Category Archives: Book Notes

For the recent graduate: Fire Your Boss

“Do what you love and _____________”. I’m sure you can complete that sentence, even  in your sleep. There is so much talk about Passion and Purpose these days that it’s impossible to have never heard the saying “do what you love and the money will follow”. What if someone told you the exact opposite? What if someone said, “work for the money, and the love will follow”?

That’s the tag line for Stephen Pollan and Mark Levine’s Fire Your Boss.

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It’s career advice your career counselor probably never gave you. What if instead of encouraging you to find a meaningful career, you were encouraged to choose the job that pays the most based on your skill set, and to find meaning in the other parts of your life? The authors invite you to a paradigm shift: one in which you let go of the idea of a career, and instead  you embrace the idea of a job…or rather a string of jobs.

No, it’s not about just finding any job and getting on with it…or about literally firing your boss. It’s about redefining your skill set outside of the boundaries of industryspeak, outside of the borders of your job description and letting go of the idea that your career should be THE thing that brings you satisfaction and meaning.

There are things you will agree with and things you will disagree with. There are concepts that will challenge you and concepts that will wholeheartedly embrace.

It’s different enough to be interesting. It just might change the way you view the world of Work.

P.S. It will probably win as the answer to the question “what’s one book that you should not read at work?”

Book #3: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Remember how I said I was going to read a series of books based on characters in their twenties and find lessons that can be drawn from them? I didn’t tell you about it? My bad. I could have sworn…

Anyway, that’s what my focus on books has been lately. I know it’s going to be a stretch since characters in novel are only constructed as diferent parts of a writer’s point of view, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to take on anyway. The first book I tackled is The Time Traveler’s Wife. 

Have you ever been hanging out with friends and started playing 20 questions because you ran out of conversation topics and everyone was bored? Prior to this book, my answer to the question, “If you could have any superpower, what would be?”, was always Time Travel or rather, Teleportation. However, after this book, I’m rethinking my desire for a power that would allow me to bend Time at will.

Audrey Niffenegger’s book is a story about a boy and a girl who fall in love. We first meet them in the library, where the boy works and the girl came to check out a book. They meet for the first time. Only it’s not really the first time. At least for Clare (that’s the girl). She’s known Henry since she was a little girl. Don’t be mistaken, this is not a story about childhood friends meeting each other for the first time after many years. You only have to read the title of the book to figure it out.

Henry is a time traveler, or if you want to get technical, a Chrono-Displaced person. He time travels to different stages in his life, which sounds really awesome…only it’s not. He comes and goes against his will and has no control over where he goes…or anything for that matter. He shows up on the other side, naked, often cold, bumping into (sometimes literally) quite uncomfortable situations. That’s how a 30-something Henry meets a 6-year old Clare.

Their love story develops throughout the book, as things get more and more challenging. Certain technical parts were confusing to me, like , the way he could time-travel to meet himself and how sometimes, he could be time-traveling to a place where another version of himself was also time-traveling.

It did prompt a question in my mind that I could use for this little experiment of mine. The book plays a lot with Time, Memory and Knowledge and how they shape a person’s life. Because of Henry’s time-traveling and his relationship with Clare, there were things that Clare knew way before they happened, which greatly affected the way she grew up and how she came to view the world. The 20-something period is so full of uncertainty and fear of the unknown. However, we must continue to take action, preparing for the future even if we don’t know all the details.

Here’s my question: What’s one thing that Christmas You (4 months from now) would be grateful to Present You for having done today? A little wordy, but you get the point.

Book #3: The Grapes of Wrath

I walked to the back, like a woman on a mission. It was 15 minutes before library closing. I know this because the lady on the intercom told me…and every teen trying to squeeze in one more video game before the computers automatically shut down.

I wanted something new, something completely different from Life of Pi. There would be no graphic descriptions of a tiger tearing apart a zebra like a piece of paper, no flesh-eating trees and certainly no awkward mentions of cannibalism. I reached the end shelves and toyed with the idea of picking a large-print book. It is summer after all.

Nothing. Nothing stood out. Nothing sounded “classic” enough or interesting enough or “serendipitous” enough…until the very last shelf. I pulled the book and looked at the cover. Old timey cars packed to the very top…hmm…interesting. One word came to mind: Americana.

“This book is huge though”, I argued with myself while the lady on the intercom reminded us that we had 5 minutes to make a decision and stick with it. I tried putting it back. “This could be very dense and completely un-relatable, plus the author kinda looks like Dr. House.” The word Americana came to mind again. I’m intrigued. I’m curious. Maybe, I’ll have a definition for it by the time I reach the end of the book.

Steinbeck, here we go!

Hi, My name is ___________

If you never read Life of Pi but still want to walk away with at least one fact, something you can share if someone ever bring it up, it would be this. It won’t make you sound smart, but it definitely won’t make you sound clueless either. Pi, the main character, is named after a pool. No, really. His full first name is actually Piscine. which is the French word for “Pool”. If you want extra points, you can say that his full name is Piscine Molitor Patel. His father respected a man who was a huge fan of pools and of swimming.

 

There’s a memorable scene in the book where Piscine decides to no longer be called by his full first name. It seems that schoolchildren are cruel, regardless of the culture they’re in. Upon switching schools, he decided that he would rename himself Pi, a shortened version of his name and the mathematical constant, pi. To make the idea stick that first day of class, he would walk up to the board during each teacher’s roll call and write down his new name on the board, complete with the math sign and 3.14. By the end of the day, every student and teacher in his class knew him as Pi.

I think I remember it mostly because it’s something that I can personally identify with. Having a multi-syllable name, I often struggle with which name I should use to introduce myself. Should I say my full name and watch the other person struggle to grasp it? Should I go with the nickname? Are nicknames supposed to be reserved for friends and family or should it be the other way around? What’s the protocol? Is there protocol?

This makes networking sessions very fun. And by fun, I mean, not so much.