Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill

I picked this book up based on a recommendation by my friend (Thanks R!). It is Michael Gates Gill's autobiography about how he, "a son of privilege", falls from his illustrious marketing career and a marred family life. He essentially starts working at Starbucks because his independent business is failing and he is willing to take any job that is offered to him.

The main points I got from this book was that it doesn't matter how much a person gets paid for a job, if he doesn't give and feel respect for and from the people around him, then the job is not worth it. Michael Gates Gill gave his life to his career - he was always willing to sacrifice his family for a big marketing opportunity. He regretted not seeing his kids grow up. In his case, an affair and that led to the eventual disintegration of his family.

Although, I hope Starbucks didn't put him up to this as some kind of marketing scheme.

The book is definitely worth the read.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Faith Fiction and some other stuff

Who knew there was such a category of books called Faith Fiction? I certainly did not. It is I suppose the equivalent of Christian rock music. I find it quite interesting that Christianity is almost used as some sort of marketing strategy. I mean most religions do have characteristics of propaganda to further their agenda, but I never imagined it so explicitly in contemporary fiction. Lately, I have seen more commercials on TV for churches like the one for the United Methodist church too. It's not bad or anything. I'm just saying. Are their memberships dwindling?

The book kind of made me laugh in a tsk tsk way. The main message I got from it was "Christians are people too!" There were themes of fighting the stereotype (I was blissfully unaware of ) of being a pastor's wife and a feminist - that is a contradiction apparently. I have no right to mock the book because I don't have the benefit of the experience of growing up under the faith.

My religion has been a huge part of my family life but I have rarely experienced it as part of the majority culture. I believe I would find that quite strange if I ever came across Hindu faith fiction (I bet they exist) or Hindu rock music. The only type of literature I have come across is when the main characters happened to practice Hinduism and I have heard some music that was a cross between a Sanskrit sloka and a country/western song. Let's just say that was pretty unique, and maybe it grows on you. It hasn't yet though.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Permission to Succeed

This is exactly how it happened. I interviewed for a grad assistant position and thought I didn't do well. They didn't call me back when I thought they would. That's the back story.

I decided to do a mock interview- for practice I suppose. I was so down about not hearing back I was quite negative in the interview. That proceeded to make me more bummed. So I went to the library and checked out a few books on improving self-esteem/confidence. The librarian was nicer than usual when she was checking out my books.

Driving home, I'm nearly in tears :(. Then I get a phone call! I got the job!! I read/skimmed these books anyway because I don't like feeling sad. I need to think preventive not reactive.

  • Breaking Murphy's Law: How Optimists Get What They Want From Life. Was too sciency. I think it was the author's dissertation turned into a book.
  • The Confidence Plan. I liked this. Great, inspirational quotes at the beginning of each chapter and strong ideas.
Permission To Succeed. By Noah St. John. It's a must read when a person feels low. He really nailed how I felt. He defines it as success anorexia. The idea that many people do not allow themselves to appreciate their success, self-sabotage. They feel they don't deserve it. His entire point (IMO) was that we must first accept that it is okay to be successful. That we must fight the negative perceptions of ourselves, the Negative Self that tells us that we are bad and no one likes us, that we don't deserve anything, etc.

He made a lot of valid points and made me feel a lot better. He says it himself - many of the self-help books tell you the how but not the why. It is important for us as humans to accept ourselves and appreciate what we have, then we are truly successful.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

So Labor Day weekend went to visit the family. My cousin has these very popular children's book series called Diary of a Wimpy Kid. They won some awards I think. So so good. It reminded me of a cartoon kid friendly version of Doestoevsky's Notes from Underground. It's the story of your everyday kid who bumbles his way through life. But his life is so real. I mean it's not perfect, sometimes you feel sorry for him, other times you feel mad at him for doing a mean thing, sometimes you want to laugh at his antics. But he's a real kid. It's nice to read a book about a kid who isn't perfect for a change. In most kid books, everything gets solved at the end. In these books, the ending is not perfect, in fact it kind of stinks. I loved, loved this book!

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

So I went on a three week hiatus visiting family in India. Most of my vacations to India consist of sitting around my grandparent's house with nothing to do, but this time was pleasantly busy. I usually read quite a few novels but I didn't this time. On the airplane, I started this novel My Sister's Keeper and it's brilliant.

The story is about a young girl named Anna who would like to be medically emancipated from her parents. Her sister Kate has a rare form of leukemia and Anna was created as sort of a designer baby, the perfect match for her sister. Anna has always donated blood, platelets, etc and now she is expected to donate a kidney. She doesn't want to for reasons unknown till the end of the novel.

