My favourite Backman book of them all. Wish I could go and live with Elsa and her granny and the wurse in that land of almost awake
Quenton Cassidy settling into the life of a successful lawyer in South Florida. Quenton Cassidy returning to running training for one last shot at glory. It’s a book of two halves. I read it for the latter, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t know or care much about the first, which is written OK but too long for its relevance.
Books like this one are so rare that I’m sad that it’s over, sad that I took so long to discover it, sad that I’m not a young white athlete living in the Dooby hall in the 70s.
Training, banter, training, friendships, training, pain, obsession, demons, racing, training, loneliness, training…. success. Need a few years of running and struggles to appreciate this book. Not for everyone. And possibly the greatest book for those for whom it is…”
Moving, honest story of friendship, life, mental disability, and hard decisions.
On motivation, intrinsic motivation.
A not very faithful married couple, two young women, lots of conversations, lots of sleeping around. A ménage-à-quatre of heads and bodies. Sadly, it was too slow, so I eventually quit sometime after the halfway mark.
A lovely, slightly caricaturised, lightly humoured recollection of an Englishman’s year in Provence. Includes food, Provençal customs, wine, Provençal driving, normalmente, food, wine, English visitors, and a lot more.
I also enjoyed pronouncing and learning all the French words used, handy while I’m attempting to learn some French.
Is the limit in the body’s physiology or in the mind, or in a combination of the two? (Mine is surely in the mind, I haven’t gone close to limits of my body for running, swimming or cycling.) An exploration of research on limits of endurance performance and how to stretch them. I really enjoyed the middle and last section of the book—covering various physiological elements affecting the body, and the research on identifying and stimulating areas of the brain to stretch performance.
Brave, sometimes smart; married to the sea, between Cuba and Florida keys; slowly sinking into poverty and despair. Life of a down-on-luck hard man in hard times in pre-revolution Cuba and Florida.
A funny, poingnant, deep, breathless, touching travail of life of a Junior Doctor in the NHS. Left me with a lot of appreciation that the NHS staff does, and things they deal with. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Support the NHS. Support the people in it.
Heart warming, involuntary smile causing, tear creating tale of Ove, Parvaneh, the cat, Sonja, Rune and Saab. It’d been a few years since I read it, so read it again. Glad I did :)
A simple tale of a boy’s year on a farm—of learning some good and some bitter faces of life.
Passion vs crafting. The craftsman mindset builds career capital by focusing on what value you’re offering to the world.
Invest the career capital to gain control over how you work and what you work on. Traps: 1> Going for control before earning enough career capital. 2> Once you have career capital, you are valuable so the employers don’t want you to have more control. Also law of financial viability: unless people are willing to pay you, it’s not an idea to go after.
Importance of mission. Exploring the adjacent possible for missions. Using little bets to explore specific projects within mission area. The law of remarkability to market the mission.
A tale of Hemingway’s early days in Paris. Features his first marriage, poverty, gambling, writing struggles, Jill Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald (and Zelda), La closerie des lilas, the route to take when you are hungry and penniless in Paris, skiing in Austrian alps, tips on writing (or working)… and more.
Yep, I enjoyed it.
Another good book by Christopher—combines my love of animals with running. Covers… life in Amish country, burro racing, key characters in burro racing, mental health benefits of working with animals, impact on mental health of regular exercise (good and bad), Sherman, Flower and Matilda, training and working with donkeys.
I enjoyed it a lot.
A good collection of thoughts on living a calmer yet productive life in a time of distractions and hyperactivity. Brought together several ideas from many books I’ve read in last two years. The sections on mind and body were familiar, but useful to revisit. The section on spirit was, and is, unfamiliar and hard for me. I need to learn to accept a higher power.
Sometimes a long blog post, or two, may be better than a short book. This was one of them. It has one interesting insight repeated over and over, diced and sliced and mixed in with anecdotes plenty. I’m not even gonna write what is the insight. Read Seth’s Tribes or Chris’s Long tail for the actual insight.
A summary of early and growth years of Uber and Airbnb. Felt quite one-sided though—most attempts at addressing the criticisms felt muted. Wasn’t as in-depth as ‘The everything store’ either.
A simple tale of Nazi occupation and holocaust in a small town in Ukraine. The story was simple but I enjoyed the characters—understated but involved; very human. Arnold, the SS leader of the district, Pohl, the German engineer in-charge, and Yasia, the strong but hesitant Ukrainian girl were my favourites.
A page turner introduction to Amazon’s history. Brad has had long and deep view of Amazon’s evolution and has used it to good effect. The crazy early years at Amazon seemed as exhilarating as scary for the people there. Reinforced my impression of Amazon as a good place to shop (customer centricity) but not to work (no respect of people or their lives). As a sign of how fast Amazon moves, this book already seems a bit outdated on the newer bits.
