozens of different denominations (the holiness of Mary, the existence of purgatory, etc). He argues that to even have these debates and form an opinion on them you need to already be well-versed in theology. His goal of this book is not to make you a Christian but rather to help you understand what aspects of Christianity are common to all. If this makes sense to you then you can make the decision on where you'd like to go from there.
He describes the book as bringing you into a room that has many doors. The room itself is Christianity and each door represents a particular interpretation of Christianity (unfortunately there are some 30,000 interpretations around the world). His goal was to help you understand that room and why that room believes what it believes. I respect his approach because he was an athiest who became Christian late in life. So I think he was an ideal candidate to approach this topic of entering the "room" of Christianity.
There are many great analogies throughout the book but one that stuck with me was when he compared marriage to visiting a foreign country. At first you are enamored with it. It is beautiful and fun every day. However, when you move to that country and live there full time, the magic will likely go away and you'll lose sight of the wonder of it all. If you no longer love the country you could move away but you will likely find yourself in the same situation again. The same goes with marriage. To eventually become more complacent than your honeymoon phase is normal but one must realize it and then actively engage in appreciating its goodness.
I thought the book was great until the very last chapter. He spent the entire book avoiding opinions and extrapolation which I LOVED. He simply explained why Christians believe what they believe and provided clear, simple analogies. However, he got onto this rant about evolution and how he believes that eventually the human race won't even need to have sex anymore because it will be more advanced. The rest of his arguments on evolution are equally opinionated and off-base to both Christianity and to Science. I'm really disappointed because the book would have been a homerun if had just stuck to the nonobjective arguments he used in the other 90% of the book.
In summary, this book is a must-read for Christians and non-Christians alike. Easy to read, easy to understand, and regardless of what faith you practice, the book will constructively help you reflect on your own morality and approach to life.
I've never hated a book so much that's written on a topic that I love (local communities and eco-friendly living). You should only read this book for...moreI've never hated a book so much that's written on a topic that I love (local communities and eco-friendly living). You should only read this book for the following reasons:
1.) If you're really into pontification and ranting. 2.) If you don't understand (or don't agree with) global warming. 3.) If you like and/or are influenced by scare-tactics. 4.) If you don't understand statistics (correlation vs causation, or in general what linkages are even appropriate to make). This book is full of sweeping statistics. At one point he made the case that people who join local communities are 50% less likely to die within the next year. REALLY?!
On second thought, don't read this book.
Recap: not worth reading if you have a brain and understand why participating in your community and protecting the environment are important. I gave it two stars instead of one because it was written about the environment, so bonus points for being in the right direction. (less)
If Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book on the Sharing Economy it would read and feel a lot like "What's Mine is Yours". The book is very easy to read, it is...moreIf Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book on the Sharing Economy it would read and feel a lot like "What's Mine is Yours". The book is very easy to read, it is written at a fairly high level, and it is filled with useful anecdotes from both businesses and individuals who are taking part in the global rise of collaborative consumption.
As a car-less yuppie who lives in downtown Boston I thought I was a Sharing Economy power user of sorts because I was using RelayRides and I eat from my CSA (farm share). After reading this book I realized that I was pretty out of touch with an entire industry that is exploding in popularity around the world. I took pretty detailed notes as I read the book (a habit thanks to my father) and I ended up with the names of 130+ entrepreneurs who started over 100 companies in the collaborative consumption arena. I used to think that the Sharing Economy was like if a hippy commune had a baby with the internet but I've realized that it's much more than that. The Sharing Economy is a sustainable place where entrepreneurs can make a serious amount of money (Zipcar was recently bought for $500M) and "customers" can get a higher value experience, save money, and feel like they're part of a community all at the same time.
This book is a great overview for those who aren't familiar with companies like Zipcar, Airbnb, Hub Culture Zopa, and others. It will introduce you to the Sharing Economy without going into a huge amount of detail about each company and their history. This makes it very informative yet digestible. After page 2 I was hooked, by the end of the book I was certainly drinking the collaborative coolaid, one week later I had started blogging about it and now the Sharing Economy is all I tweet about. I can't recommend it enough, go check it out.(less)
If you came of age during the internet revolution (i.e. born after the mid 1980's) then this book likely isn't worth reading. However, regardless of w...moreIf you came of age during the internet revolution (i.e. born after the mid 1980's) then this book likely isn't worth reading. However, regardless of when you were born, answering these five questions could help you decide if you wanted to read this book or not:
1.) Have you ever used Wikipedia? 2.) Do you own an iPhone (or other smartphone)? 3.) Have you ever heard of an API (bonus points if you know what the acronym stands for)? 4.) Do you understand the concept of open-source at a high level? 5.) Do you know what online affiliate marketing is?
