I have read quite a lot of books this year, be it fiction, non-fiction, biography, self-help and so on. And here are my top 3 picks for the year, and I highly recommend everyone to read them too. Hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
Don’t be fooled by the title of this book. It certainly isn’t some fucking nonsense book that talks about nothing. The author discussed about why people felt entitled, how we can make a better decision to make our lives better, what we should be giving a fuck and not giving a fuck on, how we should embrace problems and difficulties for growth and so on.
To put it simply, this fucking book gives you some mind fuck and hopefully you will be able to unfuck yourself after reading it. To get a taste of what is being covered in this book, take a look at Mark’s website here.
Factfulness by Hans Rosling
This is another epic book that will surely gives you enough mind fuck. Facts are everywhere, readily available, literally been taught and stuffed into our head, but yet people can still get things so wrong, be so out of touch with reality, and keep believing in the falsehood that they believe in. I myself am guilty of this, and this book gave some guidance on how to be a little more mindful and factual in life, which hopefully lead to better decision making, less complaining and more optimistic.
Here’s a video of Hans in action:
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This is a memoir of Paul, a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with cancer. It’s about the story of him fighting his life between work, family, life and illness. It’s not just an ordinary fiction or Korean drama where the main character get sick and died just for the sake of making you cry. This book is much more than that. It makes you think about life, about choices, about death, and the meaning behind those. All in all, a very nice read that will make you think and re-think about everything.
Been reading quite a lot of books lately, I’m on book no. 35 as of writing to be exact. That brings me to the thought of… for so much books that I read, information that I absorbed, things that I learned, how much of it I am actually able to recall and make use of in the days to come?
The challenge has always been this. Just like how you see supposedly “educated” people graduated from famous university, but still performing uneducated act like littering everywhere. Ultimately, all that matters is not how much input you received, is how much output you produce out of it.
The same goes to photography. You can talk all day about “how to take a good photo”, but if you didn’t deliver a good photo in the end… what’s the point, right?
Of course my argument here is based upon a “result-based” approach, by ignoring the fact on the process. One may argue that this is part of the process, where failing to achieve what you have learned is also a learning point for you, making you aware and hence be more cautious in the future. Well, I kinda agree with that, but still, many may not even realized that in the end, and that’s a problem.
So, for so much I have read for the past years, did I made any changes and put any meaningful learning into practice? Well… yes and no. Conservatively, I would estimate only like 20% of what I learned has been put into good use. That’s quite little indeed. That’s something I’m aware of and trying to fix.
Of course not everything can be of good use immediately, some takes time to materialize, some require additional skills beforehand, some I just can’t… make it stick. It’s a long way to go and to change. Let’s see if things will turn better in the future. Till then.
Recently I have read a couple of books on some of the famous brands in the world, about the story behind their creation and success, about the vision, mission and values that formed a part of their identity. There were two books which I found to be particularly enjoyable and insightful to read:
“The Starbucks Story, How the brand changed the world” by John Simmons
The story of Starbucks has always been a fascinating one. A company that was founded by a few gentlemen who were obsessed over high quality coffee beans, which was then bought over by Howard Schultz, a man who was obsessed with the coffee culture and experience which he immersed in Italy. The whole brand was then transformed, from selling beans and brewing equipment to serving coffees and pastries, creating “The Third Place” that everyone will go besides office and home.
“Shoe Dog, a memoir by the creator of Nike” by Phil Knight
This is actually the first time I got to know the Nike brand in detail. I was surprised that the whole story was started off with Phil importing Onitsuka Tiger’s shoes, how it all went south in the end and ultimately led to the creation of their own shoe brand: Nike. The struggles of Phil and his fellowships was so real and raw, and it made me continued to read and read in order to find out what they did to get over all the hurdles. The story brought up the spirits behind Nike, on hindsight, you can really see where those spirits and rebellion came from.
Both books offered insight and behind-the-scene of how a brand was created, how their identity was defined. For Starbucks it’s always about customer experiences, for Nike it’s all about winning. Both books were easy to read and digest, and I learnt a couple of things about business management along the way as well. Even if you are not a business person, these books were entertaining enough for you to read and get to know the brand better, that is if you are a fan of these brands.