Wednesday, June 27, 2012

steve jobs

I would like to bestow 4 pristine white stars to Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs was just a really fascinating guy. He was intelligent, focused, ruthless, and truly determined to change the world. And he did! Without his uncompromising vision, computer technology wouldn't have made so many great leaps in the past 40 years. And that's not to say that he invented all these great products, because most of the time the idea wasn't his, but he knew when an idea was great, he knew how to make it better, and he risked a lot to be sure the idea made it to consumers. What makes him different from other innovators and CEOs is that he (usually) never seemed to be in it for the money. He just wanted to improve humanity and he would never change a product based on cost if it would affect the product's integrity. Plus, he and his team made so many great products because they were always trying to make the products that they themselves would want to use.

The first Macintosh was created in Steve's parent's garage.

Apple is a great company and it wouldn't be what it is without Steve Jobs. He knew how to pick out A-players, how to push them to their limits, and he gave them the motivation they needed to make amazing products. His "reality distortion" made him believe in the impossible and although his team might have sometimes hated him for it, he pushed them and pushed them until they achieved that which had at first seemed impossible.

He had a strange diet, often fasting or limiting his intake to fruits and vegetables.
At one point, he was only eating apples.

Yes, he was an asshole. He's upfront about that (and Isaacson is too). He could be incredibly rude. And part of what makes this book so fascinating is looking at his brash, honest, contradictory personality. Although given up for adoption at birth, he refused for years to accept that his girlfriend's child was his daughter. Although once a hippie seeking spirituality in India, he became a billionaire CEO selling "closed" electronics. Although he was known for his rude exclamations (calling ideas shit, calling coworkers assholes), he was also known to become very emotional and cry when upset. And although many of his subordinates got fed up with his anger and brashness, they all seemed so happy to have worked with him in the end.

He bought Pixar when the company was just a baby.

This book was over 500 pages long and since I rarely read nonfiction, I expected to skim most of it. But perhaps because I didn't really know much about Jobs beforehand, I just found the whole thing fantastic. Isaacson keeps the narrative moving and likes to insert some humor where he can. It was so interesting to me to hear the stories behind products I've bought myself (as well as the Pixar movies he had a say in) and to see how much of an influence Jobs had on Apple. We owe him (and Apple as a whole) for so many beautiful products and improvements in technology. Steve Jobs was just insanely great and Isaacson did a wonderful job sharing his story.

Steve with co-creator of Apple, Steve "Woz" Wozniak.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Raskin had one problem: Jobs regarded him as an insufferable theorist or, to use Jobs’s own more precise terminology, ‘a shithead who sucks.’”

“At one point the pulmonologist tried to put a mask over his face when he was deeply sedated. Jobs ripped it off and mumbled that he hated the design and refused to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick a design he liked.”

“’ . . . I immediately liked the guy, because that’s how I worked too. Let’s just immediately put all the cards on the table and see where they fall.’ (In fact that was not usually Jobs’s mode of operation. He often began negotiations by proclaiming that the other company’s products or services sucked.)”

“’She would roll her eyes at his latest eating obsessions,’ recalled Homes. ‘She just wanted him to be healthy, and he would be making weird pronouncements like, ‘I’m a fruitarian and I will only eat leaves picked by virgins in the moonlight.’”

“He would shout at a meeting, ‘You asshole, you never do anything right,’” Debi Coleman recalled. “It was like an hourly occurrence. Yet I consider myself the absolute luckiest person in the world to have worked with him.”

TITLE: Steve Jobs
AUTHOR: Walter Isaacson
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 January 2011
VERDICT: 4/5 stars.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ttt: characters that remind me of me

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke and the Bookish is top ten literary characters that remind you of yourself (or someone you know). I wanted to try and do people I know, but it got too complicated and I was afraid my choices wouldn't like their characters. So instead I'm going with the person I know best: myself!

I'm flattering myself in some of these choices, but I'm not deluded enough to think that any of them are a perfect fit. 

Each of them though have some traits or interests that I share (or think I share? hope I share?).