If you answered yes to most of these questions then you probably won't get much value out of this book. I'm sure for it's time (circa 2005) it was visionary, but the world has come a long way since then and as a result the book is very antiquated. The author references Youtube as "the latest in a string of internet TV offerings" and what the future of the iPod could be (read: iPhone not released until 2007).
The book is also 290 pages when it could have easily been 150-200 if it left out the egregious amount of business-speak:
"Leveraging both internal and external competencies through partnerships and alliances." "Move rapidly into latent markets is allowed through organizational agility." "Staying at the forefront of innovation by leveraging external resources."
Woof. Business-douche to the max. The antiquated nature of this book combined with fluffy business jargon was enough to make me almost put it down before finishing it. However, I'm really into punishing myself by finishing books that I don't enjoy just for the emotional benefit of finishing something that I start.
There were some useful tidbits though (although not worth reading the whole book in order to find).
1.) The founder of Wikipedia had a first startup called Nupedia that was for user-submitted articles. The company did poorly, folded, and later he started Wikipedia based off the lessons learned from Nupedia. So the lesson here for me is that your first startup likely won't be your blockbuster, it could be the 2nd your 3rd, you never know where opportunity will take you and what your failures will teach you.
2.) The Reverse of Coase's Law - firms should shrink until the cost of performing a transaction internally no longer exceeds the cost of performing it externally (interesting point of view that I tend to agree with although not in all cases).
As always Bill Bryson has a knack for writing clever, witty, and enjoyable books on topics that he really knows nothing about (see "A Walk in the Wood...moreAs always Bill Bryson has a knack for writing clever, witty, and enjoyable books on topics that he really knows nothing about (see "A Walk in the Woods" if you don't know what I'm talking about). He was stumped by how we knew so much about the world scientifically. Atoms are made up of Neutrons, Protons, and Electrons. HOW DO WE KNOW THAT?! The earth has a crust, a mantle of molten metals, an outer core of iron and sulfur, and an inner core of solid iron. HOW DO WE KNOW THAT?! HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THERE TO SEE IT?! In an attempt to understand scientific discovery, Bill Bryson spent 3+ years researching science and it's discoveries and this is the book that his research produced.
Personally, as a scientist/engineer, I found many of his chapters amusing but also mind-blowing. It's easy to learn and do science for years and then forget or become jaded to the fact that the world we live in is a truly INCREDIBLE place. For example, if an atom were the size of a cathedral, the positively charged nucleus would be the size of a fly, but that fly would be several thousand times heavier than the rest of the cathedral. The negatively electrons orbiting the nucleus interact with electrons from other atoms to create literally everything that exists. How incredible is that?! Wow.
With that being said, the book was about 100-150 pages too long. I lost steam half-way through, put the book down for a month, and then struggled to finish the last 50 pages. For example, there were pages-upon-pages of sweeping statistics about the ages of dinosaur fossils. He does prove the point that our knowledge of time periods before our own are wildly inaccurate and inconsistent. However, I think that he could have proved this point without throwing out dozens and dozens of pages of dates (where was your witty banter through this section?).
