Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book 36 - Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This book

is the only authorized biography of Steve Jobs, meaning that Steve Jobs himself was the one that initiated the process and actively participated it. Walter Isaacson is a master biographer and was, it seems, hand chosen by Jobs to write the book (which, once you've read the book or if you know anything about Steve Jobs, isn't a shocker!). The book was, surprisingly, based on at least 40 interviews (although I suspect that there were more) and other research that took place over the span of two years (including an insane amount of time with Jobs himself).

We all know who Jobs is, for the most part. It is because of him that I'm sitting here blogging about him on a IMac and that I make all my calls on an IPhone. Essentially, he is the person that revolutionized the personal computer by making it accessible to all, perhaps more so than Bill Gates did. He changed the music and phone industries as well. There were some things that I didn't know about Steve Jobs. For one, he was put up for adoption pretty much at birth, which seemed to hurt him all the more when he (and the reader) realize that his parents went on to have another child that they did not put up for adoption. Steve Jobs has four children as well, the oldest of which is a 30-something half sibling to the younger ones and whom Jobs abandoned and denied for years. He was very much a product of the 60's counterculture in the sense that he was a practicing vegan and Buddhist and shunned materialism. His homes weren't overstuffed with things and he, before he began Apple, travelled abroad to learn Zen Buddhism from the masters. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he was so adamant about being holistic that for the first 9 months, he only pursued naturopathy (which his doctors believed prevented them from helping him survive).

This was an intriguing book, more, for me, because it gave me insight into his personal life. I was more interested in learning about him and his foibles then I was about the history and the technical aspects of Apple. I found that I skimmed those chapters and read the chapters about his personal life more closely and with more relish. My husband was the opposite and appreciated the history of Silicon Valley that this book naturally provided (since it was so intertwined with Jobs' own history). What surprised me was that Jobs was absolutely meaner then I thought that he was - I mean, I knew that he was mean but he was above and beyond what I thought he was. Other than that, the book was really impressive. It was well researched and thorough and there was never a dull moment.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Banned Books Week

So, last week was Banned Books Week. It is essentially one week out of the year where the American Library Association celebrates books that have been banned in various schools and public libraries around the State. The goal is also to raise awareness about censorship.

I often find myself really and utterly confused about how, in this society, it is acceptable to censor or ban books. Granted, there is often speech that is hateful (I'm thinking of the awful anti-Islam movie that is creating a wave of protests around the world currently). While I think that the movie is abhorrent in more ways than one, I'm not sure that banning it is appropriate either. I think that banning books especially is a travesty because it narrows a person's knowledge, deprives them of the ability to evaluate and think critically about the material they read and ensures that a parent doesn't have to parent - they don't have to worry about what their child is reading and they don't have to talk to their child about reading. So not only do I believe that it goes against the values of free expression and free thought that our society prides itself in, but I also think it is laziness.

WhatI really enjoyed about the Banned Books website is the listing of books that have been challenged and banned. I like to try to challenge myself to read all of the books on the list. And the resources section is pretty neat too. Get out and read those books people! Talk to your kids about them.

Where'd You Go Bernadette - Maria Semple

I have this quirk - I guess it isn't really a quirk because I know other people like this - where I have to read a book before the movi...