Characters That Remind Me of Me

1. Jo March (of Little Women) = Bookish. Imaginative. Aspiring author.

2. Matilda Wormwood (of Matilda) = Frequent library patron. Smart (I say modestly!).

3. Cassandra Mortmain (of I Capture the Castle) = Young, hopeful writer. 

4. Hermione Granger (of Harry Potter) = Bookish. A-Student. Planner.

5. Emma Morley (of One Day) = Writer. Francophile. 

6. Bridget Jones (of Bridget Jones's Diary) = Awkward. Bad habits. Determined. Imperfect.

7. Catherine Morland (of Northanger Abbey) = Reader. Too imaginative. Scares easily.

8. (pre-baby) April Wheeler (of Revolutionary Road) = Wants travel, not suburbs. A dreamer.

9. Holden Caulfield (of The Catcher in the Rye) = Weary of phonies. :)

10. Lena Kaligaris (of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) = Quiet. Travels to Greece. Artistic.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

pins and things (and dreaming of fall)

I can't believe that summer only began this week! It feels like it's been hot outside for months now. And I am not a hot weather person at all. Not even a little bit.

Okay, okay. It's fun for a week or so, I suppose, even with the annoyances (sunscreen, excess sweat, marks on my nose from sunglasses), but I get tired of it really quickly. Maybe it's because I seem to sweat more than the average person. Maybe it's because I despise that sticky/hot feeling you get when you're outside too long. Or maybe it's because your clothing options become severely limited.

When it's hot out, it seems I can only bear to wear shorts and a t-shirt or tank top. Maybe a light dress. So boring! Not to mention uncomfortable. I would much prefer some jeans, scarves, tights, and jackets. 

I think I need to move up north. Anywhere the temperature rarely goes above 75 degrees F. Until then, I'll just be dreaming of fall, when I can wear stuff like this:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

anna karenina (trailer time!)

For those unaware, a new film version of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina will be coming out this year, featuring Keira Knightley (the perennial favorite of period movies) and Jude Law (is it just me or did he disappear for a while there?). 

And this week, we finally got our first peek:

Not bad, right?

I've never read Anna Kareninait's one of those huge, brick-like, seemingly impossible kinds of reads in my eyesbut I have always thought I would read it someday. So here's my dilemma:

I want to see this movie when it comes out. But I also, like many readers, prefer to read the book before I see the movie (because the book is almost always better and I'd prefer the story be fresh in its better form). And with the movie set to release in the U.S. this November, the big question is bearing down on me . . .

Do I dare to read Anna Karenina this year?

I would love some advice here. Has anyone out there read Anna Karenina? Or even attempted it? Would you recommend it? Is it as difficult and long as it seems? I need your help! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

my 100th post!

I'm both excited and shocked to announce that this is my 100th post!

I started this blog back in August to share my study abroad experience (I studied on the island Aigina in Greece) but enjoyed it so much, I decided to make the transition to book blogging at the start of the new year. And now, a little less than a year after I began, I'm writing my 100th post! :)

To commemorate the occasion, I thought I'd take a look back and share with you my favorite posts from each month that I've been blogging.

August 2011: My first post!

September 2011: My First Week in Greece

October 2011: Rome and Florence and Venice and Paris!

November 2011: Santorini


January 2012: New Year's Resolutions

March 2012: Review of Moby Dick

June 2012: Authors I'm Ashamed I've Never Read

I'd also just like to thank everyone for reading :) 

It's been great fun so far and I hope to keep blogging long into the future! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

old school

Although I really enjoyed Wolff's writing and the boarding school setting, Old School left me disappointed. 

It was short, which I liked, as the story didn't require more than those 200 or so pages. But even with that reasonable length, I'll admit that I skimmed a little. I felt no emotional connection to the characters, and the narrator's lack of guilt or shame or any other feasible emotion made him difficult to relate to at the end. And speaking of the end, I found it very strange that the last chapter was devoted to a character we'd barely met (and thus, didn't care about at all).

The school, though, is a writer's dream. It's an elite boarding school where most of the boys want to be writers and writing competitions are anticipated the way other schools anticipate football or basketball season. This is partially because the school invites celebrated authors to the school throughout the year for readings and discussions. Before the author arrives, all the boys are invited to submit stories or poems to a contest and the winner is chosen by the coming author. Then, the winning boy gets a private talk with the author when they arrive. In the course of the book, there are contests for (and winners chosen by) Robert Frost, Ayn Rand, and Ernest Hemingway.

The discussion of the authors was always interesting and even once made me laugh out loud. If you've ever read Hemingway, I hope you'll see the hilarity in this wonderful passage:

We even talked like Hemingway characters, though in travesty, as if to deny our discipleship: That is your bed, and it is a good bed, and you must make it and you must make it well. Or: Today is the day of meatloaf. The meatloaf is swell. It is swell but when it is gone the not-having meatloaf will be tragic and the meatloaf man will not come anymore” (14).