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is a technical person looking for a light, different perspective on science but I'd also recommend it to anyone who doesn't understand evolution, has never taken a biology class, or doesn't know why the oceans are salty. It's a great book but be prepared to lose steam about half-way through. (less)
I definitely want to read the rest of John Muir's short stories throughout this book. Muir was an absolute legend in the earliest days of Yosemite val...moreI definitely want to read the rest of John Muir's short stories throughout this book. Muir was an absolute legend in the earliest days of Yosemite valley around the turn of the 20th century. He is ultimately responsible for saving many national park areas in the U.S. as well as starting the Seirra Club, a totally epic conservation organization that still exists today. The story "A Near View of The High Sierras" starts with him meeting a couple of painters in Yosemite Valley who wished to be taken to a beautiful landscape deserving of a painting. He had just been in an amazing area around Tuolumne Meadows so he took them there. After he got them set up he took off for an attempt to summit nearby Mt. Ritter. It was a day's walk to the base so he took a blanket and a loaf of bread and set out. Muir is incredibly descriptive in his writing. At times it was hard for me to follow because he took two pages to describe a meadow. I often read a few pages twice just because i felt myself zoning out while riding the train to work. Coming from a time without GoPro cameras to capture 60 frames per second for an upload to YouTube, he had to be incredibly descriptive to even get the gist of what he was seeing, thus the need for complex and lengthy descriptions by our standards today. He commented a few times throughout the story that he should teach himself how to paint so that he could show the world this amazing place that he lived in for most of the year. His attempt at summiting Mt Ritter was thwarted by poor weather and even poorer climbing conditions. He had to down-climb several sections because the rock was covered in a thin layer of ice and without crampons or ice axes it became impossible, so he bivied out two days with just a blanket and a loaf of bread and made back for painters' camp. I wish I were half as badass as mountaineers in that time. With all of our high-tech gear I feel like we've become increasingly soft, attaining a pathetic state relying more on our gear than our skill and ability to learn from nature, something I'm sure that our mountaineering ancestors would laugh at.
The Happy Man reminded me a lot of my dreams: vivid, lucid, unbelievably real, but with much less brutal raping. The story involves a main character w...moreThe Happy Man reminded me a lot of my dreams: vivid, lucid, unbelievably real, but with much less brutal raping. The story involves a main character who's soul will randomly be transported back into Hell, not necessarily real Hell, but certainly Hell for him. While his soul is in Hell, his body continues it's day to day comings and goings it's just that he shows almost no emotion. Most people don't even notice, except his family where it is a painfully obvious reality that they must live with. His Hell is very interesting. It reminds me a lot of a video game where you have to move through different stages. For example, Hell always starts with him sitting at a picnic table with other children waiting for breakfast to be served in front of the Witch's house. However, the breakfast never comes and each visit to Hell starts the same way and time doesn't start until he gets up from the table. Then like clockwork he moves through various "levels" including a forest, a field, the Robot Maker, the garden of razor blades, a ghost town, and inevitably Colonel Eagerly aka "The Happy Man" who is unfortunately his only ticket home. He cannot leave Hell until he meets The Happy Man. Time doesn't seem to continue until he makes it to the next stage, and each time it is the same, but the faster he reaches The Happy Man, the faster he gets to return to his body and family on Earth. However, meeting The Happy Man totally sucks (insert brutal raping scene). I really enjoyed the author's descriptions of Hell because the scenery really reminded me of some dreams that I have where time seems to be stopped and everything around me seems real and fake at the same time. I would have given the story 5 stars except for the raping and I would have given it 4 stars because I thought it was very cleverly written and 100% engaging, but I thought the ending was weak-sauce so I gave it 3 stars. It ended in a tragically obvious fashion consistent with the build-up of the story yet with little depth or resolution. A totally crappy let-down of a finish. Do I recommend reading it? Maybe. Perhaps you should just read my dream blog instead and avoid all of the hardcore raping scenes sprinkled throughout The Happy Man. http://theyoungurbanunprofessional.co...
The story was incredibly short (9 pages with large font) so I finished most of it before I even boarded my morning train to work. The story involved a couple who found a very old man with enormous wings laying on the ground in their back yard. He seemed battered, tired, and old with wings that were falling apart and filled with parasites. Not quite sure what to do, the couple consulted a neighbor who told them it was an angel who had fallen from the sky and that it should be clubbed to death. The couple decided not to club it to death but instead they locked it in their chicken coop until they really figured out what to do with it. Townspeople soon got word that there was an angel in their chicken coop so they came by in masses to poke it, throw rocks at it, and mock it from afar. He had wings more like a vulture than an angel and a priest came by to profess that he was indeed not an angel because he didn't speak latin, the supposed language of God. Some people came looking for miracles but only received sub-par miracles such as a blind man who was not cured of his blindness but rather grows three new teeth instead.
At one point the couple thought about putting the old man with the enormous wings in a raft with three days worth of food and sending him out on the ocean. However, they realized that they could actually profit from him being in their chicken coop. Soon enough, the couple started charging admission to see the "angel". With the money they earned they built a two story mansion but the stench of the chicken coop and the presence of the very old man with enormous wings was still infringing on their new life. The angel seemed only to possess the virtue of patience because he hardly noticed the people who were poking him and mocking him. At the end of the story, the angel seemed to have recovered what little strength he could and he flew away and that's where the story ended.
