36 Books


A very interesting set of notes/memoirs/thoughts from a left leaning British Jew. This book can evoke contrasting responses from people depending on where they lay on the politico-social-populist divides.
Many chapters are informative (God, family, comedy, security), others were confirmatory for me (Israel, race). The two that stood out were the ones on the internet and Poland.
The former was a bit all over the place—it has several important messages but could’ve been massively improved by skipping some bits (this chapter will also trigger a lot of people on all sides of the political landscape. The latter chapter was tremendously moving, even for anyone who thinks they know all about the Holocaust.

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The book is slow to start. It is also hard comprehend initially—is a book length dialog with interspersed timelines and characters, and few names. Yet, by the time the key characters start getting drink, so did I start getting hooked on the slow, bubbling conversation.
The book is nothing special. It’s just two nearly 60yo men spending an evening drinking and talking, jumping back and forth over 30 years. Still, if there wasn’t a pandemic around, I’d inviting friends over for a catch-up in Dublin tomorrow.

The Friend


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Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance

A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Inverting the Pyramid

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A Sound of Thunder

Don't Stop Me Now: 26.2 Tales of a Runner’s Obsession

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Loonshots: How to nurture crazy ideas…

Fat Chance: The bitter truth about sugar

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises

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

Britt Marie was here

Again to Carthage

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.

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Once a runner

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…”

Of mice and men

Moving, honest story of friendship, life, mental disability, and hard decisions.

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On motivation, intrinsic motivation.

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

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The Rise of the Ultra Runners

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Conversations with friends

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.

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A Year in Provence

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.

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Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

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.

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To Have and Have Not

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.

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

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.

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A man called Ove

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 :)

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The red pony

A simple tale of a boy’s year on a farm—of learning some good and some bitter faces of life.

So Good They Can't Ignore You

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.

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A moveable feast

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.

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Running with Sherman

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.

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