Where is the line one draws on being selfless?

Monday, July 27, 2009


This is NOT a book critic/review site. It's more of I read this book and I write how it makes me feel or what it reminds me of. I don't analyze the books thoroughly at all and I'm nowhere near qualified to do so.

Books have always been my best friends, always there when I needed them and quite dependable. I find I usually reflect my life through them. They mean a lot to me and they help me understand myself better.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell

Candace Bushnell is the lady who wrote the Sex and The City book that sparked the popular TV series. I never really got into that show. I think because the women live in this idealistic NYC life where sex has no consequences and a person can afford anything, where the biggest problem is buying a pair of super expensive shoes. I'm not really into that because I can't really relate, going shopping for expensive things isn't my thing and I certainly don't have the kind of celebrity problems the characters have.

I actually expected this novel to be in the chick lit category, but it wasn't really about that. There was something dark in her writing.

Although I must commend Bushnell for doing a thorough portrayal of the shallow lives of the rich around sex, drugs, and the pursuit of money. Perhaps her intention was to show that at the core character, people are generally the same. That the rich and famous don't have it all and search for happiness too. We seek the approval of those around us and who we care about and that manipulates us to do things we regret. Her characters lie, cheat, steal, pretend to get what they want. Interestingly enough, I noticed that the main driver of all of this was loneliness, that I can relate to. One character Lola, basically the slut of the book, forms relationships with people because she cannot bear to be alone. Another character, the movie star Diamond Schiffer for 20 years pretends to be apathetic towards the one she loves. Who hasn't put up that wall in order to protect ourselves from any hurt?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

Yesterday I read the entire novel at work from start to finish. Clearly, I have lots to do. Also, clearly I am doing work right now by writing this blog post. By the way what is the etiquette on the number of times a person should ask for work to do?

Back to the novel. Interestingly this is the second novel this year I read about sheep. The first one I read was about detective sheep, don't ask.

Haruki Murakami is a fantastic writer. His style flows easily and the content is so wonderfully bizarre that I cannot help reading it. His novels are actually in Japanese and I have read a English translated version, which is an artform in itself. I am told this is his strangest novel and he is best known for The Wind up Bird Chronicles. A Wild Sheep Chase is about a man who is sent on a mission to find this rare sheep that apparently takes over people's bodies. When the proverbial sheep is in that person's body he has built an entire mafia like empire and exhausts its human host towards death. It sounds like scifi or horror but it isn't. I think the sheep is a symbol of greed and power that take over one's mind. I have not read a "strange" book in a while, so this novel was a nice change of pace.

He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tucillo

This book really killed my self-esteem. The entire premise of this book is that if a guy is into you, nothing will stop him. There won't be excuses. Some people have told me that I am intimidating, so I let things go that most guys are shy. Apparently, that shouldn't stop someone either. If the guy is too shy to even talk to me, then apparently he's not worth it. Greg also says we should not do the asking, that guys like the 'chase'.

If what this guy says is correct, then does that not mean no one has been into me ever? I didn't think I was that bad looking or that awful of a person. In fact, I know quite a few wonderful ladies who also fall into this category. My question for Greg is what is wrong with the male population?! Can someone kindly explain? It makes me irritated.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

some summer reading

this summer has been quite tumultuous in summer reading. much like my mind and sanity. that's another story though. i borrowed quite a number of books from the library and failed to make it through all of them. there were many starts to novels that just started to bore me and i gave up on them.

however i did come across a few books that i really enjoyed. I read Malcolm Gladwell's 3rd book called Outliers. It was a fantastic read. The main point of the novel IMO is that the key to success is not just working hard and having the brains. It is also a matter of one's upbringing, environment, and in fact the timing that one was born.

Many examples were quite good. One that struck me was his analysis on the Canadian youth hockey all-star team. He noticed that all the members of this team were born in the early part of the year. Why is that I wondered. It was because the cut off date for the beginners was Dec 31st. The children who were stronger and more mature were obviously the older players - the ones born in Jan, Feb, etc.

Another good one was his noticing that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sun Microsystem founders were all born in 1954. Also, it takes approximately 10,000 hours to be successful which is equivalent to about 10 years. We cannot assume that people become overnight sensations, it may appear that way to us but in fact they probably worked hard for it. The day I read that book I noticed that one of my favorite shows The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was in the comedy business for 10 years until he got his fame as the Daily Show host. I also watched Ellen that day and there was a child prodigy pianist, she was about 8 years old. She mentioned that she practiced all day long about 8 hours a day since she was 3 years old. It made sense.

