Books

June Book Reviews | 8 books I’ve read

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”
― William Styron

June has been a whirlwind of a month – I read some AMAZING books and also some pretty average ones, most I found were recommended to me, either by a friend, a youtuber or the algorithm of an app. Let’s get into it.

Book count of the Month : 8

BOOK OF THE MONTH:

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

B E S T M E M O I R I H A V E E V E R R E A D

Oh man how do I even start – this is an amazing memoir from start to finish – it will make you laugh, cry, learn all at the same time. This is not just book about his life, this is a social commentary through his lenses, his experiences. Through the life he has led, we get a glimpse of the impact of segregation of race in the Apartheid, how it impacts the way the races interact among one another. It’s a story about poverty and how it can fuel violence. It’s also an uplifting story about finding humour in the darkest of times, resourcefulness in a world that hands you nothing.

I was particular taken by the way that his mum raised him. He is the man of today because his mum raised him so well and taught him to think. Through the book I could feel the love and respect he has for his mum and how it heavily impacted his outlook on life. In the last part of the book I literally bawled my eyes out as he recounted his mum’s tragic accident of being shot in the head. I listened to the audiobook version on Audible where Trevor Noah narrates the story himself and his delivery – on point as usual, just adds so much weight to the words. He has always been one of my favourite comedians. I particularly enjoy that he was socially aware, he acknowledged nuances in each situation and provided very balanced views. Reading his memoir and understanding his backstory has helped me understood how it has shaped him into the man he is today and made me respect him even more. I would highly recommend this book!

I will end with some of my favourite quotes from the book :

  • People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.
  • I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to. “What if…” “If only…” “I wonder what would have…” You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.
  • The first thing I learned about having money was that it gives you choices. People don’t want to be rich. They want to be able to choose. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money.
  • We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others because we don’t live with them. It would be a whole lot harder for an investment banker to rip off people with subprime mortgages if he actually had to live with the people he was ripping off. If we could see one another’s pain and empathize with one another, it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.
  • Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love. It’s a strange feeling. You want to live in a world where someone is good or bad, where you either love or hate them, but that’s not how people are.

Other Books for the month:

Non-Fiction

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I have heard so many amazing things about this book but hesitated to pick it up for the longest time because I was expecting a pretty boring walk down the historical memory lane. I finally caved in and listened to the Audiobook version and I loved it!

An anthropological piece that feels like part Nat-geo and part philosophy, it’s an eye opening piece that will bring together the science, the history and the evolution of cultures neatly together. It starts off a little bit dry, with an introduction to the scientific evolution of mankind but it soon picks up-exploring themes on the Imagined Order – like the concept of money, legal structures – things that are actually abstract but creates order in life, simply because we collectively believe in it; how some civilizations become more progressive than others through the development of efficient cataloging systems that can effectively retain and pass down information.

Reading this book, I can’t help but sometimes feel like a nihilist, and that nothing is ever meaningful, unless we ascribe meaning to it. Nevertheless, it provides a very insightful and objective view of the world. Would highly recommend! Also I would like to end with a snippet of the Afterword by the writer which I found to be hard hitting.

Animal that became God: – for the full afterword.

..Despite the astonishing things that humans are capable of doing, we remain unsure of our goals and we seem to be as discontented as ever. We have advanced from canoes to galleys to steamships to space shuttles – but nobody knows where we’re going. We are more powerful than ever before, but have very little idea what to do with all that power. Worse still, humans seem to be more irresponsible than ever. Self-made gods with only the laws of physics to keep us company, we are accountable to no one. We are consequently wreaking havoc on our fellow animals and on the surrounding ecosystem, seeking little more than our own comfort and amusement, yet never finding satisfaction.

Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?

Afterword: The Animal that became God; Sapiens by Yuval Harari

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This book was a recommended by my avid book reader friend and boy it’s goooood. Absolutely hilarious and eye opening book.

These are a collection of musings and short stories of Adam Kay; a former doctor turned comedy writer about his time at the hospital. Told in a light hearted way filled with witty British Humour, we get a glimpse into the life of a doctor from the long working hours, the ungodly expectations, the darnest and randomest medical emergencies and the funniest things patients have ever said to him.

From patients turning up with things stuck in places it shouldn’t have, to crazy patients who threw a bin at him and sued him – the best parts are just his quips throughout the books of these daily events. Not a dull day! There are also really heartwarming and heartwrenching bits in the book, when he bonds with some patients, and having see them pass on, it’s so touching to say the least. I have so much respect for Doctors. I think it’s a job like no other, the expectations are unlike any other when it’s between life and death. This book has literally made me laugh out loud and cry- can’t recommend it enough!!

The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This book was recommended by Ali Abdaal, a popular youtuber who is also an avid reader. This book posits that we are not as altruistic as we think we are/paint ourselves out to be. In fact, more often than not, we ourselves are not aware of our self interest and hidden motives. The book examines this theory in various areas such as in Religion, Politics, Education, Charity gift giving and many more.