A well written primer of our understanding of specific genes and their impact on sports performance—from natural physical traits (height, strength, achilles, calf size, etc) to training ability to pain thresholds and more. David tries to balance the nature (genes) vs nurture (environmental) factors. He also points out, repeatedly, that our understanding of impact of specific genes, specially in combinations, is still very incomplete.
Another takeaway, for me, is that much of what our understanding of these genes reveals is what separates the (say) Olympians from everyday people. The performance differences amongst the people at the top is too small to be explained by our current understanding of genes.
Finally, even at the very top, there are multiple paths to get there. The story of two high jumpers illustrated this well.
A good introduction to ultrarunning. Full of his own experiences with a few big ultra races; interviews with many of the best known names in the ultrarunning world; and quips and quotes about why and what of ultrarunning. I quite enjoyed the book.
It’s quite a contrast to Mimi Anderson’s book. What Mimi has achieved is many times over anything that Vassos has run. For instance, his hardest challenge was the Spartathlon, Mimi completed double Spartathlon in record time. But what he lacks in ultrarunning achievements, he more than makes up with his writing skills. This book is vastly more entertaining, informing, and inspiring than Mimi’s.
(Note to self: this is why I should hire a ghost writer for my autobiography)
Fast, breathless, always moving…
I never connected with the characters. I understood term. I may have even known some Sals and Deans. But I just couldn’t connect with them, as people.
Yet, I enjoyed the writing.
Enjoyed the vividness of the scenes.
Enjoyed discovering a subculture of 7 decades ago.
Even, at times, enjoyed the wild wanderings of minds constantly high of mj, insomnia and youth.
Not bad for a book I picked up by mistake.
Quite enjoyed this book. It’s a collection of ramblings of a mildly amusing, mildly delusional, marginally insightful author. He appears to be of about my age, and about my level of mental (in)comprehension. He’s better with words though.
Better written than both Mr. Iyer goes to war and Gizelle’s bucket list. Though Gizelle’s is rated higher because it’s about a dog :D
An unfit, injury-prone common man librarian’s journey from unfit to Ironman.
A story that suggests that there may still be hope for me :)
I’ll write a review once the tears have stopped.
Interesting, fairly fast moving novel. Mixes present day Eastern UP with its religion, castes, corruption and politics with a hallucinating religious warrior ;)
The writing tends to go overboard a bit at times, but that may just be due to the nature of the story.
A really good book covering the state of money power and politics in India over the last decade. The title is a misnomer as the book looks way beyond just the growth and dominance of Billionaires. It covers, apart from the Billionaires, politicians, bureaucrats, media, cricket and more.
Anyone who has followed developments in India closely may already be aware of most of the facts in the book. But even for them, the description of interplay between various sections of the power set will be useful. The analysis of how things work in India, how they got to this state, the challenges ahead, and the potential paths forward are all interesting.
The author pulls his punches, specially when criticising the politicians. This could be to maintain access for himself and the media organisations he works with. This may also just be the journalistic prudence at play—presenting facts not judgements.
An easy-to-grasp version of David Allen’s GTD process. It’s titled ‘for teens’ but I’d recommend it to everyone. A comprehensive yet simple introduction to getting a handle on things to be done, improving productivity and freeing mental space. The processes and tactics are invaluable together, but extremely useful even if adopted in parts. I would recommend everyone to read this book, at least twice.
Picked the book up from the library last night. Read it at the cafe, read it in bed before sleeping, read it in bed after waking up, read it in the loo, read it in the morning instead of running, and then finished it before lunch. The only breaks were for visitors and sleep.
It’s an unputdownable book for those who like Amitava Ghosh’s mixing of cultures and timelines, fiction and facts. The ending was a bit sudden, but it may just be in preparation for the next episode.
I enjoyed the book. It is packed with an understanding of, and tools for generalists. The topic, the research, the details felt like they’d been written for me. Read it for an understanding of the other view, opposing the early and hyper specialisation that rules the current social and business structures.
Yet, it was a slow, sluggish read. Shorter by a third, and it’d have been a crisp 5* book.
Among my favourite non-fiction books this year. Tim gives an interesting account of how messiness helps through variety, improvisation, flexibility, speed, and more. He covers a variety of areas and discusses the impact and understanding of messiness in them—from the current trend towards AI and automation to the humanity-old question of children and their play areas.
Combined with Range by David Epstein, this book has provided to me one set of perspectives and inputs. Another set is from Make Time by Jake and Jack, and Deep Work & Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. Combining these—focus in the moment, and variety, improv and range in the themes—are a great direction for improvement.
The challenge though, as ever, is in the doing :)