Another book that I read is called Science of Happiness by Stefan Klein. The bookstore and library is always full of self-help and motivational books. But really what is the evidence supporting their arguments? Some stories of people who did really well - but they might be the exception to the rule. In this book by Klein, he discusses happiness from a scientific perspective (duh) with research done on rats and chimpanzees and also by telling his readers about the chemicals in the brain that control happiness like dopamine. I read it a while ago and I'm not science-inclined so I can't remember all the fancy names. All I know is that I liked that he proved the importance of family, friendship, staying occupied, and love in one's happiness with such concrete examples. I've been telling everyone I've met to read it. One of those books that changed my way of thinking.

Another book I read this summer was He's Just Not That Into You. I have a long rant for that book so I'll save it for tomorrow.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Right Ho Jeeves and Code of the Woosters

I am ashamed to say I was so late in joining the P.G. Wodehouse fan club. The man is a comic genius. I have read Code of the Woosters and Right Ho Jeeves so far. Both are laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are endearing and realistic. The writing style is not ostentatious. Although, I wish I had a Jeeves around to solve all my problems.

At least now I know where that website name - AskJeeves.com - originated.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Living History by Hilary Clinton

Lately, I have been having trouble finding a book that I can complete. Not much has held my interest. It took me over three weeks to finish the autobiography of Hilary Clinton called Living History. Not because it was boring, it was actually quite enlightening. I just feel a lack of motivation, but there might be other reasons.

Hilary's book reminded me that the President and his family are human - capable of mistakes and successes. Their lives are overly scrutinized. Hilary decides to wear a pink suit once and the news is abuzz about why she chose to wear it. She has a slip of the tongue and the whole world analyzes it and takes it out of context. I can't imagine how they could get anything done being under the microscope. I admire her strength.

I must remember not to do the same thing to the Obamas. They are under a LOT of pressure already. They are trying their best to maintain a sense of normalcy and do what they think is the right thing. Pres Obama is being pulled in every direction possible.

Naturally, what inspired me the most about Hilary was that she was a woman. She has changed the role of First Lady. First Lady was expected to be a gracious dinner hostess and a pretty face, not much else. She wanted to take charge and change the healthcare system, but she got crap for it partially because she was a woman and the First Lady. How frustrating. I don't know how she made it through it all. She got so much crap throughout her presidential election campaign for being a woman.

In my opinion, Hilary truly showed her personal strength when it came to finding out about her husband's inappropriate actions with Monica Lewinsky. American culture and society would have told Hilary to dump her husband. Because that is what is practiced. If a relationship doesn't work, give up and move on. But she didn't do that. She decided that she should stay with her husband, forgive him for his mistakes, and learn to overcome personal struggles.

The people we love the most can do things that hurt us. Children do that to parents all the time. Does that mean we give up? We usually don't, we keep loving them anyway.

Hilary Clinton is a strong woman and I only wish I could be half as strong as her.

Friday, January 09, 2009

all chick lit is not created equal

All chick lit is definitely not created equal. It's fair to say there are two general broad categories: serious and funny. I personally enjoy the funny chick lit, as in it literally makes you laugh at loud - I recommend to read anything by Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, and Robyn Harding, and the books on Bridget Jones. Serious lit is good too for the people who like The Notebook.

From reading so many novels this past week to qualify as chick lit it must satisfy certain standards.
(1) Romance of some sort
(2) Take place in a big city - usually New York City or London
(3) The main character is awkward yet endearing

This past week and half, my favorites to read were Queen of Babble in New York City by Meg Cabot and Journal of Mortifying Moments by Robyn Harding. No Kinsella books were available in the library :(.

I also read a novel called Mr. Commitment. The interesting point is that it is written from the male perspective by a male author. It was about a man and woman who have been dating for four years and should get married but the man is afraid of committing, even though he loves her with all his heart (I did not realize this was actually a common problem - that is supremely comforting).

Another two books I read were called Girl's Night In and Girl's Night Out. They were a collection of short stories from several different female authors. All the proceeds went to a charity that helped children in war-torn nations. If someone was looking to explore the chick lit genre, those books are a great place to start and see all the different kinds of styles that are out there.

Chick lit is great to read. So much fun! Because it is so light-hearted. Although reading seven books one after the other can take a toll on a person - that much writing about romance and finding the right guy...ick. So took an another adventure to the library and got all the books that were totally the opposite of what I have just read to balance it out.