The central idea is easy to grasp and each chapter merely calls out our behaviour in various ways. I found that some of the examples provided is actually the same as the one in Sapiens by Yuval Harari!

If I could sum up the book I’d say – we are all inherently selfish; it’s just the way we are hardwired, especially from our forager days where the more visible we are, the more likely we are to be able to mate and therefore continue our lineage. Much of what we do is a performance. Doing something is actually less important than letting others KNOW we are doing it. Much of the reason why we do things is because we want to belong to a group, we want to be seen as a valuable part of society. It’s a book for those who want to learn to be more self aware. The reason why it’s 3.5 for me is because some of the examples are a bit more draggy than necessary, falling a bit off tangent but otherwise interesting read!

The McKinsey Way by Ethan M. Rasiel

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This book was included in Heimish, a Mckinsey youtuber’s video for his commentary on whether this book rings true based on his experience. Reading this book, I’d say the sharings and examples are definitely not limited to McKinsey alone. Much of it is practiced by other professional firms such as the Accounting Big 4 and even some corporate functions within an organisation, especially if your role is in Reporting or Project Management.

But to be fair this book is about 20 years old, so I can’t speak as to whether McKinsey truly led the way in establishing these common place work practices and tips. Sometimes I find myself nodding in agreement because it does encapsulate my previous work experiences.

I think this book is a good eye opener for anyone who is looking to join professional firms, or any fresh graduate really because quite a few topics are just generic good advice for the workplace.

Hype by Gabrielle Bluestone

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This book was recommended to me by the Scribd Algorithm (Audiobook Platform review out next week!) and I was pretty excited about this because she is actually the Executive producer of Netflix’s Fyre documentary. If you haven’t yet watched it, I would highly recommend it. It’s a great piece …or you could read this book hahha because this book feels like a compilation of case studies of high profile scammers like the Fyre festival – which made up at least 50% of the examples within this book.

It’s a book showing us how scammers harness the powers of social media to bend us to their will, to manipulate us to give them our hard earned money, and the works of dubious marketing tactics. If I had to sum up these scams in a sentence I’d say – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

I think the case studies in general were interesting but the book lacked structure. It often hopped from one case to another, with no clear point to make, and the bulk of it just recounting what had happened and including some commentary about it. I’d say this was a perfectly adequate audiobook to play at the background but isn’t memorable.

Fiction

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I think this is the best fiction book I have read this year so far, and in a long time in fact! The book is about a Genetics Professor – Don Tillman who has Asperger‘s syndrome who has lived much of his life with his logical thought process (think counting every timing to the dot, setting up highly logical kitchen management systems) who eventually embarks on a ‘Wife Project’, a quest to find love through a thorough list of questionnaires (think Sheldon Cooper in love) …until he meets Rosie. He quickly determines she violates everything on the questionnaire but he decides to help her find her biological father -which takes them from one adventure to another.

I know the synopsis sounds a little cheesy but trust me, this is not the typical romantic comedy. The characters and conversations are so endearing – I think I smiled the entire way of the book and have also LOL-ed at some of Don’s social blunders. It’s so fascinating to see the world through the lenses of someone highly logical and how society often ridicules them for their social ineptness but fail to see the other things they have to offer and our own emotional tendencies. There was also a part of introspection by Don which particularly stood out to me – I could enjoy friendship and good times. It was my lack of (social) skills, not lack of motivation that had held me back.

Highly recommended!

We were Liars by E. Lockhart

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This book was recommended by Jack Edwards, a famous Booktuber. I really love his personality and content but I really didn’t like this book. I struggled to finish it. It struggled to keep me engaged, the conversations are kind of boring and when the twist was revealed to me, I still couldn’t tie the loose ends together. That’s when you know the the plot isn’t clear and when easter eggs placed just weren’t good enough. Or perhaps it’s the writing style, i don’t know – cause it’s all very fragmented which is kind of annoying to me but that’s just my own personal preference.

We Were Liars is told in the POV of Cadence – a rich teenager who recently lost her memory in an accident. In the book we are introduced to the members of her family, of which most of the book are just random conversations between her and her cousins, on her family owned island, and Cadence begging them to tell her what happened to her and why she is struggling to remember anything.

I have very little to say about this book because I found myself glazing over quite frequently and it took me 2 weeks to finish this book. Even though it only had 220 pages. That says a lot.

Year-To-Date Book Count: 31

PS: Dropped my least favourite book from the Pinterest list lolll

Book reviews from other months:

2 thoughts on “June Book Reviews | 8 books I’ve read

  1. Wow, love the phrase “live several lives”. LOL. I mean live them vicariously. That’s what modern life is about, isn’t it? Heard of “Rosie Project”, but haven’t read it. LOL. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It rings even more true in a pandemic lockdown! Books just transport us to a different world. Glad you enjoyed the review! To me, Rosie Project lived up to its hype, hope you like it 🙂

      Like

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