It’s a cool fall day here in Mitchell, and the trees that still stubbornly had any leaves remaining are sure raining them down today – puddles of leaves in the streets where the trees just simply dumped them. So it seems like a good day to get caught up on some reading today. Picking a good book is a lot tougher than finding a good movie and certainly a much larger investment of time.
I’ve mentioned some of the books this year that I did enjoy including the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Steve Jobs biography, and some classics that were WELL worth re-reading including The Last Lecture and The Five Dysfunctions of A Team.
So I did finish some overdue books from the library, the books this time were:
Ayn Rand’s “Anthem” – I had been wanting to read her novel “Atlas Shrugged” for a long time after hearing so much over the past few years about it and wanting to know why it was such a big deal – her philosophy of objectivism (which even after reading the wikipedia definition of it, I still can’t fully explain what the hell it is) – but has been embraced by a number of conservatives seems to be a response to her growing up in communist Russia and coming to hate and distrust any form of socialism.
My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
But our library did not have it but I found an early novel of hers which founded the basis of much of what she would write later. This novel “Anthem” talked of a dark future when all individualism had been stamped out – the words “I” and “ego” are forbidden, and all life’s decisions are made for you – your career is chosen for you and so your station in life is predetermined. Everyone speaks in the third person narrative “we” and everyone is known by a number instead of a name. (for Star Trek TNG fans – just think of the Borg collective – well, before Geordi befriended them )
If it hadn’t been written in 1937, I would not have been very impressed – but it was a interesting story, with a very abstract writing style to convey the thoughts of the person telling the story in the extreme socialistic way they have been trained to live until he breaks through to find his own identity. Very short novel and gives me a much better understanding of what she is like as an author and her focus on individualism over the collective good. Can’t say that it has really fired me up to track down her other books but perhaps.
The other book was The Startup of You written by Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn) and Ben Casnocha. One of those personal improvement books but focuses much more on cultivating connections, relationships to find those opportunities to better invest in yourself. The book was OK, obviously stretched out but some good points in there but is one of those books that I could have finished skimming thru and getting most of the content in about 10 minutes at a Barnes & Noble.
Next on the reading list is a book that finally arrived from Amazon, Stephen Few’s “Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data” which ironically comes with a minimalistic and non-engaging cover – go figure?, but I do like his books and his writings – he maintains a great blog on the topic of visual business intelligence over at http://www.perceptualedge.com/blog/.
That will keep me busy reading for a short while until something new appears at the public library on the New Release bookshelf.