What I took from this story was that the angel was indeed testing the couple. Would they clothe him because he was naked, would they feed him because he was hungry, and would they heal him because he was sick? The answer was to all three of those questions was no. They did not give him clothes, the townspeople tried to force feed him mothballs, and they did nothing to try and heal him. They simply tossed him in the chicken coop and were only concerned with making a profit off his existence. After the couple built their mansion the angel knew that the test was over, they failed, so he got up and flew away. I'm sure there are many other interpretations fo this story but that's what I got out of it.(less)
The Snows of Kilimanjaro was certainly an interesting story. Hemingway wrote of a man (a writer) dying of gangrene on an African safari accompanied by his wife. The man had scraped his leg just days earlier but because he neglected to clean it out properly he got gangrene and was dying on a cot as the story began. Hemingway developed his character through conversation and flashbacks which seems to be pretty consistent with his other books that I have read. He goes into quite a lot of detail about the wife and her past as a rich woman with many lovers while he goes into minimal detail about the dying man and let's his conversation, mostly cutting remarks to his wife and flashbacks of regret, drive his character development. As he lay there dying he regretted many things in his life but mainly he regretted not being able to write everything down. He had spent his whole life waiting to write things down in hopes that he would know more about the world when it was time to write. However, the end of his life came sooner than he anticipated, teaching the lesson that life is short and fragile and should be lived every day to the fullest.(less)
Before reading this book I heard everything from "It's the best American novel ever written" to "It's a poor reflection of American novel writing". Pe...moreBefore reading this book I heard everything from "It's the best American novel ever written" to "It's a poor reflection of American novel writing". People have also said, you're either a Fitzgerald type of novel-reader or a Hemingway type of novel-reader. Without writing a 15 page essay on the topic I will make a few points. I liked how the book was written from the point of view of one person, using their thoughts to set the scene and having the plot presented to you through their experience. This is different than Hemingway who uses dialogue to keep the plot going and honestly I personally enjoyed Fitzgerald's approach of the one-character narrative better. However, I felt that the book moved fairly quickly from one topic to the next without really diving deep into any of the characters. I didn't find myself becoming emotionally invested in any of the characters, they were simply there. Although this is not unlike real life. A lot of people are just there, and it's hard to develop real depth in only a few short weeks, so the writing captured that aspect very well. Hemingway on the other hand takes a lot more time to really develop his characters. In the two books I've read "The Sun Also Rises" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" I found myself much more invested in the characters, thus I was on the edge of my seat almost the whole book. I didn't feel this way for "The Great Gatsby". All in all I prefer Hemingway's approach to character development and Fitzgerald's approach to presenting the story from the main character's experience. Would I recommend that you read this book? Sure, it's incredibly popular and very few people have bad things to say about it. Would I read it again? Probably not.(less)
K2 was definitely book about a series of epic disasters on K2 in the summer of 1986 (when I was born). The book was fascinating because I love adventu...moreK2 was definitely book about a series of epic disasters on K2 in the summer of 1986 (when I was born). The book was fascinating because I love adventure books but the writing was fairly poor, Jim Curran is definitely no Jon Krakauer or David Roberts. Do I recommend reading it? I'm not sure. If you want to learn about the details that led up to several deaths on K2 then this is definitely a book for you. However, if you're looking for a well-written and engaging adventure read, then I'd go somewhere else like Eiger Dreams or Into Thin Air for example.(less)
I met the author of this book at the 2011 TEX Talks at Tufts University (Tufts Idea Exchange). She gave a talk and I put her book on my reading list,...moreI met the author of this book at the 2011 TEX Talks at Tufts University (Tufts Idea Exchange). She gave a talk and I put her book on my reading list, finally getting around to read it about a year later. The book is about a process of solving tough, seemingly intractable problems via a method called "positive deviance". If there's a widespread issue such as malnutrition in a particular country there's bound to be a small subset of people who are not malnourished despite having access to the same resources. The book is a collection of success stories for the positive deviance approach: malnutrition in Vietnam, female circumcision in Egypt, hospital acquired infections, sales for Merck in Mexico, girl soldiers in Uganda, and infant mortality in Pakistan. The approach seems to work well when everything else has been tried (top down approaches) because it's built from the bottom up and the community takes responsibility for identifying the positive deviants (doing it right) and developing methods for teaching others. I highly recommend reading it and at 200 pages with large font in simple narrative it could easily be read in a few days.(less)
This book was a fantastic example of the American dream. It wasn't about going to college, getting a good job, and making a lot of money. It was about...moreThis book was a fantastic example of the American dream. It wasn't about going to college, getting a good job, and making a lot of money. It was about bootstrapping, working your ass off, and having the vision to accomplish your goals. The author Daniel is a truly remarkable person who when he was at his lowest, decided to embark on one of the most interesting and impressive entrepreneurial journeys I've heard in a while; 50 jobs in 50 states in 50 weeks. A lot of people talk about their dreams and aspirations but cite lack of money, experience, time, or other factors as excuses. Daniel had no money, no experience, and no time (parents were about to kick him out, etc) yet he was still able to embark on this incredible journey. Don't talk about it, be about it. So stoked that I read this book, I highly recommend it.