But when the writers arrived and there were scenes showing them interacting with the boys and faculty of the school, I was annoyed. It just doesn't seem fair to Frost, Rand, and Hemingway. I'm sure Wolff did his research and the way he had them act was consistent with what I've learned about them myself, but I just didn't like it. It felt like he was stuffing words in their mouth. And while I haven't read Ayn Rand and don't have much desire to read her either, Wolff's depiction of her seemed particularly mean. His bias was clear. And more than that, the writers always seemed more like characters than real people. They didn't talk naturally at all. Every sentence they spoke felt quote-worthy (and so in my eyes, very stiff and fake).

Because I really liked Wolff's writing though, I hope to read him again sometime.

TITLE: Old School
AUTHOR: Tobias Wolff
PUBLICATION DATE: 4 November 2003
VERDICT: 2/5 stars.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

dream desks

I never used to be a desk person; I much preferred my bed or a couch. But last semester in the middle of  the chaos that is senior year, I struggled to focus on writing papers or working on design projects in the middle of my comfy bed (because really, what's to keep you from taking a nap or just watching TV?). Plus, my apartment came with a huge wooden desk that I'd never utilized to its true potential. Freeing it of the removable bookshelf that went on top and moving my TV, I discovered how great a desk could be. It was just what I needed to get working.

Unfortunately, my desk at home didn't get the memo. I've had it all my life, but never really used it and trying to now, it seems horribly tiny compared to that huge desk in my apartment. I'm considering rummaging in the basement for a folding table as a replacement. If only I had one of these beautiful desks . . . 




What's important to you in a desk? Or do you even use one?

My dream desk would be:

- Long, wide, and deep
- Sturdy
- Complete with some drawers for organizing
- Spacious beneath with a bar in back to rest my legs :)
- Accompanied by a comfy chair wide enough for me to sit Indian-style
- Near a window for good lighting
- Beneath a bulletin board of inspiration (this is the one thing I currently have)

Is this so much to ask?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ttt: summer reading list

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke and the Bookish is top ten books on your summer reading list. Although I'm doubtful I'll be able to get through 10 books by the end of August, here are the books I'm most excited to check out.

Top Ten Books on My Summer Reading List

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (by Douglas Adams). I'm long overdue for this one.

2. The Blind Assassin (by Margaret Atwood). Will be my second Atwood reading, and hopefully as great as the first.

3. Slammerkin (by Emma Donoghue). Because I still usually love historical fiction best.

4. Norwegian Wood (by Haruki Murakami). I've been seeing it all over the book blogs recently.

5. The Hand That First Held Mine (Maggie O'Farrell). Loved my first taste of O'Farrell and can't wait for the second.

6. Middlesex (by Jeffrey Eugenides). Hopefully as wonderful as all the hype.

7. The Somnambulist (by Essie Fox). If it's as beautiful as the cover, it'll be fantastic.

8. Mrs. Dalloway (by Virginia Wolff). To finally knock Wolff off my "authors I must read" list!

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (by JK Rowling). It's been years since I read this book again and I've been feeling nostalgic with a recent viewing of a few of the movies.

10. The Secret History (by Donna Tartt). As I mentioned last week, I'm still (impatiently) waiting for my request to come in at the library so I can finish this book (which I started more than a month ago)!

Friday, June 15, 2012


Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

This perfectly haunting line begins the story of our narrator (whose name is never revealed). After meeting Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo, the two quickly marry and return to his home, a famous estate in England called Manderley. They seem to care for one another, but the marriage is shadowed by the death of Maxim's previous wife, Rebecca, who drowned the year before. The narrator feels like the house is haunted by Rebecca's memory and is upset by frequent comparisons to how different she (a simple, quiet middle-class girl) is from the seemingly perfect Rebecca (beautiful, the life of the party, kind, funny, clever). The situation is only made worse by the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who loved Rebecca and can't get over her death.

Rebecca is a great story. I loved the twists and turns, the haunting atmosphere, the slow build up. It also has a lot of great, unique characters in the new Mrs. de Winter, Maxim, Rebecca, Mrs. Danvers, and Beatrice. My issues with it are the length (I think it could be reduced quite a bit) and backstory. I would have loved if du Maurier had slipped us back in time at some point to see Rebecca herself in action.