My only criticism was that I wanted more of the story from each state. The book kind of flew by and barely glossed over each of the states with only 3-5 pages per state. I'm sure there were more interesting stories that were left out in order to keep the book to a reasonable length. Either way I wish there had been more detail into the nitty gritty of each job and how he dealt with the struggles along the way. With all that being said I definitely recommend it, an inspiring book through and through.(less)
This book was recommended to me by about a dozen friends, colleagues, and professors before I finally decided to read it. Getting to Yes was a good mi...moreThis book was recommended to me by about a dozen friends, colleagues, and professors before I finally decided to read it. Getting to Yes was a good mix between text book technique and anecdotal evidence in negotiations. It taught me to separate the people from the problem and to strive toward common interests to create a win-win relationship instead of playing a game of positioning for a win-lose scenario. I definitely recommend it to anyone who works for a living, anyone who pays rent or a mortgage, anyone who has a significant other or spouse, anyone with siblings, and the list goes on, basically everyone should read this book. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
- Be soft on the people but hard on the issue at hand
- How you see the world depends on where you sit
- Understanding someone's point of view is not the same as agreeing with it
- An open mind is not the same thing as an empty one
- Silence is one of your best weapons... use it.
- If you want a horse to jump a fence, don't first raise the fence
- Be open to reason and closed to threats
- Never yield to pressure, yield only to reason
- Deal with people as human beings an djudge the problem based on its merits
- Conflict does not lay in objective reality but rather in people's heads
- The reason you negotiate is to produce something better than you could obtain without negotiating
- Negotiating Jujitsu (read the book to learn what this is, it's a great concept)(less)
In a world before gortex, cams, and freedom of the hills there were mountaineers and adventurers who pushed the limits in some of the harshest and mos...moreIn a world before gortex, cams, and freedom of the hills there were mountaineers and adventurers who pushed the limits in some of the harshest and most remote conditions on the planet. David Roberts is certainly one of those individuals. This book is a must read for any aspiring, intermediate, or seasoned hiker/climber/mountaineer. He recounts many of his famous first ascents in Alaska as a 20-something year old. The book does a good job of showing the great perils and great successes that come from mountaineers, especially for younger climbers. Throughout the book he talks about why he chooses to climb and through his own successes and failures he tries to hammer home the point that "there are old climbers and there are bold climbers, but there are no old bold climbers".
I found it hard to identify with such a hardened climber such as Roberts. He was involved in three fatal climbing accidents before his 22nd birthday and witnessed many more in his long career as a mountaineer. Yet despite our differences in the traumatic, I found myself identifying with his collegiate experiences with the Harvard Mountain Club. I saw many similar emotions and attitudes from similar organizations that I still associate with from college, namely the Tufts Mountain Club and the Vertical Ice Climbing Enthusiasts. We differ in that he identifies himself as a climber first and foremost, I on the otherhand identify myself as a fit 20-something that enjoys the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of mountaineering. Where Roberts has his one love of the mountains, I have many; ice hockey, running, road biking, family, and many others.
Overall I truly enjoyed reading this book, I even missed several stops on my commute to work in the morning because I was so heavily engrossed in this book. Word to the wise, I'd skip over the 60 or so pages where he talks about the awkward sexcapades between him and his high school girlfriend where he reused condoms over a dozen times resulting in her pregnancy and eventual trip to Japan for an illegal abortion. Other than this small detour the book was fantastic.(less)