But maybe that's the point. The book bears her name as its title, and yet we never meet her ourselves. What we know of her is entirely composed of the opinions of characters, who each see her in a different light. It's also telling, I think, that her name is the title and yet the narrator has no name at all.

TITLE: Rebecca
AUTHOR: Daphne du Maurier
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 January 1938
VERDICT: 3/5 stars. I would certainly recommend it, but it wasn't one of my favorites.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ttt: top ten beach reads

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Beach Reads.

Unfortunately, I'm not able to do any research on the topic this summer. I probably won't make it out of Missouri at all. If only I could go back to my little island Aigina for a few months :) 

But I did my best to imagine what books I would enjoy reading on the beach if I could. My main requirements for a beach read are that it be some combination of the following:

a) Funny
b) Light
c) Romantic
d) Fast-Moving

So without further ado, I give you:

Top Ten Beach Reads

1. How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. Hilarious but also an insightful look at best-selling novels.

2. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. The Ukrainian narrator's English vocabulary/grammar mistakes always me laugh, plus he's got a funny dog and grandpa. Just a great book overall though.

3. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. On the short side, but really unique and interesting. Magical realism combined with romance and Mexican flavors.

4. Wideacre by Philippa Gregory. A total guilty pleasure book with a despicable narrator doing horrible, selfish things just to keep control of her family's beloved home, Wideacre.

5. One Day by David Nicholls. I almost didn't read this because it looked so much like chic lit (which I'm not a big fan of), but it was actually quite good. The characters and set-up are interesting. I just didn't like the end.

6. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Romantic, enthralling, and a great setting (1930s circus). If you've only seen the movie (which wasn't that great), please do yourself a favor and read the book.

7. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. A cute, coming of age story about an English girl who lives with her family in a decaying castle in the 1930s. The story really starts when two American brothers move in next door.

8. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. A long (but quick-moving), guilty pleasure read about a sheep-raising Australian family, the Clearys. It's known for the romance between Meggie Cleary and a priest, but the story spans through many more characters and years (about 1900-1970) than that.

9. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. As I'm sure you all know, this cute and funny book is a modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. But frankly, it's much better because it can really make you laugh and Bridget's plights are oh so relatable.

10. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. I haven't read all the books in this series, but I do remember enjoying the first a lot, way back when. Romance, friendship, drama, Greece! A light, fun combination.

Happy reading to all you beach bunnies this summer!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

pins and things

I'm in that strange, post-book sort of mood right now. You know the one I'm talking about?

You've been so caught up in your book reading it for hours at a time, excitedly watching the action build up, anticipating the big ending, speeding through chapters that by the time you reach the last page, you almost feel breathless. You've been so absorbed in the characters and their fictional world, it feels absurd to leave them . . . That's how I feel right now. And I wouldn't be surprised if tonight I dreamt I went to Manderley. ;)

I'm also itching to start my next book, but I'm in an odd situation. Before I left school, I was reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I got about 100 pages in and was really enjoying it, but I was reading a library book and I had to return it before coming home. And to my great dismay, I was the 6th person to request it at my local library. So I had to turn to other things (like The Seance and Rebecca). 

That was about a month ago. I've read two books since, and I'm still not #1 on the holds list :( By the time I get it, I'll probably have forgotten everything I read! And yes, I thought about buying it, but I'm cheap and don't want to risk buying a bad book. Just gotta have patience!

Anyway, I haven't done a non-literary post in a while, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite Pinterest pins with you. Enjoy!

 I'm not in the market for a new swimsuit right now, but if I was, I'd be eyeing this one.

This avocado basil pasta looks awesome. Avocado + cheese + bacon = Yum.
It looks a little stiff (I would toss in a blanket or pillow), but I love the elegant lines and practicality of this dog bed.

If my birthday was coming up or Christmas wasn't 197 days away (I might have a countdown on my laptop dashboard . . .), this scratch-away map would definitely be on my list.

Just some beautiful flowers. I wish flowers weren't so expensive and we could all have bouquets of them in our houses and offices and schools all the time. It'd certainly be good for morale.

This is an attic! Amazing, right? It's a perfect guest room or it could be fun as a pretend vacation spot in your own house :)

 I'm dying to go to New York someday soon. During the holidays would be just perfect. I'm definitely a cold-weather sort of girl.

If I ever have kids, I'd love to send them little notes from the tooth fairy :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...